Published in Australian Poetry Journal, vol. 9.2, DIS─, January 2020. The latter poem was shortlisted for the 2018 Judith Wright Poetry Prize. You can buy the issue here.


I have perfected a certain busied appearance

mien of semi-urgent somewhere-to-be

wheeling too swiftly for strangers to stop and ask

What’s                  wrong            with you     ?

or perhaps            What       happened   (to you)

(to your legs)(to make you different)   ?      or

Why           (the chair)(your legs)(are you here)

(are you like this)(are you alive)     ?      ?      ?

Each question pierces something deep inside me,

leaves me cradling a wound that I try to hide

for fear of being further exposed, of showing

weakness before a predator whose hunger for

justification won’t be slaked with my discomfort.

Against the slurry of abled inquisition I raise

my own defences: a certain glint in my eye,

a lifting of hackles, a tightness to the corners

of my mouth, and if these fail I have one final

weapon in reserve: a quizzical tilt and question

of my own:             Why             do you ask          ?

All this not from spite but simply because my heart

is already so swollen with various woes that further

distension would make me unable to move at all,

pin me to my bed and prevent me from rousing,

and I love the world and do not want to leave it.

I want to give my heart more room for love

than grief. I want to keep space for warmth

and not that sudden pit of cold that fills my body

at these innocent cruelties. If they want to know,

then let them voice the truth. The madwomen of Delphi

delivered prophecies of nonsense phrases,

inscrutable, opaque. When asked impossible questions

they gave impossible answers.

You have to figure these things out yourself.


for Margot Beavon-Collin

in Sparta we are dashed against rocks

discarded in Athens drowned in wine-dark

waters of Argos abandoned in Corinth

we are the long-prophesied doom of Thebes

tossed from Olympus but protected

in Kemet where they worship little gods

valued in Babylon beloved by Yehudim

called monstrum in Rome thought portent of

ill fortune foul beasts better slain or caged

in labyrinthine prisons far from the upper air.

in the Rig Veda armoured queens with iron

legs ride into battle like old gods like K’awiil

of lightning & sacrifice whose leg was

a serpent like Tezcatlipoca of the night wind

whose foot was replaced with obsidian

like Nuada king of the otherworld whose left

hand was fashioned from flashing silver.

moon-cursed they call us demons or deities

weird creatures suffering early purgatory

wild things possessed by the planet Saturn
fey changelings & children of witches.

these days the cavalry rides on wheelchairs

smashing curb cuts out of concrete with

war cries roaring out in electronic voices

& we are still dying still drowning still

damned & discarded but we are not dead yet

& when we die we die like dying stars

with fierce love & fire our light spilling

forth still visible from distant galaxies

for long centuries after we are gone the fight

continues the fire burns brightly on

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