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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.


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


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
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.


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.

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.