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Content From Issue: Volume 6 Number 1 (February 2019)

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From: Vol.06 N.01 – The Everywhere of Things

Editorial: The Everywhere of Things

by Jill Jones

I sit at my desk, a thing, typing on a keyboard, another thing, in front of a screen … you get my drift. These things are in my particular home working environment. I can see a section of clam shell I picked up on West Beach the other day, a feather dropped by a magpie in the backyard, any amount of paper, stationary items made of plastic and metal, an old jam jar used to keep pencils at the ready, electrical cords, a jump drive, a couple of kitsch souvenirs (Singapore snowdome, anyone?). Some of these were parts of living things quite directly (a shell, a feather, the wood of the desk) and others more indirectly from living or other matter.

Your desk or work table, if you’re lucky like me to have one, may be tidier than mine, same for any part of where you live and work. But it will contain things, things connected to things, possibly things that don’t work anymore, parts of things, bent or broken things, things as memories. Things that were once other things and beings, animals, insects, trees and plants, sea creatures, rocks, fossils.

I get up and walk outside, into light, into air, the sun is shining, in fact it’s very hot. My partner and I put water into bird baths. There’s a breeze. There’s the vapour trail of a plane high up. These are all things as well.

In editing this issue of Plumwood Mountain, I was looking for poems that showed things as they exist and operate in ecological systems, climate systems, disturbances, big world systems, tiny bioregions, our own bodies. This included the way they exist as traces, and absences.

I find the poems I finally picked from the many submissions and those I commissioned for this issue are indeed alive to our relationship with things, among things. The poems, some more specifically than others, are also attuned to the poem itself as a thing, its language thingness, its visual thingness, as arrangement and rearrangement of texts, words, phrases, lines. I found poems which gestured, however briefly, to other languages, different word systems, different ways of sounding things.

This makes me think of the ways in which things are named, of the nouns, the pointing to, that English (and other languages) uses to refer to and often corral or pin down, objects, entities, and actions (some things are indeed slippery) as a particular ‘thing’. We may place a sign on a some thing which, within both its own set of systems or contexts, and in the world’s systems far beyond human thinking and acting, may exist beyond the view or sense we as humans have of ‘it’. A stone is a stone and more than a stone. Can we really put a label on light or air? Is a tree simply one tree? Things aren’t singular; even though we give them these names, they partake of wider systems. They are shape-shifters. They are between – sand, wharves, cars, rivers, windows. They are also part of us, inside us – foods, medicines, prosthetic devices, toxins. Our skin and slough becomes part of the dust of the world. Things are written over by other things, by war, eons of human and animal use, climate change.

I referred to Jane Bennett’s work in my call for poems. In her book, Vibrant Matter: A Political Ecology of Things, she argues that matter is not ‘dull matter’, but rather things are vibrant, they have power, they operate within us, around us, beyond us. They are often recalcitrant as well. We form attachments to them, with them; they are part of the world’s ecological systems. She defines this vitality as ‘the capacity of things – edibles, commodities, storms, metals – not only to impede or block the will and designs of humans but also to act as quasi agents or forces with trajectories, propensities, or tendencies of their own’. (viii) While I might not want to lean too much on, as a consequence, seeing all things as sentient/alive, certainly things are not passive or inanimate, even as dead or broken things, they take part in living systems and may not always act as assumed, at least by humans. But they do act. And in ways that, say, a poem might try to encompass or reach for but also continue beyond the poem’s language and structure at the same time. That impossibility of words that poets know yet still persist with. There is always an excess, and even language as a thing can’t be tied down.

And, of course, we humanise things, astronomers talk of stars being ‘born’. Anthropomorphism is very human, poetry is full of it, even in the most determinedly non-metaphysical, procedural and materialist work. And we talk to things. In her wonderful short poem, ‘My friend tree’, Lorine Niedecker writes:

My friend tree

I sawed you down

but I must attend

an older friend

the sun

(Niedecker, Collected Works, 186)

The poem can be read as a rhetorical gesture, certainly. It is also in keeping with Niedecker’s ideas of responsibility and simplicity, and also her idea of the environment as a shared space with both the human, including human culpability, and the multiplicity of the non-human.

And some things that we call things are sentient, they are living, or were living. Sometimes they are us. As objectifications, certainly, but also as part of the whole, the things of the world. Although I was calling for poems beyond the human and animal, there is obviously no escaping animal presence as a thingly presence.

Here are some things you’ll find in the poems in this issue:

Ships, salt, wind, trees, grass, seeds, languages, mulch, river ooze, clay, silt, maps, art works, velcro, foil, electrolytes, ions, pizza, graptolite, trains, the Reef, breakwaters, sandflats, a cardigan, secateurs, plastic, baseball caps, crazy paving, pots and pans, hay rakes. Accompanied by various humans and animals.

And you’ll find poems as things. Poems, to state the obvious, are made of things. Words on a page. Words spoken. Grammars, syntaxes. Things seen and heard. They can be projected on buildings or rivers. Be framed as objects. Assembled and reassembled in books, on screens, on stages, set to music, carved or chiselled into other things. The Scots poet and artist, Ian Hamilton Finlay, famously placed words as things in his own particular environment, in the Pentland Hills, south of Edinburgh, where he created a sculpture garden called Little Sparta. These works were usually on stone, that being in itself a signifier of geological time. (Interesting to note that Lorine Niedecker’s second book, My Friend Tree (1961), was published in Scotland by Hamilton Finlay’s Wild Hawthorn Press.)

A lot of the poems in this issue make a point of their form or procedures. There are lists or catalogues or indexical framing, poems using languages other than English, and visuals, including gaps, and references to maps, the incorporation of other texts.

Many of the poem focus on the everyday moment with and of things. Others point to planetary and cosmic eons, often geological and oceanic processes, things in deep and wide time. Poems also conjure with ghosts and future presences, or absences, past and future spectres, which also presupposes a strangeness and an estrangement as well as a connectedness between things and the human. I wonder about this possibility of poetry, to continue thinking along Bennett’s new materialist line, particularly of the vibration of language and form (as a form of vitality) within things or about things, and as things, creating both synergies and networks, but also echoes and fugitive hauntings.

Thanks go to the Copyright Agency Cultural Fund for providing funding to commission five poets to offer work alongside the chosen submitted poems. And I was most pleased that Shastra Deo, Mindy Gill, Elena Gomez, Alison Whittaker and Janet Jiahui Wu accepted a commission to provide a poem each for this issue.

In their poems, there is much that works with ideas of assemblage, as language objects and as the complex of materials and processes of the earth, where things exist and circulate not just as objects of contemplation but as a back and forth, an unsettling of subject/object, foreground/background in their linguistic work. Things in these poems are always enmeshed with bodies, cultures, environments, eco-systems and histories as things cross and re-cross human and non-human networks and boundaries.

Alison Whittaker’s poem ‘rework’ features a literal sign on a road, but also a sign of the Indigenous body, the bodies of Indigenous women, and a site of struggle, of the constant, necessary and tiring work of reworking language by local Indigenous people, of resistance to both the narratives and bodily daily realities of continual re-colonisation. In this case it’s a very specific nightly re-naming of a controversial sign, ‘Gin’s Leap’, a name that is a ‘slur’, that impeaches ‘a mountain feature to the west’. ‘Write, revise revise revise revise revise the sprawl.’

Elena Gomez’s poem sequence ‘Novembre dans le calendrier révolutionnaire Français’ breaches boundaries between human and non-human, history and now, and is syntactically both fluid and random, with words plugged into what networks not being, deliberately, stable. And it’s funny. The title links things with time, and refers to the secular calendar adopted in 1793 during the French Revolution, with each day of the year named for a seed, tree, flower, fruit, animal, or tool. Cauliflower and Juniper are days in Frimaire (frost) (ie late November into December). Look it all up.

Janet Jiahui Wu’s phrasal and clausal assemblage in ‘cusp’, reminds me of the connections and disconnections (the gaps imply both) between apparently vastly disparate things and actions as it gestures to ‘proportion of relation’ and bodily encoding, sinking islands and nations raging, and even speculates about humans being replaced by AI or indeed operating like machines ‘collecting tickets’ among many other things. But the poem also references the erotic and sumptuous, lifted skirts, gold, blue, crimson drapery, candles and incense.

Mindy Gill’s poem ‘The Phytoplankton’ reacts to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, or Pacific trash vortex, in the North Pacific Gyre, which is, as we know, a huge though indeterminately sized congregation of plastic and other debris, often suspended rather than floating. (There are other such congregations in our oceans.) The poem mourns ‘our murderous survival’ amongst this debris we’ve created and which outnumbers us. It also asks ‘the impossible: a siltless square of clarity’.

Shastra Deo’s ‘hanahaki’ layers and unlayers the body/world dichotomy and speaks of hauntings at human and vegetal levels, as it explores bodily colonisation, disturbances in subjectivity. ‘I // belong to my body like an occupying force’. The title refers to a fictional disease brought on by unrequited love involving the coughing out of flower petals. The poem also references Chernobyl and caesium, as caesium-137, released during that event, decays slowly and its effects are still present in soil at ground level.

Finally, I’ll invoke Val Plumwood, and her idea of ‘The experiential framework of dead silent matter entrenched by the sado-disspassionate rationality of scientific reductionism’ (18). So, yes, some things are dead or extinct, often because of various politico-economic rationalities, and corporate and individual viciousness and sadism. They are silent yet speak, or reverberate. Fossil layers which have been made into fuels and plastics, mined ores, and dead corals are just some obvious examples. They can still be spoken via words made by humans, in poetry. They are still here in our systems, indeed, our bodies. Plumwood wanted us ‘to think beyond these boundaries, to re-invest with speech, agency and meaning the silenced ones, including the earth and its very stones, cast as the most lifeless members of the earth community’ (22).

The poems in this issue are not all about ‘dead and silent matter’ but all kinds of matter, and the poets in this issue all give dynamic agency and sounding to the various things of this world. I thank all of them for their work.

January 2019


Bennett, Jane. Vibrant Matter: A Political Ecology of Things. Durham, North Carolina: Duke University Press, 2010

Niedecker, Lorine. Collected Works, ed. Jenny Penberthy. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2002

Plumwood, Val, ‘Journey to the Heart of Stone’, in Culture, Creativity and Environment: New Environmentalist Criticism, ed. F. Beckett and T. Gifford, Rodopi, 2007


‘My friend tree’ by Lorine Niedecker is reproduced here with permission of University of California Press through Copyright Clearance Center. No further reproduction permitted.

We are grateful for the support of Copyright Agency Cultural Fund.

Plumwood Mountain: An Australian Journal of Ecopoetry and Ecopoetics

ISSN 2203-4404

Published: January 2019
Jill Jones

has published eleven full-length books of poetry, including Viva the Real (UQP 2018), Brink (Five Islands Press 2017), and The Beautiful Anxiety (Puncher & Wattmann 2014), which won the Victorian Premier’s Prize for Poetry in 2015. Her work is represented in a number of major anthologies including the Macquarie PEN Anthology of Australian Literature, Contemporary Australian Poetry and The Penguin Anthology of Australian Poetry. She is a member of the J.M. Coetzee Centre for Creative Practice, University of Adelaide.

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From: Vol.06 N.01 – The Everywhere of Things

Big Rain

by Catherine Trundle

After land descends, becomes

a soft larval skin, borne down beneath

this new sea        all things with


sap and blood break inward

and thunder rides the cattle fields


as you,

stopped on the step, mothy grin, float

pistachio shell canoes across the lawn

predicting how    soon

a scudding light will return. To the



As stones go swimming and grow alfalfa tips,

we’ll learn to live here

a second time


Words sink in a flood, I said. Words

find their teeth when they worm

through mud, promising things




used to mean knowledge, and later

one’s native lands. Now, our likeness

roams as silt through aquifers,

breaths back from culvert cracks

across the fern gully


Our children are busy

sowing brassicas along the coal seams.

Unseated, in abeyance, this land

is a limber coin.

Still prone


Still pleasant for

the pigeon who visits us at noon

Her arcs are careless but she coos

Over time, this sound will soften up

the hunting grounds

and birth flax

Published: January 2019
Catherine Trundle

is a writer, mother, anthropologist and academic, based in Wellington, New Zealand. She writes flash fiction, poetry and experimental ethnography. Recent work has appeared in Not Very Quiet and Flash Frontier. She is the co-editor of Commoning Ethnography, a journal that seeks to trouble the boundaries between academic thought and creative expression.

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From: Vol.06 N.01 – The Everywhere of Things

Amphitheatre, Ewenton Park

by Kate Middleton

(debris series)


Green and mesh      but cut sharp      sheer                 grēne        scearp

to raggedly scrap      & remains left to leach                     leccan

create some future biosphere      where dye                               dēag

marks strata first      where plastic brittles                                     brēotan

into small-writ petroglyphs      but for now                smæl 

a duller sheen to rock      the oxides of                          scīnan

some other age exposed where I lean against                                  ongēan

striated blocks hewn      from which quarry?                hēawan


At ground      an empty carton      a stroke                 grindan   ǣmtig

pack      no lungs in sight      and discarded                      lungen       

medicine cup      now collecting salted air                                  sealtan

for dosage      stray kelp strips      or rotted bark’s                      rotian beorc

brush against surfaces      depths      In the clover                           clāfre

patch      a dead three-leafer at last turned brick red           dēad        rēad

ahead of cruelling into      blonde distintegration

Published: January 2019
Kate Middleton

is an Australian writer. She is the author of the poetry collections Fire Season (Giramondo, 2009), awarded the Western Australian Premier’s Award for Poetry in 2009, Ephemeral Waters(Giramondo, 2013), shortlisted for the NSW Premier’s award in 2014, and Passage (Giramondo, 2017). From September 2011–September 2012 she was the inaugural Sydney City Poet.

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From: Vol.06 N.01 – The Everywhere of Things

The Phytoplankton

by Mindy Gill

How vast our equine depths

once were. Only us, weightless

living motes of dust –

and what is left of life,

we eat and die in silence.

The phosphor of us diminishing

in the monument

to all that is unwanted:

the ghostnet, the lifeless bloom

of plastic. The chemical

swarm of flotsam

that outnumbers us,

and is home to our sunless

lives. Light, light, how we

long for it. We winnow

through indestructible slurry.

The colossal surface will never

reach our terminating

current. Where life appears,

it is not here, we do not

know it, though it begins

with our murderous survival.

Give me the impossible:

a siltless square of clarity

where I will drift, clean and infinite

sieving the Pacific dark.

‘The Phytoplankton’ was written after learning of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch – an area estimated to cover 1.6 million square kilometres in the North Pacific Ocean – filled with plastic particles and other chemical debris. It is bound by the North Pacific Gyre and horse latitudes. Microplastics outweigh plankton 6:1.

Published: January 2019
Mindy Gill

Mindy Gill’s poems have appeared in Island Magazine, The Lifted Brow, Award Winning Australian Writing, Australian Poetry Journal and the Queensland Art Gallery. She is the recipient of the Queensland Premier’s Young Writers and Publishers Award, the Tom Collins Poetry Prize and a Wheeler Centre Hot Desk Fellowship. She is Peril Magazine’s Editor-in-Chief.

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From: Vol.06 N.01 – The Everywhere of Things

Novembre dans le calendrier révolutionnaire Français

by Elena Gomez



Care fortune in the midwife

my fleshy inflorescence      is edible.

The airlift: filled with the smoke of dislikes

and caveman from the landslip


Porch. (They have earphones)

caveman. (They have

swollen earphones, especially after a strut . . . )

Manager (. . .) is approaching the identikit,

thought about her earthworm, which is constant

swindle and becomes a clay ‘cauliflower’ of beaks





Caress foul

in the migration

and flick-knife

blooming  grassland,

that is animal ointment


The airman was filled

with the smooch of disorders

and caw from the lanyard

(Malgue, Augustine, 1, 1933, 169).





The gin/peket is a brawl (traditionally grandchildren)

but the Europeans       a neutral alcohol        or canvas,


except for certain applications


flavoured with berries. (Juniperus communis)


This is one of the spectacles of continuation

and the north


He would be the ‘ancestor’ of the girlfriend.

In new Sydney Road  it is called big glacier.

Published: January 2019
Elena Gomez

is a poet and book editor living in Melbourne. Her full-length collection of poetry, Body of Work, was highly commended in the Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards 2019.

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From: Vol.06 N.01 – The Everywhere of Things


by Alison Whittaker

Pull over here, watch some spinning nightly fights reach

across a highway’s ribs. At the Kamiloroi Highway’s spine

two signs rise and speak and re-speak. Their slur contents impeach

a mountain feature to the west. Move your breath with its outline


at which some racing things have come to rest. Others trudge upon.

Ev’ry night, the sign decries ‘Gin’s Leap’; and it’s replied with scrawl.

On this site, dry cliff, all quiet: the blak re-namers brawlin’ on.

White ones sparring back. Write, revise revise revise revise revise the sprawl.


Winangala! Your feet depress land story-holdin’.

The sign-ribs come down, back up. It matters, the tale—

whose many versions woven?—woman flees marriage, woman’s child stolen.

Your engine paused. Its useless gasps all join the hale


with yours and theirs. See dawn emerge. Your windshield but filmed dust

Gin’s Leap de-signed, re-named again. As it must and as you must.

‘rework’ appears in Alison Whittaker, BLAKWORK (Broome, WA: Magabala Books, 2018). Reproduced here with permission of the author and Magabala Books.

Published: January 2019
Alison Whittaker

is a Gomeroi poet and Senior Researcher at the Jumbunna Institute. She was a 2017-18 Fulbright scholar at Harvard Law School, where she was named Dean’s Scholar in Race, Gender and Criminal Law. Alison’s second collection, BLAKWORK, was released in 2018 with Magabala Books and was shortlisted in the 2019 Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards.

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From: Vol.06 N.01 – The Everywhere of Things


by Janet Jiahui Wu

sea brims sobriety    bell and sorrow may partake    much loathed destiny    of dejected things
yet when you learn to see    lurching forward    in the chthonic fen    a low spreading of
cosmic sense    that ever worse is ending    collecting banana leaves    sowing loquat seeds
mending buttons    sawing jacks    each retains distance    proportion of relation    candles and
scents    hovering next to the box of incense    a buzz that signals    a leaning back in response
in leaning toward   sitting uncertainly    moving without momentum    euphoric    neurotic
mistaken the seasons    free floating bookmark across a page in time    artificial intelligence
may know   make art and sign with its logarithm    in a row of applicants    in a row of
waiting    collecting tickets    being a ticket machine    collecting money    counting it
counterfeiting as though it is the most original act    pretending    as though it is the most
natural act    drapery    in gold and blue and crimson    pillows without heads or feet
conscience without the burden of conscience    oh father clown and an overgrown boy    send
me a painting etched with rust    a line of dripping ink over dirt    meadows flooding
everything    mind containing nothing    neutral fists bump like two sponges    neurons flitting
in bog of blood and wires    womb    birth    miracle    a wonderful thing    code written in
genes guide our every action    folding clothes unironed    milking goats on a clean pasture
stalking prey like a hunting fox or dog    learn to pray like the dying    predict from electric
current to electric current    a story under each fallen leaf    fish in line end up biting    thrown
deep into the water    survey the strange creatures like argonauts    spilling sap and slowly
fading away    as reasons wane    the mountains lay waiting    as nations rage    the evergreen
still green    as bombs hit    a skirt is lifted    as veils fall    legs are raised    in the trough    a
vine is growing    in its vein    some juice is made    water goes up    life remains    web of
lights like nightly twinkles    an island sinks    nurdles drift    and pigeons still make love
sun summons everyone to wake    systematically    everyone does

Published: January 2019
Janet Jiahui Wu

is a visual artist and a writer of poetry, drama and fiction. She has published in various magazines. She currently resides and works in Adelaide, South Australia.

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From: Vol.06 N.01 – The Everywhere of Things


by Shastra Deo

hospice of amaranthus

field mustard and cockscomb

our landscape jawed no language

of flowers before naturalisation                                   before

I knew if caesium should sound

like cease          seize

or caesura

sunflowers worked in Chernobyl but

I am not yet pond or soil         skin

all that separates

from else

I know

how to look inside myself and ask

which of these words does not belong


anther               ovary                bract

stigma              filament           chaff



am spitting up my inflorescence I

belong to my body like an occupying force


time makes less of self


I know now how to take up more space


bury seeds entire systems unspool

the intestines

avulse and haemorrhage roam of roots the person

moves from first to third



fleshes into earth into flesh

is not a body so much as gesture is

is not and


and on

Published: January 2019
Shastra Deo

was born in Fiji, raised in Melbourne, and lives in Brisbane. Her first book, The Agonist (UQP 2017), won the 2016 Thomas Shapcott Poetry Prize and the 2018 ALS Gold Medal. She is currently writing a suite of poems inspired by nuclear semiotics, Final Fantasy XV, and the legend of the Fisher King.

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From: Vol.06 N.01 – The Everywhere of Things

Unspoken Sky

by Alex Skovron

(after Tina Makereti)


It arrived unannounced, looked around

and sank into a slumber. The street-animals

walked by, oblivious. The machines wheeled

as they must. The towers leaned into themselves

whenever it turned its face to the sky.

The sky itself said nothing, in the way of skies,

but streamed with a forgiving light.


It awoke, forgiven, unaware it had been gazing

upward, squinting with eyes closed against

the unspoken sky. It stood, looked around,

and began to walk. The street-animals

stopped to watch, the machines pulled up,

loudly attentive. The towers frowned

and their perspectives corrected themselves.


At last the sky opened its eye and the eye

laughed, in the manner of the blind,

the seeing unseeing blind. It walked on,

disturbed by something approaching thought,

but clearer than any words, sadder

than any sigh, deeper than the oceans

that had given it birth. There was no going back.

Published: January 2019
Alex Skovron

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

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From: Vol.06 N.01 – The Everywhere of Things

Tree Begonia Cohabitation

by Patricia Sykes

North-facing, a sun pact

between flexible and rigid

the wall as back rest the begonia

as flexor, out-leaning, its eye on

the secateurs, their urge to prune

to severity’s edge impeded by

spiders, a canny spin and drape

of webbish life and death among

cane-stems pliable as fishing rods.

May butterflies escape the deadly

silk (favouritism is a separatist?)

The boronia thrives on, microbially

content to bloom when spurt says

time. Secateurs can learn to step

aside. Playing border guard

would end whatever’s going on

—arachnid, host, visa none

Published: January 2019
Patricia Sykes

is a poet and librettist. Her collaborations with composer Liza Lim have been performed in Australia, the UK, Germany, Moscow, Paris and New York. She was Asialink writer in Residence, Malaysia 2006. Her most recent collection is Among the Gone of It, English/Chinese, Flying Island Books, 2017. A song cycle based on her collection The Abbotsord Mysteries is in preparation.

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From: Vol.06 N.01 – The Everywhere of Things


by Anita Milva Milićević

Got a short-sleeved cardigan for free. It had too many holes in it. They couldn’t sell it in the state it was in. So it became mine. Once home I knew what to do and did it right away. I sewed up moth holes first. Then tried to pick at, but ended up shaving sensitively at every single bit of built up lint that gave it that over worn look under the arms, near the hips. With my nose brushing at fluff, I scraped till I was sore. Then I wore it but a button fell off. I went hunting for a new one in my haberdashery horde. Matched the cotton. Checked the others. Threaded the eye. Doubled the line. Knotted the end. I sewed on, sewed tight till it was sturdier than when I got it. I wore it once again, and then twice more until fresh pilling materialised and I saw that I can see right through it if I hold it up to the light. I couldn’t find the razor so went to the shops and forgot the milk and went back again. I was at it again all afternoon, sorting its furry malaise in between loads of washing and phone calls. As the days grew colder, I wanted to wear it more and more, despite short sleeves and ice-air. Soon it’s fibres ran finer and the pills became part of its core. Became the things that were holding it together. Then I started counting them, sometimes naming them after an event we attended, loving how each lived-in-aberration linked to another. Someday soon I’m going to start sewing in mismatched parts of other items into it. Using any old sewing style. A hem stitch. A blanket stitch. Some cross stitch with leftover cottons, something from a peacock tapestry I never finished, a solitary earring I found in a drawer.

Published: January 2019
Anita Milva Milićević

is a Melbourne writer of Croatian heritage. She works in community services and writes creative non-fiction, prose poetry and short fiction. She can be found lost in long walks, photography and bookshops. As an emerging writer, she has a piece published online at ABC Radio National. She is working on a collection of prose poems.

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From: Vol.06 N.01 – The Everywhere of Things

The Lagan

by Ivy Ireland

thick black ooze moves

gnats flick

above and above

right to fear

what is rising up

from beneath


this viscous murk

would embower

bury me under

as I sit here

all this long while


the river’s only depth

is my own reflection


unlike other

lovers of shadows

my mallacht

is this peering through

what stares back

also wondering


another curse I claim

is covetousness

I want this miasma

beneath beyond


gnats above and

slush gods

deep below

to call my own


some subtle spirit

must shape the Lagan

some sidhe

that might be kin

to this one self

who peers back

against all this

being known

Published: January 2019
Ivy Ireland

is a poet who helps run a second-hand bookstore café in Newcastle, NSW. Ivy’s first book, Incidental Complications, was published in 2007 and her more recent collection, Porch Light, was published in 2015 with Puncher and Wattmann. Ivy completed her PhD at The University of Newcastle, where she has worked as a casual lecturer in Creative Writing. Ivy was awarded the Australian Young Poet Fellowship in 2007 and has won the Harri Jones Memorial Prize and the local section of the Newcastle Poetry Prize. Ivy’s poems, essays and reviews have been published in Cordite, Overland, Going Down Swinging, Blue Dog, and various national and international magazines and anthologies.

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From: Vol.06 N.01 – The Everywhere of Things

The inter-web

by Tegan Gigante

Inspecting the nectarine tree

beside the front gate

I discover green newborn leaves.

The blossoms have almost all fallen,

their brief burst of cocktail pink

now carpets the mulch beneath.

Already I miss their decoration,

though the green heralds fruit to come.


The following day,

I notice the leaf-curl:

fire-coloured convolutions

that threaten the promised crop.

Plucking the twisted leaves

I am briefly sorry to deny

the bacterium’s claim to life.


The next time

I pay close attention to the tree,

the leaves have grown full –

so has the disease – and now,

the branches host clusters of aphid families.

Another breach of national security.

I tweezer a few between my fingers

in ineffectual spite.


Later, I spy ladybirds

feasting on the aphids,

methodically consuming

the tiny insects.


I have taken sides.


The web continues to expand.

There is now a stream of ants

snaking up the branches,

neutral agents

that depend on tree and aphid

while harming neither.

They drink the sweet gems

of clear, bright faeces

as it emerges from the nesting aphids;

and fend off hungry ladybirds in return.


The aphids need the tree

and the ants who protect them;

ladybird and ant

depend on both aphid and tree;

the bacterium eats the tree,

and isn’t much bothered about anyone else.

The tree depends on me to water, feed and mulch,

and I need the tree to fruit –

no leaf-curl, no aphid, no ladybird, no ant.


But this is not a closed loop:

I watch the ants delve

into their hidden home,

networks beneath my feet

and beyond my vision.

I can no more enter their nest

than see a boundary

where the tree might end.

Published: January 2019
Tegan Gigante

lives in Central Victoria. She convenes PoetiCas, Castlemaine’s monthly poetry event, and programmes monthly lectures for the Bendigo Philosophical Society. She has completed a Masters thesis on the function of traditional poetics, and co-authored the collection I Will not Fall (Tinder Press, 2013). Tegan also performs poetry to accompany music with the band White Rabbit.

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From: Vol.06 N.01 – The Everywhere of Things

The Burnt-out Bougainvillea

by Stuart Barnes

Some thing has taken the place


of the bougainvillea, something biblical. Teeth

have taken out vibrant lumps

like prehensile, opaque

starfish. Some thing has crazed the bark,


quelling its wear

-ability. Blood will tell

toll the fronds of a Cuban Royal under

which the man sporting a tanga tans. Tang of charcoal sports and falls.


If some thing can insinuate

itself between thorny green bones

then the stones

concealing black field crickets


that squeal (you say) like next door’s babies or

coal train brakes will incinerate among

antique crackled bowls

and daytime’s undertones run.


Alice Coltrane spun once,

in the barmy reefer spring

—‘Isis and Osiris’ did

its nut. No balm for the lip


of the nearby reef, each tapered flower galactic-white,

each bridge

of this paperflower one

hell of a black. Once a person


-age, the staggering tanned man whose cat-tails

droop and doll eyes bobble below a moon austere

as porcelain. Its water

hoards i


-dolise gravity. For the hearts’ doorstep

this is neither here nor there.

You and I live in a glasshouse

—hordes of digs. Some thing at the dead centre of us


digs in heels. The bougainvillea heals, heals.


‘The Burnt-out Bougainvillea’ is a terminal from Sylvia Plath’s ‘The Burnt-out Spa’

Published: January 2019
Stuart Barnes

was born and grew up in Hobart and lived in Melbourne for seventeen years before moving to Rockhampton. Glasshouses (UQP) won the Thomas Shapcott Prize and was shortlisted/commended for two other awards. Since 2017 Stuart’s been a program advisor for Queensland Poetry Festival and in 2018 joined Verity La as editor of their Out of Limbo project. Twitter/Instagram: @StuartABarnes

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From: Vol.06 N.01 – The Everywhere of Things


by Jemma Borg

A creaking at springtime. Compaction. Bright white sleep.

This is how it was for a long time – the head of the world

cold, unfevered, sheer. An almost-violet light.

Now the sea is always speaking – its crystals

wetly sublime and loosen, the fossil water

is freed among veering, grime-capped waves

into the jolt and recoil of motion, and here,

on this coast, the waves find a way

through three houses

and now they take down the middle house

and they breathe its pots and pans,

its red and blue buckets and pieces of wood

in and out of the cavity

as though it were a lost tooth: slosh of debris

through the gap, corrugations of roof in the gum

and the sea is busy at the wound

and the sea is filling the mouth of the land

and the land cannot spit it out –

the unsteady, grey, Arctic sea

that must tell, must tell, of its waking

Published: January 2019
Jemma Borg

won the International Ginkgo Ecopoetry Prize in 2018. She also won the RSPB/Rialto Nature and Place Competition in 2017 and is published in magazines including The Poetry Review and Oxford Poetry. She has a doctorate in evolutionary genetics and lives in East Sussex in England. Her first collection is The Illuminated World (Eyewear, 2014).

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From: Vol.06 N.01 – The Everywhere of Things

Suckling pigs

by Aden Rolfe



What is a tree

if not a seed’s way of making

another seed


a forest’s way of hiding

in plain sight? Within its folds

you might learn something useful

like ‘a boar betrays itself by rustling’

or ‘a log is never simply a log’.

On its flank a fungus grows

without need of a name


at least

not any you can speak out loud. In the

absence of words, is it perception

that brings things into being? Then again

the trees get by just fine without you

branch after branch reaching out

to take you by the throat


cut the thread.


If every one had a bite taken

from it, would the essence of the apple

change? You could call off the hunt, bring

on the harvest, but you’ll never make

a silk purse from salad greens. Nor

will you swindle a sweeter prospect.

You must simply accept that one day

you’ll wake to find yourself looking up

from a platter on which your head

has been served—


as it is with moments

so with empires. For now though

you lie there, thinking


the length of the night

is a problem only for those

who can’t sleep.




As a tree is already a metaphor.

As you carve your initials into the trunk.

As though you ever had a choice.


As a delicacy paired with fennel and cabbage.

As you sniff out truffles in the soil.

As a shortcut is a side of ham.


As green wood burns reluctantly.

As a wound, trying to close.

As a promise supposes intention.


As a hole is known by what it doesn’t have.

As a tree takes priority over your idea of it.

As it is in itself

and continues to be.

Published: January 2019
Aden Rolfe

is a Sydney-based writer. His debut poetry and essay collection, False Nostalgia, received the 2017 Mary Gilmore Award and was named by Mascara the best avant-garde poetry book of 2016. His poetry has been published in the Age, Best Australian Poems, Overland and Cordite.

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From: Vol.06 N.01 – The Everywhere of Things

Salt Wind Salt War

by Julie Maclean

As cumuli mass in platoons

over Tribulation

they strike me as bones of a whale


but what they are for real

are supplicant fingers of pure palm

tumbled by the muscle of a cyclone


Fronds shudder and click

like pelican beaks

in times of famine

tearing breasts open

to feed chicks

straight from the heart     pure blood

leaving stigmata

on parchment feather


In drought they quietly

pile the dead for shade

roll eggs into death cairns—

little abortions cloud about

skirts of Kati Thanda—Lake Eyre


not here     where death comes in all weathers

peace time rare as ambergris

Published: January 2019
Julie Maclean

is the author of four poetry collections and an e-chapbook. Her poems, fiction and reviews appear in local and international journals and anthologies like The Best Australian Poetry and Poetry (Chicago). She lives in Torquay.

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From: Vol.06 N.01 – The Everywhere of Things


by Magdalena Ball

cloudlike piles

opaque not white

coloured yellow by chromate ions

copper blue



my finger runs along the table

picks up a trace on the tongue


I wanted to talk about skin instead

the salty taste of it

as animal covering

preceding the living tissue

below the protective barrier


basement membrane, connective tissues

all those things I needed

to give and take and give


without the language

it was touch and go

a brush, a sigh, a hint only

back to the grain


underneath the colour

the lacrimal fluid

the shading is black post black

abstracted as contrast

a window that opens onto a wall

onto a fluorescent light onto parchment

where you are, now alone

a fragment, and whole


just another woman

as alike as unlike

united by what we know

can’t share

and are sharing in this

public inland space

Published: January 2019
Magdalena Ball

is Managing Editor of Compulsive Reader. She is the author of several novels and poetry books, most recently, High Wire Press, published in 2018 by Flying Island Press. She has shortlisted in or won a number of literary prizes including the Queensland Poetry Festival Philip Bacon Ekphrasis Award and the Newcastle Poetry Prize.

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From: Vol.06 N.01 – The Everywhere of Things

Open House: Palm Springs Modernism Week

by Helen Thurloe

It seems we always end up stuck

in a bathroom. A cul-de-sac of turquoise tiles;

a wall-hung toilet, firmly shut.


Cornered, we turn and turn, corralled

by map-wavers on tighter viewing schedules.


In backward steps we nod at naked men

their muscles flexed on orange walls

in narrow halls, oblivious to the lens (and us).

Oiled youth sealed under glass, quarantined

from grey hairs under baseball caps

and flesh that shivers in desert shade.


Through designer sunglasses we bless

those Joshua trees in gravel. Approve

that aspect of snow on barren peaks. Then rate

the pool out of ten on the Hockney-scale.

Admire atomic crockery. Snort

at fifties film posters – Doris on a bicycle!

Sneer at sheds of real life junk

that jar our sixties reveries.


Out the back, by the gas-fueled fire pit

the old architect sits

confused. He trembles as he shakes

hands with worshippers who gather

and gather around, their matched pugs

in children’s bedrooms, their twin

Lincoln Continentals wedged

in modest carports – surely Texas still has oil?


Up the road the Mexican yardsmen

jiggle sprinklers for salad fresh lawns.

Above them twin palms nod

and sway; the builders’ ghosts reflect

in backyard pools. They don’t care about

retro swivel lights or bold pink Marimekko.

They see past parched earth. Across

the rock dry mountains. They calculate the price

with variations, while we squint

hands cupped, distracted by butterfly

roofs, and aesthetics of plumbing.


Yet one day, when the aquifer’s been splashed

on turf, and the wind turbines rusted stuck

from hot tub soaks and iced drink thirst –

the desert will bring our insides

out, and our outsides in. Crazy paving,

painted breezeways and all.

Published: January 2019
Helen Thurloe

is a Sydney poet and writer. Her poetry is published widely, and her poems have been recognised in awards, including the Quantum Words Science Poetry Competition and the ACU Literature Prize. Helen’s debut novel, Promising Azra, was shortlisted for a NSW Premier’s Literary Award in 2017.

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From: Vol.06 N.01 – The Everywhere of Things

Most artificial reefs

by EJ Shu

are inadvertent: time after tide

myriad sessile bodies gather

and root to moorings, breakwaters, the

mammoth feet of turbines;

even waste


dumped in an estuary provides a

kind of scour protection, attachment

surfaces for fouling species, for

faunal communities;

others are


built by practitioners with degrees

of creative freedom, they are sewn

bags of mesh, of shells, the shells (cockle,

mussel and oyster) dried

on land and


purified of the bivalve trace, and/

or supplied stone, and left out on the

intertidal sandflats and fixed with

specialist pegs, exposed

to winds and


sometimes lost to currents; specious homes,

shallow roosts, room and berg surveilled; rec-

ordered: barnacle, amphipoda,

predatory worm, the



footprints of gulls; colonisation

driven by the clefts in the matrix,

interstitial spaces chosen or

trapping those riding on

mobile sands.


This poem uses fragments from the following scientific article:

Callaway, R. 2018. ‘Interstitial space and trapped sediment drive benthic communities in artificial shell and rock reefs’. Frontiers in Marine Science. 5. DOI: 10.3389/fmars.2018.00288

Published: January 2019
EJ Shu

is an Australian-Canadian writer whose recent poetry appears or is forthcoming in Cordite, Poets Reading the News, Plum Tree Tavern and Psaltery & Lyre. She makes her home on the north west coast of Tasmania.

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.