Rodney Williams

Rodney Williams has had poems published in various journals, including Overland, Blue Dog, Five Bells, page seventeen, The Paradise Anthology & Tasmanian Times, along with Poetry New Zealand and Antipodes. His haiku and tanka have appeared in a range of periodicals in Australia and America, as well as in New Zealand, Austria, Ireland and Canada. Also publishing critical pieces and short fiction, Rodney regularly performs in Spoken Word events, with readings broadcast on radio. A secondary school teacher of English and Literature, he has led workshops at regional writers’ festivals.  In collaboration with painter Otto Boron (twice named Victorian Artist of the Year), in 2008 Rodney Williams produced the book Rural Dwellings – Gippsland and Beyond.





From Muir Woods to Walhalla

A triolet for my son Rohan


in a fresh forest stream – headwater-clean –
our blood-folk close, in a united state,
you once spied a crawdaddy no one had seen;
in a fresh forest stream (headwater-clean)
you find fingerling trout now, kingfisher-keen,
just as your sight’s clear, when kindred debate;
in a fresh forest stream, headwater-clean,
our blood-folk close in – a united state




First Aid

for Hazel


our mother was superintendent
to a red cross service company –
no mere charitable collectors
her crew staffed the local blood bank
while every winter weekend
in their tin booth at the netball
they’d patch up bitumen grazes
staining knees with gentian violet
soothing sobs with reassurance
from calico we kids would fashion
slings not sipped in Singapore –
as a hearthside cottage handicraft
we’d fabricate injuries in maché
stiff as splints on limbs still slender
sporting wounds in livid enamel
with bones jagged in card protruding
compound fractures if not interest
money tight as snakebite tourniquets

at ambulance first-aid courses
my sisters and I played patient
well schooled in all our symptoms:
a car wrecked out on the roadside
could host a training exercise –
when the fire brigade held a back-burn
our mum might stage a mock disaster
with her offspring cast as victim
a role we’d each learnt all too well
father had no drinking problem
if he’d another glass to drown in –
with her marriage past resuscitation
mum was made citizen of the year
likewise honoured by the queen:
filling a host of poorly paid positions
the old girl kept us kids together
the greatest service to our company
her toughest first-aid exercise of all



Black Betty

a Wilson’s Promontory Myth
Black Betty, settlers called her –
a fiery piece but not half bad


on my rounds of Wilson’s Promontory
coming back from Sealer’s Cove
as park ranger I spot a hitcher
bare skin dark as any full-blood
her thumb more down than out
I’ll drop her off at Tidal River
some decent clothes we’ll find her
no one over there she’ll bother –
as I wind down my window
pretty Betty starts to speak


whitefella whalers, redhead sealers
rank with blubber, sperm and steel
all foul breath and sickly chests
rummy heads and scabs undressed
my eyes despise them still
not enough to take our hunting
they forced their way between my legs
till like harpooned meat I bled   
then with a blade made for flensing
from my trunk they docked my head
leaning against this ranger’s truck  
I lift my noggin off my neck
to place my block upon his bone –
vanishing yet I haunt his sight
as white folk vouch by campfire light


Black Betty, he still called me –  
did I send the wrong man mad?