by Beth Clapton
sand bucket at my side
to extinguish sparks before dawn
smoke grit stings my eyes
and the last of the wine hisses
on the guttering flame
this time I will not drop to my knees
fan the embers to tease one more blaze
from the remains. I will not wrench
weatherboards from the house
or slats from the garden bench
I must let it die
come morning when a blackened
bewildered foot kicks
through heatless soot
remember me bewitched by white hot
and yellow tongues
dancing through the blaze.
Beth writes in fulfilment of a promise made to Mr. Cook at St Alphege Junior School in the 1970s. Beth’s poetry has won prizes in several Australian competitions and been published online and in print journals. Her love of words and trees can be found on Instagram @paperbarktales. Beth lives, works and dreams on Gadigal land.
by John Robert Grogan
I’d like to think it ends
curled up and dusty
on lifetimes of memories,
an old snake in a washbasin,
behind the crusty half-used
forgotten paint tins
and the petrified hog-
bristle brushes, overlooked
like the mildewy terracotta
herb pots, stacked and lonely
as an unplanted seed
and the redback in her corner --
who kills everything she touches
— under the threatening smile
of a bow-saw, beside the drunken
lean of a mattock with a cracked
handle, the snake in brumation,
down the back shed.
John Robert Grogan (aka: JR) (He/Him) is an Irish-Australian poet based in Sydney, Australia. Life in country Ireland and his global wanderings have cultivated a curiosity and love for the natural world, and the connectivity of all things.
by Shaine Melrose
On the streets when I walk
two shadows fall
my androgynous soul
sprouts ambivalence from the core
gender bender for sure
wherever I walk
two shadows on the floor
I hang out with junkies
drag queens and dykes
hookers and outcasts
punks in the night.
I never stay long, always on the run
from searing pain, old scars,
words jangled in the thrum.
Looking for answers, lost in the wind
searching for love, no one will give.
On the streets when I walk,
hey poofter, punk, you dyke!
we’ll catch you, we’ll cut you,
nail your soul to a wall...
into a dark pool of blood
my two shadows fall –
but I rise and I swipe my light from their hands
I yell I run and I roar.
I am what I am
Fuck you all.
Shaine Melrose is a queer poet and gardener living with chronic illness, on Kaurna country. Recently her debut short manuscript, shooting words from my soul, won a place in FSP’s anthology ‘New Poets #23’. She has been shortlisted for the 2022 Judith Wright Poetry prize and published in APJ12.1, Saltbush Review, Bramble and Cordite.
by Mike Russell
Crisp and Delicious
Fish and chips would sound like the ocean.
Like the crashing waves against the Shorncliffe pier.
It would sound like fishermen hauling up their prizes.
Like farmers digging up potatoes and peeling them.
Fish and chips would sound crisp and delicious.
Like deep-friers bubbling away at my lunch.
It would sound like the saltiest dream you'd ever had.
Like a smile curling on my face.
My favourite food would taste like freedom.
And it would taste like community.
Like being with my best friends. And they're laughing.
And it sounds like the most delicious food on earth.
My Body in Water
The water is glistening in the sun.
The boats ride it with smooth gliding motion that saves the people from falling into its depths.
In the water there is life, there is death, there is beauty of bubbling manta rays and sharks and fish
and gone are the noises of the streets, the houses, the people, the cities.
The water is a cocoon of silence when I lie beneath its surface.
The water is my cocoon of safety and security of body held tight and mind held quiet.
My body is under the surface of your wetness and cool follies.
by the peace I feel to stay forever.
My mind loves quiet.
My body loves being held in pressures of calm.
My good feelings of peace and tranquility
are held in you.
I'm going to find my body in water.
Mike Russell, poet and playwright, lives with Autism. Founding member of Brotherhood of the Wordless, he has worked with his mates to produce books, plays and performances. Mike expresses his craft by typing on a qwerty board with a facilitator. Mike has also performed at Queensland Poetry Festival, Brisbane Writers Festival, Volta, and Woodford Folk Festival. He has led workshops for Ruckusfest and Kelvin Grove College. Mike is currently editing his latest poetry collection, About a Boy.
Seeking words with sizzle, poetry that wraps us in burning ribbons and won't let go. Send us your best!