Skip to content

Content From Issue: Volume 2 Number 2 (September 2015)

Back to issue
Special N.01 – Martin Harrison Special Issue

briefly suddenly

by Anne Elvey

i.m.  Martin Harrison



slightly cheaply           suddenly simply seriously


occasionally                             distantly

slowly              nearly recently                                     finally


usually mostly perfectly

occasionally consciously


nearly daily


only only                     entirely entirely


apparently frantically              really quietly


differently       simply listlessly           carelessly

newly              already loosely            mostly early

sincerely                                   only                            only


suddenly suddenly      invisibly           suddenly


differently                                                       definitely


probably          nearly likely     nervously         only usually

already practically                                                       only


momentarily                                                    blindly

mostly suddenly                                              absently


clearly              scarcely secretly


invisibly invisibly


hardly              already already            fleetingly         only


exquisitely eternally

* The words in the title and the last line come from Martin Harrison, “A Word”, published in The Best Australian Poems 2009 (Black Inc), the rest in order from his collection Summer (Paper Bark Press, 2001).

Published: September 2015
Anne Elvey

is author of Kin (Five Islands 2014) and This Flesh That You Know (Leaf Press 2015). She is managing editor of Plumwood Mountain, and counted Martin as a mentor in that role. Anne met Martin only a few times at conferences, over meals and through editorial email conversations, and had looked forward to many more such meetings.

Back to issue
Special N.01 – Martin Harrison Special Issue


by Dusk Dundler

John asked

before the pizza shop last night philosophy

or spirituality or both like echoes in mind the

exponential and unknowable in philosophy

yes cause and effect of thought rebounds

well trinkets flicker the spiritual seeping

thru such tangental flows there found


had swum down stream to

not let eyes sting curled nail

clippings of cascades and flood bent

thickets lomandra springing below bone

washed basalt and she oak glades silver

ash peeking up eucalypts always stretching

tall hoop pine shades sun breaking grey cloud

casket white light blinding canopy as each

layer of forest wall sways down


standing on a rock after gliding to the

depths of the Nymboida river the out of

self is risen as turpentine scales sweep the surface

held in the midst of the gorge breathing to forget you ever

existed the wind its overpowering shudder comes

Published: September 2015
Dusk Dundler

counted Martin as a mentor after studying under him at University of Technology Sydney. Dusk has produced documentaries for Radio National, and been published in the Griffith Review. Dusk’s poetry is published in Overland and The Prague Revue. He was short-listed for the 2012 Overland Judith Wright Poetry Prize.

Back to issue
Special N.01 – Martin Harrison Special Issue

A Toast to a Saint: Beau Present for Martin Harrison

by Dave Drayton

Him a transom in arts, an amorist

astir atoms harmonise in his norma

his stria, his stroma, an iota

not a mot man, a mora man in a rima naos

this shoat’s shoran

smartsmith artist


a maison, a manor, a rath, a stoa

a host

a hit

this sim, riant mirror

mirror minor mirth in mas minora, rah!

a martin’s horn matins, a mort to soar in stoma

in a mo at most, a month, months, a moa

as rotas rin

soon roan, soon mor, soon mori, soon mortis

too soon, this morn

too soon shorn short

short shorn noir storm mist ran rain to rias

strains rin riot

norma to soma, somas or somata

rosin to rot to sori

rats to stairs to stars

I’m rash, I rant, I moan this ransom

Martin aroints north at tharm

oaths stir orts not to omit

ratio stains rations

main man is hoar

main man is aorist

this man hants a satin satori

no sham, no shit

no tarnish nor thorns

no hot air

no moins his monist moira raison

a nim, a noh, to hoist his hint

soit or not I miss him

Sri Sir, sit

A toast to a saint:

on air, in arms

Martin roams

Published: September 2015
Dave Drayton

is the author of Poetic Pentagons  (Spacecraft Press), Threnodials (Prism) and other works. He was a PhD candidate at the University of Technology Sydney where he was taught by Martin Harrison, founding member of the Atterton Academy, sauna enthusiast, and 2014 recipient of the Blake Prize for Poetry.

Back to issue
Special N.01 – Martin Harrison Special Issue

Moods (wet dream)

by Bonny Cassidy

When she travel strategic

high and fast, she know you at length


unrolling your attention as if by foot.


And say she

drop closer (your unmoved breasts, yellow kiss)

inhaling a pyramid

of feathers, cardboard, lost leaves:


will you

have she

all the way around. Step back

anytime she want.


She pay the creek’s wages

she climb inside.

Plumes distended, a bundle of she

watches from a cystic rock.


Lie down all the time she want.

In bellbird notes your litter


airy blood she eat

and gather pecks of honeysuckle

for your monument


walking once around

she, your only mate

Published: September 2015
Bonny Cassidy

Bonny Cassidy’s most recent book of poetry is Final Theory (Giramondo, 2014). She is feature reviews editor for Cordite Poetry Review and lectures in Creative Writing at RMIT University.

Back to issue
Special N.01 – Martin Harrison Special Issue

Golden every wych way

by Anne M. Carson

Golden wych elm: Ulmus glabra Lutescens


Each leaf is a lens filtering light into the tree’s

ample aura; taffeta greens shot through with


clean citrus tones. Foliage that steps the sun

down into wattage soft and soothing enough


to do you good. Just to look is botanical

baptism. Behind the new leaves are older,


darker leaves; deep bottle-green which cup

new growth the way a florist cuffs flowers


in a posy – darker outlines lending depth,

definition, three dimensionality. A comely


arrangement by someone who knows her

aesthetics – symmetry, balance, how to use


shadow so the feature stands out. The light

and the dark of leaves is a philosophy the tree


imparts; the new coming into being, the old

falling away, no longer in the limelight.

Published: September 2015
Anne M. Carson

is a widely published Melbourne writer. She is currently looking for a publisher for a verse biogrpahy about Dr Felix Kersten, masseur to Heinrich Himmler. She knew of Martin Harrison only by reputation until his death when she discovered his work, experiencing a deep sense of recognition.

Back to issue
Special N.01 – Martin Harrison Special Issue


by Chloë Callistemon

a cento


where crimson rosellas swerve sideways

their noise etched in freeze-framed air

unwitnessed silence was a falling amber leaf

with its undertalk of shimmerings and insect wings

drawing attention, like children

electric, shaken, utterly still

neither of us seeing how it had been flowering, drawing lightness to it

shaping and reshaping sideways through winter sun’s white light –

lucky, then, that our air-dropped swallows did

you hear it, or have heard it, waiting here

from Martin Harrison’s White Flowers’, ‘Wattlebirds in Severe Drought’, ‘Forest Kingfisher’, ‘Bronzewings with Lightning’, ‘Plum Trees’, ‘Fine Rain at Night’, ‘By the River’, ‘Cloud’, ‘Spring Song’, ‘Verandah with Owls Calling Through Water’

Published: September 2015
Chloë Callistemon

is a photographer, filmmaker and writer. Her poetry and multimedia has been published in journals and anthologies in Australia and internationally. She is a listener and reader of Martin Harrison’s sounds and words—returned to often for their movement and heart.

Back to issue
Special N.01 – Martin Harrison Special Issue

Martin at Waddi*

by Jacqueline Buswell

His star shone in a nearby constellation

but I only saw Martin once, he said

he´d failed to consider his translator

with whom he then worked for hours


on the rendering of “Patterson´s Curse”.

He had not used “Riverina Bluebell” –

an easier term for a wordsmith

with its markers of botany and place.


I don´t know how the poet and the translator

fared through skirmishes of noxious weed,

pretty flower, purple haze, malediction

and the question, did Patterson matter?


In the past when I saw Riverina plains

overwritten in mauve, I´d see the spectre

of a thin man with a hoe limping across

the paddocks of a soldier-settler block


cursing the weed, the war that led him there

while his wife never dared brighten

their table with bluebells in a jug.

Now I see those paddocks and imagine


the purple ribbons in ideograms

under different skies

I see Martin and the translator

pitching ideas over the boards


in agitated swings from the local

to the universal

vowels rising and falling

with the breath, finding their voice.

* Clouds Near Waddi by Martin Harrison  from Wild Bees, 2008

Published: August 2015
Jacqueline Buswell

was born in New South Wales, and studied at Australian National University before working as a journalist in Sydney. She lived in Mexico for more than 20 years and currently works as a translator. She completed a Masters of Arts in Creative Writing at the University of Sydney in 2011. Ginninderra Press published her first book of poems, Song of a Journeywoman, in 2013. Jacqueline met Martin at an event discussing poetry and translation at the University of Technology Sydney.

Back to issue
Special N.01 – Martin Harrison Special Issue


by Margaret Bradstock

for Martin Harrison


Born in Stars, We Live on Earth as Poets

                                                   −  William Blake



Amidst petitions for Sunday’s rally against climate change

education cuts, and all the other head-in-sand

disasters promoted by a Machiavellian

government, an email arrives, telling me you’ve died.

All your life on hold, a memory

before you become the vessel of your words.

“Poetry is the key to experience,” you said.


Choosing “Seeing Paddocks” for the anthology

from poems you’d sent, discovering you

through your created landscape, I found a heart attuned

  to the earth dream, the land dream, and was glad.

Some things disturb perception, flicker of shadow

  and untruth, like emptiness, a car’s slipstream

the placement of death.


Driving past the out-of-kilter façade of UTS

 on Broadway, I will always think of you

one day reading in Gould’s Book Arcade

  or talking to students, the next, found by the roadside

near Brooklyn, your generous heart stilled, Wollombi home

 quiet, awaiting your return.


Before our dust

goes back to glittering stars, we will journey again

through the no-longer-green forests

and grieve with you, numb elegiacs watering

a dry landscape. In a broken planet

we have to say what’s true.

Published: August 2015
Margaret Bradstock

has six published collections of poetry, including The Pomelo Tree (winner of the Wesley Michel Wright Prize) and Barnacle Rock (winner of the Woollahra Festival Award, 2014). Margaret met Martin Harrison at many readings, and consulted him over contributions to Antipodes: poetic responses to “settlement”, which she edited in 2011.

Back to issue
Special N.01 – Martin Harrison Special Issue

Hymnal / Wild Bees

by Judith Beveridge

 i.m. Martin Harrison


As the water scats over pebbles, as the creek thins

and trickles, there’s a sound that seems pirated from a flock

of seed-gathering parrots and a muster of hot-gospelling crows.


Along the mud, spoonbills scribble, their bills as frenetic

as compass needles trying to orienteer quick passage.

It’s the egrets I watch most — poised, quiet as Gilbertine nuns,


who with naked feet, seem about to step along a corridor

and enter their prayer cells. I don’t come here often —

there are spiders, ticks, thick-bellied snakes, and toadstools


as bloodless as the fingers of morticians’ gloves.

Once I saw a headless possum, and a pit bull mauling a lizard

it had clawed out from the dampness of a log.


There are trails of bull ants talking chemically and incessantly

to each other, bits of repeating code, and where

the melaleucas leak tannin into the runnels, you’d swear


it was a spill of beef’s blood. But sometimes I like to come

and notice how the spore-cases of the fruiting bracken

are like hemmings of brown wool, or to smell the leaf rot


curated along the path by a team of hard-working

organisms. Mostly, I come to watch bees fly around

the high heat of their hive and swarm their weight


towards the gum blossoms in a light soot of yellow.

Today, I see that the limb housing the hive has fallen,

shattered. Some bees lie trapped in the spill. Some bees


will have fled with the queen. This hive, once a murmuring

blood-warm gourd is silent, and I’ll never see again

the bees’ among the wildflowers, or see them busy


in the depths among the stamens, moving from cup

to cup as though they were flames lighting candles.

I’ll never hear their lingering vibrato like a mind enamoured


of its own music, getting right each thought’s pitch and hum,

its bearing and its course. Bees no longer alive, or high

in their hive, no longer making clear elaborated nectar.

Published: August 2015
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.

Back to issue
Special N.01 – Martin Harrison Special Issue

The School of Trees

by Richard James Allen

You learn more from trees than from people.

They speak with their silence.


Though sometimes you are forced to listen

through the squawking of birds,


whose scuttlebutt inhabits their leaves

the way thoughts flap about in our minds.

Published: August 2015
Richard James Allen

met Martin Harrison on ABC Radio National’s Surface Tension, and knew him, over thirty years, as a fellow poet, mentor and friend. Thanks to Martin’s supervision, Richard won the Chancellor’s Award for most outstanding PhD thesis at the University of Technology, Sydney in 2005.

Back to issue
Special N.01 – Martin Harrison Special Issue

cutting down peach trees

by Dael Allison

city bars, a glass of decent red.

as inclined as anyone to the subtleties of juice

you argue the problem is not the fruit

but the feral kernel. leaning from a future

in an architectural paper bag

you sway, cannot be swayed, dig for light

one thought leading to another. journeyman

tropes restless in your head, craft

as strong as a leaf.


home slides to a different topography.

cobwebs for each return, a mud-dauber plug

in the keyhole, eggs cached in living

spiders, the termites’ implacable tick-tick

in stumps and walls. this is the place

to stretch limbs straight. walking on stilts

hands, clouds you follow wasp-drone

to where alien trees invade. the doppelganger

beautiful in every other way.


in this valley where the sun banks gold and flares

each concussion of pink, you are out with the chainsaw.

peach trees felled, wasps still droning

in the blossom.

Published: August 2015
Dael Allison

edits and writes poetry and prose. Her poetry publications include Shock Aftershock and Wabi Sabi (Picaro Press 2010, 2013), and Fairweather’s Raft (Walleah Press 2012), a volume of poetry produced as the creative component of her Masters of Creative Arts, University of Technology Sydney, supervised by Martin Harrison.

Back to issue
From: Vol.01 N.02 – Making way for other kind

neither me neither you

by Shari Kocher

 (we are each other)


unnamed city streets

in this city of the dead



by wrought iron gates

inside this city of the living


walking the daylight air

such rustlings! and yet

how many faces


(count them)

in the streets of the living

already turned


or turning

to stone


mountains open

and ants and myth


these frail tents

so much is and is


otherwise glinting



ever turning

the head of a pin

to vistas and volumes



but for colour and its



(lifts and whirls!) us by

but for the song

and its long


avenues of shade and stillness

but for what


we carry against

the story

time sequesters

earth delays


Published: July 2014
Shari Kocher

is a poet and doctoral candidate at Melbourne University. Her first book The Non-Sequitur of Snow is forthcoming with Puncher & Wattmann in 2014. Her recent verse novel, Sonqoqui, addresses a feminist reading of archaeological embodiment. She lives in the Yarra Valley, Victoria.

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.