Nathanael O’Reilly

Nathanael O’Reilly is an Irish-Australian residing in Texas. His books include (Un)belonging (Recent Work Press, 2020); BLUE (above/ground press, 2020); Preparations for Departure (UWAP, 2017), named a Book of the Year in Australian Book Review; Cult (Ginninderra Press, 2016); Distance (Ginninderra Press, 2015); Suburban Exile (Picaro Press, 2011); and Symptoms of Homesickness (Picaro Press, 2010). More than 200 of his poems have appeared in journals and anthologies published in thirteen countries, including Antipodes, Anthropocene, Backstory, Cordite, fourW, FourXFour, Headstuff, Marathon, Mascara, Postcolonial Text, Skylight 47, Snorkel, Strukturiss, Transnational Literature, Westerly and The Newcastle Poetry Prize Anthology 2017.
From Ballarat to Brisbane

After Joe Brainard

I remember falling out of a pine tree
at number 2 Waller Avenue in Ballarat

I remember my eyes puffing up
after playing in waist-high grass
on the vacant block down the street
and the pretty nurse sticking
a needle in my bum at the hospital

I remember riding a black horse
sixteen hands high while wearing red
gumboots and red corduroy jeans

I remember burning my tongue
with tomato soup at recess
in the shelter shed
at Redan Primary School

I remember the neighbour’s German Shepherd
nipping at my arse when I scaled the fence
after retrieving a tennis ball from their backyard

I remember riding my red bike
into a puddle beside Lake Wendouree
sinking in mud up to my handlebars

I remember carving my initials
into a branch high up inside
the eucalyptus tree with a pocketknife

I remember breaking my mate’s thumb
while taking a mark playing footy
on the oval at lunchtime in grade one

I remember moving from Ballarat to Brisbane
when I was six – leaving behind my mates
and everything I’d ever known

I remember standing in the dirt driveway
of 50 Larbonya Crescent, Capalaba
on New Year’s Day thinking It’s 1980!

I remember my mate Ian finding a wallet
stuffed with eight fifty-dollar notes
at the shopping centre and buying
a dozen cinnamon doughnuts

I remember playing barefoot
lunchtime rugby and red rover
ripping uniforms and skinning knees

I remember the headmaster
summoning me to his office
giving me six of the best
for playing outside in the rain