Author photo by artist, Walter Bakowski

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Written in a woman's hand

for T. Andrew Carter

Yellowed and chipped the teeth of Gomez,

slumped drowsy on a chair in a Veracruz cantina,


for his ship to leave port,

to descend again in coveralls

engine room steps,

ready with clipboard, rag, wrench and pliers

to check, adjust, repair or replace

each pipe, pump and filter

in an enclosed world

he understands.

Brown the eyes of Isabella

who climbed the hotel stairs with him.

Her body, a well, a breeze,

taking the dust from his tongue.

Other Isabellas

in Miami, Houston and New Orleans.

Earrings and stories—

a violent boyfriend, a backstreet abortion,

plans to go to night school.

Gomez listened —

their talk, full of undercurrents and debris.

What creatures scuttled and preyed

in that pressing darkness.

Fog. Typhoon. Iceberg. Hidden reef.

All manner of man, woman and child taken

beyond the reach of divers.

Those ghost ships, ghost faces,

seen again

from a deathbed

or in an orphan’s dreams.

Play the accordion, harmonica and guitar.

Drink bright whiskey and rum.

Search the sky and the bible again.

A Pedro Infante song on the cantina jukebox.

When it ends

Gomez looks down at the sweatband

of his Panama hat.

He’ll begin this new day

with a shave then a shoeshine,

see if there’s a letter

at the post office

from any Isabella.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Review of Beneath Our Armour and interview

Below is the link to George Anderson's review of my latest poetry collection, " Beneath Our Armour" which was shortlisted for the 2010 Victorian Premier's Award for Poetry. Also my responses to interview questions.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Choose your moment

Before you lecture a thirsty person,

give them water.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Nature does what nature does

Either tortoises live long lives because they don’t hurry

or they don’t hurry because they live long lives.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Don't join the inflexible

If you’re rigid in your thinking,
you’re not really thinking.

Saturday, September 25, 2010


When you channel surf

take care that your mind

doesn’t drown.

Saturday, September 18, 2010


When all the things you need to do
all the things you need to do.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Thoughts from a writing desk. No.1

I think a poem should work first on the page. If it works on the page it should work read out loud.
I think it's not on to whinge or complain in a poem or write a easy target rant poem along the lines of:
war is bad,
politicians are bad etc.

As a poet I'm focused on writing clearly. A poem needs a beginning, a middle, and an end, with preamble and blathering digression cut out/sculpted out of drafts of the poem, but with an engine in the poem, moving the poem forward. In regards to writing poems, Charles Bukowski said, "Get in, get out, don't linger."
A cardinal self-imposed regime I have with reading live is not to over-read. If a poet or writer reads for too long they end up murdering the audience, the audience which was initially on their side, groans inwardly, sneak glances at their wristwatch, ends up resenting the over-reading poet.
I read five or six poems maximum when I'm a featured reader.
I've never gone for self-publishing. I've wanted to secure a publisher who'll give proper editorial scrutiny of the proposed book and also has national distribution.
I served a self-imposed eleven year apprenticeship in writing poems before I submitted a manuscript to a publisher. I always cull poems from a manuscript. I don't want any poems that are passengers in a manuscript, that let the team down. Be ruthless with your poems. Write more poems, write many poems and pick out the best. Better a thin, strong book of poems than a weaker, thicker one.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

To progress

Chip away

at a wall

until it becomes

a stepping stone.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

My apprenticeship

It's easy to sit around in a cafe and say 'I'd love to be a published writer' but Ian Thorpe didn't sit around in a cafe saying 'I'd love to be Australia's fastest swimmer', he went ahead and spent many hundreds of hours practicing the craft of swimming. There is no way around serving an apprenticeship in writing. You have to spend many hundreds of hours facing the blank page. I started writing poems in 1983 and served an eleven year self-imposed apprenticeship in writing them. I took what I felt were the best poems from that eleven year apprenticeship and submitted them as a manuscript to Penguin. They rejected it. I revised the manuscript and then submitted it to Hale & Iremonger. The manuscript was accepted, published under the title "In The Human Night" and won the 1996 Victorian Premier's Award for Poetry. Practice and persistence remain integral to my creative and professional focus as a poet.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

War zone

Here are the key words in this diminished world—





Take your next breath,

take your last breath.

Roll the dice over the edge of a cliff

into tomorrow’s headlines.

The war turns children into orphans,

the war turns children into corpses,

the war turns children into statistics.

Children, it’s not a good time to play outside.

Not everyone is listening,

not everyone is learning,

not every human is humane.

This is an angry poem.

Anger is a shovel blade

striking buried skull and rib,

slowly unearthing

another mass grave.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Regarding telepathy

I’m in more than two minds about it.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The weather inside

Sometimes your thinking can make you cry,

sometimes your crying can make you think.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The next time you've got writer's block

Go back to your childhood and adolescence,

whether meadow or minefield.


the distance you’ve come,

what you’ve discarded or continue to carry

and why.

Take a running scrawl at

what’s in the room

or cornered in your heart.

Be alert to the world. Note

the veins of a leaf, the bank teller’s fingernails,

what the people seated at the next café table

are saying to each other.

Remember that you’ve got a vocabulary.

So have dictionaries, billboards, headlines and traffic policemen.

Words are everywhere.

Let a few wander onto a black page.

See whether they react to each other.

If not audition some more.

Words are building blocks

which can be toppled, rearranged, reassembled.

Throw some over your shoulder,

see how they land.

Return to the circus arena

of being playful and precise,

balancing words on the tip of your nose

as you jump through flaming hoops

in rehearsal

for opening night in a new town,

far from where you’ve written before.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Consider this

You can rest

in the shade of a tree,

but not

in the shade of an axe.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Regarding inertia

As long as you sit on your hands

you won't be able

to applaud yourself.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

A writing tip of mine

When placing words

your way,

don’t leave any

in the way.

Away from such vanity

When a man grows a moustache,
his eyebrows want to hide in his ears.

The geometry at parties

Sometimes you're cornered

by a square.

Saturday, January 16, 2010


Some worry about going bald,
others go bald from worrying.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

The word "if" is a seesaw waiting for you to approach it

(for Marty Grothe)

If pigs could fly

there’d be

less bacon.

If you were a bully at school,

don’t be one now.

If you keep having flings,

one day you’ll be flung.

If you’re digging your own grave,

consider what you’re using

as the shovel.

If God exists

we must appal him sometimes.

If time is money

some of us

will end up short-changed.

If you think you know everything,

try writing poems.