Hills Hoist Poems

By | 1 February 2018

Lance Hill returned to Adelaide from the war in 1945 to find his fruit trees competing for space with the family clothes line. In his laundry workshop, Hill set about creating a rotary clothes hoist for his family that would later develop into that symbol of Australian suburbia, the Hills Hoist.


magpie walks in his jaunty manner
under washing and cocks his head
listening to Billie Holiday
stands still a moment as
a phrase catches his attention
and the breeze flaps
behind the beat


Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it, and I shall move the world.
– Archimedes.


when it comes to pegs, I admire
the craftsmanship of the wooden ones,
now weathered grey among
bright coloured plastics.

I asked an inventor
what great force held up
our sheets, underpants,
socks, shirts and bras …

he told me the great power
of the small torsion spring
was made of music wire!
piano wire! Amazing.


predawn birds’ chitter-chatter
dew on my bare feet as
I hug the Hills Hoist and weep
for the state of the world.


A Darwin family reported
that the only thing left
standing after Cyclone Tracy
was their Hills Hoist



little white tufts
like old Chinese philosopher’s hair
wave above the Hills Hoist.

a small honey eater has
pecked at the fabric bound wires
to gain nest linings.

I wish him well
and smooth down
the backyard wisdom.


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