All around our steel home’s broad bull-nosed veranda
we’d jack-hammered rock, dug garden beds and ponds,
fenced an oasis as we planned for shade, blossoms, wildlife and fruit.
Amongst the natives we’d cultivated
paw paws, frangipanis, mangoes, bananas … Security
lights drew tree frogs and geckos; a Greek chorus
of bellowed crawks and clicking chick chacks;
an agile profusion alternating with contentment and strife.
But that season, in the Build-up to the Wet,
it was the raucous rocket frogs’ ratchet-like croakings
we noticed most. Each night the males made our ponds
throb with their rapid yapping calls, withdrawing at sunrise
when grass finches postured on the lips of ponds,
flicking their tails and singing a series
of squeezed rasping notes; white-gaped honeyeaters
threaded a path through foliage and blossom
as Papuan cuckoo-shrikes tore paw paws and mangoes.
Then one night at the Build-up’s end, as we drank
chardonnay on ice, Yanyuwa youths ran amok
on ganja, throwing stones and chiacking at our padlocked gates.
It only ended when [sorry name] leapt on our fence,
screaming at stars, before lightly climbing
a power pole like a cabbage tree palm –
an unabashed athleticism electrified
in the fall.
- 96: NO THEME IXSUBMIT NOW with M Gill and J Thayil 95: EARTHwith M Takolander 94: BAYTwith Z Hashem Beck 93: PEACHwith L Van, G Mouratidis, L Toong 92: NO THEME VIIIwith C Gaskin 91: MONSTERwith N Curnow 90: AFRO AUSTRALIANwith S Umar 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 F Hile 82: LANDwith J Stuart and J Gibian 81: NEW CARIBBEANwith V Lucien 80: NO THEME VIwith J Beveridge 57.1: EKPHRASTICwith C Atherton and P Hetherington 57: CONFESSIONwith K Glastonbury 56: EXPLODE with D 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 P Brown 52.0: TOIL with C Jenkins 51.1: UMAMI with L Davies and Lifted Brow 51.0: TRANSTASMAN with B Cassidy 50.0: NO THEME IV with J Tranter 49.1: A BRITISH / IRISH with M Hall and S Seita 49.0: OBSOLETE with T Ryan 48.1: CANADA with K MacCarter and S Rhodes 48.0: CONSTRAINT with C Wakeling 47.0: COLLABORATION with L Armand and H Lambert 46.1: MELBOURNE with M Farrell 46.0: NO THEME III with F Plunkett 45.0: SILENCE with J Owen 44.0: GONDWANALAND with D Motion 43.1: PUMPKIN with K MacCarter 43.0: MASQUE with A Vickery 42.0: NO THEME II with G Ryan 41.1: RATBAGGERY with D Hose 41.0: TRANSPACIFIC with J Rowe and M Nardone 40.1: INDONESIA with K MacCarter 40.0: INTERLOCUTOR with L Hart 39.1: GIBBERBIRD with S Gory 39.0: JACKPOT! with S Wagan Watson 38.0: SYDNEY with A Lorange 37.1: NEBRASKA with S Whalen 37.0: NO THEME! with A Wearne 36.0: ELECTRONICA with J Jones