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Content From Issue: Special 2 - Poets Speak up to Adani

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Special N.02 – Poets speak up to Adani


by Garth Madsen

Published: August 2022
Garth Madsen

has published four hard-copy books of poetry: Portraits of Rust (Five Islands Press, 2003), Thirteen Jesuses (Picaro Press, 2007), The Nude Mirror Exercise (Picaro, 2010) and Frankston for Beginners (Picaro, 2012). He is currently developing a series of e-poetry books.

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Special N.02 – Poets speak up to Adani


by Pete Spence

who could be eager

with filling the air with disdain

i’m not keen on falling into unfilled holes

when they’ve taken the money and run

i ask can we finally be of our age?

Published: August 2022
Pete Spence

is a visual poet, artist and film maker.

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Special N.02 – Poets speak up to Adani

Study for an untitled landscape

by Richard James Allen



What do we do?

We hold back the darkness.

In other words, we fail.


Fail into night

Like perfect angels

Of diminishing light.


At least our battlegrounds,

What you know as sunsets,

Are spectacular.

Published: August 2022
Richard James Allen

is a contemporary Australian poet, dancer, actor and filmmaker.

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Special N.02 – Poets speak up to Adani

Fairy Floss

by Jennifer Harrison

spun to its finest skeins

with all the strands of the past



around a flimsy balsa stick


this soft numb form

is like life’s airy drift


the flimsiest tangle

of  DNA


you, me

the taste of becoming


the idea that sex

is about melting


each other

under no one’s tongue

Published: August 2022
Jennifer Harrison

is a contemporary Australian poet. She is a recipient of the Christopher Brennan Award. Born in Liverpool, Sydney, Harrison studied medicine and then specialised in psychiatry.

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Special N.02 – Poets speak up to Adani

Coral not Coal

by Kristin Hannaford




Coral polyps, like ashen fingers raised

in passing of a season gone too soon,

whiten as our politicians betray


both the Wangan and Jagalingou’s ways –

a gesture of ecological doom.

Coral polyps, their ashen fingers raised


trace the fine print of legislative phrase

revealing truths that we mustn’t impugn,

whiten as the politicians betray


our children’s future and reef as it weighs

heavy on the tide of rhetoric strewn.

Coral polyps with ashen fingers raised


conduct the coda of coal’s song of praise,

notes drift like silt over cities immune

that blacken as our politics betray.


In the North, as the island palm trees sway,

divers map bleached reef like marble hewn –

coral polyps, like ashen fingers raised,

whiten as our politicians betray.

Published: August 2022
Kristin Hannaford

Kristin Hannaford’s poems surface in a range of Australian and International literary journals, and as Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service signage. Kristin’s latest collection, Curio (Walleah Press 2014), invites readers into the world of taxidermists Jane Tost and Ada Rohu — a world of artefacts, curiosities and natural history specimens.

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Special N.02 – Poets speak up to Adani

Adani Coal Mine Approved  and Great Barrier

by Linda Stevenson


Adani Coal Mine Approved

It pares down
to the palest of skies
to a native fledgling
thirsty, untended
to whether a black stinking
mess of outmoded greed
is claimed as our chosen soil
when we might have lifted
up into the quiet transparency
taking the winds
carrying the young bird
with us
as our token.


Great Barrier

Ah Goldman Sachs, the iron grip of incessant
barter, money, shiny pieces. Ah the confluence
of degradation and entitlement.
See this ecstatic ocean, its birds, swells,
sea air that was essence, sweet with perfect salt,
washing living coral, breathing.
See these misguided leaders, floundering,
ethics washed away in a mounting tsunami
of dollars and disgust, pallid, unseasoned.

‘Adani Coal Mine Approved’ was previously published in The Tipping Point (Blank Rune Press, 2015)

Published: August 2022
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Special N.02 – Poets speak up to Adani

armour against Adani  

by Susan Hawthorne


she dreams of making armour for the earth

a helmet to prevent the drillers from beginning

a breastplate so they cannot cut open her heart

greaves to stop the underground lines

breaking through to the watertable


it confounds her that anyone would want

to mine the Basin of Galilee

to make the earth a corpse to strip

back the muscle layer by layer

to let light in under all that rich deep earth

to groom her for profit burn coal embers

in the asthmatic air the heat increasing

to burn away everything for the emptiness

of waterdrained lungdrained flatlands


Let them eat coal not food.

Published: August 2022
Susan Hawthorne

is the author of nine collections of poems, the latest of which are Lupa and Lamb (2014), Limen (2013), Cow (2011) and Earth’s Breath (2009).

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Special N.02 – Poets speak up to Adani

Waterlily Pond 

by Judith Beveridge

for Diana Bridge


At the slow-gaited end of summer’s day,

dragonflies dart as precisely as needles

tatting the ornate patterns of lace-charts.

A kingfisher snatches a dragonfly midair—

holds it in its bill like an ampoule

of iridescent magenta ink. Slowly

an egret lifts—smoke from a clutch

of joss sticks. Koi sip at the surface, their lips

like the rubber rings of party balloons.

Another egret rises, legs trailing under

it long and thin as toasting forks.

A damselfly in rapid flight, a scholiast’s pen

annotating in margins, stops, touches

down on a lotus. Then a heron

with the calm posture of a Shinto priest

about to cleanse a shrine with prayer

steps suddenly towards an ibis

swallowing what its caught

from leaf pulp and bottom slime. I hear

the polyphonic tinkling of water, a tizwas

of insects soft-pedalling above white stones.

A version of ‘Waterlily Pond’ was previously published in Meanjin 76, 2 (Winter 2017): 197.

Published: August 2022
Judith Beveridge

is the author of six collections of poetry, most recently Devadatta’s Poems and Hook and Eye: a selection of poems. She first became friends with Martin Harrison in 1979 when he was caretaker at the Quaker meeting house in Sydney and they maintained a strong friendship until his death in 2014.

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Special N.02 – Poets speak up to Adani

2030, Adani, a Retrospective

by Michelle Cahill


Remember Gujarat? Tidal mangroves were blocked

by bunds & embankments, Chinese MoU,

revenues from aluminium, polysilicon, animal feeds.


The Paris Climate, OECD delegates sipped their lattes,

declaiming coal dust, steam choking the fish,

bleached nuggets, burgeoning coral cemeteries.


We, with our winning smiles, tweeting environmental

charities, retweeting memes, protests, petitions, trending,

bracketed clauses in the draft agreement, spineless


politicians, Tourism Australia. Never mind Sir David

or Obama— we needed Murrawah, Amelia, Xiuhtezcatl

to sing the rewilding of grasslands, reefs, native title—


Who knew that Subrata Maity and Claude Alvares

defended the Mundra, or Mormugão Port in Goa from

pollution violations?  The permits were not revoked.


When 10 per cent of robots lived in cities compliant

with WHO air quality guidelines, when the black

rhinoceros outnumbered the black-throated finch?


Nevertheless we sweltered, with news analysis full

blast, we dialled up air cons, we talked prophylactic

gene editing, from monkey to pig to Homo Saps.


We wrote dirges for the third world, prohibiting diesel

& motorcycle distributors, reversing neo-colonialism

with a corporate warrant to exhume the Galilee basin.


Everyone was abused; the state’s litigations, economic

futures, First nations, mind & memory’s quaint algorithms,

poems festering, composed in acid rain; volatile

in smog.


Published: August 2022
Michelle Cahill

is an Australian novelist and  poet who lives in Sydney.

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Special N.02 – Poets speak up to Adani

from A Concise History of the Moon

by Alex Skovron

III  New


Every dome we built is overgrown with tendrils,

They say the time to civilize our satellite

Is coming soon;

Architects and doctors, planners with their pencils

Design and theorize and calibrate

For living-room.

Thinking stops the blood, a mounting terror festers,

The leaving of a land is no small sacrifice

Even for us;

Seldom in the drunkest dreams of our ancestors

Could such an odyssey have been devised

We dare at last.

Trapped between the smell of history and stasis,

We plot a future where forgetfulness will cross

The crescent Earth;

Children we encounter (ours or something else’s)

Will seek in vain within their glossaries

The word for birth.

‘A Concise History of the Moon’ was previously published in Towards the Equator: New & Selected Poems (Puncher & Wattmann, 2014)

Published: August 2022
Alex Skovron

is the author of six poetry collections, a prose novella and a book of short stories, The Man who Took to his Bed (2017). His latest volume of poetry, Towards the Equator: New & Selected Poems (2014), was shortlisted in the Prime Minister’s Literary Awards. His next book of poetry, Letters from the Periphery, is in preparation.

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Special N.02 – Poets speak up to Adani

Coal Mines

by Caroline Williamson

from Cap Coch




What a miner knows is in the air around him.

Its movement. Its fresh or stale. And in the rock

which creaks and settles overhead, which cracks


and falls from the coal face at the miner’s feet.

Where water runs, or not. Sounds, smells.

The flare of a lantern. Methane, invisible,


leaking from who knows where. Water that’s flooded

another working, dammed for decades, pressing

behind the coal face. You need to be able to read


the interruptions underground. An ancient

river bed where the accumulated

peat once washed out to sea. A fault in the rock


from a prehistoric earthquake. Always beyond

the barren rock the coal keeps going. One

old man will tell a grandchild about the darkness,


when he was twelve years old: your lamp goes out

and you can’t see your own hand. And how when you cut

under the coal face it comes away clean, sometimes,


smooth as a mirror, and on that shiny surface

a fern, each frond clear as the day it fell,

gleams in the light of your lamp, almost like new.




Where’s everybody gone? On the stony track

with unpredictable breezes swirling around

the minibus, we perch in our badly fitting


bright yellow safety helmets high

above the black chasm of the mine.

Impossible depth, impossible distances,


not a human being in sight. On the far side,

kilometres away, clanking and clumsy

as some ancient monster struggling onto land,


one big machine prods at the side of the pit.

Coal dust hovers around it. If that gets close,

the guide tells us, we’re out of here. You wouldn’t


want that in your face. Fields run to the edge

of the open cut: a miniature tree clings on

to its final months of life. There’s just one bloke


sitting in the cab down there in air-conditioned

comfort. Pretty much soundproof. That thing cuts

more coal in a day than a thousand men. The breeze


picks up. The cloud of coal dust eddies, rises,

begins to move towards us. Helmets off,

we scramble for seats. The bus grinds into gear.

Published: August 2022
Caroline Williamson

grew up in the UK, has worked in London, Beijing and Melbourne as English teacher and editor, and now lives in Brunswick.

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Special N.02 – Poets speak up to Adani

DIG & Nightwork

by Bonny Cassidy





In the pan your gravels crashing hatched their prize—

a brindle rush to hump my veins and fever up the leaf

that twisted in our fields. The guilt was white, my soul a sieve.

It boomed with bull to see the dust an avenue of spin—

and my brickhouse hazy as a reef, its aura built to scale.

I seemed to tap its skin.

Birth was the pits but this is mine. Rabbits swimming to shake my mitts.






A conveyor belt reaping into action, cries


rubbish rocks rubbish rocks


breaks up floodlight, its flesh

a stingray covered, uncovered.


Pandanus leans

magic, enters the bulldozer


its tyres dissolve


as from the rocks and rubbish

the camera conveys


one kid

naked and furiously sweeping

a path through reeds, pandanus




by the trucks and manganese

at her feet.


The old men spin like tyres covered, uncovered.


It’s the sixties, then it isn’t.

From Chatelaine (Giramondo, 2017). ‘DIG’ was first published in Blackbox Manifold Issue 14. ‘Nightwork’ was first published in Cordite Poetry Review Issue 44.

Published: August 2022
Bonny Cassidy

is the author of three poetry collections, most recently Chatelaine (Giramondo, 2017). She coedited the anthology, Contemporary Australian Feminist Poetry (Hunter Publishers, 2016) and is Feature Reviews Editor for Cordite Poetry Review. Bonny leads the BA Creative Writing at RMIT University, Melbourne.

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Special N.02 – Poets speak up to Adani

Mining Tax

by Siobhan Hodge

Let’s blame it on the times:

scattering before headlights


from mining trucks. Swaying tracks

arrest both lanes, dinosaur pads


wait for them to pass

before we can move on,


but the road is getting lean.


Buy a pen and I’ll draw

where money is born:


hole in the ground, catheter

seep from sepsis, drips through every


layer. We stand on filter paper:

nothing gets through


that won’t be discarded.


Chapters thicken like burns

and we carry stanzas home


with 5pm fidelity. Budget

for bliss. We’ll laugh all the way


to something.


There isn’t enough to strain

this season of sameness,


grilled up north out of sight,

but we’re filtering the bigger picture


through stones and stubs and strikes.

You’re out. There is life here, and it is wrapped


in plastic. A miracle of hauntings


and we have forgotten nothing.

The lines still run underground


and in rivers raw with split fish.

Taxation is no limit, poetry has no queue.


Dug up and dried out, we know

the solemnity of being bought,


but celebrate being paid for.

Published: August 2022
Siobhan Hodge

has a doctorate from the University of Western Australia in English. Her thesis focused on Sappho’s legacy in English translations. Born in the UK, she divides her time between Australia and Hong Kong. She has had poetry and criticism published in several places, including Cordite, Page Seventeen, Yellow Field, Peril, Verge, and Kitaab.

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Special N.02 – Poets speak up to Adani

South East

by John Hawke


Lightning signs

with a simple cross,

with the swiftness of grasslands

swindled for quarry,


for a beach of burning river sand

hatched by ophidian shadows,

a glanced lizard scudding

on the prismatic surface of water tension,


for the clean face of a wave

thickening with blackness of dolphins.


Wet money gurgles in a swamp

and the oligarch’s easement is guaranteed,

a hireling paid

to scrape and oil his armoury.


Fields of white stubble await the razor’s

grin, the ingress of blighted spirits,

a charring smoulder that reveals

dripping stalagmites of morgue,


dirt bikes yawing on the switchback

precipice past Turnaround Road,

all the young dudes on Maybe Street


taloned logging trucks.

Published: August 2022
John Hawke

teaches literary studies at Monash University.

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Special N.02 – Poets speak up to Adani

Octopus Speaking

by Jennifer Compton

In the underwater tunnel of the civic aquarium

the octopus leaned his wretched head


against the glass of his turbid pool

sucking on his breathing tube, like


a severed vein

so he could live.


He asked for his ocean. He asked me,

the daughter of the powerful race.


I was standing alone like a child stands

with her entry ticket in her hand.

‘Octopus Speaking’ was previously published in Parker & Quink (Charnwood, ACT: Ginninderra Press, 2004)

Published: August 2022
Jennifer Compton

is a New Zealand-born Australian poet and playwright.

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Special N.02 – Poets speak up to Adani

Hope For Whole  

by Jill Jones


No!   No boom-town   no brown current

no smoky vessel   no swollen cooked mud

no slop shock   no money juggle

no ghost bloom   no blunt petrol hull

no smudge rock   no possess.

Yes!   Keep the lode under.


Hope for old flows to grow

polyp  sponge  weed

rock  mollusc

worm  turtle  dugong.


Conserve, do not stress.

Love the blue levels

the upwell   the fluent spheres under

guyot  gull sweep  storm hover

sky green fluxes  fresh flume.

Defend exoskeletons, broken hydro-forest.

Stop runoff  overuse.

Don’t cut holes under clouds.


You new crown-of-thorns, go!

No short-term clever

no smoke-burn genus murder.



Keep us hold whole.

Let enfold of

north to south

whole blue current

whole source flush blood

mother cells.


Hope for whole country

not those who would strop

or cull reef.

Keep touch the swell deep course.


(Contains no ‘a’ or ‘i’ vowels – No Adani)

Published: August 2022
Jill Jones

is a poet and writer from Sydney, Australia. She is a senior lecturer at the University of Adelaide.

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Special N.02 – Poets speak up to Adani

To be a Cat Curled

by Stuart Cooke

Loss is days


the traction of years deflating

the vertical

so that a man, once a pearl in a dark mouth,

becomes sound’s flat plane.

The beating heart is corrosion,

scattering leaves,

butterflies, leaves.

Each mumbling moment.

Each frozen, irretrievable One.

Headlines could be the only things that matter;

the rest is just flesh, flow,


This sense that everything’s

the same and what I see – in the way

a tree emerges or an emu speeds – are the tips

of the freezing.

How to keep pace with the sun?

Never to falter. To be a cat curled

in the corner of a doorway, smiling dreamily.

Can the dream of shade

moving further out across the grass

ever be reconciled

with this tightening stiff of the gut?

On that note, how to follow a poet’s letters

to the memories of childhood

while fixated

upon the streaked darkness, through which

I perpetually, always

without seeing, fall?

‘To be a Cat Curled’ was previously published in Edge Music (Carindale, QLD: Interactive Press, 2011), 15.

Published: August 2022
Stuart Cooke

has won the Gwen Harwood, Dorothy Porter and New Shoots poetry prizes. His latest collection of poetry is Opera (2016). He lives on the Gold Coast, where he lectures at Griffith University.

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Adani was a jolly old king, and a jolly old king was he

by Kit Kelen




someone is digging a hole in me

biggest ever this time! wow!

I’m paying a billion dollars for this

(lazy billion, don’t you know)


the hole they’re digging in me makes fumes

smells bad, it leaves an ugly mess

kills everything all around


oh well – that’s me for self-esteem

I’m paying a million bucks

it’s like I’m trying to make friends


you’d think there was something killing me

and doctors had to cut it out

but it’s not like that at all


the hole they’re digging is a threat to life

people will die like flies from the smoke

we know because they’re dying already

from all the other holes in me

and in everyone else


you’d think it was a money spinner

but I’m paying to get it done


it’s true they’ve dug big ones in me before

but this one is the biggest yet

in fact it’s the biggest hole in the world


why is it they’re digging this hole?

why do I pay them to?

people ask what’s wrong with me


the hole’s to make a fire

fire’s holy

it’s for a church of smoke

I believe!

I’m doing it all for old King Adani

the peasant king

great man


they’re digging the biggest hole in the world

I pay them to dig it in me


the sun must have burnt a hole in my head

this hole will be burning my pocket soon

I have to be insane


so many of me

backs into it

the wheel must roll on!


the hole must be dug

the biggest in the world!


this way I’ll burn till we’re all a lot warmer


they’re digging for what’s deep down in me

what’s that?

a billion dollars digging

my money

I’m paying for this to be done

it’s a loan

but I don’t think I’ll see the money come back

none of the banks thinks so

none of the banks will lend to the king


but look at the ships queuing up for the port

they’re taking me away to burn

my fire will light up half the world

you won’t see through the smoke


don’t you point the finger at me

I’m not doing it

it’s my job

I pay for it to be done

I’m mad?


and the sea is dark with it

nothing lives there

and the sky is smoke

my lungs and yours


we’re all going to burn so bright

no one will see through the haze

a billion dollars worth of burning

it’s nothing

it’s the cheapest solution


you don’t want to pay more

do you?


not for a great big hole

the biggest!


I can’t help saying it again

the biggest!

the biggest hole ever!

they’re digging it in me

I’m so proud


you’d think there was something

we had to bury


more fire!

more smoke!

more damage than ever before!


it’s because it’s so big

we just have to do it

if you want an omelette, breaks eggs


don’t argue

or you can stay out of the kitchen

let’s see just how high this sea can go

we’re making more ocean views?

everyone’s a winner

there’ll be more for everyone to swim


it’s the fossils who are doing the digging

we have to pay for it too


because, if they don’t dig this hole in me

they’ll dig in someone else

and that, my friends, would be very bad indeed

they’ll dig there anyway, they will

they might as well dig a hole in me


they say he’s a gangster

the big man with moustache

we’re giving the money

oh sage old king

just look at him

and see how wise


you’d be a fool not to have the hole dug

he’s offering to handle it all

only a billion!

we dig

that’s all we have to do


just give him the money

then we can dig the hole in me


they say that he’s done it before

but that can’t be true

this is one of a kind


the hole they’re digging in me

it’s the biggest one ever

lazy billion’s worth, I said


overseas, the poor, they deserve this great pit –

the dirty great hole they’re digging me


with this, they can choke to death in good light

such is the hole that they’re digging in me

they’re going to dig

you can’t stop them


how can you stand in the way of a king?


and the sea is coal

and the sky is coal

and your heart’s as dark as mine


you couldn’t vote for this sort of thing

I must really hate myself

to let them dig this hole like this


but isn’t it the gangster’s right –

to come to the end of the world

and be given my lazy billion to dig

to dig a hole in me?


we mustn’t say no to the future

there’s so much sun in Queensland

they’re digging a hole in me


I think that it’s time

to stand up and say


do you think

we’ll wake up in time?

Published: August 2022
Kit Kelen

Christopher (Kit) Kelen is a poet and painter, resident in the Myall Lakes of NSW.

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Special N.02 – Poets speak up to Adani

The unspeakables

by Dan Disney




Read the pdf here.

Published: August 2022
Dan Disney

 teaches in the Literature program at Sogang University (Seoul). This year, his critical writing appears in Orbis Litterarum and Axon; translations appear in World Literature Today; book reviews appear in Antipodes and Verse; poems appear in The Warwick Review and Postcolonial Text. He is completing a book of villanelles.

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Special N.02 – Poets speak up to Adani


by John Kinsella



from the First Movement, Inferno, of Franz Liszt’s ‘A Symphony to Dante’s Divine Comedy’


            Destruction is bigotry.



Abandon all hope and you here entering

here entering hope the gate the heat the light

abandoned pit of generations of generating


the constructivist hope the thermal incite

to agony and pain strung out over last days

of ornamental snakes and the brisk flight


of black-throated finches, the gurgle of ways

of hope and divinity and a name like Galilee

and Wangan and Jagalingou peoples’ land says


what rights of hope what draughts will flee

the hollows down to the sea and reef made hopeless

in its wreckage and ash rising in clots of adjectives to the glee


of executives fighting for the impoverished — a caress

of largesse of hope of entering the homes of the poor

to make an epic for the world that will stress


rivers and bush and forests and coral reefs and the store

of past that is underneath that foots the bill of now

are merely symbols in an advertising draw-


card for gates and ye and the shrinking self for

all our global aspirations all our dynamic equivalence

our souls our atman our states of being a store


of carbon life-forms bonded over the pits

of cultural extraction of data over the gate

of wealth — great wealth — at the expense


of love as deep as seams as seems to grate

on the nerves of the lost who think they’ve found

their way to higher states to patronise the poor to freight


ethics on a conveyor belt to furnace to abandon

to build a case against the protectors of life of biosphere

and advertise hope of you and us the close the never distant tonnes


of profits all to the greater good the greater glory no fear

of insulting the very earth they walk on, rolling it resoundingly

beneath their feet abandon you abandon ye abandon clear


and present danger as hook to ward off protest so agonisingly

frustrating to the mission to make the gate to go back & forth

through gate to break the gate fast track desert belt accordingly


brigalow belt in grassland denial to report back ‘patchy’ — a dearth

of Acacia harpophylla in the target in the crucible (‘the polygon’)

such survey exonerations of Buffel grass or beneath the coolabah a mirth


a kind of light-hearted get-together a mug of tea on the station

a back-to-work a seize-the-moment and a wonder at the lack of ‘things

created’ as a reconcilable future. Come, don’t hang back, fashion


your own path to the river to cross the Acheron to wash away what clings —

Eucalyptus brownii cheap by the dozen abandon this rough-barked life & canopy

& memories of ye coal fires choking us cancerous hope we could see what sings

when such ancientness is dug up and entered burnt with impunity.

Published: August 2022
John Kinsella

is an Australian poet, novelist, critic, essayist and editor. His writing is strongly influenced by landscape, and he espouses an ‘international regionalism’ in his approach to place.

An Australian and international
journal of ecopoetry and ecopoetics.

Plumwood Mountain Journal is created on the unceded lands of the Gadigal and Wangal people of the Eora Nation. We pay our respects to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and to elders past, present and future. We also acknowledge all traditional custodians of the lands this journal reaches.