Broken TV

‘My mind is a TV with no sound. And the teletext is broken. But the show goes on and I have to watch.

It gets really good around 2am. Sometimes beautiful women light up the screen.
Sometimes they teach you how to fuck.
Sometimes they fall in love with men with perfect shoulders.
Sometimes they just spend hours talking.

Sometimes there are men fighting. Sometimes they bite great chunks out of each other.
Sometimes they stab and shoot and burn.
Sometimes they hold each other.
Sometimes they cry and bleed and die.

Sometimes there's just a kid who looks sad. He's got no toys so he makes friends with the mice in his walls. He builds little houses for them out of boxes off the floor. He makes tiny mice sized toys for them.

Sometimes there are just people crying.

Sometimes there is a teenage girl lying curled up in a ball on the floor. She writes in a diary that she just wants to die.

Sometimes there are women with empty bellies and blood on their feet. They sit on the ends of beds for hours. Just crying and holding their stomachs while men watch.

Sometimes there is a man buying a rope. No one asks him why he only wants rope.

Sometimes everyone is happy.
Sometimes everyone is laughing.
Sometimes a cat falls asleep on a dog.

Sometimes lovers finish each other's thoughts.
Sometimes a kiss leads to sex.
Sometimes they fall asleep all tangled up like a plate of spaghetti.

Sometimes nothing happens.

Well actually, dark happens. Different shades of dark. Sometimes that happens for ages.

Sometimes when it's dark I wonder if I could stop watching.
But without any sound what would happen to the pictures?
Sometimes I wish I could fix it. Sometimes I wish I could turn it all the way up so someone else could listen while I shut my eyes.’

Megan Watson (Western Australia)

Holiday Town

We watch them come, from Cup Day on,
The caravans and tents.
They’ll all be here on Boxing Day.
The foreshore will be dense.

They’re here — street signs are mangled now,
To confuse our whereabouts.
We shrug and sigh, and say aloud,
‘It’s all those holiday louts.’

Picket fences, letterboxes,
Local structures all abused.
We pay the damage someone does
Just to be amused.

The shops are full of trolleys.
They jam up all the aisles,
And queues to all the things we want
Go back for miles and miles.

But wait! We see kids paddling
And playing on the sand,
The bike track’s used by families,
They’re all in Happy Land.

The holidays end, it’s ‘Back to School’,
They’ve packed up in a flash.
So come again you happy lot,
And don’t forget your cash!

Shirley Burgess (Victoria)
First published in Positive Words


cradle of extinction

a cradle and a darkened glass
the moss of our extinction
hoarded here

the brush of skin and ash and hair
their fall a cry of loss
made infinitely small and rare

the tree that holds a family
comes to this
a hand-made dress
of Limerick lace

the bones of heirs
laid down to fade, to rest

Marjorie Lewis-Jones (New South Wales)


her nails dug in through flesh and pith
released the scent of Californian groves
and made an orange smile

Jim Bennett (UK)

on seed dispersal

! flood, come : wet the
. cells chime, molecules
bind : a body of water
stands up, stretching

rain-shaking hair slick
everywhere : here, the
pitter-patter’s chatter, as
heard by earth. girth

of seasonal birth is a
surge that drowns this
world in aqua love so
tense, plants relinquish

of themselves, circumvent
. future floral instances
float trope, swimming
pool in hope of rooting

from which to sew growth
, out further, at wetland’s
highest slope, a new note of
how melaleucas cope under

......& the paperbarks gasp
grasp air round themselves
holdfast as trunks dive &
descend & up, water table

Scott-Patrick Mitchell (Western Australia)


When I Used To

I used to track porn sites
until I realised that
patting my dog
was a better use
of time and emotion.
I used to write love songs
and then, one extended day,
my thoughts turned
to the sourness of failed
words and a jumblefield of
vapourised dreams.
I used to love planting peppercorns
and watching them grow
into salt shakers,
until I realised that
the pharmaceuticals in
my brain were setting me on fire.
I used to suck on memory, until
one blistering whitehot night
only a vacuum remained
with no trace in sight
of the path I was on.
I used to read a poem once
that seemed to posit
a choice of turn:
left here and your boring
life can continue; right here,
and whatever may happen,

Allan Padgett (Western Australia)


yellow wall

‘writing for the rats’
— Charles Bukowski

I see a yellow wall
turn it over

there’s writing
on the other side
scribbled notes
theories on life

I haven’t been to Paris yet
but I will soon
then I’ll have lived

I might go to Turin
and Genoa, or Barcelona
or a village on that coast
or all of them

then I’ll have lived
a little bit more

I’ll come back here
or a place very like it
and find…

Owen Bullock (New Zealand / Canberra)


Jón Páll Sigmarsson’s first installation is a mobile phone standing twelve feet high. You type the letter A by pulling down a lever which takes all your strength. Activate letter B by lifting a 30 litre bucket of water from a shelf at chest height. Clock letter C by sawing through a 40cm log with a bow saw. A message can take an hour. The exhibit relays what you’ve written to a real cellphone which sends the message, though there might be network problems. Sigmarsson’s work will be tremendously popular, the gallery owners tell me.

Owen Bullock (New Zealand / Canberra)