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Content From Issue: Volume 5 Number 1 (February 2018)

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From: Vol.05 N.01 – Stick in a Thumb and Pull out a Plum: Poetry and Comsumption

Introduction: Stick in a Thumb and Pull Out a Plum: Poetry and Consumption

by Michael Farrell

In the interest of being frugal and saving energy, I am recycling the poetry call out for this introduction. The focus on consumption was partly motivated, however, from the cultural emphasis on recycling which suggests we really are doing our bit if we put our mountains of garbage in the right bins. Do we need to produce so much garbage, and so much of it non-biodegradable?

The Moneypower Continuum – Francis X. Healy Jr

Rationing Earth – Herb Bentz

Global Social Policy: Themes, Issues and Actors – Kepa Artaraz, Michael Hill

Are we, collectively, any more advanced than Little Jack Horner,[i] the nursery rhyme plum-thumber of the title above? Don’t we see this attitude in parliament daily? If I can adapt G.F.W. Hegel’s concept of “bad infinity”, and its characterisation by Walter Benjamin as the bourgeois signature: “there is always something more”, a bad infinity is how the right view the earth (or is a part-definition of what right-wing means). It is hard of course to imagine using up the earth itself. It’s hard to imagine sharing for a lot of people, too.

I go to one café regularly to have lunch and see hundreds of people come in and buy takeaway in plastic containers, when they could sit down for fifteen minutes instead. Or, in another café, most of the customers obtain their lunch via Foodora, Deliveroo or Uber Eats couriers: the latter, at least, adding more carbon to the meal’s production. Eating plastic and petrol (and the things that those things eat, like rainforests) is hard to avoid, but we can try not to maximise this process.

Writing consumes, clothing consumes, recycling consumes. Once it seemed the solution to decreasing consumption was decreasing the population, but technological innovation solved conceptual poverty (and everything else, in theory), and, presumably, one rich person can consume more than several poor villages. How do we write about this?

For Judith Wright, fire was a potent figure. She writes about fire in a number of poems, and cites the pre-Socratic Greek philosopher Herakleitos, as an epigraph to her book The Two Fires (1955), saying that the world itself is fire. In the title poem, she writes, melodramatically enough, “time has caught on fire”. What does she mean? We might find out through attending to the predominantly metaphorical use of fire in her poems, such as “Two Fires”, “Flame Tree in a Quarry”, “Wonga Vine”, “Midnight” and others. Wright seems fascinated by fire as a simultaneous signifier of life and death, and its relation to air, or breath. We don’t have to accept Herakleitos, or Wright, of course. Is everything burning up? Or merely burning out?

What about our time, sixty-three years after Wright’s book? There is a philosophical, and practical, movement known as “voluntary simplicity” which cuts down on consumption through living more simply and sparely. This notion, of “voluntary simplicity”, challenges the usefulness of the term “sustainability” which, in its function as a buzzword, encourages consumption. Many poets live a life of involuntary simplicity, at least relative to their earning peers. But how do we think this through in poetry, poetics? The spare lyric may appeal to some, but do we all want to write like every word that comes out of our world-destroying laptops is precious, and should be scratched on a bone in a field and praised in the New York Times? (if you count sales as praise). It sounds like a recipe for kitsch: the opposite of necessary (unless you’re a kitsch fetishist). The earth is not spare. Fire, for one thing, is more baroque.

Reading the poems submitted for this issue, occasionally I’d stop and think, hang on, does this fit the theme? They always did, of course. Consumption runs through everything. My selection offers, I think, not just difference but variety. And if I might refer to parliament again, not just variety of opinion. Please read on.


[i] For a speculative history, see

Published: January 2018
Michael Farrell

is from Bombala, NSW and lives in Melbourne. His recent books include I Love Poetry (Giramondo 2017) and Cocky’s Joy (Giramondo 2015) and Writing Australian Unsettlement: Modes of Poetic Invention 1796-1945 (Palgrave Macmillan 2015). He edits Flash Cove (

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From: Vol.05 N.01 – Stick in a Thumb and Pull out a Plum: Poetry and Comsumption


by Katy Lewis Hood

Published: January 2018
Katy Lewis Hood

is from the Midlands, UK. She is a founding editor of amberflora and CUMULUS, and recently curated a special feature of climate change poetry by Pacific Islander poets with Craig Santos Perez for The Missing Slate. Her poems have appeared in Zarf, DATABLEED, and Adjacent Pineapple.

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From: Vol.05 N.01 – Stick in a Thumb and Pull out a Plum: Poetry and Comsumption


by Ella Jeffery

I love it when a pigeon or ibis

or some other bird

nobody wants to photograph or save

from extinction

walks into a shop

and instead of instantly realising

that it can’t afford anything,

it continues to pace forward,

which is especially good in pigeons,

whose oil-rainbowed necks are thick

and flexible, as if custom-made

for browsing.


I think if teenagers

behind the counters didn’t get so excited

and chase them away,

the birds might enjoy an hour or two

among the clothes racks,

or smelling the life-giving smell

of fresh sandwiches.

One of the best moments

of my life

occurred yesterday morning

at my favourite

bakery, when I met the gold eyes

of the pigeon who was standing on the counter

above the meat pies,

tilting her head to ask what I would like.

Published: January 2018
Ella Jeffery

Ella Jeffery’s poetry, essays and reviews have appeared in Meanjin, Westerly, Cordite, Best Australian Poems and elsewhere. In 2017 she won the Meniscus CAL Award for Best Poetry, the June Shenfield Poetry Award and was shortlisted for the Val Vallis Award for Poetry. She lives in Brisbane.

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From: Vol.05 N.01 – Stick in a Thumb and Pull out a Plum: Poetry and Comsumption


by Toby Fitch

The wedding band on your finger or the gold

watch you’re wearing was most likely produced

a billion years ago by two neutron stars

colliding. That’s pretty cool.


The pretty new band produced by bilious fingers

was wearing gold stars. For what seemed like

most years you watched them colliding at too-

cool weddings.


Stars like years. Producers make a pithy billion

as they watch your neurons go bandy from a

collision with the wearable cold. You get

goldfinger weeding.


The production of golden years bond together in

college. Perky, you wore a swatch and Bill’s ions

glid toward you like moist sago. You steered

wide of his newty fingers.


Ghouls burst from a Nerf gun. Stars bend. Prod a

duck and it’ll cool down. Yours’ll wade out too,

or, like, wear you out late. It’s a collage and a pity

you haven’t been watching fings err.

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From: Vol.05 N.01 – Stick in a Thumb and Pull out a Plum: Poetry and Comsumption

Orange or none

by Leah Muddle

Who still has their ribcage? Who can nurse an icecream?
Who has any of their own tupperware
– none.

Who tried and botched their ampersands, again and again? Who’s pulled out their shoeboxes? Who is weak to a curb-side chair? Who sees it as sticks? Whose hexagons are all honeycomb? Whose are those shoes? Accept your face. Might as well or why not? Which is the most miserable utterance? Which fetches the higher price? Who feels their own edges? Who is first to start queuing? Who shouts and who doesn’t? Who thinks that stimulant plus relaxant equals nil? Who feels like a clarinet and tiptoes? Who also likes to say ‘benign’ and ‘crumble’ and ‘Sally Tomato’? Dog and hose and dove. Have you woven a thing?

Who can say why that sound sustains me – is breath and heartbeat? Who has said, I am a good egg. Who is over easy? Who is lucky to be lucky? Who can spare one? Who can stop at one? Who can one one one all the way to the bank? Who sees their partner’s thighs as a cake holder? Is your partner your humility? Where does a flare start? Have you finished? Did the bough buckle and when? Did you ever have a better time than when bent over the cosmos, collecting fodder? Do you remember how quiet? Meeting the ground for the zillionth and first time. Who means what by ice? Now it seems ridiculous like all past crushes. Who likes others to create them? Who makes a self out of chip bags and an artichoke? Who can describe their artwork
– none?

Who drops a sheet over everything? Whose animal has obscured their thinking? Who needs food when there is sound? Who poured wine on their animal? Whose sandwiches are under the bed? Who has cupped fruit in their skirt? Who can live off colour? Who can live off genuine verbal declarations? Who captures butter under their nails? Who wakes up with sore foot pads? In dreams you walk for hours, listening and assiduous. The pencil rolled down the hill towards you. The X(YZ) rolled down the hill straight to you and you dodged it. You wielded the ABC like plastic cutlery.

Who keeps their skin and then what? Who is a passive sleepy lizard? What were people before? What were people now created by? Definitively, what are the symptoms of computer use? The chips are what I needed. Is this for keeps? Your ears are most certainly channels. Lean forward like a long-bellied man because you’re done. Who could sleep in an aviary? Who admires sociability? Who brought the dolmades? Who dolls out the pastilles? Who has less money than last time they checked? Who started without you? The sage appears to thrive but could be tasteless. Who still likes the weeds? Who knows to pat the earth? Who fasts? Who ducked the low branch? (Who lopped it off?)

Published: January 2018
Leah Muddle

is a Melbourne-based writer and illustrator. Recent works have been published in Cordite, Meniscus online journal and Rabbit.

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From: Vol.05 N.01 – Stick in a Thumb and Pull out a Plum: Poetry and Comsumption

Listed Land Uses of Moonee Ponds Creek

by Ann Vickery

1. Saltwater marshes, the floodplain fallow. Eels, waterfowl, yam daisy, tuber and gum resin. Red river gums to shade and story.

2. A new entry as Batman’s Lagoon. Outspoken against sign-over, Moonee Moonee burns down the gaol (so they name a creek after him). Escapes with Tullamareena, that once “steady industrious man” turned recalcitrant.

3. Waste waters, an also-ran of the Gold Rush. Repurposed canal for barges to carry coal into Train Town.

4. Tipped in, tipping point. The poor fossick landfill and build Depression shelter. Huts over or under-hanging, scarcely there, insistent. The hard-up urban spread.

5. Post-war mission: a Melbourne-wide slum abolition. Concrete houses with concrete fences, perhaps a concrete dog or two. Prefab experimental design, modernist functionalism. Streetscapes built to the system, a predicate of still life.

6. Harvesting stormwater, the creek is reconstructed as a concrete drain. Moonee and Tullamareena are homaged in a Bon Scott meets Albion music video. The seventies drive past exhaling the exhaust fumes of Forbes’ “Tropothesia”.

7. Not the clean exit strategy envisaged: Moran’s killer crosses the footbridge to a waiting car.

8. A Melways buffer zone between Citylink and the burbs in boom. Newspaper reads: “Yarra’s most abused tributary”. Cyclists can skirt graffiti or spot public art on their daily route to the CBD.

9. Relatively unmodified rows constitute valuable “historic character” and heritage overlays are briefly imposed. Pre-selection makes for a developer’s last promise: prime private dwellings, with 10% additional dwellings for the disadvantaged.

10. Medium to high confidence in estimated value. Easy access to airport and upward mobility. Nearby wetlands and a flourishing café culture. Eradication of Boxthorn, Prickly Pear, and Ash. Decked out capital gains, silver gum savoir faire.

Published: January 2018
Ann Vickery

is Senior Lecturer of Writing and Literature at Deakin University. She is the author of Devious Intimacy(2015), The Complete Pocketbook of Swoon (2014), Stressing the Modern: Cultural Politics of Australian Women’s Poetry (2007), and Leaving Lines of Gender: A Feminist Genealogy of Language Writing (2000).

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From: Vol.05 N.01 – Stick in a Thumb and Pull out a Plum: Poetry and Comsumption

Chronicle of the Ongoing Ruins

by Peter Lach-Newinsky

After Basho. I’m against


he replied


Inside Out. now kids have so many options

why would they ever go outside


Burnout. if we colonise other solar systems

we could survive longer than our sun

perhaps another 100 trillion years

when all stars begin burning out


Kant. she makes

the valid point

that it’s even harder

to become famous

for nothing


Girt. Australia abounds

with informed enthusiasts

who can replay

with commentary

the battles of Kapyong or Long Tan


Like. whenever she came over

she’d be like where are the cameras?

you guys are a reality show


Viral. was Sabrina Harman really smiling

over the dead body in Abu Ghraib

or was it a ‘just say cheese’ smile?


Good Riddance. what we conceive of

as ‘time’

might one day



Girt 2.  Australia is a breeding ground

for bikini-ready DJs

of, um, indeterminate talent


Intertext. one can only wonder

if the entire caboodle

of our universe is not

the outburst of some

gigantic extra-cosmic

writerly imagination


Adorno. how can we possibly be expected

to keep track of all these people

& their exact position on the spectrum

from ‘real’ to ‘celebrity’


Noumenon.  thousands of migratory birds

died after apparently mistaking

a car park & other areas

of southern Utah for water


Différence.  it also enables the person to believe

they are making a difference

reversing global warming

saving the whales when

all they are doing is

eating a salad sandwich


Eclipse.  where would Ray-Ban sunglasses

Kresta blinds Banana Boat &

the paintings of Claude Monet

be without sunlight


Outside In. now kids have so many options

why would they ever go outside


After Ikkyu. I’m against


he replied

Published: January 2018
Peter Lach-Newinsky

Peter Lach-Newinsky’s three poetry books are Cut a Long Story Short (Puncher & Wattmann 2014), Requiem (Picaro Press New Work 2012) and The Post-Man Letters & Other Poems (Picaro Press New Work 2010). He has won the Varuna-Picaro Publishing Prize (2009), the Melbourne Poets Union International Poetry Prize (2009 and 2010), the Vera Newsom Poetry Prize (2012) and been runner-up in the Val Vallis Award and the Shoalhaven Poetry Award. He has been twice shortlisted for the Newcastle Prize. Peter lives with his wife Barbara in Bundanoon in the southern highlands of New South Wales. Their 20 acre working property is designed along permaculture lines and includes 120 heritage apple varieties.

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From: Vol.05 N.01 – Stick in a Thumb and Pull out a Plum: Poetry and Comsumption

Just Passing Through

by Stuart Cooke

It always starts out the same: wandering naked

through the apartment, worrying—where

has the day gone? (or: Where is it going to go?)

This time I’d escaped to the Broadwater

to watch the retreat of the tide.

I thought it would calm me somehow,

the wide estuary and the fingers of sand reaching into it,

and I thought I’d find something of myself there,

a part I’d forgotten in the worries of the morning,

and I’d produce a short, surprising lyric.


But this didn’t happen and, to be honest,

it rarely does anymore.


With these places I live in, I sit down to watch,

only to find them filled already

with anxiety about time to come. So I barely write a thing.


Really, it seems I can only get it—that sense of awakening, of sheer,

blinding perception before the onslaught of thought—

when I’m shocked by the new,

by its blast of conjunctions, of combinations

of colours and textures I’d never before imagined,

their sudden, dramatic expansion of what’s possible,

of what might reconstitute that strained pillar, beauty.

The new greets me like a fist.


I arrive in new places (say: a horizon spotted

with islands; a metallic lake

in the mouth of a volcano;

a forest of glittering skyscrapers by an ocean)

and I give in to them.

I want nothing more than to become them.

I would be this place, this beauty,

I would write it, tirelessly,

until being, until writing, were the breaths of the place itself.


But this only lasts a short while—a couple of days at most. What happens is that I keep remembering or recovering the origins of the new—that is, I can’t ignore the fact that the new is produced by its difference to somewhere else. I could no more be in this place than I could be a star. In these moments I tend to return mostly to eucalypts, to grassy plains, hidden rivers—things from the south-east, things that I didn’t come from but have seen often enough to feel like I did—because this new place here, this new world, I know it’s not me, it’s not mine. I’m just passing through.


I’m left thinking, from where am I? Or:

where am I?


Which is to ask, which place produced me?


Not those plains and not this estuary, either.

The fact is that even my heart, those suburbs pumping through bush,

I left all that behind, and whatever I knew of it, well,

it was a stolen thing, and it drifts through time, anchorless.


All these places, these streams of rock, awe, conjunction…

the new, it takes me under before I float back to the surface.


Where do I rest?

In this place, this misty burrow of frustration and worry?


A lot of my writing is probably an attempt to avoid the idea

that I’m floating away on time, that I can’t ever rest.

I see this estuary racing away, leaving bright noon sand, lighter thoughts,

but all the light’s from elsewhere, and the dark’s

always crouched in the wet grooves

carved out by currents.


It’s probably true that I live in the dark,

which has nothing to do with being unable to see;

I see candles burning,

they’re suns of worlds, suns of temporary worlds.

Published: January 2018
Stuart Cooke

is a poet and critic based on the Gold Coast, where he lectures at Griffith University. His books include Opera (2016) and Speaking the Earth’s Languages: a theory for Australian-Chilean postcolonial poetics (2013). His translation of Gianni Siccardi’s The Blackbird is forthcoming from Vagabond Press.

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From: Vol.05 N.01 – Stick in a Thumb and Pull out a Plum: Poetry and Comsumption


by Stuart Cooke
After ‘Mapa’, by Murilo Mendes (1901-1975)


On the beach, upon the billboard,

I’m the smiling face, I represent my culture,

when I smile, I’m the source of my culture.

They glued me on to time, they dressed me up in a glowing soul and pieces of a body.

To the north, I’m bounded by Islam;

to the south, by amnesia; from the east,

St. Paul comes sailing across the seas,

there’s my country; to the west,

I am open, or I’m completely impotent.


There I am in a satellite, revolving;

I’m fluid, yes, but I’m also powerful;

later on I become aware of the earth, I walk the way you do, and you,

they nail me back on poles, on billboards, all in one life.

High school, I’m all the rage, they call me by a number, I loathe the hierarchy.

They put a sign on me that says Man, I laugh as I walk, I lurch, I’m always going places,

I tweet. I laugh and laugh, I’m here, there, disjointed,

liking everybody, knowing everybody, fighting with the spirts of the skin.

So many companies, organisations messaging me, I don’t know any more what’s good,

I’ve no idea what’s evil.

My head went flying over the café at brunch, I’m hanging in the ether, in terror, busting my

pecks at the gym,

stupefied with numbers, words, emotions, goals,

refusing to believe in any obvious dogma.


I’m unlike many of my forebears, I balance on sidelines,

that’s why sometimes I fall out on to the street

in a brawl with legends of the nation,

then later I’m with my nutty uncles, guffawing,

then back at the gym, working on my glutes.

I’m on the other side of the world a hundred days from now, joining Rio de Janeiro in dance.

I am desperate to be present at all the events of life.

Where can I hide my fear? The world sambas on my head.

Clothes, yoga, photos, warheads,

omens drooping over benches, different weights and motions attracting my attention,

I’m about to change my face,

the year will reveal the true meaning of things.


I will walk in the air.

I’m implicated in each birth and I’m to the edge of each agony.

I nestle in the hollows of your bride’s body,

in the heads of ugly people, of intellectuals…

Everything can become transparent:

misunderstood rivers, explosions of love, other faces will appear beside mine,

the newsfeeds that span to eternity will start to repeat themselves,

I will mingle with lightning, I will kiss various women at will,

I’ll consider voodoo, embrace crystals next to windows,

insinuate myself into other recesses.


Souls in despair, try to be positive. Souls not content, and burning, chill out!

I loathe those who define themselves,

who play life as a grand final, contrarians, worriers…

long live Sundays, and a selection of songs and movies,

and soldiers in uniform, and the mothers who are really mothers,

the women who are really women, dudes who are really dudes.

Long live the transformed, who were perfect and then replicated or re-perfected themselves,

long live me, my transcendent confusion, stateless.

The man I was 20 years ago is the prey of the man I am today,

of the women I’ve undressed;

life of sunburn, of the ground quaking under summer, and

pop rhythms, engine rhythms, sampled rhythms.

I subscribe to a selection of suitable theories.


I’m at eye level, on billboards and surfboards, on beaches, buildings,

in the souls of young men, of mindless lovers,

in my modest room in Broadbeach,

in the blood of those who devour the world,

remorseless, light-hearted, walking in the two-eyed flame of faith,

always in transformation, I love you, my stretched little sheet of time.

Published: January 2018
Stuart Cooke

is a poet and critic based on the Gold Coast, where he lectures at Griffith University. His books include Opera (2016) and Speaking the Earth’s Languages: a theory for Australian-Chilean postcolonial poetics (2013). His translation of Gianni Siccardi’s The Blackbird is forthcoming from Vagabond Press.

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From: Vol.05 N.01 – Stick in a Thumb and Pull out a Plum: Poetry and Comsumption

…insoluble antinomies…

by Carmine Frascarelli

Insoluble Antimonies updated

Published: January 2018
Carmine Frascarelli

is a Melbourne artist, poet & furniture maker.

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From: Vol.05 N.01 – Stick in a Thumb and Pull out a Plum: Poetry and Comsumption


by Stuart Barnes

the moon was consumed with

consuming their own stomach.

Was not, as custom held, consumed by fire


Things are consumed.

Are capable of consuming an entire ampersand in such-and-such

An orange, consumed


sweet machines, powerless, consumed,

only want that wire song later to floss with, when civilized nights of too much consumer discount

Have made more ruin than Heaven’s consuming flame;


a fire consuming all obsequious delay,

A Thorstein Veblen moment of conspicuous consumption:

No smoking     No alcohol consumption     No graffiti



net, for others to consume, a fish-poem

and call it ‘Happy Holiday, my Good Consumer!’—

& cheer, consuming yourself like a mortgage


close in to consume the afterbirth.

in a pita, and consume all you will and wish

Of soul-consuming care!


Corrode, consume.

consume drugs by the metric ton

consume each other’s salt.


be consummated. Let the

Will bring Consumption or an Ague quaking,

The purity of the flame in which the most limpid diamonds are consumed


a cento from Etel Adnan’s from The Spring Flowers Own: “The morning after / my death”, Peter Goldsworthy’s ‘Acid’, Rosemary Dobson’s ‘A Letter to Lydia’, Sandra Simonds’ ‘Landscape Made From Egg And Sperm’, Clark Moore’s ‘Ampersands’, Dahlia Ravikovitch’s ‘The Love of an Orange’ (translated by Chana Bloch), Mark Doty’s ‘Sweet Machines’, Samuel Wagan Watson’s ‘Booranga Wire Songs’, A. D. Hope’s ‘Country Places’, John Matthias’ ‘After Quevedo’, Imru’Al-Qays’ ‘Mu’allaqa’, Stuart Barnes’ ‘another journey by train’, Isaac Rosenberg’s ‘On Receiving News of the War’, Edward Dorn’s ‘Ode on the Facelifting of the “statue” of Liberty’, W. D. Snodgrass’ ‘Heart’s Needle’, Rigoberto González’s ‘Unpeopled Eden’, Amit Majmudar’s ‘Twin Gluttons’, Christina Rossetti’s ‘Goblin Market’, Diane Fahey’s ‘Winter Solstice’, John Tranter’s ‘The Alphabet Murders’, John Forbes’ ‘Speed, a Pastoral’, Corey Mesler’s ‘Let the Light Stand’, Anne Bradstreet’s ‘A Dialogue between Old England and New’, Manuel Bandeira’s ‘O Último Poema’ (trans. Elizabeth Bishop)

Published: January 2018
Stuart Barnes

was born in Hobart, Tasmania, and lives in Rockhampton, Queensland. His first poetry collection, Glasshouses (UQP 2016), won the Thomas Shapcott Prize, was commended for the Anne Elder Award and shortlisted for the Mary Gilmore Award. From 2013–2017 he was poetry editor for Tincture Journal. / @StuartABarnes

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From: Vol.05 N.01 – Stick in a Thumb and Pull out a Plum: Poetry and Comsumption

The Age of Soda

by Frank Russo

Ash Wednesday, the island ran out of Coke[1]. Restaurants and mini-markets exhausted their stock, the next boatload not due for weeks. The islanders, used to building walls from shredded tyres, figured it divinely-imposed penance and added abstention from Coke to the list of luxuries to refrain from consuming Fridays. Some said it was their own fault for drinking so excessively during Carnival, as they swept the remains of water bombs from the plaza floor, and resolved instead to drink Fanta, Sprite, Inca Kola, Pepsi, bottled water and beer.

The second week of Lent the cruise ship Cormorant docked into port. Passengers dined all night on langoustine and squid sashimi. By early morning they consumed a case of Club Premium, the last of the island’s beer. For weeks the islanders survived on only Fanta, Sprite, Inca Kola, Pepsi and bottled water. Don Jefferson Zambrano said it was like the garúa of 1983, when all the island’s couples separated and the blue-footed boobies abandoned their nests, left newborn chicks to feed themselves.

The first week of April the San Felipe brought fresh supplies, ushering in the time of plenty. It was the time of Cacao Nibs and Topsy Bars. Shops reduced the price of sodas. Cruise ships docked in port, bringing hundreds more to feed and water. Each night they celebrated, vast conga lines stretching out towards the turtle breeding grounds. They drank beer as if it bubbled up from the briny rock pools that circled the island. Easter Sunday, to give voice to their gratitude, the jubilant crowd paraded the Resurrected Christ on a litter of empty soda cans; a ring of Fantas became a makeshift platform to raise the Virgin’s feet higher towards Heaven.

After the time of celebration, came the time of rations. The garúa came, a fine mist descending over the island each morning like a translucent veil. For a time, the restaurants served only beer or water. Then only beer. Some nights the restaurants served sardines, other nights only tuna, depending on the fishing nets’ hauls. For decades it had been this way, eating what the sea provided. For some visitors this was untenable—how could the island’s waters supply such limited fruits? They vowed to never return—honeymoons ruined, holidays-of-a-lifetime unconsummated.

In the third week of June the San Juan ran aground off Punta Carola as it tried to enter the harbour. Its hull crushed against the rocks, eight crew perished. Three crates of cargo washed up on the shore, bottles of Coke floated onto beaches. Children ran to collect the bottles, but their mothers told them not to touch them—the cost of this cargo was weighted with human souls.

It was weeks before the next ship came, and even then the locals drank only sparingly. They had grown accustomed to setting up fog catchers to trap the garúa mist as it condensed. Crates of Pepsi and Inca Kola sat at the back of mini-marts, still wrapped in their plastic foils, waiting for cruise ships to arrive. Don Jefferson Zambrano wept as he drank his first saucer of garúa mist. He admitted old age had made him sentimental, but said as he slaked his thirst, that he finally understood how the Israelites felt as they swallowed hoarfrost on their way to Canaan.


[1] The last bottle sat in Doña Carlina Lopez’s fridge for two weeks, until she divided it in equal parts between her eight grandchildren.

Published: January 2018
Frank Russo

is a Sydney-based poet and fiction writer. He is the author of the poetry collection In the Museum of Creation (Five Islands Press, 2015). His writing has appeared in journals and anthologies in Australia and North America and has been short-listed for the Vogel/The Australian Prize and other awards.

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From: Vol.05 N.01 – Stick in a Thumb and Pull out a Plum: Poetry and Comsumption

Beta vulgaris

by Meredith Wattison

at a desk overlooking

the slum-end of the universe.

‘The Clerical Angel’, Judith Beveridge



This is not the colour of prudence.

This is Emily Dickinson on steroids,

albeit, at seventeen, a ribbon at her throat like a kitten,

her hair spliced and pegged out by Lilliputians.


This soup mimics filling for a cherry pie.


This is – how can I put it delicately? – that first withdrawal,

that deepest sting, it is – oh dear – Plath’s,

of course, haemorrhage.


It is the apologising doctor,

you are a friend of his daughter,

small talk, mons pubis, cervix, a scrape of cells,

you Parvati, stirruped, contemplate the perfection

of his naked feet. You never forget them,

you hear of his death, years later,

repeatedly, in passing; you think of his feet.


It is his wife dyeing her hair in front of you,

she is psyching by numbers,

it lays on a towel across her shoulders

like blue tar on The Empire.

She is India in a small bathroom.


She combs it through, suddenly, seemingly,

aware of you and her need to British you.


“You should wear more apricot”, she says. And


“Your mother tells me you used to eat flowers.

They’re in the pink of your cheeks.


Will you change that light bulb before you leave?


My sister, Deep, is like you, a poet.”


Emily, this is, perhaps, your moon flowered linen, only.


The peeling and slicing of these

colours your hands beautifully.


Their hypercolour persists, their sweetness,

once through you, once tasted.


In this Utopian’s slum you eat with awe, a steel spoon.

There is no ordinary Plathian Latin.

You lick the spoon.


You do not write a poem and hide it;

you let it take you by the tongue.


You talk about the first tongue you tasted;

she was Russian, and as indelible

as your nine-year-old self.


You poked out your tongues and tasted.


Her deleted, fisty father drew Europe

with mermaids in the sea,


her brother transgendered,


her mother in a factory, glamorous,

without English, with lips


the high colour of beetroot.

Published: January 2018
Meredith Wattison

poet and essayist, her 6 books of poetry are Psyche’s Circus (Poetry Australia, 1989), Judith’s Do (Penguin Australia, 1996), Fishwife, The Nihilist Line (Five Islands Press, 2001, 2003), Basket of Sunlight and terra bravura, shortlisted for the 2016 Kenneth Slessor Poetry Prize, (Puncher & Wattmann, 2007, 2015). Awarded the 2017 Gwen Harwood Poetry Prize.

Back to issue
From: Vol.05 N.01 – Stick in a Thumb and Pull out a Plum: Poetry and Comsumption


by Meredith Wattison

I’ve had the ice chandelier installed, the installers, too, are ice; on ice. I sit

beneath it reading a roaming woman’s words, she writes of the mystical nausea

between dreaming and waking. My tiny chiffon hat, a leek-green bromeliad, reluctantly fitted by Seidler with nylons and wire, plunks and plinks; is architecture cocked

for restorers and frothing aspic frogs; Delphic and plangent as hailstones,

John. Snugglepot and Cuddlepie identify as gamine; with Hepburn and Caron. Skippy looks concerned and dismembered. P. L. Travers adopts me. Nick Cave asks Skip

about the Glass piano in the archive. Geoffrey Rush walks through Lear’s storm

soliloquy in a porkpie, walking a small saltwater.

Published: January 2018
Meredith Wattison

poet and essayist, her 6 books of poetry are Psyche’s Circus (Poetry Australia, 1989), Judith’s Do (Penguin Australia, 1996), Fishwife, The Nihilist Line (Five Islands Press, 2001, 2003), Basket of Sunlight and terra bravura, shortlisted for the 2016 Kenneth Slessor Poetry Prize, (Puncher & Wattmann, 2007, 2015). Awarded the 2017 Gwen Harwood Poetry Prize.

Back to issue
From: Vol.05 N.01 – Stick in a Thumb and Pull out a Plum: Poetry and Comsumption

Bucolic (MM beach 34.48°S, 150.91°E)

by Peter Frankis

You know how

when the drug (poetry) kicks

everything – cars, lawns,

a V-energy-boost can on the sand

– is glazed with potential.

The young mum

barely taller than her eldest

marshalling stroller and kids

across the highway

in this light looks like

Canova’s Helen of Troy.


and the birds, the birds

4 black cockatoos

lift over the ridge – so close

I could hear

their feathers catch the air,

galahs chiack

on the high voltage wires,

a kestrel perched on

a 24kV transformer

targets a fieldmouse

down in the litter.


and then

when I thought all this was done

right there in the lantana

an eastern whip bird.






on the degraded ridge

behind the works

with a thousand linear feet

of medium-carbon steel being

punched and welded

and forklifts’

back-up beepers



Auden’s complaint (1)

(from what I can tell)

was that the violent world

that Piero di Cosimo

painted at the start of the 16th century –

forests of lions eating

bears being clubbed

by satyrs fucking

pigs tearing

bloody meat

right from the

throat —

— had been civilised

by the English middle class

so they could picnic on Clapham Common

on a nice sunny day.


Perhaps (being clever)

he was also talking about poetry –

how Coleridge, Keats

and Wordsworth (the worst)

had replaced poetry’s

horny appetites

with sylvan nymphs and

daffodils and

tricksy rhymes.


But what to make

of all this life

amongst the trash and

blasted earth?

by the time they’re done,

the zinc and lead will have leached a thousand feet down

the creeks will run toxic for years –


here’s an

eastern water dragon

eking a living on the muddy shore.


Truth is (of course) the forests are still here –

the cormorant slick

through the morning swell

is spearing sprat and mullet,

the dolphins tear at the salmon

until the water’s red,

the mynahs are

beating the crow

for first dibs on





I remember as a kid

watching the neighbours

lop a chicken for dinner –

how the brothers

laughed and laughed

as the body

(you’re supposed

to tie the legs)

ran in that

familiar spasm –

finally banging

into a car door

and falling down.


Peter Frankis is an Australian-based writer and poet, now living in the industrial town of Port Kembla south of Sydney. 


  1. W.H. Auden’s poem – ‘Bucolic 2. Woods’
Published: January 2018
Peter Frankis

is an Australian-based writer and poet, now living in the industrial town of Port Kembla south of Sydney. 

Back to issue
From: Vol.05 N.01 – Stick in a Thumb and Pull out a Plum: Poetry and Comsumption

Culture Hero

by Chris Lynch



Begin with the quotidian selection

of a series of loosely connected objects


threaded by a man’s perambulation

along a beach in Redcliffe.


Late afternoon in June, deserted—

even the sea has retreated into itself.




One half of an empty bivalve still tufted

with byssus, the inner nacre fresh with loss.


This shell does not sound like the sea—

it is too small

or the man’s ear is too big.


He cuts a finger on its edge,

watches the felicitous blood bead.




Oompie bongs line the foreshore. The man imagines

Lt Miller stepping off the boat at Woody Point


admiring the lonely water taps, the lack of mosquitoes

& Aborigines, but most of all the solid jetty


where fishermen sit, collecting death

by the bucket.




On the menu: Greek words, mostly. The man selects

an enigmatic dish garnished with salt of the earth. For a moment


he is tempted to converse with the young mother with

bags under her eyes waiting among the terra cotta, but remembers


the audience. She takes the warm parcel of butcher’s paper

and string, twitches a nervous smile, and steps out into terra incognita.


She is the signifier of a certain weariness with life, of the babies

other people had, or didn’t have. The fish and chips are excellent.




From the wall the Minotaur surveys his candled domain.

Pensive, the man slays dessert with the smallest fork,


watches crumbs dash themselves in the cream

smeared across the cavernous plate.


The man settles his bill, then takes the rickety gate

into darkness without so much as looking for

a piece of string.

Published: January 2018
Chris Lynch

is a white Papua New Guinean-Australian who lives in Melbourne on Wurundjeri country. His work has appeared in Cordite, Peril, Tincture, Verity La, PNG Poetry, and the Poetry & Place Anthology 2015, among others. He misses (sub)tropical storms.

Back to issue
From: Vol.05 N.01 – Stick in a Thumb and Pull out a Plum: Poetry and Comsumption


by Jennie Long

Take a sprig of wottle, the seedpod of a mountain ash

Cupped palms dip into a hillside brook

Entwined tea tree in fingers & some pepperberry, just a dash.


Now dash! To misty crags at dawn when the cathedral goblins grumble on,

& journey, as far as the rocks will carry me

as far as I can trust myself to learn and to fall,

as far as the gum trees stand tall

(which very often they don’t at all).


But lower down in valleys green, with cattle soft

and paddocks mean,

a fairy lives in a wildflower stump, with a claybed bed & a lilypad lunch;

she collects bushcherry pits & petals downed,

a 5 cent piece and the leaves turned brown – she smells like sumac,

have you ever seen her cry? Those are the rains

which pass by & by, just look at the sky


the very same sky which hosts the Southern Cross on a clear night,

which sometimes boasts winter storms or sometimes just pure UV light.


The light crinkles the eyes of garden gnomes who shuffle their slippered feet

gathering herbs to garnish homes,

they roam for sage, rosemary and thyme,


but their time is borrowed, like yours or mine,

We live underneath the watch of this rhyme.


So remember the wottle, the swallow, the roo.

Remember the goblins & pasture dew

& the cows that mumble and the sheep that mew.


Down in the valley, not diagon alley or mustang sally

& not merely land to tally

but a low-lying home to ducks and geese

& a sea-level stay for the fairies and me.

Published: January 2018
Jennie Long

Born and raised in Canada, Jennie Long is a recent Australian resident living and working in the Victorian high country. When she doesn’t have a pen in hand, Jennie likely has a paddle, endeavouring to see as much of the world from the inside a boat.

Back to issue
From: Vol.05 N.01 – Stick in a Thumb and Pull out a Plum: Poetry and Comsumption

The river is an Old Testament god

by Jennie Long

Kangaroo Valley,

The river is an Old Testament god here, waiting to be tested

Unknowable, uncommunicatable

He sees the sins of the red gums & floods their shallow root systems.

He offers no Noah, no ark,

Even the woddle atones for its vanity, the golden potentially a burning bush.

Does it hold messages for the evolutionary mystical descents of the garden?

O’ Creator of black-crested ridges & red-bellied gullies & funnel-webbed worshipers,

Tax-collecting pelicans & lowly wombats, the humble servants of the dusty shores.

& listen to the devil at play in the winds that hiss & shout,

Amplified, spitting through tall limestone gorges.

The 10 commandments are buried in geologic sedimentary here;

History & mystery.

The dark comes quickly as the heightened horizon pulls the sun

Over the valley’s upper limits and His heaven appears;

Every star twinkle a baptism, every constellation a first communion,

Shining like angels or lighthouses do as beacons of hope for the believers to clasp

their paws and claws together at in reverent devotion.

The steep cliffs are Goliath & all passers through, all of the river god’s creatures,

Are David, without a slingshot,

Just small enough to pass on through.

Published: January 2018
Jennie Long

Born and raised in Canada, Jennie Long is a recent Australian resident living and working in the Victorian high country. When she doesn’t have a pen in hand, Jennie likely has a paddle, endeavouring to see as much of the world from the inside a boat.

Back to issue
From: Vol.05 N.01 – Stick in a Thumb and Pull out a Plum: Poetry and Comsumption


by Nick Keys

Bonnie Prince Billie &

Pharell Williams &

Michael Farrell &

Will Ferrell &


Gertrude Stein &

Peggy Guggenheim &

Robert Oppenheimer &


Sonny Rollins &

Henry Rollins &

Phil Collins &


Alanis Morissette &

Ennio Morricone &

Morrissey &


Henri Michaux &

Henri Chopin &


Louise Bourgeois &

Luis Buñeul &


Marie Antoinette &

Antoine Saint-Expuréy &


Don Cherry &

Chuck Berry &

Mike Kelley &

Ned Kelly &

R.Kelly &

Nelly &

Lisa Curry-Kenny &


Aubrey Drake Graham &

Audrey Hepburn &

Astrid Lorange &

Avril Lavinge &


Roman Abramovich &

Zlatan Ibrahimović &

Mario Balotelli &

Mesut Özil &


Isabella Baumfree &

Isabella Rosellini &

Isabelle Huppert &

Humbert Humbert &

Englebert Humperdinck &


Chief Keef &

Kool Kieth &

Keith Miller &

Arthur Miller &

Henry Miller &

Cecil B. DeMille &

Dominque de Menil &


Ingrid Bergman &

Henri Bergson &

John Berger &


Howard Shore &

Howard Stern &

John Howard (x 2) &


Neil Young &

Neil Diamond &

Neil Finn &


Yung Lean &

Yung Thug &

Yung Jeezy &


Lil’ Wayne &

Lil’ Durk &

Lil’ B &


Magic Johnson &

Michael Johnson &

Jamie Johnson &


Indiana Jones &

Marion Jones &

Brian Jones &


Constance Garnet &

Constantine Cavafy &

Clarice Lispector &


Humberto Maturana &

Metta World Peace &


D.W. Griffith &

D.W. Winnicott &


W.G. Sebald &

W.G. Grace &


Huckleberry Finn &

Erroll Flynn &

Eminem &


Bruno Mars &

Bruno Latour &

Bruno Schultz &

Giordano Bruno &


Giorgio Moroder &

Giorgio Agabem &

George R.R. Martin &


Cecil Taylor &

Chris Talyor &

Mark Taylor &

Mark Smith &

John Smith &

Joseph Smith &

Adam Smith &

Tom Smith &

Jon Batman &


Donald Bradman &

Steven Bradbury &

Brad Haddin &

Ian Healy &

Elise Perry &

Claire El-Nashar &

Michel de Certeau &

Kevin De Bruyne &


Wolfgang Schivelbusch &

Joseph Schumpter &

Michael Schumacher &


Mondrian &

Mozart &

Merzbow &


Schwitters &

Vonnegut &

Cobain &

Leadbelly &


Truganniny &

Truffaut &

Windradyne &

Wittgenstein &

Pemulwuy &

Paracelsus &

Bennelong &

Baudrillard &

Barangaroo &

Bakunin &


Roberto Bolano &

Roberto Colasso &

Antonio Machado &

Coral Bracho &


Neil Armstrong &

Lance Armstrong &

Louis Armstrong &

Angela Armstrong &

Clare Armstrong &

Kate Armstrong &

Helen Armstrong &

Peter Armstrong &

Patrick Armstrong

Published: January 2018
Nick Keys

is a writer & artist based in Sydney. He is an occasional operative for the Centre For Deep Reading.

Back to issue
From: Vol.05 N.01 – Stick in a Thumb and Pull out a Plum: Poetry and Comsumption

Thursday 19th October 2017 Erasure Version B

by Robyn Maree Pickens


This Weekend Only, 25% off all Kids’ Styles

Xi Jinping Plays the Emperor

Earn double Airpoints Dollars on flights to Honolulu

This one has a jetted spa!!!!!!! $316 YES????

International Biennial Association’s 4th General Assembly

Applications open for Tate Intensive 2018

Laura Bulian Gallery presents Life from My Window

Kehinde Wiley to Paint Official Portrait of President Barack Obama

Musée Yves Saint Laurent Marrakech Opening

Program for TOXIC ASSETS: Frontier Imaginaries Ed.No3, at e-flux and Columbia University

Serpentine Cinema: Book NOW for Bouchra Khalili; plus Family Weekend; Wade Guyton,

Torbjørn Rødland and Arthur Jafa


Boom boom, run run, by Pierre Paulin at frac île-de-france, Le plateau, Paris

LARGE GLASS presents A Coin in Nine Hands

Open studios at The Academy of Art and Design CAKV St, Joost

Private View | Kehinde Wiley | In Search of the Miraculous


[twitter – likes]

A mammoth tongue in the snow – the Beresovka

woolly mammoth was discovered in Siberia in 1900

in excellent condition. This is the lower jaw.


Museum of Salt, Sicily…


The “Great Thinning” accelerates…3/4 of flying

insects gone in just 25 years, finds German nature

reserve survey:…


Dunedin to host hui for creative cities worldwide |

Otago Daily Times Online News



Woohoo this arrived today! Kia ora @elbow_room for

curating such beautiful things

The 1st time I’ve been on Pg1 too J #published


the way we are /

pouring slowly towards a corner

and around it /

through something dark and soft /

we are bound to

each other

Sharon Olds


Pls pls pls. Need blankets

Take to Sallies on Mt Albert Rd and


for Rosanna

Pls RT.



WIN University of Otago will no

longer be fuelled by coal! Well

done to the Dunedin team!

#fossilfree #quitcoal…


“The key thing, for me, was realising that I

wanted to tell not just the stories of the

human characters but of all the wildlife

and everything.”

The Origin of others: Toni Morrison reads

her novel ‘Beloved’ alongside the real-life

story that inspired it:


Submission call: Issue 11. We are seeking

work that explores the theme of borders:…


Loggerhead Sea Turtle Hatching


In the “I’m getting old” department.., a kid

saw this [floppy disc] and said, “oh, you 3D-

printed the ‘Save’ icon.”


Octopus in a beaker


Can waters speak? #PPEHfellow

Luna Sarti on the dissonance that

urban waters generate in

perception & representation


Isn’t it strange how every woman

knows someone who’s been

sexually harassed but no man

seems to know any harasser?


When I sent Max this poem he sd,

I love it. It’s not voyeuristic, your

poem. I’m just there in your brain,

being loved.” & there he remains


I’m very gay and very pouty but I

got some poems published at the


I would have liked to try those

wings myself

It would have been better than




When the floor is lava


Your skin is something that I stir

into my tea. And I am watching

and you are starry, starry, starry


Our friends @NowhereMag are also

accepting submissions. Prize of $1000

& publication. See

contest rules:

contests. #contest


Academics: Look at your syllabi.

How many women scholars are on

there? How many POC? Change

the ratio. Do NOT say you can’t

find any.





Kunsthalle Wein presents Publishing as an Artistic Toolbox: 1989-2017



[book – The Songs of Trees by David George Haskell, Melbourne: Black Inc, 2017, pp 38-82]


p.40 “A forest’s thoughts emerge from a living network of relationships, not from a humanlike brain.”


p.44 “The fundamental nature of life may be not atomistic but relational.”

p.45 “Tilting our heads away from the atom, it seems that life is not just networked; it
is network.”

p.47 “All of life’s ecology and evolution is animated by networked relationships.”

73 “A single drop of seawater contains from hundreds of thousands to tens of millions of microbial cells.”


74 “The smallest viable genetic unit of life in the ocean is…the networked




BBC 3: Arts & Ideas – Blade Runner (31/03/15, 44 minutes)



9 minutes of an Al Jazeera documentary on Mossad



BBC 3: Free Thinking – Cosmopolitanism/Nationalism (26/03/15, 45 minutes)



Pratt Institute MFA in Performance and Performance Studies accepting applications for
fall 2018

Thomas Hirschhorn, Susan Howe & David Grubbs, and Naeem Mohaiemen at Yale
School of Art

Re: Exhibition Programme 2018 – Robyn Maree Pickens

HENRIETTA HARRIS | I Gave You All the Clues | Opening and Exhibition
| Melanie Roger Gallery

2 + new jobs for you on THEunijobs

Contrasting Layers

New Library Title

Robyn, vote now for 8 chances to win one of ten $1000 Bookabach Escapes!

Long Weekend Sale | On Now |

Christina Pataialii | Natasha Matila-Smith

Re: Mōrena

Re: Thursday 19th

Submishmash Weekly: ‘Between what we like and what we do’


[Instagram – likes]



























Gear up for the long weekend


[book – Night Sky with Exit Wounds by Ocean Vuong, Washington: Copper Canyon
Press, 2016, pp. 3-43]



27 minutes of an Al Jazeera documentary on home burial and 2 minutes of News





Published: January 2018
Robyn Maree Pickens

is a PhD candidate in the field of eco-poetics at the University of Otago, Dunedin, Aotearoa New Zealand. Her writing has appeared in Watersoup, Matador Review, ANZJA, Jacket 2, Art + Australia Online, takahēTurbine|Kapohau, The Pantograph Punch, Queen Mob’s Teahouse, Art New Zealand, Art News, and exhibition catalogues. 

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.