Skip to content

Content From Issue: Volume 2 Number 1 (February 2015)

Back to issue
From: Vol.02 N.01 – Otherkind

Great White Shark

by Rachael Mead

Down here sunlight casts its wavering nets

but we are already caught, the cage full

of quivering humanity, dangling like bait

over depths immaculate in their mystery.

We fling our sight into the blue, seeking

the thickening shadow, that clotting of cobalt

which defibrillates the heart instants before

the torpedo shape even resolves itself out there

beyond the mesh, on the inner face of the mask.

The rumbled cadence of the hookah quickens

as we hang, exhibiting ourselves to the wild.

Stripped of land and way out of our depth,

we cling to the faith that for these swift minutes

caught in this inverted world, we will continue to breathe.


It’s difficult to know what to tell you, what I saved

from that oddly geometric world, the hard blue planes

speared with light, the hollow toll of cage on boat,

those plates of cold sliding between wetsuit and skin.

I can’t tell you much about the pale underbelly, the fin,

the slashed gills or the blowback of shock after the strike.

I can’t remember much about its solidity, the way its skin

seized the shine from the water and swallowed it whole.

Strangely, I can’t really even recall much about the teeth.

But I can tell you about the eye.  Its density.  Its blackness.

The way she watched us, circling with long, deliberate strokes.

And the only other thing I can say is how it felt to see

that final contrail of silver coins from her tail’s ragged fluke

and in that silence hear my heart, implausibly, still beating.

Published: January 2015
Rachael Mead

is a South Australian writer and poet. In 2013, she was shortlisted for the Newcastle Poetry Prize and Picaro Press published her second collection, The Sixth Creek.  She was awarded Varuna’s Dorothy Hewett Flagship Fellowship for Poetry in 2011 and again in 2015.

Back to issue
From: Vol.02 N.01 – Otherkind

gravity unbraided

by Susan Hawthorne

overhead an alphabet of birds fly

crossing through one world to another

handkerchiefs in the wind

unbraiding gravity

vines grow between earth and sky

elastic strung from sky hooks

moths fly blind in daylight

circle like the hands of an accordion

player in the mania of a fast riff

at noon poplars gloat leafing clouds

their shadows a necklaced track

dappled light gravels the ground

Published: January 2015
Susan Hawthorne

Susan Hawthorne’s latest poetry collection is Lupa and Lamb (2014). Others include Limen (2013), Cow (2011), Earth’s Breath (2009), The Butterfly Effect (2005) and Bird (1999). Cow was shortlisted for the 2012 Kenneth Slessor Poetry Prize and Earth’s Breath for the 2010 Judith Wright Poetry Prize.

Back to issue
From: Vol.02 N.01 – Otherkind

Nonhuman Practitioner Breaks With Light Verse

by Michael Farrell

More important than not seeming pathetic or quaint is not

being so. We are not all mocking singers or foot-

gazing track-makers. The bush is not a cabaret. We

are on better terms with the sky than some. The

long afternoon is not for squandering in hop-hop or

chit-chit. The rhyme scheme is a more or less

elaborate garden to those of us with the concept of

garden. Long; short; major; minor: poetry is not for accumulating

in some imaginary anthology introduced by today’s Auden

To read

a tree is merely effrontery. We may turn for themes. Hunger

mating, deforestation, why not be absolutely modern? Because

history is

eons, not revolt. Mothers are never so other. The meta

may be a scrub bird. Flight! Burrowing! To not be

is a species concern. Sailing through the air, growing into

something else for a time, is not remarkable. Memory is

practice. Let pets debate whether they’re artists or not. Let

zoos truck in loads of authentic dirt to bathe in

A fig on a twig is not a poetic beginning

Published: January 2015
Michael Farrell

is from Bombala on the Monaro in NSW. He has completed a PhD in Australian literature at Melbourne University. Recent publications include open sesame (Giramondo) and Long Dull Poem (Stale). He lives in Fitzroy.

Back to issue
From: Vol.02 N.01 – Otherkind


by Toby Fitch

Metrophobia EDIT4

Published: January 2015
Toby Fitch

is the author of Rawshock (Puncher & Wattmann), which won the Grace Leven Prize for Poetry 2012, plus two chapbooks, Quarrels and Everyday Static. His latest collection is Jerilderies (Vagabond Press 2014). He lives in Sydney, where he is currently writing a book of inversions. ‘Metrophobia’ is an inversion of Métropolitain by Rimbaud

Back to issue
From: Vol.02 N.01 – Otherkind

gem stones

by Booroloola Poetry Club

for mista phillip


each poem is a different collection of voices from the Northern Territory’s Gulf of Carpentaria


millad mob country a yanyuwa glowin’ song

da sea a shimmerin’ magic ting

steppin’ so brolga lightly unda moon

an dem dugong backs shimmerin’

swimmin’ in seagrass alive for dem

hunters in dat cool salty breeze

waves splashin’ da island of pandanus an cycad in sand

jeweled with dem shells an crystals of light

an written with track only us mob can sing

of lovely lovely bush tucka

us mob countin’ dem taddle eggs like stars in heaven

knowin’ millad country an dem springs

caves hidden in us sacred ground

dem rock paintin’s now satellites movin’ millad stars




millad father country toward doomadgee

where dem barri barri dey bin crash down

da earth an millad mob learnim sing em

e bin makem dreaming birthmark on im ears




we bin get up an hab im good one walk

an us see dat really really smooth coat

dey bin learnim us sing dat coat an us good

way leaves cover him millad mob never steal

dat coat makem you sick




millad mob not saltwater mob like dem yanyuwa mob

us gudanji mob, dis millad country

you come drive in mudika long way

out bush an us show you lagoon

it long long way you know

dat devil devil dreaming

you don’t climb him or dance

da night dat gnabia bin stay

an he chock you like tis

you drive long long way past him

past barramundi dreaming swallowed

in mine an you see high on ridge

where freshwater kangaroo bash

dat saltwater one dat where us country is

us mob sing dat place dem ceremony

an lagoon big country full

taddle, long-nose, fish an bush turkey

water lily, makulu, bush plum, onion an yam

you bend roun’ unda massacre hill like dis

– dem yalinga whitefullas call him dat –

an up a track past dat skull creek

ini cave a baby blackfulla bone

tis sung to stone like crystal memory

dem poor old people do sing dat



each poem is a different collection of voices from the Northern Territory’s Gulf of Carpentaria

The Australian Literacy and Numeracy Foundation (ALNF) is proud to have hosted the Borroloola Poetry Club at the most recent Writers Workshops in October 2014. They are excellent writers and the ALNF is proud to support and encourage their ongoing activity as writers.

Published: January 2015
Booroloola Poetry Club

Diwurruwurru (Message Stick)

Borroloola is remote town located in the Gulf of Carpentaria, Northern Territory. It has a population of around 600-700 people in the Dry Season; and approximately 800-1000 people in the Wet Season. The population of Borroloola is 95% Indigenous and is made up of members of the Yanyuwa, Garrawa, Mara and Gudanji peoples.

Diwurruwurru (The Borroloola Poetry Club) is an Indigenous writers’/storytellers’ group that meets at the local school, or at the local Warralungku Arts Centre, under the care of local teacher/poet, Phillip Hall. The club is made up of both adult and school student members and meets every Friday afternoon (and sometimes on camp out bush).

Diwurruwurru has established an annual poetry prize (with children’s, young adult and adult sections) as part of the Borroloola Show. This year’s prize attracted over 70 entries; and was a glorious testament to the club’s dynamism.

Diwurruwurru has also collaborated with The Australian Literacy and Numeracy Foundation, since 2012, to establish an annual poetry festival in Tennant Creek; to publish member poems electronically on The Barkly Poetry Wall and in the print publication, Coming to Voice. In 2013 the Club also worked with the NT Writers’ Centre to secure an Australia Council grant to host Lionel Fogarty (an award-winning Indigenous poet) and Amanda King (a digital artist) in a month long residency in Borroloola. This exciting program saw Borroloola school students writing poetry, learning to perform and then recording their efforts onto film. In 2014 twenty members from Diwurruwurru were invited to WordStorm, the NT Writers’ Festival, to launch the Borroloola poetry film onto the national stage – a wonderful celebration of creativity in the Gulf.

Diwurruwurru has secured many other publication opportunities in 2014-2015 as well: we have been selected to appear in the new Donna Ward Inkermann & Blunt publication and in the Red Room Company’s new ‘Poetry Objects’ series.

Diwurruwurru writes group poems under the guidance of Phillip Hall. Our creative process is to meet around a meal where we share a lot of excited ideas/stories. Phillip Hall gathers these together on a white board where the drafting process begins with much discussion, debate and hilarious attempts to pronounce/spell Aboriginal English and Language words. Phillip continues to work on the poem over the following week before bringing it back to the group for approval. This process is sometimes repeated over several weeks.

Under the care of Phillip Gijindarriji Hall, Diwurruwurru is a lively creative place where family and friends meet to explore, experiment and assert Indigenous Culture and Story. The message stick that it generously shares is one of pride, respect and strength.

Phillip Gijindarriji Hall

Back to issue
From: Vol.02 N.01 – Otherkind

from “Distant Landscapes (1)”

by Jane Joritz-Nakagawa

<echo poetics>

I become the tree tho it does not become me.  Each branch of a temporarily retrieved memory of a hypersensitive poet with a stormy personality blown apart by tonight’s rain.  Down the street workmen build a house in the forest for the wealthy, eating lunch in dirty trucks shoes off white stockinged feet hanging out car windows ramen in styrofoam cups and throwaway chopsticks.  It’s impossible to know the forest’s prerequisites.  A large owl flies over the young grass the plump brown rabbit ate yesterday.  The poem finally accepts the reverberations of the forest.  There’s an operatic grammar to be found among birds and insects, but language cannot stop to find it. The hills only appear to be tragic.  Once glance is never enough.  How the forest haunts me.  Each night I dream a blade of grass. My heart becomes hollow and everything becomes wilderness.  It’s precisely here where my thoughts turn to plywood.




(the forest fades) (or i do)     feel myself falling    in the

encrypted forest

matched by the violent wind           mirror neurons

the impossibility of entering the forest


i decide to begin eating the forest, starting with a

small patch of grass

the rabbit did not eat         (costing ten thousand yen)


one cannot enter the mind of the forest

as in a film where it’s always night and wet

if i act in a manner in which the forest approves

it could make me pathetically happy

A longer series of excerpts, including the above, is available here.

Published: January 2015
Jane Joritz-Nakagawa

Originally from the U.S., Jane Joritz-Nakagawa lives in Japan.  Her eighth book of poems, “Distant landscapes,” is forthcoming in 2015. A review of her most recent book and chapbook, FLUX and wildblacklake, respectively, appeared last year in Plumwood Mountain. Email is welcome at <janejoritznakagawa AT gmail DOT com>

Back to issue
From: Vol.02 N.01 – Otherkind

Climbing the Tree

by Earl Livings

All truths wait in all things.
Walt Whitman, ‘Song of Myself’


At first you are a cautious climber, moving

Only one limb at a time, testing

The bearing of each branch, pausing at

Each sign of muscle twitch, resting often

To consider every possible fall,

The impossibility of retreat, resisting

Always the burden of broken skin,

Intolerance of pulled muscles.

Soon you are stretching further, judging

Grip of weight and accustomed reflex,

Trusting gaps with the grace of muscle,

Climbing further, faster, with easy breath,

Enjoying the sway of branches as you sway.


One day you reach the highest junction

And sweep a glance of all possible moments—

From the pause of a spider on fractured bark

To the sudden wing beat above you.

From the silent crouch of your horizon

To the edge of a faint moon sifting nightfall.

From the gasp of joggers and cyclists

On the concrete perimeter of the river,

To the pealing of distant church bells.


That day, or another, a storm will dare you,

And you will ponder the glamour of lightning,

Rain-drops coincident with welcomed sweat,

Before you descend to gather your days.


Yet day after day it is never the same tree:

Always the split and broken boundaries of branches

And the slow accretion of living wood about the dead.

One day you will note the circus mass of spiders

Hatched into tree-fold and the wind’s tremor of web.

Two days later, when only silken shreds remain,

You ponder the fates of predator and prey.


And each time you notice the way your back eases

Into the veins of bark as you regard the span

Of leaf, branch and their embracing gaps,

Knowing one day you will never leave here.

Published: January 2015
Earl Livings

has published poetry and fiction in Australia and also Britain, Canada, the USA, and Germany. He taught in the Professional Writing & Editing course for 17 years and is currently working on a novel and his next poetry collection. His writing focuses on nature, mythology and the sacred.

Back to issue
From: Vol.02 N.01 – Otherkind


by Jordie Albiston

from Jawbone Reserve to Fleming’s Pool    tide has

left tributes & signs    Banded Ark    Jackson’s Trough

Elongate Nut    carbonate tracks of where you were

last night    I walk my bones between shells & skulls

crunching the dead    wondering always how much

does it hurt to leave such things behind    what was he

pulled from    dear Little Globe    a loving wife with

concentric smile    an umbo median life    where was

Wing when I needed him    was she raped    Boring

Venus & if so why    once I collected saltwater holds

hobbity homes    tiny gods cut from Aiz Ghazal lime

this was at 4 am    this was before the Romans arrived

half the world at war even then    you smuggled me

into a southern coast cove    kissed me with kisses of

bubbles & foam    left your handprint right here on

my breast    I could only see death    I can only see

death as I pick my way between ocean & crust    the

beach a necropolis    Altona just ahead in the mist

rising with turrets & obelisks    I am searching for

you in churches & mosques    grinding great cities

under my feet into something like gypsum    like dust

Published: January 2015
Jordie Albiston

Jordie Albiston’s latest titles are XIII Poems (Rabbit Poet Series, 2013) and The Weekly Poem: 52 exercises in closed & open forms (Puncher & Wattmann, 2014).  She lives in Melbourne.

Back to issue
From: Vol.02 N.01 – Otherkind

Brigalow: an extinct pastoral

by B. R. Dionysius

Acacia harpophylla


It was shaving a giant’s hairy body to reduce friction

& speed things up. Each fracture of a Brigalow trunk,

the taut string of a Jarowair songline snapping; ancient

wires curled into a foetal position as the D9s chewed

through acacias like witchetty grubs weakening a tree’s

hardwood core. Local councils paid up bounties to clear

‘scrub’ into the 80s. They strung a necklace of iron pearls

between two dozers; manacled violence, like nineteenth

century convicts kept under guard. The machines clawed

through six million acres, rubbing against bark, leaving

a scent trail of oil & diesel, as though they were some

type of ancient megafauna revisited; extinct, buttery-

furred thylacoleo, carnivorous in their vast appetite.


Then their kitchen knife shiny blades scratched out

the jagged stumps that leaked blood-amber & later

hardened into ruby stalactites & froze to the broken

lip of the forest’s open mouth. The rich, alluvial soil

ruptured like a freshly dug mass grave, as the tree-

pushers tossed black wattle bodies into loose piles

& burnt them. Genocide’s sleight of hand perfected

on nature first. Trees as numbers. Dozer drivers

saw straight through their bee-yellow badges, their

earmuffs silenced the forest’s death rattle, made

the weary farmers bomber-pilot resilient to raining

down destruction. The ovens were crude fire pits

that melted down acacia sap like looted gold, so that

it pooled tawny in this open furnace’s charcoal bed.


These chains of being breaking coffee-stained teeth

of white ant hills that housed avian clay diamonds.

The Paradise Parrot, a smashed green, red, & blue

panel in the Darling Downs stained glass window.

The termite mounds rose like a child’s best castle

or miniature gothic cathedrals built of sand & grass,

masticated & stored in the climate-controlled fridge

interior. These insects stowing carbon before there

was a price put on the planet’s bushranger head.

The shotgun entry-wound sized nest holes blasted

into mounds by the birds, as though evolution had

manufactured the perfect cavity for humans to

dynamite these architectural  wonders of the insect

world. The cool pyramids sawn off at their bases;

cut down like pseudo-trees or scooped up in the rough

hands of front end loaders & rolled into tennis courts.


The ignorant paddocks of youth where natural beauty

was witnessed in the solitary survivors of cultivation.

Coolabah trees surrounded by seas of grass, trunks

twisted like the wrenched skin of a ‘Chinese burn’ or

New Holland nymphs caught in a transformative act;

god-frozen as punishment for their greenest pride.

Half of them ringbarked by pink-flared galahs, their

stringy layers hanging off their limbs like a child’s

Band-Aid half picked off an arm or leg, undecided

about its ability to help heal the body’s dying flesh.

The understory broken by iron & fire like a rebellion.

Exotic grasses chewed down to their stubs by sheep

& cattle until even these conquerors were themselves

usurped by cereal crops & water-boarded cotton.


Hoofed animals who sacked the land’s fragile temple,

magnifying a historic benefit to the monocultural god.

Agriculture’s sublime gerrymander; the fascist knowhow

of combines & seed strains & harrows that clear-felled

the Brigalow belt. Soldier settlers of the 40s carrying on

the good fight to the Qld frontier, carving order out

of the dual forces of chaos; heat & drought. Trobuk

tanned, or Kokoda lithe, digging into their prickle farms

like a cattle tick into its host, head down, immovable.

Not the weather, not the banks, not the rising water

table that pulled salt skyward like a crystalline sunrise,

or the earthen heave of an underground atomic test.

Humans pushed the envelope of entropy: remnant

vegetation ensconced on Oakey Creek’s banks,

where wind & animal erosion dusted off eons

of silt from the fossilised skulls of diprotodons.

Fist-sized eye sockets stoppered with black mud.


Brigalow, now quarantined to rocky slopes like

the survivors of a flood catastrophe, or reduced

from its diverse wealth to begging beside highways.

North to Townsville, south to Narrabri, west to Bourke

& Blackall, the silvery-leafed acacias retreated meekly

into history’s hothouse. Their decline & fall predictable

as any overstretched empire’s, barbarians shutting

the gates on revegetation; reserves & hillsides

the last refuge of the disappeared.  Ninety-five

percent of the black-trunked forest anchor-chained;

a billion victims of Bjelke-Petersen’s Frankenstein

invention, his iron umbilical bolt that connected

ex-war surplus gun carriers & enfiladed the land.


The Mallee’s murdered twin brother buried west

of the Great Dividing range & never seen again.

The countless bodies gone missing in the gidgee;

Darling Downs Hopping-mouse, White-footed

Rabbit-rat, Brush-tailed Bettong, Long-nosed

Bandicoot, Greater Bilby, Bridled Nailtail Wallaby,

Northern Hairy-nosed Wombat & Eastern Quoll.

These protein gradients dropping away without

a sound, as though they were regrowth suckers

poisoned by 24D. An extinct pastoral still being

energised as a red hot column whence fly the sparks.

Black wattle burning on a six million acre farm.

Published: January 2015
B. R. Dionysius

was founding Director of the Queensland Poetry Festival. His poetry has been widely published in literary journals, anthologies, newspapers and online. His eighth poetry collection, Weranga was released in 2013. He lives in Ipswich, Queensland, where he runs, watches birds, teaches English and writes contemporary sonnets.

Back to issue
From: Vol.02 N.01 – Otherkind

Bird. The Meta Is A Perching Bird

by Michael Farrell

Know. Reflection and observation is criticism you know. The


Joy. With its shuffling and repetitive joy. We overhear, we

Conversation. Make a construction on the wren’s conversation

Whistling is

Poetics. A kind of poetics. The wren rhymes, gives rhetoric

Flight. Gentle flight. Gesture. Listening is a self-protective


Survival. Interpretation a matter of survival. One person’s

home is

Metaphor. Another’s metaphor. The butcher-bird is a rhyming-


that steals another’s expressions and metre: and from them


Blood. A little extra blood. Form is also home, but

Yours. Not yours. The kestrel favours first person, and the

Psalm. Future tense: telling its story in a melodramatic psalm

The swamp pheasant writes in rhetorical colour, makes a


Contrived. And a reading that may not have been contrived

Guard. Thornbills making leaf sounds catch hawks off-guard


black-shouldered kite can burn through paper with a look

Published: January 2015
Michael Farrell

is from Bombala on the Monaro in NSW. He has completed a PhD in Australian literature at Melbourne University. Recent publications include open sesame (Giramondo) and Long Dull Poem (Stale). He lives in Fitzroy.

Back to issue
From: Vol.02 N.01 – Otherkind


by Judith Rodriguez

window of light

whether you close justly

or not

you are the way out of just-me

and the way in


my verandah shelves light

my trees hive light

what can I say?

me too, me too


Company at Cleeve Hill

the hills our elders

green     green

trees     worlds of life     our eldest friends

thronging the fields     hefters of sky


and the Rising Sun

its lit windows


waiting with garlands

at this or that ageless rock

this or that holy site

this or that shrine –

but unadorned

she comes to my disordered room

to my shadowed room

to my silence




Published: January 2015
Judith Rodriguez

Judith Rodriguez’s publications include New and Selected Poems (1988, 1992) and The Hanging of Minnie Thwaites (2012), a long ballad with researched account and lyrics. A new book is scheduled. Judith collaborated with Robyn Archer on a musical play Poor Johanna, and with Moya Henderson on the opera Lindy.

Back to issue
From: Vol.02 N.01 – Otherkind

Autumn Garden

by Diane Fahey

for my Mother


A sound between breath and utterance

as breakers crumple to spindrift.

Above the heave of eucalypts, seagulls

surf the air, the swallows loop and feed.

We sit at ease by the myrtle willow,

its fronds astir; unmoved, the hibiscus

mauvely in bud, your burgundy roses.


Blackbirds and wattlebirds stitch the trees

together: each soughing of wing feathers

a half-whisper from the unconscious.

Whenever the wind grows wilder,

forest sounds without a forest; the speech of leaves

forced into one voice. Later, silence:

dusk unfolds like a hothouse flower.

Published: January 2015
Diane Fahey

is the author of twelve poetry collections, most recently The Wing Collection: New & Selected Poems and The Stone Garden: Poems from Clare, both shortlisted for major poetry awards. She has won various poetry prizes, and in 2014 received a literary grant from the Australia Council to support the writing of a poetry collection set in the West of Ireland.

Back to issue
From: Vol.02 N.01 – Otherkind

On being taken there

by Anne M. Carson

Anything can take you there –

today it is the clip clop percussion


of horses’ hooves as they strike

bitumen. The sounds ring out


resplendent, a melody the horse

makes from the marriage between


pastern, cannon bones

and ground. Not just the resonant


clang of metal striking metal

but all the grace of gallop


and canter is there embryonic

in the sound and its tattooed rhythm.


The symphony which plays

when horse gathers musculature


and will to thunder across pasture,

to flash equine into the world.

Published: January 2015
Anne M. Carson

has been published in Australia, USA and France. Her first collection, Removing the Kimono, was published by Hybrid Publishers in 2013. In 2014 she was longlisted in the Canberra University Vice-Chancellor’s Poetry Prize. As a Creative Writing Therapist she has edited three books. She teaches Poetry Writing and Appreciation to adults.

Back to issue
From: Vol.02 N.01 – Otherkind

Ardeotis australis ## 1 & 2 — The Australian Bustard

by Kristin Hannaford and Alison Clouston

# 1


You have been here before. Observer of light,

you know cycles of bust and boom as grasshopper

plague; a twig-like season of woody legs and nutty interior

before the dust eddies of drought. Tracker of rain, of fire,

we find you walking scorched inky floors of dirt, shucking

new shoots and venturesome lizards at the restaurant of the bold,

remembering days when you too were in the pot. A bird of few

words, you prefer to scrutinize, study the day’s narrative,

make quiet retreat. Unless, of course, you’re headed

to the lek – to shake, sing, and perform your ‘boom boom

baby let’s go back to my room’ inflated throat sac of song.

You know how to unshackle that uptight cool.

After the party’s always the same.  You head out to the road,

inhale the emptiness. Curious to see the oncoming traffic.



# 2


if passage were a ribbon   this bird has thread

a slow plains undulation         itinerant pathways

of distance      scientists observe        disturbance

‘a declining trend’     the fine graphite sketch mark

vermiculate plumage               tracking a down turn  and irregular

seasons     lessening dots on the map              more scatter

than graph   his guttural lovesong       sounding wired

frequencies    binding              the bustard wandering

shagpiles of tussock    its crop full      two beetles

small lizards    seeds of grass                          and a rumour of opals

a survey of desert uplands      this morning’s design



 Image: Alison Clouston, “Australian Bustard on the Road to Bimblebox,” 2014

Digital print and block print on cotton rag paper,  29.7 x 21 cm, titled, signed and dated on reverse side, edition of 6
Photo by the artist © Alison Clouston, 2014

Chorus 32:

Jim Moginie, Peter Dasent, Paul Cutlan, Gregory McKlaren, Kelly Keating, Bonnie Hart, Louise Nutting, David George
Composition by Boyd


The poems, image and chorus 32 (above) in response to the Australian Bustard are part of the Bimblebox 153 Birds project.

Bimblebox 153 Birds is a creative exploration of the bird species that inhabit the Bimblebox Nature Refuge.  With spoken word, music and fine art prints, 153 artists, 153 writers and 153 musicians engage with the bird species that make this habitat their home — a habitat that is currently under threat from coal mining.
facebook:  Bimblebox 153 Birds

Published: January 2015
Kristin Hannaford

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.

Alison Clouston

is a visual artist and Boyd is a musician, composer and sound artist. They have collaborated over many years on artistic projects to examine the place of humans in relation to the rest of nature.

Back to issue
From: Vol.02 N.01 – Otherkind


by Toby Fitch



Published: January 2015
Toby Fitch

is the author of Rawshock (Puncher & Wattmann), which won the Grace Leven Prize for Poetry 2012, plus two chapbooks, Quarrels and Everyday Static. His latest collection is Jerilderies (Vagabond Press 2014). He lives in Sydney, where he is currently writing a book of inversions. ‘Aphasia’ is an inversion of Phrases by Rimbaud.

Back to issue
From: Vol.02 N.01 – Otherkind

Anxious Itinerant

by Patricia Sykes

Travel, the long impermanence,

winding toward a coast town

on a dusk road. Sunset, harbour,

and the chance of a fee bed

as if sanctuary can be paid for.

The estuary blinks all night,

one red eye, one green,

safe, unsafe, polarities of ebb,

flow. At daybreak, pelicans

calmly afloat, riding the same

pulse that rocked the womb

I slept within under a tin roof

whose stars chinkled like rain.

Now here, woken again from

darkness, inside a paper-thin

cabin crushable as infancy.

Years are not what ages

the span. The perpetrator

is longing, hover dreams

that weigh less than light.

Feet might yearn upwards

but bitumen is insatiable,

spider veins that entrap and

feed. Ground, the one solid,

encumbered, the anchor.

Published: January 2015
Patricia Sykes

is a poet and librettist. Her collaborations with composer Liza Lim have been performed in Australia, Paris, Germany, Russia, New York and the UK. She was Asialink Writer in Residence, Malaysia, 2006. Her most recent work is The Abbotsford Mysteries (Spinifex Press, 2011).

Back to issue
From: Vol.02 N.01 – Otherkind


by B. R. Dionysius

for Nathan Shepherdson




from below

their white belly

merges with light,

falling electric snow.

penetration slowed

down; a fast bullet

enters & exits a pane

of glass falling with

honey’s spoon grace.

a snowflake melds

with its blizzard

until indivisible from

the surface it melts;

water’s countershade.





all quiet under ocean.

sound trapped, insect

in amber. ears useless,

ground down tiny over

millennia, gills not slitting

into bones until a noise’s

speed no longer makes

distance in the blue world.

salt water is not ocean

as is tasted. a fluid

battery sends electrical

pulses. charges fish

until solar panel scales

spark with energy.





they can detect auras.

smell the diffused signals

borne by water molecules

that spread, a tarot deck

of hunger sliding across

the sea’s dinner table;

conjure up a red future.

one drop of blood

in a million parts of

water, they will come

if the wet wind blows

in the right direction.

they can find a clear

contact lens on a glacier.





their snouts are Franklin’s

perpetual kite experiment.

blows from a cobbler’s

hammer have dented

their heads, they hunt

by electricity, they detect

tiny ball lightning in

a fishes’ berry-sized

muscles. the ocean

a liquefied grid, a

field of nippy particles.

lorenzini’s ampullae;

an apex predator’s

lightning rod.





industrial strength

candle-coloured bags,

thin bakelite purses

that clutch to the sides

of reefs & shoals; amber

necklaces that decorate

a current’s sinewy neck.

membranous births,

embryonic fluid ruptures

spills into a greater sac.

longlines’ jagged teeth

hook young, a by-catch.

fin’s reverse fontanelle,

the flesh doesn’t heal.





times past skin wore teeth

& dorsal fins radar shaped.

devolution; toothed frames

shrink to denticles that spray

on skin, rough plaster walls

disrupt borders between shark

& ocean. they grasp seawater

glove-fast & torpedo bodies

slip through tension breaks.

blademasters skills honed

by sticky shark grips & fine

cut leather boots.  ‘shagreen’

sandpaper from dog-fish

polished ships’ best wood.





bicycle reflector jammed behind

retina boosts night vision. military

goggles worn by elite frogmen see

colour at depths where none exists.

ten times light collects on apertures;

pollen clings to a bee’s leg. ghosts

rise from midnight zone’s dusky

graveyard. sharks descend coffin

straight; spiracles pump salty water

direct injection into eyes & brain.

oxygen thins in reverse atmosphere.

black space weightlessness, bodies

equalised with gravity share joint

stuff. five gill slits blow curtains.





lateral lines sweep seas;

mine detectors beep

when objects grow denser.

surfboard seal cut-outs

mimic flippers & fibreglass

duende. submerge, caudal fins

flex, a giant’s fist pump &

cartilage tuning forks vibrate

through shafts as taste buds

tricked. first bite for info.

next bite for keeps. jaws

realise mistakes, head bang

& tear at war music. third

eyelid shuts in mute defence.





abundant blood, dining

room prey,  erratic finger

movement wags in their face

during pelagic mealtime.

they take it personally &

mouth opens in warning.

cave stalactites’ cusps, sharp,

pointed; muscles rise to

the threat & predators

face off, frenzied speech

no participant remembers.

brains overload on slight.

flesh liquefaction, then

whirlwind unwinds its passion.





the roof goes. convertible

fins sheared, corrugated sheds

in cyclone. farmer marked,

long queues slide into salty dip,

tails fall into bloody bucket.

a torp’s dead weight when

engines stall. steerage gone,

sleek fuselage dips, downed

sydney minisubs & pacific

planes sink into an abyss.

production lines hook a

dark future; their broods

human length; kursk sailors

clench rusted wrenches.





forty somethings’ fear

spawned seventies celluloid

gore fantasies. knee-high,

parents don’t swim further,

their children human shields

for angstcination. in breakers,

still water, unlucky death roils.

spearfisher, snorkeler, sponge

-diver, pearl-grabber, surfer-dude,

bather. tire-tread scars run over

backs, sand depressions don’t

blow away. nets & baited hooks

map annually the kill count war.

one hundred million jaws close.

Published: January 2015
B. R. Dionysius

was founding Director of the Queensland Poetry Festival. His poetry has been widely published in literary journals, anthologies, newspapers and online. His eighth poetry collection, Weranga was released in 2013. He lives in Ipswich, Queensland, where he runs, watches birds, teaches English and writes contemporary sonnets.

Back to issue
From: Vol.02 N.01 – Otherkind

‘If a lion could speak, we could not understand him’ – Ludwig Wittgenstein

by Susan Richardson



If a lion could speak,

we’d hear how Kruger has flattened his vowels,

how Longleat’s left him with a lisp,

how he’s zoo-mute,

and how his tamer wields a whip

then delves between his jaws

to extract the stammer.


If a lion could speak,

we’d correct his grammar,

purge his syntactical savannah

of herds of double negatives,

then wince if he ripped

apart just one infinitive.


If a lion could speak

he’d sphinx-talk about the thorn in his paw,

how MGM lip-synced his roar

and how Albert gave him heartburn for weeks.


If a lion could speak,

we may deign to reply,

though very loud and slow,

like a lion’s really a scarecrow in disguise.


If a lion could speak,

we’d insist he use English

but he’d cleave to Lionese.

The few of us who’d learnt Leopard

might grasp the lack of past and future tense,

while the rest would be baffled,

more concerned to learn

how to order a beer in Giraffe.


If a lion could speak,

we’d tire of his whinges of wardrobes and witches,

of how Richard filched his heart

and how his rampant act on flags

has knackered his hips.

In time, we’d surely ignore him,

drawn to the wit of warthogs,

and antelope banter instead.


If a lion could speak, he’d say Take a degree

in my language of strangling ungulates

and wrangling with vultures for the meat.

Then we’ll talk.




Wardrobes lack wit.

Warthogs insist on the use of a disguise.

We’d whip the rampant scarecrow if we could,

then, flattened, he’d rest with the lion he’d just filched.

For if his savannah-heart could grasp a lion’s paw

who’d then speak of a grammar?


In the past, a baffled Albert gave the flags

a degree of order, while in future,

he could act like a giraffe.

How slow and how correct and how very English.


We’ll speak to more ungulates

and wince with the vultures.

Kruger has a language of negatives but, in time,

his mute lion-hips could learn to talk.


How about a lion? Might a lion say how?

Witches would double-take if one really knackered lion

could ignore his thorn and tire of his infinitive.

We’d speak of his meat and we’d speak

of strangling him instead – him! him!


If ripped Richard has a Lionese lisp in his beer,

he’d cleave to his syntactical antelope for weeks.

How tense. How could he!


Vowels apart, surely we’d purge the lion

of his heartburn if lip-synced wrangling

between Longleat’s jaws could be concerned.

Though tamer, his leopard delves

in his stammer and wields a roar.


If few reply to a left lion extract

and if herds learnt a loud sphinx of whinges

then how may my if-zoo deign to talk?


Speak, speak, speak –

we’d hear his MGM banter.

He’s drawn to us – and how.




I, alone. Cold. Bleak.

Wed her now. Nougat is fattened with owls –

so wrong. Pete’s laughing – it’s Alice

(oh, she’s too cute!)

Anne’s cow is famous – fields unzip

themselves, as green as yours.

Go – unpack this summer.


In an iron hood, creak –

bleed, infect sick grandmas.

Urgent, impractical caravans

of words have troubled relatives.

Head winds have been tipped

to start. Trust cunning primitives.


Misaligned woods – specks,

seeds, lynx, hawks are out, reborn of this whore-

house. Energy in whips sinks this sore

land. Now all hurt paving can’t learn to shriek.


Is our crying good? Weak

tea, they claim, could repel

those scary-sounding hose-

pipes. Our crying’s merely a shadow in these eyes.


Whiffy loins. Cod-piece.

Please desist. Refusing swish

butties, we got Chinese.

A blue office would spurn Leonard’s

tights. Clasp a slack oaf, blast a few chairs, then

smile. At best, Ruby’s raffles

are upturned, so burn

now too, border on fear of bar graphs.


Ivy lines old cheeks.

Weeds spiral in spring’s onward probe. Banned wishes

have now stitched up rich wizards

around this lamp and baton. Flans

as lacquered as ships

win bindweed. Poorly pigs snore in

dawn’s other pit. If bored dogs

stand on the slope, panda skin’s red.


With a fine food geek, we may make a green pea

on rye sandwich. If handling young shallots,

add sand. Bring six sculptured forks, then eat

ten peeled stalks.





raarrghgh [          ]

hffngh  hffnggh hffngggh

rraaw rraaw rraagh

rraaaw [          ]  raaaaghgh

rrgh rrgh rrrghhhh



hffn hffngh rraaa hffn hffn hffn

[          ]

rwaaaarrw      rwaa      rwarrw

hff rrrr rrrr rrrr hraaaa




raaaaaaooowwrrrrrr [          ]

aaaarr aarr aaaaarrrr



rrr rrr rrrrrr

hff hffngggh




rrrraaaaaaawwwr raaaaaawr

hfffnghgggh hff [          ]

rrgh rrgh rrgh rrrrrghghgh



[          ]



aaaaaoowrr aaaaawr aaaaaaaaooooowrrrrrrrrrr

A Note on the Lionese Translation

For those less than familiar with Lionese, it will come as a surprise to see that Emeritus Professor Ross Sorenson’s translation of the poem is significantly shorter than the English original. This is principally due to the fact that many of the concepts expressed in the poem are outside the realm of lions’ experience and therefore have no direct Lionese equivalent; square brackets within the text indicate sections for which there is not even a distant approximation. In addition, some of the nuances of the translation are, of necessity, based on assumption[1], albeit assumption gleaned from Professor Sorenson’s lifelong field research – studying, transcribing and translating the language of lions in every practicable context, from pre-hunt to post-coitus.

In addition to having no past or future tenses, Lionese has no passive voice and no conditional. It employs a surprisingly wide vocabulary[2] and there is manifest evidence of leonine self-awareness, as demonstrated by the use of both the first person singular[3] and first person plural[4] pronouns.

Although other languages in the Big Cats family, including Leopard and Jaguar, are notable for their frequent utilisation of the roar, the lion’s is by far the most complex, ‘arguably conveying more meaning, layers and intent than a Shakespearian soliloquy’[5]. Sixty-three different Lionese dialects have been identified by Professor Sorenson and although the lexicon of this poem approximates standard Lionese, it also bears some characteristics of the dialect of the Ngonyama pride of South Africa’s Eastern Cape[6].

As for the current and future status of Lionese, the language is, at present, classified as vulnerable due to substantial population decline[7]; however, unlike certain other languages, such as Quagga and Pyrenean Ibex, it is unlikely to fall out of use in the foreseeable future. Interestingly, members of the UK’s immigrant lion community continue to utilise their first language and resist acquiring even the rudiments of English[8]. Zoo residents, however, speak, at best, a diluted version of Lionese, drawing on a much-reduced vocabulary. Inhabitants of safari parks display a broader range of articulations but this still represents a fraction of that which they employ in their native land.

Further information about Lionese may be found in the quarterly Journal of Leolinguistic Studies, of which Professor Sorenson is Executive Academic Editor. Lionese is now offered as a module on a number of undergraduate Animal Studies degrees and although it is not yet available in the Teach Yourself series of books and downloads, the first certified intensive TLFL course is currently recruiting.

[1] Sorenson, Ross – personal communication, 15 November 2013
[2] The first Lionese-English dictionary is forthcoming from Dēor Press in 2016
[3] ‘hffn’, as used exclusively by the male lion
[4] ‘hffngh’, as used by lionesses
[5] Sorenson, Ross (ed) Exit, Pursued by a Lion, p 862 (Warminster University Press, 2007)
[6] Sorenson, Ross – personal communication, 22 May 2014
[7] Animal Languages of the World, p 31 (Bestia Books, 2011)
[8] Ibid., pp 98-114

Published: January 2015
Susan Richardson

is a poet, performer and educator based in Wales. Her third poetry collection, skindancing, themed around human-animal metamorphosis and exploring our dys/functional relationship with the wild and our animal selves, will be published in 2015. She is currently poet-in-residence with the Marine Conservation Society.

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.