Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Sonnet: Sometimes a penis . . . by Halvard Johnson

Penises have numerous identities. For example, a corona
is a straight penis measuring some 5 1/2" with a rounded end
that goes in the mouth. Coronas then descend in order of size
as follows: petit corona, tres petit corona and half a corona,
coming in at about 3 1/2" in length. Similar in shape to the corona
but slightly longer is the Lonsdale. The Ideales is a thin, torpedo
penis measuring some 6 1/2". Bouquet and Londres penises are
similarly thin but shorter. One of the most popular and accessible

of the penis family is the panatella, which is slim, about 5" long
and is sometimes distinguished by being pinched at the mouth
end. Once it had a finished top that had to be severed before
pissing or fucking but this is not the case nowadays. A cheroot
is usually beefier than a panatella, and shorter. In Britain
a small penis open at both ends is called a whiff.


Hal writes:
It was Freud who once said that sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, a statement that for many years confused me. Bill Clinton, however, taught me that cigars can be more than cigars, and led me to forever confuse them with other implements, as you can see.

Mostly I can't really explain how poetry works/gets written. It just does.

Halvard Johnson

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Out now: Masthead 11: Poetryetc: Poems and Poets

An anthology edited by Andrew Burke and Candice Ward


"What made the Poetryetc listserv distinct from the beginning was John Kinsella¹s internationalism, and his vision of its being a space for collaborative projects as well as dialogue and exchange...From 1997, Poetryetc projects collectively represent hundreds of poems by dozens of poets, by any measure an extraordinary explosion of collective creativity....

"This anthology is the most recent of the Poetryetc projects. Edited by Candice Ward and Andrew Burke, with an e-book designed by Peter Ciccariello, it represents a selection of poems written by list members over the past few years. It includes many distinguished poets side by side with new or little known voices, and demonstrates the diversity and stylistic openness that was always a major strength of Poetryetc."

From Poetryetc: A Brief History by Alison Croggon

With poems from:

Rachel Loden | Martin Dolan | Kenneth Wolman | Renée Ashley | Patrick McManus | S.J. Litherland |Nathan Hondros | Sheila E. Murphy | Tina Bass | Trevor Joyce | Kasper Salonen | Larissa Shmailo | Halvard Johnson | Sally Evans | Glen Phillips | Mark Weiss | S.K. Kelen | Stephen Vincent | Tad Richards | Barry Alpert | Martin J. Walker | Jim Bennett |Gerald Schwartz | Peter Riley | Robin Hamilton | David Bircumshaw | Candice Ward | Peter Howard | Joanna Boulter | Jill Jones | John Kinsella | Randolph Healy | Bob Marcacci | Liz Kirby | Max Richards | Andrew Burke | Peter Larkin | Cindy Lee | Caleb Cluff | Douglas Barbour | Árni Ibsen | Janet Jackson | Lawrence Upton | Heather Taylor | Roger Collett | Peter Ciccariello |Harriet Zinnes | John Tranter | Sharon Brogan | Frederick Pollack | Pierre Joris | Alison Croggon


Friday, September 26, 2008


Only Franklin or the empty-headed
fly their kites while lightening
bothers distance yet here
the feather-headed ply their brains
along thin string and a twist
or two of hands. But nothing alights
like a falcon, the whimpering string
strains and relaxes, the kite
flutters its tethered emptiness and swoops
to catch only itself.

At 150 most cars take a life
on of their own
and decide the driver
is either ok or dead. At 160
the driver decides again. It’s a great
gap, 150 to 160,
like surf, you throw yourself
forward, ahead of yourself
and none of those little ties
to family or love exist.

Lightening crackles close, they fly
their pig-headed kites some more, then quit.
But at 160 you put your foot right down
eager for the rest of it

This poem is included in my forthcoming book, The Unhaunting, which Salt Publishing will bring out before the end of this year. It follows a poem about surfing, which I will explain later.

Ever since I was a teenager I’ve loved driving. Not driving madly, but watching the country in front whip past and new territory open up ahead. This poem grows out of that, even if at my age today I’ve become wary of driving for too long, since two of my friends were killed when the driver fell asleep on a long trip. Driving is dangerous, and that’s another reason why I find it enlivening.

Danger enters the poem in another way too, which is not explicit. In 1971 I was walking on the beach at Cape Hatteras where the Wright brothers made the world’s first flight in a powered aircraft. It’s long, and very flat, which I suppose is why they chose it. A thunderstorm blew up, and I watched lightening getting closer and closer. Soon I could see it striking the sand maybe half a mile (this was in the USA, of course) in front of me. I still kept walking towards it, half mesmerised but also consciously daring myself, as the lightening got closer. I was a lightening conductor, the only vertical thing on that deserted expanse of sand, and by now I was covered in water. Suddenly I turned and ran.

Benjamin Franklin discovered that lightening consisted of electricity by flying a kite in a lightening storm. He was crazy to do it, but was also one of his century’s great minds. Other people fly kites, float ideas or pretensions, but to no purpose. They’re empty-headed or feather brained (unlike the bird kites or falcons, who wear their feathers on the outside and are all muscle and determination inside).
I’m used to driving fast. In Germany, where I spend a fair slice of each year, it’s normal to do 140 to 150 on the Autobahn. But there’s a thrill pushing just that 10 k or more, and more, faster, as there is in surfing, and finding out how you can deal with and control the incredible force you’re riding. The poem’s about pushing yourself beyond what you thought your limits were, and finding more landscape opens up to you.

An anecdote. In the early 1970s I was driving one of the first Datsun 240Zs in Australia through the Adelaide Hills, before the freeway was completed. A huge red Ford challenged me and we upped the speed and upped it again and again, startled cars vanishing like mosquitoes in the rear vision mirror as we manoeuvred to pass or overtake, until I reckoned we – the car and I – had reached its limits. I pulled into a gas station, but the big red souped-up Ford pulled in beside me and a huge guy leaped out and rushed across. I scrambled to wind up the window but too late. He grabbed my hand and shook it and said ‘Jees, that was fucking great. I was pushing 180 and you was still pulling ahead of me!’ We could have been friends for life.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


The small family of saltimbanques
occupies one corner of the dance hall every Saturday.
The oldest girl moves with the same self-sufficiency
that all her family possesses. She walks an edge
of holding something back and then giving it fully.
The younger ones sit in a circle with their mother.
Her body made each one no more or less beautiful than the next,
as if she had chided patiently before their births:
now do not outshine the one before you.
It could be a family credo, this democracy of looks.
In their little circle they eat and play, practicing a patience
that certain beggars own. Nothing is too showy, everything eked out.
Their mother watches them with a poised neutrality.
She is with them the same way her oldest child dances.
At any moment she is tuned to another order, to almost
imperceptible openings. The colour of skin
beneath her eyes, a feather-blue in forest light.

LUCY says, 'This poem came from all the times that I've sat in and watched at my daughter's dance and acrobatic classes. On one occasion a friend said to me that you can tell a lot about a child from the way she/he dances. This statement came to rest in my mind with the image of a family that also attended these classes and the atmosphere that they created around themselves in one corner of the room. Of course, it's an imagining, a waking dream, of this family and it unites them loosely with Picasso's images of performers.

I love the unselfconscious intimacy that young dancers and acrobats have with each other. As they wait in line they lean on each other and do one another's hair. To me, there's something very honest and beautiful about the body learning these skills. When I watch my daughter execute a cartwheel I feel a pride in her strength and grace - the speed and sense of rhythm required and the risks are all compelling. I've come to think of poems that come as gifts (as this one did) as something like the feeling of a thumping good cartwheel.

Sideways to this poem sits an essay by John Berger simply called "Degas". Here's my favourite part of it:

"Do we not all dream of being known, known by our backs, legs, buttocks, shoulders, elbows, hair? Not psychologically recognised, not socially acclaimed, not praised, just nakedly known. Known as a child is by its mother." '

"Small Family of Saltimbanques" was first published in The Best Australian Poems 2004 (Black Inc., ed Les Murray) and then in Lucy's book White Clay. (Giramando Press, 2008)

SAX POEM:1 by Mike Williams

it's a saxophone evening
& there's a blues singer
singing for whisky
& cigarettes
rain dances on cold tombs
& back in the woods
owls sit like judges
lovers in a doorway
hands frantic beneath coats
& the man playing sax
has a hat on the ground
with coins
he's feeling lucky
it's just another night in so many

This poem has spawned two published novels, Old jazz & The Music of Dunes (Fremantle Press) and has become one of the poems I have put under the pen of my protagonist, Frank Harmon. A very simple poem, really, but I have a strong attachment to it. I like to put it across at readings, along with some companion poems. I like the sound of it, the atmosphere, the rain, the owls, the jazz of it. I wrote it after walking home one night and seeing a busker in Northbridge. Three more poems followed and, after numerous drafts, the novel Old Jazz ...

Mike Williams
Mike Williams books can be found at http://www.fremantlepress.com.au/

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

BLOWHOLE by Meg McKinlay

On the ocean road, we are tourists
of calamity; our father parks us close
to crumbling edges
and alarm. The sea puckers slick
rock-cheeks of disapproval, exhales
one body, consumes
the rest.

Meg says, "This poem actually began as a kind of exercise in 'writing short'. My natural tendency has always been to write fairly long poems, giving myself license to range freely across an idea until I feel I've exhausted its associative or narrative possibilities. I was astonished when this rather glaring feature of my work was pointed out to me, somehow having failed to notice it myself. At the time, I was putting together my first collection, Cleanskin, so I decided to try a few poems in which I consciously wrote against that impulse, staying tightly focused on a single image or idea.

'Blowhole' has its origins in childhood travels with my family up and down the Great Ocean Road in Victoria. We always seemed to be stopping to stare at a place where something awful had happened - a shipwreck site or the place where some once-great monument had crashed into the ocean. And of course, there were all those signs warning us not to get too close to the edges, that the cliffs could disintegrate beneath us at any moment, and so on. I was remembering all this, and thinking too, about the blowholes we had seen on those trips. I was fascinated by them, finding the violent but predictable movement of the water really hypnotic and investing it, I think, with the danger and threat associated with those other sites. So those connections started forming and I began playing around with the images, thinking there might be something there I could work with. For me, there's usually a moment when things start to coalesce, when I start to feel I'm on my way to a poem, rather than just pottering about with words; for this poem, it was when the phrase 'tourists of calamity' came to me. The rest followed fairly quickly after that and I managed to retain a reasonably tight focus and rein in my impulse to go exploring up and down the coastline and all the way through my childhood. There are a couple of other poems in Cleanskin which mine this sort of territory and these are actually bits and pieces which splintered off this poem to become new poems in their own right. It was really interesting for me to negotiate that process, to push those ideas out of 'Blowhole' and let them develop elsewhere into something different.

So this is a simple little poem, which is what I was after, but there's a neatness about it, a self-containment combined with a kind of larger, suggestive undercurrent, that I find pleasing. And I guess that's a little like blowholes themselves, so I like the way that works, too."

From Meg's website:

Cleanskin was published by The Westerly Centre as part of ArtsWA's "A Few New Words" initiative for emerging West Australian poets. It has gone out to Westerly subscribers with that year's issue, and can be purchased separately from The Westerly Centre, University of Western Australia, Crawley, WA. It consists of 24 pages of poems, mostly new work, and a CD of me [Meg] reading and discussing some of the poems, which was a lot of fun to do.

Meg McKinlay
Children's Writer & Poet

Monday, September 22, 2008

FINISHING UP by Andrew Lansdown

Nightfall … and I am still here
in the school at the prison farm.

My children will be at the table, filling
their mouths with food and chatter.

And the littlest one will be asking
her mother, “Where is Daddy?”

I am where my resignation
has led me. My roguish students

are in the compound, locked up
for the night. Except for the sentries

the guards are gone. I am alone,
finishing up. Did I miss someone

when I said goodbye? Does it matter?
We have been good to one another,

these bad men and I. I try not
to think I will never see them again.

I am alone. I look out the window.
The forest is in silhouette.

On the lawn, almost dissolved
in the dusk, a young kangaroo

hunches on its haunches to graze.
It was not there a moment ago and

in a moment when I open the door
it will not be there again.

Although “Finishing Up” was published for the first time in Quadrant magazine in March this year, it is a poem that I began writing in 1987. At the time, I didn’t feel the poem was good enough to publish and I couldn’t work out how to make it good enough. However, I did feel it had “something” and so I kept it in file with other “almost” poems. I came back to it last year and substantially revised it into its present form. And I am pleased with it now.

The gist of the poem is clear from the text of the poem. But a few specific details may be of interest. I was at the time the education officer-in-charge of the education centre at Barton’s Mill Prison Farm. The farm held minimum security male prisoners and was located near Pickering Brook in Western Australia. I had been granted leave without pay for a year in order to write a book on the Swan waterways with the painter Donald Green. The poem picks up on my mood as I stayed late to pack up my things on the last day at the prison.

Andrew Lansdown’s most recent books are: a collection of poetry titled Fontanelle (Five Islands Press); a collection of short stories titled The Dispossessed (Interactive Press); and three fantasy novels titled With My Knife, Dragonfox and The Red Dragon (Omnibus Books/ Scholastic Australia). Picaro Press has just republished his poetry collection, Waking and Always, first released by Angus & Robertson Publishers in 1987. More details about Andrew and his work can be found at http://andrewlansdown.com

Sunday, September 21, 2008

LAKE MOON by Murray Jennings

I have no idea what bird that is
which scuds, a silhouette
along the silver-pink surface.
You need to hear a call,
but it’s early night,
and they don’t..

It’s not a lake.
There’s been more rain than usual,
but the grasses and reeds, the marshes
have held it back in the creek
from the valley where perfect people
spend their weekends
while someone else scrapes
the barnacles from their boats
and vacuums their suburban driveways.

There will be complaints
but for me, nothing
taints this,
a lake moon,

a winter silence,
a shack roof needing nails,
rent to pay soon.

© Murray Jennings

"This poem crawled out of a novel I’m writing. It’s only slightly different from the protagonist’s soliloquy. A recently retired widower, he’s exiled himself to a remote, rundown old horse property, south of the city of Perth, Western Australia. The block borders on a swamp, part of a wetlands network which attracts a variety of migratory birds." Murray Jennings

Murray is the author of 'FLASH COMPANY - Poems and fictions', available from the following stockists:
Lane Books, Old Theatre Lane Claremont W.A.
Millpoint Caffe Bookshop, Mill Point Rd, South Perth W.A.
Planet Books, Beaufort St, Mt Lawley W.A.
Galileo Books, York, W.A.
IMPRINTS, Hindley St, Adelaide, S.A.
(RRP $19.00)
Or by mail from P.O. Box 460, COMO, W.A. 6152

Friday, September 19, 2008

SPRING BURNING by Glen Phillips

I stood thigh deep
in wild oats on
a roadside verge
of mine. This spring
greening had plumped them.
The full heads nodded
heavy on emerald fibre optic shafts
and swayed in the breath
that shook
the loose-leafed eucalypts.

And yes, summer
Would come like a
brazen border-invader
soaring up the stalks
with a brief
rinse of gold
before husks become pale flags
at the edge of farms.

Then we must think
a falling spark
of conflagration
in this dry grass
could sweep for miles.

Better to act now!
A spring burning
would see us safe
all summer long.

But still I stood;
whichever way
I looked, the road
stretched on and on.

After all, this
was just another
growing oat crop.

It’s hard to clear
the feral off
your property.

Then I felt spring
still burning
in me.

Glen Phillips
© 2005


In the early nineties, I was engaged in a major research program which concluded with the making of the television series ‘Landscape and You’. Incidentally, still screening on Perth television. For the television episodes we went back to my childhood birthplace of Southern Cross and other areas of the Wheatbelt where I spent many years of my life. I worked also with a very talented photographer, Susan Storm, and one of her enduring images was of me in spring time, standing waist-deep in a blaze of road verge wildflowers. I was looking at this image one day and was reminded of how so many rare native plants and animals have been destroyed by the widening of country roads. When I was a child, the roads were narrow gravel tracks with trees arching overhead. Now, not only are there much reduced verges, but many are regularly burned, trimmed back by horribly destructive slashing machines and invaded by wild oats and other alien plant species. I know this is in the name of road safety, fire prevention and the ‘control’ of what farmers call vermin. Nevertheless, all this is increasing the vulnerability and even extinction of many species and, of course, dramatically reducing the spring showings of wildflowers upon which much of our tourist trade depends. To me, it is all a reminder of the settler-invader culture of my forebears (and those of many other Australians), whose assumptions about land ownership have been brought into serious question by the conservationist conscience of today’s generations. In most Wheatbelt regions, fortunately, there are changes afoot. I hope it is not too late. Actually, my poem, ‘Spring Burning’ is only superficially about these problems. The poem is, of course really about the using up of one’s life by the carelessness of our youthful years. In middle life, as Dante well knew, you take a more conservationist attitude to the years you have left. You begin to think that you must avoid the ‘outside’ threats to your health, your material assets, even the amount of pleasure you can allow yourself. You begin to think your days of being a life ‘producer’ are to be substituted for by being miserly with what you have already got. We all know there is a great risk of becoming more conservative politically as you grow older. Witness the fear of all kinds of ‘ferals’ among certain community sectors. We grow fearful of ‘boat people’ and so called illegal immigrants. Throw ‘em overboard! But what keeps us human, hopefully, is that inside each of us there is still the most powerful force of all, the cyclical energy of desire, the pleasure of yet another (undeniable) spring.

Glen Phillips

Poetica on ABC Radio National Saturday & Thursday

20/9/2008 15:00
25/9/2008 15:45
High Country
URL: http://www.abc.net.au/rn/poetica/stories/2008/2338829.htm
The High Country by Jane and Phillip Ulman is a vintage program from 1985. Featuring the poetry of David Campbell and Douglas Stewart, it’s a portrait of a region which is geographically, historically and emotionally important to Australia. Poets have walked there and written about the wild region of the Snowy Mountains. Tom and Mollie Taylor spent a lifetime there. Recorded when they were both in their eighties, they evoke the spirit of the place in their recollections and anecdotes. The poems, the myths, the sounds of the mountains are the stuff of our folk history and memory.

Produced and presented by Mike Ladd

Thursday, September 18, 2008

By the lake at Peter Cowan Writers Centre

Andrew Taylor, Patron, and Andrew Burke, writer-in-residence, on the verandah at Peter Cowan Writers Centre for a reading Sunday 7 September 2008. Other two poets reading that day were Andrew Lansdown and Hal Colebatch.

Photo taken and supplied by Coby Pearson, execetive officer of the Centre. Thanks, Coby.
Anthony Burgess - "Laugh and the world laughs with you, snore and you sleep alone."

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Poetry & Pasta @ Hedgehogs Cafe 25 September

You are invited to

7pm Thursdeay 25 September 2008


Book Now to avoid disappointment!
9378 1976

Hedgehogs Cafe is at 83 Old Perth Road, Bassendean WA 6054

Dear Friends of Cordite

This is just a quick note to celebrate the fact that our newsletter now goes out to over 1,000 subscribers!

Oh, and also to remind you all that submissions for our 29th issue, Pastoral, close in just over two weeks, on September 30. We're looking forward to reading your work and making this issue even bigger and more diverse than the last - visit the site for submission details and other absorbing data!

Elsewhere on the Cordite site, you'll find a new book review posted every fortnight. Recent posts include Heather Taylor Johnson reviewing Mike Ladd, Adam Ford reviewing Alan Wearne and Pam Brown reviewing Miriel Lenore. Upcoming posts will include reviews of books by Michael Farrell, David Malouf and Judith Bishop.

Watch out for news of our two upcoming poetry featurettes, 28.1: Mulloway (online October 2008) and 29.1: Haikunaut (online early 2009).

Until then, we hope you've got your pastoral hats on, and look forward to your submissions.

Warm regards,
The Editors,
Cordite Poetry Review

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Reversal draft

Dew released ink
from the words of an open book
at dawn, so words ran
frenetically up the arteries
of gasping presses until
they circled letter by letter,
stop by stop, comma by
comma, back onto
a spinning disk which slowed
to a sudden halt, left to
retire into a plastic carrier and travelled out
to a car as hand luggage. Through
the streets words lay by
their driver through green lights
turning red to be once again in
their tower spinning like thread
until they pushed up keys
to be released into their weaver’s fingers,
pushing past the pressures
of the wrist, clotting
briefly at the elbow to
appear, fresh-faced, wide-eyed,
in a sparking cerebellum cortex to
fade slowly
into vapours of thought …

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

George Eliot quote

“...If we had a keen vision of all that is ordinary in human life, it would be like hearing the grass grow or the squirrel’s heart beat, and we should die of that roar which is the other side of silence.” George Eliot

I am asking for the original source of this quote.

Today it came from an email from Stephen Vincent, USA poet and blogger, whose secondary source was "Prof. Charles Liu in his honors class at CUNY as reported in a story in today's NY Times".

Stephen was suggesting John Cage - and like minds - would have loved this quote. I do, I do. Do you?

Monday, September 08, 2008

Beverley George at HaibunToday

I have been quiet here recently due to too much work in other realms. I'm not exactly quiet now, but it is more manageable. So, I apologise if you have visited to find only the same old same old sitting there.

Today I would like to send you to another blog where sits haibun by Beverley George, Australian poet from the eastern coast. Haibun is a tricky medium to write in and I think she brings it off well: http://haibuntoday.blogspot.com/