Friday, September 24, 2021





When we turned off the wireless in the lounge-room

my father once said you can’t beat a nightcap.

Slumber should be deep, dreamless and rewarding.

Lean times. His choice was cheap Johnny Walker red.

He would run his tongue over his lips and say goodnight

the last thing before sleep.


Times are okay now. I’ve walked in the Cuillins

which he sang about but never got to. He never smelt

‘…the tangle of the Isles.’

I’ve travelled to untangle a string of work worries

Had wild highland heather scrape the campervan

and uncorked a Lagavulin in the long twilight.

-        that unmistakeable aroma of smokey peat –

wishing I could share it with him

the last thing before sleep.


I’m fourteen years older than my father was when he died.

My youngest son is catching up to both of us.

He who stuck a giant poster of Kurt Cobain

on his bedroom wall all those years ago

after he’d heard the bad news and stared at it

his guitar across his chest

the last thing before sleep.


-        © 2019  Murray Jennings

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

SHORT STORY - Jan Napier


SHOW DAY - a memory by JAN NAPIER

            It was time to go. I tossed a towel over my shoulder, squeezed toothpaste onto the brush, and locked the van. I could hear Mick next door, muttering in his sleep as I stepped outside. Sliding sideways down the narrow passage way between two canvas joints, I walked out on to the grass street which runs betwixt Wittenoom Ave. and Cattle Street. Crossing Wittenoom, I walked up the footpath next to the Wild Mouse, then into the ablution block. Refreshed and ready for the day ahead, I retraced my steps. Dumping my gear in my room, I went and quietly cracked the door to the crew van.

            This was a twenty foot, four berth van in which the rest of Jack’s workers lived. Although it was their home, in practice we all shared the use of the facilities such as the stove and fridge. It was the place where we all ate, partied, and socialized.

For now, I just wanted breakfast - a coffee. If I could manage to boil the kettle without waking anyone up, I would be able to escape without having to make cuppas for everyone. I was in luck. The boys were still snoring.

            Hot drink in one hand and cigarette in the other, I went and sat carefully on the ball rack which fronted Jack’s basketball joint. I loved this time of the day. Everything was quiet and fresh. The sky was just turning blue, while the grounds were hushed and still. The big rides stood silent, freshly painted and gleaming in the weak morning sun. Music systems only needed to be plugged in. Ticket boxes furnished with a variety of tatty chairs awaited endless rolls of tickets, and change trays.  The joints, contents hidden behind their smothers, were all filled to bursting with plush. The twenty cent machines familiarly known as choppers slept under their individual canvas hoods. Shortly, sleepy bodies would begin to emerge from caravans, wander off to the showers, or in search of a cooked breakfast from the CWA ladies. For the moment however, it was all mine.

            It was the first day of the Royal Show. We (the crew) had to be on deck sober,  showered, and respectable, at eight o’clock sharp. Some of the boys removed the covers from the machines and took them around to the annexe by Jack’s van where they would be stored for the day.  They then helped the boss with the laborious business of loading the devices with coins.

Others started to take down storm ropes and fold up the smothers. When they had finished doing that, one of them grabbed the sledge hammer and knocked out the storm pegs securing the joints. I worked a dart joint and preferred to remove my own smother. Subsequently, I checked the stock then went to get the darts from Bev, the bosses’ wife. When everything had been done, it was back around to Jack’s van where Bev handed out waist bags which contained a small float. She called your name, gave you a bag, and assigned you to a particular joint. Jack employed a lot of casuals for this show. He would take them to their work stations and explain the job. They were put into a joint with a member of his permanent crew.  The experienced employee would keep an eye on the new recruit. I was permanent, so Bev gave me two bags then told one of the casuals to go with me.  

There was a few minutes to get organized, (find somewhere to put your water, cigarettes, throat lollies, learn each other’s names, etc), before officials opened the showground gates and the initial trickle of humanity began to filter down to the alley. I smiled at a family of four as they passed in front of the stall.

“Have a game. Four darts for two dollars,” I called, offering a handful of darts. They looked, grinned, and shook their heads. Never mind. My apprentice was staring at me in undisguised horror. “It’s OK, you just watch me for a while, then you can have a go,” I reassured her.

“ I’m not doing that. It’s too embarrassing,” she refused.

It didn’t get really busy till about lunchtime. Jack came across to ask how my helper was getting on.

“Pretty useless actually,” I told him sotto voice. “She won’t spruik, just stands there doing nothing.”

“ Give me a minute, I’ll swap her into a quieter joint,” Jack promised.

The next girl was fine. Frantically we counted scores, gave out prizes, avoided flying missiles, ducked shattering light globes, assured tearful tots that the teddy which they had just impaled wasn’t really hurt, changed money, and gathered up spent darts. As we worked, one of the crew who was acting as stock boy, would periodically enter the stall to replenish and tidy our supply of toys. He also carried some change, which meant that we didn’t have to wait for Jack. At set intervals, either he or Bev would appear with a fresh set of waist bags. This was called doing a collect. We handed over our full bags, and took the new ones.

 The meal breaks were half an hour. I went back to the crew van, made some lunch, then sat down. After being on my feet for hours, all I wanted was some time out and a chance to sit down somewhere quiet for a while.  For the first few days, most of the casuals rushed around buying showbags or going on rides, then complained that they hadn’t had time to eat and their feet hurt. Tough bikkies. Eventually they learned. If they lasted that long.

Nights were busy times too. The mums with young kids had gone home, but the teenagers and retail workers were out with their mates. The alley looked spectacular after dark. The rides and joints were all adorned with coloured lights which sparkled, flashed, dazzled, and twinkled. It was like working in fairyland, albeit a noisy one. Generators thudded away behind rides and joints supplying power for motors or lights, spruikers called, and every ride had its own music blasting out.

Eleven o’clock was knock off time. The showground gates shut at midnight. Jack came around to all his joints, took the last waistbags and told the casuals to finish up. I put the smother up on the darts, then turned off the lights. A bunch of temporary employees exited the annexe clutching their gate passes for tomorrow and swapping experiences. I walked over to the machine joint. The rest of the crew, with the exception of the fellow banging in the storm pegs, soon followed. There were two teenagers still playing on Freefall, so Jack unplugged the other choppers and we crowded around as he, and one of the boys emptied the cash from the other machines. Despite the fact that all the showmen were closing their rides and games, there were always a few odd individuals hanging around at the end of the evening looking for a bargain or perhaps an opportunity to steal.

At last, all the covers were back on the machines and the money had been  removed to Jack’s van. I shot off to grab my shower gear. The public facilities were miles away in the Silver Jubilee pavilion, and I wanted hot water not cold. Nor did I feel like standing in line half the night. Luckily, there was only one woman before me, so I was in and out pretty fast.

The next thing on my agenda was a couple of beers with the boys, then something to eat. However, when I walked into our crew van, I discovered that a couple of Jennie’s boys were visiting. Naturally, they had brought a carton. It would have been the height of bad manners to let the beer get hot. By the time that we had all compared notes about our respective day, it was half past one. I opted out and retired to my van. I certainly wasn’t going to take any rocking tonight. Well, one day down, seven to go.






Monday, August 02, 2021

launch of CONSTELLATIONS by Deanne Leber at Perth Poetry Club, Moon Café, Northbridge, WA



I will start with a pertinent quote from Yeats: Out of the quarrel with ourselves, we make rhetoric, but poetry is born of the quarrel with ourselves.


Welcome to this book launch of CONSTELLATIONS by Deanne Leber – a very important book in the contemporary west coast literary scene of Australia. This poetry community has a long history that is described and illustrated by various anthologies still available today, the latest being John Kinsella’s Fremantle Press Anthology of Western Australian Poetry. But there’s no Deanne Lieber included … and no L-A-N-G-U-A-G-E Poetry. I guarantee there will be in the next anthology: There will be quotes from this book and its influences. It is a breath of fresh air in the local poetry scene – it progresses both in its composition and its writing.


I mention composition because this is very physical writerature – an intellectual architecture, still tactile but with deep theory behind it. The basic element is the words but grouped together they associate, contradict, waylay connotations, expose and whistle their own tunes. They are all from Deanne’s lexicon of all her life until now. The form is realized by human techniques but the highlight of the form is the reading of the constellations by the writer. The ‘Author’ may be dead, as Roland Barthes wrote, but the Reader is ever more important in the CONSTELLATIONS.


As reader and writer, Deanne Leber is influenced fundamentally by Gertrude Stein and Lyn Hejinian – but you can trace her creative impulses back to the earliest known drawing by human hand, five strokes of clay in a South African cave. The nearest link to Deanne’s prose poems would be Ania Walwicz in Australian poetry. And maybe Michelle Leggett in NZ.


How to read CONSTELLATIONS is a very personal thing. Each reader experiences a different universe. There are constellations illustrated, one at a time – followed by a prose poem of one page with a different kaleidoscopic theme each time, then an emergent poem on an entirely different theme with its own page … and finally the verbal bones of the theme positioned on the page as dictated to by the apexes of that individual Constellation. The obvious way to read them is one constellation at a time, but I read some prose poems one day and marveled over the emergent poems on another. The spiky visual poems I read as sculptures. You can do what you like, read it in large gulps or small breaks but it will last you a long time to exhaust its multi-dimensional layers.


As Lyn Hejinian says, The process is more composition than writing. But let’s zero in on the writing, the words Deanne chose at one stage or another. Here’s a couple of quotes from her prose poems: notice how age-old images come to life by juxtaposition -


 Deanne Leber quote: A plastic rose and a feather duster caressed. A dirty knee’d angel with the words of a poet stuck in throat. Hum of song stuck in note. Stars sucking tongue. Undone. Crawling to begin again.


DL quote: Skin closes moments made new by colour. Longing to be your slow sad ballerina. Dancing my heel got caught in the gutter. Threaded to your skin to your heart. When writing replaces words you can’t say.


DL: Waiting for a tongue to begin. Love hearts and wings against skin. He etched feathers on walls as the train linked each track to a new word. Breaking their umbilical shells. Born into shapes caressed with pen.


I love ‘words breaking their umbilical shells.’


I haven’t finished CONSTELLATIONS yet – I’ve only had the text a week - and I will never exhaust this book. It’ll be like Finnegan’s Wake for me, an endless delight. Buy it now before they run out.



-        Andrew Burke (MA, PhD)

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

from OLNEY Magazine ...

 Submit your work!

We are looking for both Photography & Poetry submissions for Print Issue 2: Fall 2021 — Just like with Issue 1, the next issue will be a limited printing.

All contributors receive a free copy, while the proceeds from sales go to benefit our current charity partner.

Deadline for all submissions is through 7/1, 11:59pm EST

general guidelines.

  • Send the following in the body of an email to:

    • Type only the submission category (poetry/photography/etc.) as your subject line

    • Name & pro-nouns

    • Short bio (<100 words)

    • Author Photo

    • Website & Social Links

    • Cover letter optional

Thursday, June 17, 2021

from the State Library of Western Australia

 Congratulations to everyone on the shortlist for the 2020 Western Australian Premier’s Book Awards!

The Awards support, develop and recognise excellence in writing. At $60,000, the Western Australian Writer’s Fellowship is one of the most valuable awards in Australian arts and open to writers of any style, medium or genre. Other than the Daisy Utemorrah Award, all the awards are open to Western Australian authors.

The Daisy Utemorrah Award for Unpublished Indigenous Junior and Young Adult Fiction is open to Indigenous writers from across Australia. This award is administered by Broome-based Indigenous publisher Magabala Books with support from the Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries. 

The shortlists:

The Premier’s Prize for an Emerging Writer ($15,000)

  • Father of the Lost Boys by Yuot A. Alaak (Fremantle Press)
  • Fathoms: The World in the Whale by Rebecca Giggs (Scribe Publications)
  • A Question of Colour by Pattie Lees and Adam C. Lees (Magabala Books)
  • We Can't Say We Didn't Know by Sophie McNeill (ABC Books: An imprint of HarperCollins Publishers)
  • The Salt Madonna by Catherine Noske (Pan Macmillan Australia)

The Premier’s Prize for Writing for Children ($15,000)

  • How to Make a Bird - Written by Meg McKinlay and Illustrated by Matt Ottley (Walker Books Australia)
  • Littlelight by Kelly Canby (Fremantle Press)
  • Shirley Purdie: My Story, Ngaginybe Jarragbe by Shirley Purdie (Magabala Books)
  • Across The Risen Sea by Bren MacDibble (Allen & Unwin)
  • Willy-willy Wagtail: Tales from the Bush Mob by Helen Milroy (Magabala Books)

The Daisy Utemorrah Award for Unpublished Indigenous Junior and YA ($15,000 and a publishing contract with Magabala Books)

  • Home is Calling - Natasha Leslie
  • Dirran - Carl Merrison and Hakea Hustler

The Western Australian Writer’s Fellowship ($60,000)

  • Amanda Bridgeman
  • Donna Mazza
  • Jon Doust
  • Madelaine Dickie
  • Sisonke Msimang

    Last updated on: 17 June 2021

    Tuesday, June 08, 2021

    Poems come first ...




    There are fallen leaves

    at the backdoor

    but I won’t sweep them.

    I have more important

    poetry matters to attend to.

    Saturday, May 15, 2021

    Simic Poem

     On This Very Street in Belgrade

    Your mother carried you
    Out of the smoking ruins of a building
    And set you down on this sidewalk
    Like a doll bundled in burnt rags,
    Where you now stood years later
    Talking to a homeless dog,
    Half-hidden behind a parked car,
    His eyes brimming with hope
    As he inched forward, ready for the worst.

    -- Charles Simic (born May 9, 1938).

    Sunday, May 02, 2021

    Recent Poem




    I stopped to stand

    on a stone bridge

    in the wetlands

    I stopped to listen to

    a frog’s monologue    donk  donk

    but as I stopped he stopped –

    all I heard was a handyman

    thumping and sawing

    to my left and to my right

    space invaders in a backyard.

    I stood and waited to

    catch my breath and as I

    waited frog started again    donk

    closer seemingly      donk donk

    under the bridge – and his throaty song

    lightened my load    donk donk

    and I smiled as I looked up

    to the top of the tallest gum    donk



                ANDREW BURKE


    Saturday, May 01, 2021


     "...poetry is survival, sir. it throws some of the stink bombs out of my room. if it comes as rhythm fine or physic, fine, any old way. I think of it more as a loaf of bread, a long fat hot loaf, sliced half down the middle, spread with pickles, onions, meats, garlic, chilies, old fingernails...add ice beer and a shot of scotch, ram it down under electric light, forget the mountains of faces and eyes and wrinkles and bombs and rent and graves, get it in, warm, smelling, filling, light a cigar, blow the whole room paint the whole room blue with smoke, play the radio, think of the bones of Chopin's left foot---that to me, is poetry, or zingplay, or the rays." Bukowski, 

    SCREAMS FROM THE BALCONY - [To Allen DeLoach] February, 1967


     Can I suggest you back Australian poetry by buying The SATURDAY PAPER and reading three poems by Chilian poet JUAN GARRIDO-SALGADO ? That's this week's issue - but the paper has a literary creative page each week which is worth reading - as they are scarce!

    Thursday, April 15, 2021



    i’m going to write

    a poem

    about how my wife

    does the washing



    but i am too busy

    hanging out the washing


    as i peg

    her knickers

    to the frayed line

    i think of robert frost


    he said re free verse

    to hang the washing out

    without pegs you’d

    have to tie shirt arms

    to each other …


    my brother colour codes

    the pegs a line of red

    and a line of green

    and a line of blue

    and a line of yellow

    and a line of white


    birds have pecked

    this line for its

    underlining for

    their nests …

    in autumn wispy curls

    reflect my aged beard


    my wife interrupts:

    “what a lovely drying day!”

    as she is wont to say


    Monday, April 12, 2021

    Tupelo's Own Elvis Presley DVD Promo Trailer

    I've come across this Elvis montage in the '50s as research for my autobio. When I finish the section with this mentioned, I'll post it here. Rock on! Ha ,,,

    Friday, April 02, 2021

    Wednesday, March 24, 2021

    PSST ...

     One of my best books - and now a rarity - 'PUSHING AT SILENCE' going cheap at

    If that doesn't work, go to Rochford Street Review and look for their bookshop. 

    Tuesday, March 16, 2021

    Poem by Sheila Murphy

    Sounding Like Someone Else 

    Read a passage to discern 
    what is licensed to exist. 
    Mimic then wait before 
    breathing out again. 

    Hide all mirrors lest the pattern 
    be repealed. The noise of repetition 
    dampens joy that quiet maybe 
    brings or just allows. 

    In a minute you'll be old, 
    and what is that when you reflect 
    you've been behaving 
    too well to be remembered 

     or even recognized as yourself, 
    a person whose pockets are filled 
    with permission slips 
    all about to expire.
    Sheila E. Murphy
    Do you have an unfinished short story in your bottom drawer? Or feel a creativity wave about to arrive? Good luck

    Thursday, March 04, 2021

    I have an Interview with ANDREW TAYLOR scheduled to appear tomorrow  March 5th (Canadian time) at We need more news about our older Australian poets!

    Saturday, January 23, 2021

    Oh, an outlandish translation of Baudelaire's wine poem. "">