I read between the lines of my heart
While a red leaf floats like whisper upon my lap.
And is there any more clarity than before?
Only more conflict, more questions, more uncertainties.
Nothing like the delicate truth of trees, through time.
Dense, tedious heart, too many layers, too many possibilities.
Tome of inanity, I turn back the cover and close you up.
Leaf, teach me, teach me
To change colour, then just fall.


At Alexandra Gardens the fog hangs
like drapes from blushing trees.
I walk into its folds. I breathe
in a long time. It smells of
stone, stillness, mystery. It draws
deep into my belly, spreading
the bones. Letting go, I hear them
Who was that? in her 
luxurious dress of silk


Is a connection man-made, like a highway?
Or is it preordained, like
To whom we were born?
Does it only run between us and
Real objects or people?
Things you can hear or see.
I think about the grandfather I'd
Never met whose spunkiness
Courses through my veins.
I think about the imaginary characters
Of my creative fiction that
Lie with me beneath a star-lit sky.
In religion faith is built
Upon the most profound bond ever.
One question leads to another:
Do we remember our former selves
Before this time period, before
Being in this body, on this journey, like a childhood memory,
Like the tail-end of a fitful dream?
Do we remember those we knew and loved
In these early lives?
Is there a spark of recognition when we see them today?
Is there a carry-over of old ties,
Like a relic, like an inheritance?
Come to think of it,
I must have been a forest-dweller
Bound endlessly to trees, and their shining leaves
To flowers

On Foot in Fitzroy

The two-storey terrace houses
Have been conjoined
At their sides
A long time now
Their arched balconies 
Framing lit windows where
Love mingles with disappointment, and
Anguish dissolves into peace this
Is Fitzroy, Victoria the last trams 
For the day
Roll on here 
Past alleys of street art
Across the pain of the bar's 
Remaining patron
Asleep on the counter

Twenty- twenty

It's Sunday morning, so I go
for a walk on the lockdown streets.
First, down the footpath,
crossing a driveway, where
a black cab waits at the McDonald's window,
blowing white smoke,
a masked face peering out.

Then onto the avenue,
where a glossy sign advertises a mansion
for sale, where potted flowers are hanging
over balustrades, and moss climbs on trunks.
The sun is out but mist brushes against me,
like wool. I look at a yellow-painted house.
There is a wide-screen TV on the nature-strip.

On to Petrie Square and light filters
delicately through a stained-glass mural
where in a sea of blue Virgin Mary is holding infant Jesus.
A rain-drenched copy of Harry Potter
and the Goblet of Fire lies abandoned on the grass.
And at the corner of Alexandra Gardens, a night-globe
blinks off; it is seven o'clock.

The moon in daylight is a pleasure,
even if sometimes I think it is like
aspirin in a glass. I stop
to read a sign beneath a tree: a
bicentennial time capsule to be opened in 2088.
There are several people of colour
in the park today, which makes it cheerful and warm.

Somebody has stuck a red blossom
in the hands of a bronze sculpture
embracing his lover. Elsewhere,
art is serving a long sentence
and visitors are banned.
And so, one has had her constitutional,
and one strolls back,

past Charcoal Grill,
with menus of rump for takeaway
and the music posters now wasted
and the golf shop on its last days.
Two more corners and I am home. There,
my heart is waiting in these pages
by the window at my desk.

It’s Like

Words that misunderstand the heart’s native language
The moon in daylight
An invitation that comes in the middle of the night
Loving with intelligence
A fireplace, tropical home
The sucking of a lung ventilator after the heart stops pumping
Into a candy-floss dawning sky columns of smoke billowing
The last chapter nobody reads because the plot is over
A sepia photograph faded beyond recognition
The honesty of the tide that returns all of its drowned
A single light at 3 A.M. on a second-storey room in an inky town
Hours spent at a tombstone
Savouring poetry as a hungry man eats
Wet socks
The rich rainforest, underneath which carcasses are boiling with weeping rocks
Reaching for the cookie-jar
The bait past which a fish swims
The only sound a vase ever makes striking the floor
An immaculate room with no windows or door
A granite blink
An empty chair in a family picture
A universe of falsehood
Unpacking in front of your kids a bag of tins from the centre for free food
A beautiful city that never gets dark
The brilliant stains of agony the sun shoots into the west as it slides off the sea
Wearing lipstick under a ski-mask
A shadow moving across a field without bending a blade of grass
A house, with one room permanently locked

Lockdown Poetry


Excepting an all-night globe
palely burning
the corridor at 5 A.M.
was dark
but for my iridescent shoes
and a ribbon of light
under the door
three rooms away
where a flush choked
and swallowed
as I strode past
in silence
not knowing
this poem is for
the interrupted-sleeper or
early-riser who
also perhaps was 
observing the curfew 


Scuff marks shimmering on the footstool.
Still water in a glass. 
The soundless TV in liquid black and white.
Somewhere, an infant's cry.
Rhythmic and fleeting.
As if the 8 o'clock sky has harvested it for dew.
I close the August windows and read Hawthorne
nearly weeping for his heroine, and think:
what good fortune to be so happy
we can mourn these imaginary lives.

A Family Album: An Exhibition

Her Por Por’s (maternal grandmother in Cantonese) kitchen wall, sporting a flip-calendar, transistor radio, and condiments shelf is how artist-photographer Pia Johnson, of Chinese-Italian heritage, has chosen to honour her family history. Julie Dowling depicts herself and her twin sister as cheeky four-year-olds peering out from amongst their aboriginal relations in a colourful acrylic painting. Hoang Tran Nguyen opens the conversation about his Vietnamese subjects’ boat-trip to Australia with a re-enactment through video-stills.

Also featuring other artists, including Selina Ou, Donna Bailey, Hannah Gartside, A Family Album is an exercise to understand who we are and our place in time by examining fragments of our environment, past events, and our relationships in (and, with) those circumstances.

The exhibition, working through texture, is an interesting collage of settings and faces and emotions. Its intricate blend of love and pain, grief and nostalgia makes the viewer contemplate on their own story, and reach for that family album tucked away in the bottom-drawer, or somewhere deep in the recesses of the mind.

From Sat 31 October 2020
Until Sun 13 December 2020


Forest Walk

I love walking through the woods
On a spring morning,
Alone, naked
Under a dress, exploring

The footpath
Straggles onward into
The mystery of the
Primeval forest

There's the smell of 
Damp leaves,
Of wombats, sleep,
Slow air, infinity

I can see
All the dark places where
The sun has not yet reached, where
A yellow flower is creeping from
Its bud, where ant-trails ride across soil,
Like hum-coloured taxis, and
Giant trunks covered in rich lichen finery

Farther along, I come to the widening track
Where gleams of dawn
Breaking through the stirring canopy
Are at quiet play, where
I stand scintillating in their splendour,
Where trees speak the tongue
Of bare skin on bedclothes

I sit down on a luxuriant heap of moss
In a gentle dell, with a brook
Running over pebbles,
Brown, sparkling sand

I watch a low-bending branch
Tease the current into cheery eddies;
I hear the babble whisper tales
From the thicket's heart

Somewhere, a bird prattles on
About last night's rain;
Closer, a spider is
Weaving a wedding veil

As my attention draws near and out
In the bosom of this primitive world
It seems possible to trust in life, and
Live simply on this earth