Poems: 2008-2014

The following is a selection of poems in the English language, written between 2008 and 2014, and published in various places and media. None of the poems that made up Lalomanu is included.


Are his hands searching for his lost soul?
Digging deep in pockets, he walks his winter-way
Along shadowy fragments of a life he still remembers
Wattle, gum trees and dust are his silent witnesses
There is a dark moon on his eyebrows
And he has clung on to a sigh as if it were his last breath

These days he just walks on
For memories are like a passing cloud, they all
Feel more or less the same void

And gone are his hopeful times
He’s now scared of others
And knows he belongs
Not here
Nor there

Above, an impossible blue sky yells oblivion at him
‘You’ve lost your self in this place’
And he replies
Aquesta no es la meva terra

These days he forgets to mutter the words of songs
While walking
But he will still open his heart onto a book
Or two, and some days allows it to cry

(First published in Anne-Marie Smith (ed), Culture is...: Australian Experiences Across Cultures. Adelaide, Wakefield Press, 2008.)


Tonight you won’t find any smiles on the moon
But I swear I could probably make some sense
Out of one of your very sad moments
Perhaps grab it in my hand and squeeze its grapefruit-soul

Or I could race your favourite metaphor to the edge of this eye-land
Until it flies and soars and fades
Out of your sight and mine
And maybe later I would remember it just for your sake

Or I should weave you a dream with my own hands
Place it on your shoulders in the shade
Out of space and time
Cast the silly dice away on to the day

Tonight you will not dream the impossible – again, too soon
For this camera to capture your essence
Out of the corners of one of my very sad comments
And rake the image of your childhood away for good

(Unpublished, 2008)

Senior Lecturer and Convenor

An overfed vulture, he is plumply perched in his office:
a paper maze has beset his podgy body,
but not his spreadsheet brain:
being a born poseur, he is deftly trained
to sop up, then vomit
ideas others found before him.
Like a condor he rules over the syllabus:
much like a South American dictator,
he will yell you down “for the good of the programme”.
Current affairs are for him the Ché’s exploits of the 60s,
Evita’s long-forgotten miracles
or even Fidel’s current intestinal troubles.
His literary nous is nought, yet somehow ever dilatable:
bueno, este…  –  from Borges to Catalan separatists, he claims to know
everything worth knowing about almost everything –
though he has mastered

He is known to have penned some very bad poetry;
some lines on a poetical driver’s licence.
In public he will mix up his spinsters with the splinters – or even a sprinter!
No worries:
an idiotic grin easily gets him out of the proverbial ditch.
He will wear it like a badge of distinction:
pretence is his middle name,
faking sobriety, acting out rigour,
he avoids real work as if it were the plague.
He is but an act, a passing cloud,
a fake, for crying out loud,
a shameless shambles, a buffoonish would-be don,
a senior pretender, he imparts just ersatz wisdom.

(First published in Writing Raw, 2009)

Moving graveyard

Who knows their story?
Tightly packed and secured on this moving graveyard
they are travelling to their ultimate destination
where they will be pulled apart, 
only to be sold in pieces, melted or left to rust.
They bear the scars of what did them in,
the fatal impact, the swerving away from life and hope,
and perhaps, like the bravest bull, they may have died killing.

Being beyond repair,
they are now heading up and down the highway,
carrying their secret, sad, soaked-in-blood stories:
a P-plater’s last laugh, the unfaithful wife’s unfinished SMS, 
an overtired lonesome driver or an estranged husband.

(First published in Writing Raw, 2009)

Words for a Dead Daughter

Yes, my darling one, today I came
here to whisper away
my fatherly tears into this cold westerly,
the scourge of the flowers I have been
trying—hopelessly—to grow for you.
Nothing seems to grow the way it should,
as I search for the words I might
choose to use to tell you that every breath
of these years I still have to live
seems to stitch in but a painful stab
into my lungs.
And being but a foreigner
everywhere—yet still your father—
I wonder which language I should speak,
in this perfect intimacy we share.
What mix of your favourite colours
would you have picked for today’s sunset?
Yet I’m afraid the great poet was right:
for we are never given
second chances
and you were not given
a second chance
at six years and nine months.

Yes, I still recall your giggles
while you were chasing my gigantic footprints
on an edge of gold,
skipping and laughing, the five of us happily unaware
we were just seconds away
from a whirling mountain of ocean,
that a horrible beast was coming to drown us all.

And so from faraway lands they kindly advise me
to hang on to the happy memories
I have of you. Which may be many,
yet their inventory shall never
be enlarged.

Never is a very long time: too long to live; too short to wait for.
And I must confess to you,
it has come to this:
one day is a day too many
of this life I do not wish to live.

It’s the line of a horizon that I do not see,
it’s a landscape I do not wish to even contemplate.

And so I came to you again on a Sunday – it’s so quiet –
to this neat, orderly arrangement
of green lawns,
vases and plaques on
rows of concrete,
plastic flowers by
colourful windmills and flapping flags
to whisper over this peculiar greenery
how each and every sunrise
has been but a jab of poison
since that last day
of September 2009.

I came here to yell this silence away;
it has viciously plundered my heart.
I came to offer you all I now have left:
words, tears, pain—they all make it
into these raw, haphazard poems I write for you,
to stop the wound from bleeding me to despair,
to counter the insanity
hurled at me by the dust that has been
gathering on your pink bike.

And as I leave once more,
I notice my eyes
have been shedding rose petals on this lawn
beneath which you must be asleep, my little one, mi babita
for ever and never.

(First published in Writing Raw, 2011)

Four Sonnets


Shall I imagine an infinite field
of strawberries for you, a rainbow sky
where pink cotton clouds and happy birds fly
overhead, where roses and carnations shield
your face from freezing winds and heavy rains?
Should I dare to think of mellow sunsets,
to dream of a still breeze whose flow begets
songs and giggles, a joy that never wanes?
Can I dream thus of joining you one day,
and hold your hands, and skip with you, and dance
and hear your girly voice, and once more play?
Yet this dream can’t be true: there is no chance.
I fear we simply perish, pass away,
mortal creatures in a baffling expanse.


Let me forever sleep this peaceful sleep.
Let me forever see her hazel eyes,
hear her giggle, her shrill girly voice keep
with me, relish this memory, the prize
of a lifetime that has become too long.
Let me forever dream this pleasant dream,
and sense her presence, feel that I belong
with her, let myself go down this strange stream
that one day seems to take us all somewhere.
Death took her away from me far too soon.
Where to from here, I honestly don’t care.
Just let me stay with her under this moon,
hold her in my arms, spin her in the air,
with my dear daughter in some timeless swoon.


Morning brings her the unspeakable pain,
the sorrow, the stab, the death wish, the dark.
Keeps her eyes shut, she’d rather be insane:
life’s become a meaningless question mark.
Her ache, I do know, shall never grow mild.
The tear, the silence, all the friendless days.
All the things a mum would do with her child
became a delusion, a spurious haze.
Time’s but a wait, a futile exercise.
Without her daughter, there’ll only be males:
no girl-games, no dolls, no mother’s advice,
no secrets, no questions, no ponytails.
Shedding tears on weekly cemetery drives;
a grief-clad outlook until she grows frail.


Time past and time future collide in words.
Their present is forever an absence,
emptiness, a bleeding gash, a dream blurred
by grief, meaninglessness; there’s no pretence.
Those words recur everyday in their minds:
‘she would have’ has now become commonplace;
they say ‘She’d have’ as time passes unkind,
they whisper the words while locked in embrace.
Here and there they all hang on to a lie:
they’re expected to pull through, to regain
the selves they used to be, and not to cry.
Yet the self can’t be fixed once it’s been slain:
for their child’s dead, and so the parents die
as well, crushed, torn apart, slaughtered by pain.

(First published in Transnational Literature, Vol. 3 no. 2, May 2011)


Music lingers softly like motes of dust,
strange travellers through the space
of a soul, the late afternoon light
hangs on curtains, and my time, all time,
turns into a ghost.
I sense it in low sighs on the piano,
in each minute leap between white and black
keys, in the emptiness the blank page casts
upon itself. My eyelids flutter, a slice
of nothingness: the ghost rests, its shadow
leaving a trail of blunt blood in the air.

Though I have tried my tricks, the ghost evades
the poetry. Swift and agile, it does not rush me
towards night time.
Night falls glumly like an automaton,
so I invoke her voice, the sounds of a time
when this pain, this grief, were not a part
of days. Memory fails,
just like any words are doomed
to fail to light the sparkle
of remembrance.

Today I write what tears dictate; they are not
plain muses that might inspire
a most excellent John Tranter sonnet.
I write the words my years mandate:
the bitter taste of loneliness,
the solitude, sour in loss.

(First published in Hypallage, nº2, 2012)


Where will this insomnia take us tonight?
Will it show as lithe shadow, or as shade
of memories forgotten? As a tide
of seas uncharted, while city lights fade?
Even darkness does have something to hide.
Our fears, our dread, are always custom-made;
wakefulness unearths it all, the flight
and the vain search, the words we left unsaid.
Even if we had no sadness to behold,
there would be sufficient sleepless moments
to write, if not a book, at least an old
sonnet, or a song, lines for a poem,
words from pure grief, to treasure more than gold…
till the time we’re no more, when it all ends.

(First published in Hypallage, nº3, 2013)

Forever Travel

They could forever travel far away,
See cities, towns and countries, go places,
Hide themselves behind pretexts, never stay
Put, or throw themselves into rat races.
They could forever more pretend delight,
Give parties and still chitchat, smile at friends
And greet people, declare that they’re alright,
Say the right words, nod and wave, make amends,
Never wake up, forever stay asleep,
Deny the dreadful nightmare, this new life;
Decide that never again should they weep.
Yet they feel this great pain, it’s sharp like a knife;
They can’t strip off this sadness or their grief.
Their daughter’s dead: they someway didn't survive.

(Timeless Swoon, 2012)

In the Garage

Tedious tasks bring these days brushes with sighs.
On each item a leaden shadow lurks
heavy, the air hints a frown as pain works
its ruthless certitude before his eyes.
Her pink bicycle, her scooter, her kite:
they’re but musings, shades of days masked by time
and sorrow, echoes of giggles, the rhyme
of memory; the grief he could recite.
Outside the winter rain pummels the pane.
The cruel void crunches and batters his heart;
a dense spectre of sadness hounds his brain.
Thus he retreats into this shrouded art.
The disguise beneath numb words keeps him sane.
For months ago her death tore him apart.

(Timeless Swoon, 2012 [2010])

Blow, Wind, Blow

Blow, wind, blow this piercing sorrow away,
Swell this lively windsock her forlorn friend
Made, her remembrance of much sweeter days,
When their playtime was not supposed to end.
Shine, oh sun, shine, dry all my loving tears,
Give blooms the life my darling was denied
On far-off shores; she’d lived only six years
And nine months, she was still a little child.
Their windsock soars today, it flaps and sighs
Proud yet feisty, suspended in the air,
Persuades me to pursue it with my eyes
Beyond space and light, an unknown place where
Happy giggles mark the passing of time
Pain fades to oblivion, grief has no rhyme.

(Timeless Swoon, 2012)


They collect rose petals. They place them
in plastic takeaway containers; then they drive.
The road’s never too busy – it’s Sunday morning.
Two boys chatter the drive away,
past the windows and past the empty seat
that so suddenly appeared between them,
instead of their sister.
It is thirty-eight months old, but the car
slows down to twenty – ducks crossing.
A narrow steep driveway.

Four doors open, four feet will walk slowly,
the other four race away, past the plaques
and the vases, past the windsocks, past
so many plastic flowers last night’s stormy
wind must have spread around.
They bring young flowers, blooms for an old sorrow.
They’re like silky raindrops,
like tears falling down from the sky
dropping like a warm blanket for winter.
Rose petals on the lawn:
they cover the emptiness their life has become.

So many rose petals! So delightful! So smooth!
These are teary petals,
they are grief-stricken blooms.

(Timeless Swoon, 2012)

Citius, superius, sumptuosus

Blasts of pure rage, they appear out
Of nowhere; as if by magic,
Transforming a dull roundabout
Into an elastic wishbone
Where the other must let them win.
Furiously getting nowhere much
Faster than air.
Vivaldi (or even the voice
Of a certain Phillip Adams)
May secure you safe passage to
The next red traffic lights.
Yet your radio cannot issue
Warnings about the approaching
Hunter: a fundamentalist
Mum in her SUV or four-wheel drive,
Futuristic metal mammoths,
Ready to swoop you like magpies;
Or the guzzler in his swish ute,
Who carries his own stepladder
To god only knows what heaven…
He may sow iron spikes like seeds
(And your tyres will come a cropper)
Or like an executioner
Drop a long horizontal death
Sentence plank for slower stragglers.
Most like their three-word sloganeers.
They're aspirational drivers,
Their battles begin at peak hour.
They will never be quite content,
Ever ready to strike and pounce,

Citius, superius, sumptuosus

(Azuria nº3, 2014)


Where will you be found, since I am so lost
without you? What winds will my sails follow
across these desperate seas? Will swallows
show me the way to you? Will my soul, tossed
this and that way, find some peace and relief?
This is hellish living, of you deprived.
On a vain hope my loving feelings thrived
for so long, holding on to this belief:
Oh, yes, we will be together once more,
and we’ll hold hands, and dance; I’ll smell your hair,
and gaze at those hazel eyes I adore,
hear your voice… We’ll enjoy the love we share,
smiling, giggling, the way it was before,
where nothing matters, as we’re past all care.

(Azuria nº3, 2014)


A gnawing parasite, heartache enters
And takes lifelong residence in their lives.
Most unwelcome, it seizes the centre
Of their soul, slashing all hope with its knife.
Time means nothing: the hurt never abates.
Today, tomorrow, every single day,
For weeks and months and years, there is no date
For its subtle poison to fade away.
A devious intruder, it’s taken hold
Of the self you once owned, your innermost;
For grief isn’t courteous, it’s brazen and bold.
For those who’ve become its unwilling hosts
Life’s but a cruel sentence, and getting old
Instils fear, without the child they have lost.

(Azuria nº3, 2014)

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