This country breathes secrets
restless wind roaming,
biting at your neck,
knotting your hair.
Trees of old bleed
stories in ochre sap
for things forgotten.
The dusted shedding of the paperbark;
a raw reminder
of the land’s crude underbelly
its knotted centre.
the earth at your feet –
Don’t try to deceive.
You’ve already whispered
your sins into the ear of the land,
carved your scars into its belly.
recognises the curve of your skin
dirt knows where to hide –
in the creases of your eyes,
under the ledge of your chin
This country knows you better than yourself.
You are only
one of many.
Country never forgets.
When the riverbed cracks
under the sun’s hot glare,
when life must battle
the past mounts
rising with the sinking water
settling in the mud
scalding to the eye, waiting to burn the feet of all
kindling old senses
stirring old sins
no-one can escape it
The past runs through this country
can’t be buried
can’t be thrown out.
Tommy knows this place;
can count the times he’s been away from it
on one hand.
Tommy knows the best places to get a feed –
around the bend of an old trunk,
where the roos lead you
Follow them and you won’t be left empty handed.
this country has much to share with you.
If you ask he’ll tell you
where the biggest secrets
lie in folds
where the bush is
the best climbing places to view all up this country.
Tommy breathes in stories of this land
feels them buzzing about him
written in the mud slapped against the river’s walls
they drop into the air as the muck dries
He’s walked this path all his life,
where the ground drops
and the two chasms clash together,
where the crags shiver in dusklight,
where the willows weep more loudly
But Tommy doesn’t swim this river,
won’t test these waters,
doesn’t climb that mountain line
the great heights towering,
looming blackness where a generation
to the nightdark waters deep below
silver moony reflections swimming for years to come.
Tom has seen the dirty swirls,
felt the shingle underfoot at crossings
watched for carp clap and water slap
But Tommy doesn’t touch this river.
Out West he’ll swim in old Surry River
but not this one here.
- FREE: 20 Poets anthology
- 91: NO THEME VIIISUBMIT to C Gaskin 90: MONSTERwith N Curnow, coming soon! 89: DOMESTICwith N Harkin 88: TRANSQUEERwith S Barnes and Q Eades 87: DIFFICULTwith O Schwartz & H Isemonger 86: NO THEME VIIwith L Gorton 85: PHILIPPINESwith Mookie L and S Lua 84: SUBURBIAwith L Brown and N O'Reilly 83: MATHEMATICSwith Fiona Hile 82: LANDwith J Stuart and J Gibian 81: NEW CARIBBEANwith Vladimir Lucien 80: NO THEME VIwith Judith Beveridge 57.1: EKPHRASTICwith C Atherton and P Hetherington 57: CONFESSIONwith Keri Glastonbury 56: EXPLODE with Dan Disney 55.1: DALIT / INDIGENOUSwith M Chakraborty and K MacCarter 55: FUTURE MACHINES with Bella Li 54: NO THEME V with F Wright and O Sakr 53.0: THE END with Pam Brown 52.0: TOIL with Carol Jenkins 51.1: UMAMI with Luke Davies and Lifted Brow 51.0: TRANSTASMAN with Bonny Cassidy 50.0: NO THEME IV with John Tranter 49.1: A BRITISH / IRISH with M Hall and S Seita 49.0: OBSOLETE with Tracy Ryan 48.1: CANADA with K MacCarter and S Rhodes 48.0: CONSTRAINT with Corey Wakeling 47.0: COLLABORATION with L Armand and H Lambert 46.1: MELBOURNE with Michael Farrell 46.0: NO THEME III with Felicity Plunkett 45.0: SILENCE with Jan Owen 44.0: GONDWANALAND with Derek Motion 43.1: PUMPKIN with Kent MacCarter 43.0: MASQUE with Ann Vickery 42.0: NO THEME II with Gig Ryan 41.1: RATBAGGERY with Duncan Hose 41.0: TRANSPACIFIC with J Rowe and M Nardone 40.1: INDONESIA with Kent MacCarter 40.0: INTERLOCUTOR with Libby Hart 39.1: GIBBERBIRD with Sarah Gory 39.0: JACKPOT! with Sam Wagan Watson 38.0: SYDNEY with Astrid Lorange 37.1: NEBRASKA with Sean Whalen 37.0: NO THEME! with Alan Wearne 36.0: ELECTRONICA with Jill Jones
- Alex Creece Reviews Marion May Campbell’s third body
- Ivy Ireland Reviews Steve Armstrong
- Magan Magan Reviews deciBels 3
- Claire Albrecht Reviews Manisha Anjali’s Sugar Kane Woman
- Review Short: Simeon Kronenberg’s Distance
- Review Short: Judith Beveridge’s Sun Music: New and Selected Poems
- Melody Paloma Reviews Keri Glastonbury
- Submission to Cordite 91: NO THEME VIII
- Judith Bishop Reviews Phillip Hall’s Fume
- Bella Li on as Associate Publisher
- Alex Creece on as Production Editor
- Review Short: Diane Fahey’s November Journal and Carmen Leigh Keates’s Meteorites
- Review Short: Vahni Capildeo’s Seas and Trees and Jennifer Harrison’s Air Variations
- To Outlive a Home: Poetics of a Crumbling Domestic
- ‘The Rally Is Calling’: Dashiell Moore Interviews Lionel Fogarty
- Jackie Ryan: Teaser to Burger Force 3
- Dispatch from the Future Fish
- Introduction to Cordite 89: DOMESTIC
- 7 Portraits by Ali Gumillya Baker
- Selections from 3 Yhonnie Scarce Series
- Kathy Acker and The Viewing Room
- To Live There: on ‘Dispatch from the Future Fish’
- The Wild Workshop: The Ghost of a Brontëan Childhood in the Life of Dorothy Hewett
- Externalising the Symptom: Radicalised Youth and The Membrane
- On Deep Breaths and Friends Forever: Im/materiality and Mis/communication in Happy Angels Revisited
- Letter to Anne Carson: Work of Remembrance and Mourning
- Translated Extracts from Chantal Danjou