The local cakeshops were not ethnic enough for us                              

A smouldering grid on a cypress stand

Unfazed by the coast road, we welcomed the challenge.          

Well, why leave it there?  I say, let’s go the whole hog

Now with all seasons damaged under our savage dominion

She has signed the forms in her diffident hand

In the morning, I went out with the officials.

A sort of colonisation took place here

Dropping jokes like shelled nuts along a path

A busload of adolescents and bureaucrats trade frisbees

Canberrans congregate in all seasons but especially this one

The abbot’s insistent: so much to do before

From the yard’s galvanised subconscious, I watch

Because it was wet and neither of us felt like working

The paddocks present blind flanks to the sun

Only a currawong dialing the neighbourhood

It begins with an aleph, the diminutive

There should be a name for the special case

The car’s dorsal wave carves off

of its bearing on the land

The line between white sky and white sea is smeared

‘Forgive me, sister, if my handwriting seems

Look at these hands: how scarred they are, how ugly.

The picture shows a man leaping from a second-floor window.            [2022]

Can we not take all these prizes as given?

How well I know that photograph from childhood’s mantelpiece

Cloudshadow snags tussocks and scree

I know that there will be a night when we

After the clamour of choosing a captain

How you dazzled us, old chum, with the colour of that tree!

Not that hard to remember, or even to place

Your grandfather steps lightly over the cold kitchen floor

I had forgotten rain’s mechanism: how it doesn’t fall

As if to evoke the artifice of location

As always, time’s sieve selects a myth from the facts

As if you had never known this light: saints, tunics

Our sun-cankered, frost-lacerated old bomb

Did it (as she reported in that flap of a note

Bowler-hatted, unsmiling, moustachioed,

So there we were, jammed together on the back seat,

As if all the world’s ravelled, bright course

At first you hardly recognise them for what they are

In the warm dusk, pink and purple arcs

A filament lights a dark bulb of shops

They are the harbingers of hard times for a business…

Tonight, America, the stars above you have been blotted out                 

That you were conceived before the Afterwards of uncommon times

Vessels shaped by the light they hold

To be quiet and not crush

Oh, but it’s a race all right, trust me, kid, that