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Chittagong
A kennings poem for Bellevue Hill Public School

Rusted whales
beached in the Bay of Bengal.
Ribs dismantled, returned
to metalled mud.

Ships splinter,
brittle as bone.
No time to
carve tombstones
in sand.

Blueprints don’t detail
these distances or depths,
boys hide and seek
in hulls.

Debris blazes on
scrapyard shores. Fractured shifts
of salvaged sleep,
dreams set adrift with

tomorrow’s satellites.
Below, there is a broken city,
the ocean can’t recall
all it has kept.

__________________________________________________________
Tamryn Bennett is an Australian writer and visual artist currently living in Mexico. Since 2004 she has exhibited artists books (Showers and Clearing and Polaroids and Postcards) illustrations and comics in Sydney, Melbourne and Mexico. Her poetry, illustrations and articles have appeared in Five Bells, Nth Degree, Mascara Literary Review and various academic publications. She has a PhD in ‘Comics Poetry’ from The University of New South Wales and when in Sydney was Art & Publications Director for The Red Room Company. tamrynbennett.com

The Ventriloquist’s Lament

Let me tell you:

in strangers’ houses
all roads lead to rooms
mirrors turn a blind eye

to undone hair and buttons
the swoop of lambent moths
and other accidental creatures

kitchen tables float like coral
pomegranates stain your
hands blood red for days

space is reserved for

long eyes and afternoons
glancing in windowsills

every day a new photograph
in the thraldom of debt
I grew out of all that dust.

__________________________________________________________
Lindsay Tuggle grew up in Alabama, Kentucky, and Kansas. She moved to Australia ten years ago, and now lives in Austinmer. She has written poetry for most of her life, though she only began writing for publication a few years ago. Lindsay is interested in the relationship between language and place, especially vanished or vanishing places: those that exist now only in the memories of the people who once lived there. Her poetry has been published in HEAT and as part of The Red Room Company’s Dust Poems and Unlocked projects. In 2009, her work was awarded second prize in the Val Vallis Award for Poetry.

Attempts to Get Oats Into this Poem
For Bishop Druitt College, 2012

It was no reflection on my fondness for you, the throwing of the sour milk.
The sound of the silver bucket spread out like a town at the beginning of a
Kurosawa. The milk was hula. The day: ultra marine. You stepped in the mood. Do you still follow bees? I found four in a tea pot …

On the cover of your book is an open locket and within it your relatives?
Cousins? Their faces are small but I can recognise your eyes. With what poems will you describe them this Christmas? Christmas like the name Tony
Tuckson. I guess I see spilled paint across the canvas like a pulled muscle.

We could get a towel, or sit in the sun? There’s a bus! And our reflection in it,
turning. It was my thought today that as poets we should eat good breakfasts.
You? Oats, sliced pear, pepitas, other seeds, natural yogurt.

_______________________________________________
Luke Beesley was born in Brisbane and is a poet, artist and musician, and has an M.Phil in Creative Writing from the University of Queensland. Luke’s first book of poetry, Lemon Shark, was highly commended in the Ann Elder Award. His second poetry collection, Balance, based on an Asialink Residency to India, will be published in 2012 by Whitmore Press, and his third collection, New Works on Paper, will be published by Giramondo Press in early 2013. He is presently working on an artists’ book of poems and drawings called Seed, which was researched with a Creative Fellowship from the State Library of Victoria. He has exhibited drawings in a number of group shows, and he had his first solo show, ‘Authors’, in 2011. Luke is the singer-songwriter for the band, ‘New Archer’, who play in Melbourne regularly and will release their debut ep in 2012. He lives in Northcote, Melbourne, with his partner – artist and designer, Zoe Miller – and their son, Ari.

Cranbrook, Mid-June
After Martin Harrison

The inarguable harbour proves the point
hit by the low winter sun, we squint
fishing for cutlery, facing the mirrors
in a high-ceilinged room.

We discuss pies and north coast water,
pale meat, dark gravy, Broken Head. Each beach
orchestrates a meeting of sand and water,
a certain mood or consistency, according to sandbars,
light, temperature, rock outcrop—and what to call
the way we gauge the feeling of surrounding water,
its pressures, its tastes and density on our faces,
in our thinking and remembering mouths, summing up this place
and the last, this place and the possible next.
The feeling of a wet face in the open air. These
summer memories persist in their fading.
I watch the unpainted, unphotographed scenes,
where two shadows stand in the shallows
hurling a ball back and forth for eternity. Knowing,
somehow, that they are creating the future with this custom.

It’s the kind of aspect that makes you check
every minute or so, thinking that it might have been a mirage.
That it might have ducked off or returned to its postcard.
In the east, winter deadens nothing of Sydney’s glamour.
The harbour is everywhere; distance in the foreground,
over there, but saturating your gaze no less than lack of sleep.
And something about the light these last few days,
ember-red mornings and evenings, penetrating, silvery mid-afternoons.

Scattered, identical bags, thoughtlessly dropped—
perhaps cars become supplements, parked in perfunctory locations,
fissured into oblivion by beelines, deadlines, getaways, routine. Life.

Strange to see such dedicated early morning activity,
such concern and seriousness in the minds of young men,
such mannered tentativeness and melancholy. I suppose
that’s the pain of adolescence, these adult sensibilities
crystallised in the foreign zones of youth. But it’s never a complete
or chronological change. We simply
become different children in a way, who discover deft, often clandestine techniques
for consulting that distant temperament
on matters of importance: like which treat to choose, or
whether to get up to something simply for the sake of it.
And perhaps we are never more adult
than in those dawning days when the contrast is most pronounced.
When the duties faced later still seem an impressive illusion:
avoidable, symbolic, inconsistent apparitions on the horizon,
to which we temporarily but never more believingly adhere.
At least that’s how it seems, walking amid the quiet activity
on the last day before winter break,
in the stunning, horizontal light, the panorama cut with mirrored surfaces,
sharp, dripping breaks in the outlook, nested coves and grand prospects;
such an unlikely atmosphere in which to reminisce, and yet…

________________________________________________________
Tom Lee is a Sydney based poet who is imminently submitting his doctoral thesis on the prose fiction of the late W. G. Sebald. He lives in Manly and returns often to the farm where he grew up in Central West NSW. His poetry and poetry criticism has featured in Overland Magazine, Southerly Journal, Blackbox Manifold, Steamer, whenpressed.net and The Reader. His poem ‘Plateau’ was commended in the 2008 Judith Wright Poetry Awards. A selection of his creative and critical work is viewable at tomfredlee.wordpress.com.

If you force the sea through a sieve
For Year 8, Frankston High School

If you force the sea
_____through a sieve

__________stand back. Oceans will run clear and thin.
__________You’ll grow bright over your dull catch –
__________eat like Neptune, then sleep

__________hardly feeling the neap and king
__________movements of your mind’s floor.
__________Light will pass,
__________and the sea things douse and drawl
__________through your dreams.

____________________At last their drip-
__________ping will seem to have sunk in silence.
__________Only then will you find yourself stir,
__________slowly ascend through the levels
__________to surface, hauled out
__________into blue avenues of spreading mass and murmur.

Papercuts Poet at Frankston High School VIC, 2011

____________________________________________
Dr. Bonny Cassidy is a poet and writer based in Melbourne. In 2008 she undertook an Asialink/Malcolm Robertson Foundation literature fellowship in Japan, and she is currently the recipient of the Marten Bequest Travelling Scholarship for Poetry 2010-2011.  She was co-editor of The Salon Anthology of New Writing + Art 2005-2007 (Sydney: non-generic, 2007) and her first collection of poems, Said To Be Standing (Sydney: Vagabond Press) was released in 2010. A full collection, Certain Fathoms was released in 2012 by Puncher & Wattmann. In 2008 her first libretto, Wounding Song, was produced by the University of Wollongong, and she has recently completed an adaptation of Eve Langley’s The Pea-pickers for chamber opera, with composer Jeff Galea.  Bonny has taught Creative Writing, English and Australian Literature, and written on Australian poetry and poetics. She was President of Sydney PEN 2009-2011.

Papercuts is Australia’s only national poetry education program. Papercuts promotes the living practice of poetry through a series of workshops with contemporary Australian poets. Through Papercuts, students and educators in primary and secondary schools, correctional centres, community organisations, professional associations and universities, undertake workshops to develop their own poems, poetry collections and exhibitions.

Created by The Red Room Company in 2007, Papercuts is now programmed in over 50 schools across Australia. Originally designed for High School Students, the learning kits have since been expanded to cater to primary students from years 1-6. A diverse range of students have so far benefitted from the Papercuts learning experience, from students with special needs to gifted and talented groups. We have also run a project at Sunning Hill School in the Juniperina Juvenile Justice Centre.

Find out more about Papercuts.

The Pieces
A group poem

If my hand had fallen into yours earlier, I might
_______still be holding you.
I’ll always remember what you told me:
In order to build a castle, learn how to build a
____________________________house first.
I’m excited and nervous at the same time.
I can’t wait to come home.
Listening to your echoes surrounding me.
I’m sick of this jail because of the lockins.
Curiosity and patience grow longer
____Awaiting an answer that feels like eternity.
I look out the window at night
And see the brick wall and the shadow
Behind the security lights which
Light up the premises to form a sparkle
Which reflects off the shiny razor wire.

I’ve realized that it’s not the time here that’s bothering me
______But the time I’ve lost with you.

____________________________________I need a new pen…
This is my everyday life.
I long to carry your burdens.

____________________With a positive mentality better days await.

We’ve picked up the pieces, broken from a mirror.
We placed them so everything seems clearer.
The crushing and crowding of our space, just thee
________________________________and me no more.
How quickly this changes and crumbles.
_______________________________________________________
The John Morony Correctional Complex is located 5 km south of Windsor. A group of students from the Intensive Learning Centre took part in the Unlocked project, with poet Lindsay Tuggle. Their poems are collected in the Unlocked Anthology.

Ralph

A dead dog.
A deep hole.
A piece of rope.
I tied one end around the dog’s waist,
the other around mine.
Ralph (I’ve given him a name)
went in first.
We didn’t make it as far as China
but we did come out in a strange city, a city
unlike any I’d ever seen.
Everything – the streets, the buildings, the doors
& windows – was made of polished steel, everything.
And it was bright, much too bright
for my weak eyes.
I soon went blind.
Ralph (who by some miracle has come back to life,
or perhaps he was only sleeping)
was not cut out to be a seeing-eye dog
but he’s doing the best he can.

______________________________________________________
Philip Hammial has had twenty-two collections of poetry published. His sixteenth collection, In the Year of Our Lord Slaughter’s Children, was short-listed for the Kenneth Slessor Prize in 2004, as was his fourteenth collection, Bread, in 2001. In 2004 Philip was awarded an Established Writer’s grant by the Literature Board of the Australia Council. He has represented Australia at several international poetry festivals: Poetry Africa 2000, Durban, SA; The Franco-Anglais Festival of Poetry, Paris, 2000; The World Festival of Poets 2000, Tokyo; the Festival International de la Poesie, Trois Rivieres, Canada, 2004 and the Micro-Festival, Prague, 2009. In 2006 an anthology of Australian poetry in French that Philip edited – 25 poetes australiens – was published by Ecrits des Forges in Trois Rivieres, Quebec and Le Temps des Cerises in Paris. He was a resident at the Australia Council studio at the Cité International des Arts in Paris for six months in 2009/2010

The Northern Road

1.

I should have known
him but I had no prior
experience with prophets.

Something about the time of day
felt still as

_______the invisible press of tobacco,
the rustle of upturned leaves
in a thousand barns.

Finality slides deeper.
Uncut grasses roll and die.

Commodified firewood fills
the absence of orchard bones.

Other attractions:

winter anonymity,
_______once done
creeps into country,
etches convoys in the woods.

The prohibition of nostalgia
is born in
cellar holes and undone buttons.

Ochre cigarettes paper the urinal.
Letters above the caricatures.

Please proceed in an orderly fashion
toward the faith cures.

Changes that would seem evidently
_______paranormal
such as
_______the regeneration of lost fingers
do not arise
in the context of
_____________________modern healers.

Still it remains—
glass in her wound.

I never left the house
I just took the door with me.

2.

The mouth is an archway
_______semi _______elliptical

The walls and roof bow
near the centre
and retain that curvature
_______to the end.

The floor inclines upward,
at the far end comes to meet
the bent ceiling.

This excavated channel is
born of deposits and erosion.

Near the ceiling two narrow
crevices extend across
and beyond the Cave.

One has a chimney-like opening
large enough to admit _____________________a man.

This small place is known
as the ‘upper cave’
and has a history and fiction
all its own.

This is the hermitage
of river thieves and highwaymen.

Early travellers designated it
by various names, all of which
contained the word ‘Cave.’

‘It has the appearance of
something like a large oven.’

‘We beheld numbers of names
cut into the sides of the Cave.’

I don’t know what ownership means
except to say
you own the silence that surrounds you.

In dwelling
the only occupation is
the air you leave behind.

A part
or particle _______unsettled;
a disused cavern
_____________________of breath.

Won’t you
_______come______________ in?

Author’s Note: This poem was influenced by my time with the residents of John Morony Correctional Facility and the landscape that surrounds it. It also responds to geological formations in an area known as Garden of the Gods in Southern Illinois. Specifically, the place known as Cave-in-Rock that overlooks the Ohio River and the Natchez Trace. Throughout the nineteenth century, Cave-in-Rock was the seasonal home of generations of highwaymen and river pirates, who escaped detection within the inner cave. I am grateful for Otto A. Rothert’s excellent regional history, The Outlaws of Cave-in-Rock (1924). The quotes in part two are adapted from a letter by the British Astronomer Francis Baily, dated April 16, 1797, detailing his visit to Cave-in-Rock.

___________________________________________________
Lindsay Tuggle grew up in Alabama, Kentucky, and Kansas. She moved to Australia ten years ago, and now lives in Austinmer. She has written poetry for most of her life, though she only began writing for publication a few years ago. Lindsay is interested in the relationship between language and place, especially vanished or vanishing places: those that exist now only in the memories of the people who once lived there. Her poetry has been published in HEAT and as part of The Red Room Company’s Dust Poems and Unlocked projects. In 2009, her work was awarded second prize in the Val Vallis Award for Poetry.

Confused Like Horses

He sat down and tried
to focus
but couldn’t truly
make out the shapes.

Some nights,
he sleepwalks into streetlit
rooms all over
the planet.
You dream of your best friend’s
house – it’s a collage,
but you’d swear blind it was the real thing.

Us here, we’re confused
like horses kick in thunderstorm stables.
The distant end of every tunnel
is darker than the blue of night above.

_____________________________________________________
Rob Wilson is a poet that currently resides in Sydney. He has had poems published in Cordite, Boxkite and Ampersand Magazine. His first collection of poems, Camera Farm, was released in 2003 by Bird in the Mouth Press. His poem is featured in the Unlocked Anthology.

Jumanji
a group poem

Trunk packed and ready for nowhere,
Manuscript tells stories in spots and dashes called songs.
Song list on the lampbase doubling as a microphone,
The man looks lonely and lost
As though he’s taken one last look before leaving
It reminds me of Jumanji.
What is the lion doing in the house with a police hat on?
The light is on and it’s already daytime.
The boundary line between the man and the lion:
The antique collector’s lounge.
__________This is one scary cat.
__________He dominates the room.
This is the lion’s domain,
The man is his pet
It’s a jungle in there,
_____This strange man’s den.
Cat in a hat.
There’s a dog wearing a cop hat.
The dooryard echoes of an open suitcase.

_____________________________________________________
The John Morony Correctional Complex is located 5 km south of Windsor. A group of students from the Intensive Learning Centre took part in the Unlocked project, with poet Lindsay Tuggle. Their poems are collected in the Unlocked Anthology.

Unlocked is an educational program developed and run by The Red Room Company in collaboration with NSW Correctional Centres. The program aims to unlock the potential of inmates through the transformative possibilities of poetry. Australian poets are taken into the centres to run intensive writing workshops, working with the students on every stage of the writing process, from the initial exercises and experimentations, through the editing and rewriting process, to recording, performing and publishing their work in a professionally designed print anthology. You can purchase a Unlocked #1 or #2 to help support the program.

Piloted in Sydney in 2010, the project has now entered its third year. The most recent Unlocked project was held at the Balund-a Project, a residential diversionary program for male and female offenders between 18 and 40. The program has a strong Indigenous focus, which is also a focus for Unlocked for 2012. Indigenous poet Lionel Fogarty led the workshops, and the students responded with great enthusiasm to Lionel’s work and stories. There was a particular interest in Lionel’s use of language, his mixing of English and Bandjalang dialect. Photos from the project are on flickr, and the next Unlocked anthology will be appearing soon.

In October 2012 Red Room Company poets Lionel Fogarty and Nick Bryant-Smith will be traveling to South Coast Correctional Centre to run an intensive, three-day workshop. Through Unlocked, students can return to the community with recognised qualifications, as a part of the study that they have completed inside. In this way, the value of the project is not just in helping students to come to terms with emotions, past experiences or relationships, but to build practical literacy and communication skills, and the confidence to apply them.

Find out more about Unlocked.

Fountain 77, Glebe

For Timothy Yu

Plastic-sheathed roses embroider the dark.
_________________Set to volplane
we take photo-triptychs, each of the other.
Moments of daring oscillate in the strangers
we become.
_________________And arms betray us,
they link our assembly of states, ventriloquised,
________cravassed by cloud, echoes, reason’s
sastruga faults, whole continents of inaccuracy
________rumoured, unrumoured.

Making for the 336, syllables cleft as we inhale
olfactory flakes, a wrapping scrapes the asphalt
___________in our roan-coloured quarter.
Parting, of course, is not
sinking like some Titanic hybrid, cobalt-feathered
________________favouring métissage,
________but a cold coming—
________So riddled —are we?

_____________________________________________________
Michelle Cahill is a Sydney poet, author of two collections of poetry and two chapbooks. Vishvarupa and Night Birds are her most recent books. She received the Val Vallis Award and was highly commended in the Wesley Michel Wright Prize.

The Disappearing Suite

They hover on the edges, their voices haunting
the blue hour when the tide of memory recedes
and forgetfulness returns, washing over the ash-prints
of their passing, so faint, yet so fresh you can’t tell
if the moment is disappearing or about to happen,
if something is being written or erased, your body
still alive with the touch, the echo of their breath,
their absence a faint shiver in the curtain and you wait
in the silence between words, between forgetting and remembering.

__________________*

Between pages, books, stations, between one life
and the next the list of the disappeared grows,
a book writing itself, a ledger bulging with absences,
a map where the empty quarter spreads, advancing sands
erasing the traces of the disappeared, and you are on a floe
shrinking with each vanishing, each face and place
sunk in your Atlantis, and you make of the empty page
an ark, a craft you shape with the words they left you,
and load all the absences onto its leaking hold.

__________________*

All the absences add to an invisible freight, a ballast
keeping the living afloat on the sea of dying,
a blank page keeping them waiting with the candles
of wakefulness and images of the missing in their arms,
for the word that will complete the story and let the last spade
of the remembering earth fall, so that the tired hands
will be relieved of the weight of waiting, of holding
the emptiness like an icon that shines with a dead light,
so that the living can go on with the business of dying.

__________________*

Dying notes in the mirror, on the keys, the music
of the disappeared, what keeps you playing, improvising
soloing to the notes of one no longer there in the trio,
like Evans hunched over the black mirror of his piano,
playing in the wake of La Faro’s going, tuned to the bass
chords, the silent music that the disappeared leaves;
how the fingers dance to weave the lament,
the bridge over the blue silences between songs,
the track the dead travels between here and the other side.

__________________*

They have gone like scouts, crossed over to the other side
and return on fleeting visits, like emigrants, emissaries,
stealing in, leaving again under the radar of words, announcing
with their ghost-scent, their breath of silence, their arrival,
a taste of otherness, as they slip into the room in your dream
so quietly that it feels as if they have never left, your father
who had already disappeared out of your life, out of his own,
before being completely gone, now sitting next to you,
a book of absence and pain whose pages you can’t read.

__________________*

Over and over we write the book of the disappeared,
chanting the sutras that open up the realms
and give them free passage, the disappeared ones,
afraid to freeze them in their tracks as they vanish,
afraid too to free them, dispatch them to the place
where they can’t disappear anymore, and, once and for all,
release them from the no-place where they hover
and haunt, in the long corridors of the poem,
words wandering between the living and the dead.

__________________*

The afterlives of the dead will never change, framed
in lost time, snapshots forgotten or lost, their faces
wearing the sheen of perfection, a sorrowful beauty
beyond reproach, sleeved in the salt of memory, yet
something is going, slipping through between forgetting
and remembering, the aura draining from the images,
the absence on the edge a vacuum sucking in the colours,
the living features, the strip of light between Rothko’s grey
on black panels fading so slow you think it’s staying.

__________________*

You set out, a search party of one, on the fading
trail of letters, the emails, tokens, memories like tracks
fading fast, the memories, souvenirs, a disappearing trail
in the snow, in the shifting sand, from phrase to phrase you
play along, the ghostly song, and they are nowhere
and everywhere in the air, the images of those gone,
like the backpacker in the Rishikesh hills, his face multiplying
on notice-boards, his face an icon echoing with rumours
of an afterlife beyond the trails above the treeline of words.

__________________*

In the room that you reach at the end of the poem
there is a mirror that shivers with an afterimage,
a tremble in the curtain, a whiff of a forgotten scent
on the dust-sheets drawn over what has survived.
Outside the window the last chord of memory goes
diminuendo over the disappearing city, its streets losing
their names in its wake, as you turn to the page
marked with the tracks of the disappeared, and trace
their passage, your hand still alive with their touch.

________________________________________________________
Kim Cheng Boey is a Singapore-born poet who is now an Australian citizen living in Sydney and teaching at the University of Newcastle. He has published four books of poetry and a book of essays. His next collection of poems entitled La Mien in Melbourne will be published by Puncher and Wattman.

eclipsing binary

For Steve from Sydney

enroute to the airport
you threw a fit out the window
so I stopped the car
refused to start the engine

watched you
from the driver’s seat
hunched in the humidity
searching the verge

till an insect
brilliant iridescent
shimmering
landed eye level
inside the windscreen
and we stared with interest
at each other

it was a long time
till you found the syringe

got back in the car
and missed your plane

_______________________________________________
Bronwyn Emily Lang was raised upside down on the face page of Gyo Fujikawa’s book and is completed poems and postgraduate studies at University of Wollongong – Faculty of Creative Arts.