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Content From Issue: Volume 6 Number 2 (August 2019)

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From: Vol.06 N.02 – Intersecting Energies

Intersecting Energies: Location, Gender, Climate

by Anne Elvey

In an essay ‘We’ve Seen the End of the World and We Don’t Accept It’, Tony Birch points out that narratives of catastrophe in relation to climate change are not new to Indigenous Australians, but are part of the story of invasion – as ongoing system rather than historical event.[i] Quoting Kyle Powys Whyte, Birch writes ‘climate injustice for Indigenous peoples is less about the spectre of a new future and more like the experience of déjà vu’.[ii] The title of Birch’s essay, ‘We’ve Seen the End of the World and We Don’t Accept It’, is borrowed from Murrawah Johnson, a young Indigenous spokesperson for the Wangan and Jagalingou Family Council, who have been resisting construction of the Adani mega-coal mine in the Galilee Basin in far north Queensland.[iii] The complex intersection of colonial violence – as a continuing state of which climate change is in some senses both symptom and exacerbation – with the resistances, strategies of recovery (e.g. of language) and resilience of First Nations, forms a key context for this issue on Intersecting Energies.

In this issue, I am seeking to locate creative responses to climate change in relation to multidimensionsal, or intersectional, experiences of location and gender, where location stands in for located experiences of race, place, identity. As a prompt in April, I pointed to poetry by Marshall Islander Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner and Filipina Eunice Andrada, addressing climate change from multidimensional perspectives. In the background, too, is Natalie Harkin’s poem ‘Climate Change’ from her collection Dirty Words, and work by non-Indigenous poets such as Bonny Cassidy (Final Theory) and Lisa Jacobson (The Sunlit Zone), where aspects of the complexities of place, gender, sexuality, race, as well as the violence and power dynamics of colonial and capitalist praxis, entwine.

Funding from Copyright Agency Cultural Fund has enabled me to commission poems from five younger voices based in Narrm (Melbourne), three of whom spent time on Boon Wurrung Country last year being mentored by Ali Cobby Eckermann: Wiradjuri woman Emily Munro-Harrison, Worimi poet, Ryan Prehn, and performance artist, Monica Jasmine Karo, who is a proud descendant of the  Brataualung, Gunditjmara and Mukjarawaint peoples. The other two commissioned poets are 2018 Wheeler Centre Hot Desk Fellow, Magan Magan, and Lian Low, recipient of The Wheeler Centre’s inaugural Next Chapter scheme. To these are added the voices of another 25 poets from general submissions. As always there were many fine poems I had to pass over regretfully. The thirty poets published in this issue address the intersectional elements of the theme in poignant, challenging and interesting ways.

Several take the perspective of a parent considering the future in relation to the maternal or to parenting a child. ‘What kind of future are we making?’ asks Emily Munro-Harrison. Monica Jasmine Karo’s performance piece asserts, ‘They abandon mother’.

I am delighted to publish, too, the work of Craig Santos Perez, an indigenous Chamorro poet from the Pacific Island of Guam, and Dennis Andrew S. Aguinaldo from the Philippines. Should we, and if so how should we, communicate terrible knowledge to children? (Perez). What resilience to such knowledge might they communicate to us? (Susan Wardell). What desires intersect in the exploitation of people and the exacerbation of climate change? (Aguinaldo). What happens when Malaysia becomes ‘A trash outpost for rich nations’? (Lian Low). How do domestic duties and relationships, infused as they are with questions of self-worth and personal safety, spill into our experience of ecological responsibility and climate emergency? How do these ever-present environmental challenges impact in our everyday encounters?

From gendered understandings of Earth as female, poets such as Magan Magan, avoid cliché by shifting the subjects of violence and desire subtly and tranformatively. In Shari Kocher’s ‘Ode to Earth’, winner of the Venie Holmgren Prize in 2018, Earth love folds into encounter with the other, with self as other. Human love and Earth love cross as the impossibility of foreseeing what a climate changed future might be, prompts the thought that: ‘Everything will be different, everything will be the same.’ (Rachael Mead). What might be our more-than-human ecological inheritance?, asks Gavin Yuan Gao, while climate and illness enfold in the work of Heather Taylor Johnson and Jane Joritz-Nakagawa.

Jill Jones  questions, ‘Are poems becoming hotter and darker like the world?’ ‘The sea is my mother tongue’, she says. Anne Casey interweaves oceanic losses with the watery beginnings of human life. But climate change might just be a reason to forego reproduction, says Dženana Vucic with the kind of humorous touch so often absent from talk of ecological emergency. Nick Chlopicki’s collage poem builds an ironic picture of self-absorption and desire for ease, in the face of ecological catastrophe.

Gender does not mean exclusively women’s studies. There are poems that question toxic masculinities (Prehn), as well as the more subtle often gendered problematics of scientific communication (Michaela Keeble) and science-fictional (factional?) desire to depart Earth for space (Patricia Sykes). Closer to home is an impulse to scale that betokens our being ‘always too confident’ (Rose Lucas). There is in our talk of endings something that ‘we cannot see … / we are too far away’ (Jennifer Mackenzie). Close attentiveness to place is entangled with the monstrous in the deepening frisson of a future we cannot fully know (Frances Presley).

In ‘Darkinjung Burning’, Luke Patterson writes ‘this is not a mourning poem you see’. The reality is more complex; engagements are more multi-faceted. Indigenous epistemologies based in Country, as Brenda Saunders intimates in ‘Inland Sea’, contrast with failing land practices of settler farming.

Trees feature as otherkind that actively speak back to anthropocentric undoings. How might human lives depend ‘on the knowledge of a tree’ (Emilie Collyer). In Alana Kelsall’s ‘the will of trees’ , the purposes and legacies of our arboreal kin contrast with and accompany human loss and remembrance. A kind of captivity to climate is mirrored in the captivities of both otherkind and humans forced to serve, as human longing and loss are, likewise, held in thrall (Hessom Razavi).

Do ‘fish float dead’ on our partying, even as we celebrate our diversity? (Angela Gardner) What gendered violence lurks, gothic-like, beneath the surface of our ecological awareness? (Madeleine Dale). ‘Picture us’, writes Catherine Trundle, ‘first saviours, then villains, and now / a complicated algorithm.’

Complementing this array of poetic voices is a photo essay ‘CLIMATE GUARDIANS: A Snapshot’, for which I am grateful to Deborah Hart and Melissa Corbett. Climate Guardians founded by ClimActs is an activist performance group using ‘angel iconography to highlight the vital role of guardianship of precious natural resources in addressing the global threat from the climate emergency.’ Sarah Balkin reports on a one person show Not Now Not Ever by Lara Stevens in May 2019, bringing a feminist ecological perspective to parenting in a time of climate change. There are also a range of new book reviews. My thanks to all the contributors, our donors and Copyright Agency Cultural Fund for making the publication of this issue of Plumwood Mountain journal, ‘Intersecting Energies’, possible.


[i] Tony Birch, ‘“We’ve Seen the End of the World and We Don’t Accept It”: Protection of Indigenous Country and Climate Justice’, in Nicole Oke, Christopher Sonn and Alison Baker (eds), Places of Privilege: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Identities, Change and Resistance (Leiden: Brill, 2018), 139–52.

[ii] Kyle Powys Whyte, ‘Is It Colonial Déjà vu? Indigenous Peoples and Climate Injustice’, in Adamson and Davis (eds), Humanities for the Environment, 88–105, cited in Birch, ‘“We’ve Seen the End of the World and We Don’t Accept It”, 140.

[iii] Birch, ‘“We’ve Seen the End of the World and We Don’t Accept It”, 148

Plumwood Mountain journal is managed on Boon Wurrung Country in Seaford, Victoria. We acknowledge the traditional custodians of Boon Wurrung lands and waters, and the elders past, present and emerging. We also acknowledge all traditional custodians throughout Australia, especially those of Plumwood Mountain, the place after which the journal is named, near Braidwood, in New South Wales.

Plumwood Mountain: An Australian Journal of Ecopoetry and Ecopoetics

ISSN 2203-4404

Published: July 2019
Anne Elvey

is managing editor of Plumwood Mountain journal. She is editor of hope for whole: poets speak up to Adani (2018) and author of White on White (Cordite 2018) and Kin (FIP  2014). Her scholarly work spans ecological hermeneutics, ecological feminism, biblical literature, the material turn in cultural studies, and religious responses to climate change. See further:

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From: Vol.06 N.02 – Intersecting Energies

They Abandon Mother

by Monica Jasmine Karo

They abandon Mothers, like they abandon Mother

She who breathes us in as we dig her up cut her

All without her we suffer

Yet still we continue to abandon Mother

She is milk and honey

Our once plated breast that we nestled our unformed skulls into

We were stroked and nurtured by her touch, her whole hearted purity,

ultimate love.


But still we slap her …

We pull at her hair …

We scratch her …

… still we abandon Mother

They abandon Mothers like they abandon themselves

They abandon themselves as they pour demons down their throats

I light a candle to their poison, a toxicity they have brewed in their own bodies

They are wilted flowers left hanging in a mouldy cup

They are the cigarette ash that has become a daily breakfast

… that taste that lingers

… that smell that imbeds itself

They abandon themselves like they did their own Mother

And we abandon childbearing Mothers like we do our own Mother Earth

Ah, but…

She is the wise maiden that lays you on her back as you sweat out your pain

She is the weaver, the whisperer of fibrous magic who has woven ten thousand baskets to

cradle your food…

… cradle your essence

… just to carry you

She is the medicine you have walked 800 miles to drink

When you walked through the desert she blanketed you from the sands sink

She unlocks your soul from your mind and your mind from your soul

Without her you’re nothing, because of her, you can be starlight

She is the sand, its entirety a mystery, endless and unique

She comes from the stars, energy so profound of love and peace

She sings to the milky way as it reveals our dreaming

She is one with God and our Creator beings whose presence has never left us

She is red blood, rainbow, a blue river that continues to flow and she is the air in your lungs

that breathes your bone marrow vessel into motion

I have been ravenously trying to sit with Mother

… trying connect with her

… as I hold my child in my arms

In my state of hopelessness I come to realise that she already sits with me

sitting beside me, underneath me and above me she holds me, and in that moment,

I acknowledge her, I make my oath to her, I tell her I have not abandoned her, because she is

my Mother, and she is the reason for my being.

She is the pulse of the land, I feel her heartbeat as I clasp both my hands stating my plea.

This connection is eternal, everlasting, infinite and forever, yet why do we forget her,

the molten core of who we are, she who has never forgotten us. (?)


Published: July 2019
Monica Jasmine Karo

is a proud descendant of the  Brataualung, clan of Gunaikurnai Nation, Gunditjmara & Mukjarawaint peoples. She is a spoken word poet, actor, singer-song writer & emerging playwright based in Narrm(Melbourne)

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From: Vol.06 N.02 – Intersecting Energies

Upgrade to Everything

by Angela Gardner

Between housework and billable hours your endless needs.

Safelight or brothel? The pinball flipper bounce between

generates a static of fatigue. I’m in my legwarmers and cowgirl

tutu, wrapped for the night in crackly plastic for a low-cut

drive to a city. In sticky heat we dance the side-pony to yester

year’s velour: sheer-wrap of contact, crush-anthem of serotonin,

dopamine, noradrenaline. Love and angst as it presses close.

You can be a boy princess, and I’ll be a vampire, or I’ll be

a whatever-its-name and you’ll be my servant. The automata

of the world overridden by friction, the fiction of externality,

by funny guys and naturals: in car insurance or anaesthetic.

They dance out of earshot in rain so heavy it drowns out

the Mexican themed inflatable cactus, the chilli tinsel hangers

and the gaudy Day of the Dead lanterns. It’s in one door, out

the other. In one other, out the door. Out of everything,

as music blares so loud the fish float dead on the surface of it.

Published: July 2019
Angela Gardner

Angela Gardner’s most recent books are The Told World Shearsman UK; Thing & Unthing Vagabond, both 2014; and with Caren Florance, The future, unimagine (2017) Recent Work Press. Her eighth book, Some Sketchy Notes on Matter, shortlisted for the Dorothy Hewett Award 2018, is forthcoming from Recent Works Press, in 2019.

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From: Vol.06 N.02 – Intersecting Energies

Unguided Meditation

by Jill Jones

‘Tolerate the spasmodic, the obscure, the fragmentary, the failure.’

Virginia Woolf, ‘Mr Bennett and Mrs Brown’



I am hanging onto the edge of a continent.

The full moon takes the sand far from the beach

into the gulf’s indifference.

I stand for a moment in this immodest heat.

The world here will burn before it freezes.

The words I write, and the sun, all resist me.

So they should.



As a child I’d pad around thinking ‘if I were a boy’,

another kind of mind and muscle, a difference

as green as grass but it never worked. TV was

my co-parent, my super hero. The outside air filled

with mowers. Nothing would fit the cracks.

Every bird was a visitor, while I stumbled into bricks

or the hidden kicks of the real world. That’s how I fell.

And how I felt. Each stitch was a prick.



Like Osiris or Frankenstein, I am assembled.



Later, when they poked out my eye and stuck in

another, they forgot to tell me it wouldn’t fit quite right,

or I’d be able to see far, to predict every calamity,

but everyone would laugh.

(OK, have it your way.)

Each night I sit down and watch it watching me.



Are poems becoming hotter and darker like the world?

Maybe I’m listening for the wrong broadcast

as a loner within screenlight, a bit ‘404 not found’,

living in idle twilight among pickings of lecherous

sparrows, still subject of thanatos, still

hanging around my old address.

Not all the boxes can be ticked.



The sea is my mother tongue, reaching for me

on the sand, my feet slipping in the undertow.

The tide wants me, my paper sails. Μὴ κίνη χέραδας,

Sappho says. ‘Don’t stir up the beach rubble.’

My fragments float.

Μνάσεσθαί τινά φαμι καὶ ὔστερον ἄμμεων.


Who has met their trash and forgiven it?

‘One day someone      will remember us.’


versions of lines and phrases from Sappho are my own. The poem’s last line ‘translates’ the phrase in Ancient Greek that is the last line of the previous stanza.

Published: July 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. She is a member of the J.M. Coetzee Centre for Creative Practice, University of Adelaide.

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From: Vol.06 N.02 – Intersecting Energies


by Catherine Trundle

Can you see how this day dims?

Cracked along the cortex of

our ruddy homeland. So shallow and proud,

the ridgeline flaring with the wick of

summer. This year, all of the season’s

heat is crammed into a single week.


By now we’ve learned:

The best way to bring a forest back

to life is for us to just

exist elsewhere.

Can you imagine? The howling monkeys

and macaques opening up our house

like a purse, storing my hairbrush and broaches

in the trees like glistening, glad-faced leaves.


Picture   us


first saviours, then villains, and now

a complicated algorithm.

We learned early. Track along

the flats where the sound is sandy and supple,

avoid the shine of whiskey and campfire.


Sometimes, with crates we found by the sea,

we collect up golfballs and pretend —

What freshly laid eggs

What split and briny treasure

nestled in these dunes. Here,

the old driving range is home

to an estuary of light,

lapping soft and blind and poxed.


Do you remember?

After the riverbeds cracked, bruising beneath

their own boulders, we realised

Every piece of matter is endless, salvaged

and spliced into grubby recognition.

What a relief to no longer ripen ourselves

within bright white sheets, crystal shined teeth.

Tonight, the damp torchlight hovers,

Sweet William pink, a foghorn

in the viny thicket of our


Published: July 2019
Catherine Trundle

is a writer, mother, anthropologist and academic, based in Wellington, New Zealand. She writes flash fiction, poetry and experimental ethnography. Recent works have appeared in Landfall, Not Very Quiet, and Flash Frontier.

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From: Vol.06 N.02 – Intersecting Energies

the will of trees

by Alana Kelsall

you crowd into city corners, clipped back. the odd one unmeasured among highrises. you expand in forests over vast continents of the north in perfect contingencies. I had to learn to step away from myself, be the adult, the one who could be ignored. you grow, releasing your restless leaves as a kind of background music to change, survival. I thought I’d missed the turn off or the straight line never materialised. I had a voice in my head that didn’t like me. you have the air to feed. you are the throats (however small) of the earth. days I thought I was drowning, tugged a hundred ways into rear view mirrors. you aren’t looking down at the ground, watching where you are going. don’t go down to the river at all, do you hear? told you not to pat them, they’re working dogs. only your brothers are allowed to shoot. I joined the stream of cars flooding the city. you prepare for extremities on this continent, extend your roots in case of drought, scatter seeds in times of fire. I took my sister’s ashes back to the river. one brother buried beneath a plaque in a yellowing lawn nearby, the other driving the ute. her grey ashes fell in a clump, stuck to the dry rushes. barely a trickle to carry her further. red gums crippled on the muddy banks. driving back down the highway, a row of poplars in a bone dry paddock tapering upwards as if in prayer. you don’t demand anything. you share the light and the shade.

Published: July 2019
Alana Kelsall

is a Melbourne poet. She has won the Ada Cambridge poetry competition and been shortlisted for the Newcastle and Rosemary Dobson competitions. Her chapbook, the distance between us, was published by Melbourne Poets Union. She is working towards her next collection.

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From: Vol.06 N.02 – Intersecting Energies

The Weather

by Heather Taylor-Johnson


It’s back, settling in like an old friend, so even though I’m angry and scared I somehow want to embrace it. Does that make me a narcissist? A romantic? Hey you- it’s been a long time.



Seven years, I’m softer now. I will sink into my bed more deeply. Dash will have to flip the mattress every couple of weeks. I will sink more readily. Illness replies: I have missed the boundaries of your body.



More and more my dog hides under our bed, afraid of the weather. It’s either old age or climate change. He takes pills to counter one of them.



Today I read the beginning of someone else’s story: The disease has been in remission seven years. I see no point in lying to you, this is all true. A good story is a body with so many elements working together. I look out the window and the wind has stopped. But then it blows again, stronger.



The wind has severed limbs from trees, driven me mad for three days. It might be the cause of all of this, sharp noise spinning me out, the barometric pressure, the world devouring itself and the build-up of its Earth-belch, like when a hanger falls to the ground, my son hits a high note, when I flush the toilet, plastic crinkling, a door lock clicking, the sound of my own voice when I speak.



My acupuncturist needled me in my bed today, showed me where to press on the bottom of my feet to get rid of fear – fear feeds the illness. I’m frightened if I touch it too much and stop being afraid I’ll lose the desire to write – fear feeds the writing.



I am sheltered on a couch in my brick box office, surrounded by poetry and memoir, books about trauma, books about illness, four books on the top shelf about the Rolling Stones, which I’ll begin to read as the band members die off, one by one. Or when my father does.



I always think about my parents when it comes back. Illness reminds me I’m a daughter.



Cicero says that a room without books is like a body without a soul. It’s quiet out here, away from the house and the people inside it who only want what’s best for me. The wind’s picked up again. There’s a zombie cyclone over Queensland. New South Wales is flooded. I read about a dust storm there too. My illness has come back with a malice I haven’t known for seven years. I need to be alone.



Each time I cry today I am supremely alone.



Everything I write today is mine alone.



In America, my brother and his family are loved-up, snowed-in. People there, used to snow, cannot believe the snow. They take selfies of themselves in it, smiling. Thousands have been left without power. Three people have died.



When the attack comes it will be a violent storm. I am preparing for it. I am trying to prepare for it. It’s annoying because I cannot prepare.

* ‘The disease has been in remission seven years’ from Sarah Manguso’s The Two Kinds of Decay

Published: July 2019
Heather Taylor-Johnson

is a novelist, poet and editor. In 2018 she was the Writer in Residence at the JM Coetzee Centre for Creative Practice at the University of Adelaide, where she is now an Adjunct Research Fellow.

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From: Vol.06 N.02 – Intersecting Energies


by Emily Munro-Harrison

My son’s birth makes me grateful for my mother

It transforms time to a before, a now and what is to come

Teaches me what I would do for him

Awakes a worry about what awaits


What kind of future are we making?


I mouth the words

Of a language taken

My baby continues the connection

He is the land, the earth, the water


What kind of future are we making?


He mimics my mouth

I see his grandfather in it

Hear the words my grandmother never spoke

There are thousands of years in those eyes


What kind of future are we making?


‘and he has your complexion’ a midwife laughs

When I tell her the meaning of his name

My skin will never be black enough to answer for living in this city place

But the stories told about this place don’t start from the start


What kind of future are we making?


I will take him

To touch the soil and place his feet in the water

Greet the land of our ancestors

Bury his placenta in the earth


What kind of future are we making?


This year of his birth is also

The death of rivers and of land cracking and dry

Of seas swelling and oceans rising

Of people fleeing conflict and drowning at sea or being turned away


What kind of future are we making?


They cut down birthing trees

To build roads

That will get people places more quickly

As if this is not a place


What kind of future are we making?


But there are many histories hidden –

Stories are kept in the earth

In the roots of the trees, in the water and in the sky

There are answers to our questions here


What kind of future are we making?


When the birds have nowhere to come home to

And the reefs are white as bones

When oil and gold and coal and minerals and food and water are gone

Plastic money will make no body rich


What kind of future are we making?


When he is born I place the possum skin against him

I wonder what in the world

Could be more important

Than what kind of future we leave

Published: July 2019
Emily Munro-Harrison

is a Wiradjuri woman, who grew up and lives on unceded Kulin Country in Narrm. A member of the Blak Writers Group in Melbourne, her creative writing includes poetry, micro-fiction and creative non-fiction. Her work explores youth justice, gender, place and Indigeneity.

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From: Vol.06 N.02 – Intersecting Energies

The Earth Responds As It Does

by Magan Magan

When I was a young girl

my teacher used to tell me I was an Island.

He was a stuffy concrete home.

His flower bulb hands would swim across

the ocean of my stomach.

And when he swam

I swear he could see the coral

Inside me – all blue and green

and even golden brown

like the colour of my skin.

Until his words got too hot

and bleached my body

and so I screamed

and he looked at me,

with all the wonder in the world.

As though I was now a sinking Island

but he was an airless tin shed

who housed rotting wood with holes.

I want to decamp from

the changing climate of his hands

to catch the cool wind of the past

all those years ago

when the sea stretched out

as far as my limbs.

But now the sea leaps

at my home only metres away.

Published: July 2019
Magan Magan

is the author of From Grains to Gold (Vulgar Press, 2018). He was a 2018 Wheeler Centre Hot Desk Fellow and co-editor of two anthologies, Growing Up African In Australia (Black Inc, 2019) and Volume 7 of Australian Poetry Anthology.

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From: Vol.06 N.02 – Intersecting Energies

The Climate

by Jennifer Mackenzie

an epoch in decline

kings will come and go

disorder and war will take turns in pursuing you

men will die on the battlefield

women will be abducted

small states will spring up

a fragmentary existence

will be theirs

and yours


rivers dry up

you will look back at

gleaming terraces once

flourishing with rice

& say

how did this happen?

how did this come about?


if ties are a one-way street

& just ties

then ties are slavery

dim-witted and foolish

we trusted you

now the horses are at the border

forest dogs howl


now we can only hear coming

a rushing river of mud


we are too far from the coast

the ocean is on fire

we cannot see it

we are too far away

*based on episodes from Pramoedya Ananta Toer’s Arus Balik, a novel set in sixteenth century Java

Published: July 2019
Jennifer Mackenzie

is a poet and reviewer, focusing on writing from and about the Asian region. Her most recent publication is Borobudur and Other Poems (Lontar, Jakarta 2012), and she has presented her work at a number of conferences and festivals, including the Ubud, Irrawaddy and Makassar festivals. In 2016 she held a residency at Seoul Artspace_Yeonhui, and is currently working on a new Indonesia-focused project, Navigable Ink, as well as a collection of essays, Writing the Continent.

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From: Vol.06 N.02 – Intersecting Energies


by Frances Presley




‘The northwest, abrupt corner of Norfolk, staring out

across the Wash, at Boston Stump’

                                                                         R.H. Mottram, 1948


black & white photo                         sheer cliff


upper layer                       white chalk

lower layer                                       dark chalk & sandstone


jagged slabs at the base                             one tall and vertical

I confuse with the Stump


white face

black profile




Is this my landslip

terra infirma

her terra form [a]

I will not find a shot

of the perfect vertical

no sun      no contrast


northwest Norfolk

is more abrupt


ab rupture

and each new rupture

leading out of


chalk walks              chalk entails and entrails           the horizontal


fresh white chalk flow              reverting to         white wing signal

do not lift the cover         albino toad           or it will turn to stone

ossified           brutalized                specialized


try colour:

lava flow                                                             red iron     stain chalk

brick work of Brexit            these bricks will all melt    and return

tired of reformations         and refurbishments                    kissing

not allowed          across coasts                           lest it be headlined

the kiss of death


no medusa           a soft flow face        distorted                   maimed

monstrous       elephant               woman                        in the room

with one eye              and toothless              not entitled


razor shells                         rounded brush strokes

concave enclave                monumental wings


spectral wind turbines                          stare back across the Wash

translucent fungi

Hunstanton cliffs

October 2018

Published: July 2019
Frances Presley

lives in London. Major publications include Paravane, 2004; Myne. 2006; Lines of Sight, 2009; An Alphabet for Alina, 2012; Halse for Hazel, 2014, which received an Arts Council award, and Sallow, 2016.  Her new book Ada Unseen concerns Ada Lovelace, daughter of Lord Byron, mathematician and computer visionary.  Presley’s work is in the anthologies Infinite Difference (2010), Ground Aslant: radical landscape poetry (2011) and Out of Everywhere2 (2015).

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From: Vol.06 N.02 – Intersecting Energies

sraM naM

by Patricia Sykes

at home with

only Earth language

in his tongue


though his astronaut gravity

would rather talk Mars


206 million ks at perihelion!

(mantra, mantra!)


^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^


updrafts of wishful,

purpose, dearth,


light-years speeding past


+ — + — + — + — +  — +  — +  —


while lifespan dwindles in pursuit


⟫⟫⟫⟫⟫⟫⟫⟫⟫  ⟫⟫⟫⟫⟫⟫⟫⟫⟫  ⟫⟫⟫⟫⟫⟫⟫⟫⟫

flight of the im/possible


his childhood porthole tree

soaring in remembered

deciduous height


⥣ ⥣ ⥣ ⥣ ⥣ ⥣ ⥣ ⥣ ⥣ ⥣ ⥣ ⥣


his permanently fleshed limbs

too much an anchor


O Mars, red torment,

beloved orbital


free of junked Earth!




O                       O




waking, sleeping, incessantly


oh yeah!

Published: July 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. 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 premiered in May 2019.

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From: Vol.06 N.02 – Intersecting Energies

science communication

by Michaela Keeble

i ask jonny to tell me again

about the science behind

climate modelling


i ask jonny to keep it simple

not for our readers

but for jonny

because he’s new

to science communication

and no one here is in touch

with their feelings


he tells me it’s like when

your mother is sick

and you receive the diagnosis


he says the question is not

do you believe in sickness

and it is not

do you believe in diagnosis


he says the question is

does my diagnosis

mimic your mother’s symptoms?


jonny doesn’t know

my mother died of

lung cancer


i don’t blame anyone

i don’t blame the doctors

whose tools

were not exact enough

i’m grateful for the lives they save


(though i know how many

women’s lives

are lost at the altar of science)


i was cast into a pointless orbit

a world without mothers

a world where modellers

must never be seen

to be healers

and science communicators

must not rely so heavily

on metaphor


in the anthropocene

models are reality

and language is approximation


we have a living mother

she breathes and breathes

and she will cast us out

Published: July 2019
Michaela Keeble

is an Australian writer living in Aotearoa with her partner and three kids. She mainly writes press releases about climate change, but her poetry and fiction are also published online and in print, including in Southerly, Capital, Cicerone, Turbine, Mimicry and CommunityLore.

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From: Vol.06 N.02 – Intersecting Energies

Ode to Earth

by Shari Kocher

In her speaking she returns to us and I,

with my Not-I awake, and going about my day,

walk with Earth behind my lids, two by two,

and breathing thus, she holds us by the feet.

Today, between the work of marking

someone else’s words and the turning

of vegetables to bread, Earth took me out

and placed me in one resistless sweep

deep beneath her shining, whose lips on mine

she parts the shine and spins the Not-I surface

calm and sleek. There she holds and there

she takes a parting of the ways I cannot

name it. Though I crave it, the ten thousand

ways she tastes, unspooling Byzantium between

my ribs, her soft camel lashes brush the knap

of the Not-I that soars unmade in me

and wings me back to hearth beneath

a younger Earth snapped open: a whale’s

pelvis rocking the deep beneath the desert

un-sea-ed in me, the not-mine

taking me thoroughly in pieces with it:

charcoal, date-seed, ash and silicon,

the dunes with their kelp and nautilus,

potassium, all the spinning glow worms

unseen for centuries, curled in torchlight, whose

good wood burns great sliding prints on damp

cave walls chanting the riverborn heartsnake

welling upwards: the ten by ten

by thousand-year ice in rock and sand,

the windstorm in my rib-bones untangling

the tendrils of this beetroot’s roots, the slim

carrots and the parsley rinsed under a rustling

tap, whose pouring on my fingers is rain! rain!

stored and steeped in sweetness, that unmistakeable

skyspeech swinging through the water barrel: hello

Earth again, here we are getting on with dinner

ten thousand light years later in less than half a day.

Smoke rises through the roof you grew in patience,

holding your softness out, wanting us

to love you, wanting us to love

your night touch turning your breath diaphanous,

oh yes, the way the not-I draws upright to meet you

as water draws such thirst from stars they pour

your breathing hands upon our feet.

‘Ode to Earth’ won the 2018 Venie Holmgren Poetry Prize.

Published: July 2019
Shari Kocher

is the author of The Non-Sequitur of Snow (Puncher & Wattmann 2015), which was Highly Commended in the 2015 Anne Elder Awards. Recent accolades also include The Venie Holmgren Poetry Prize (2018), The University of Canberra Health Poetry Prize (2016) and runner-up in the Newcastle Poetry Prize (2017 & 2015).

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From: Vol.06 N.02 – Intersecting Energies

Mount Elephant

by Rose Lucas



Late afternoon light spills


across your swaying flank –

crouched and somnolent on basalt plains –

stroking you into lengthening shadows, still heady

with the perfume of summer grasses;


The bleached yellow smoothness of your cauled hump


a membrane over what has gone before –


distant explosions,

the earth itself on fire,

the molten surge that tore your lip

[pressure, pressing up]

then pouring down

that wide gold-vermillion road and

out into the cooling night, its

open fields –



Tonight, dust and grass seeds gust and


sea swallows rise like prayers and

magpies try their notes into the gathering dusk:



Out of sight,

earth turns and groans,

cracks and heaves –  and still

we ride her

always too confident

into an opening dark.

Published: July 2019
Rose Lucas

is a Melbourne poet and academic. Her first collection, Even in the Dark (UWAP 2013) won the Mary Gilmore Award; her second collection, Unexpected Clearing was published 2016 (UWAP). She is currently completing her third collection This Shuttered Eye.

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From: Vol.06 N.02 – Intersecting Energies


by Ryan Prehn

i) policy


Fingers rap

on cedar desks, tappity tat,

Business spreads,

four corners, ashen beds,

forecast projections of profitable

nothing. Tick

Trifling men rub kindling profits;

Fire imbued value


Office seats cushioned kafir green, a favourite

soft-senate touch afore the parade prances forth.

Platforms of healing and property defined –

sit, submit, (repetoir), succum; fuck; candy-sized emnity, suck –

disparate to the slurrp! Tock.


Succor facade ergo superfluous placard; incorporated neo-individuality,

Be free; sit, succumb, uargh! cum

The space to contrive tomorrow’s blinding light,

Words and policy, worms are poetry. Change, a paper cup,

on the streets filled with piss – no braves to empty, only the rain brims calamity


ii) masculinities


Requip as stoic

Toxic earth/man duality

I have listened with cut off ears

Your cries stymied

as such the mind/body problem

Worked out as long division


Requip as aggressor

Moxy man brutality

I have and you have not

My lies are bitter pills

as much yellow as you can swallow

Hard work for a berk imprisoned, rambler


Requip as tender father

Locks children in misgiven smother

Stops cogitation pushing farther

Heaps pressure unto boys and

Girls unto boys

Unto sons, unto sons

Dying alone one day,

Nucleic pride hap desperation


Requip as quiet imaginary


Sees but does not speak

Dissent in whispered hush

Scarpered shame and an apathetic

Prick on the Weltschmerz belt


Requip as cynic

Lies politic

Tock, tick, Tock,

Got to imitate

For means are false

Romantic failure, As expected

Look around outside your woe,

Look around


Quip as the first

Suffering at a geo-locale distance

The ebb of wealth come care

Sans project

A hope for more is writ optimism

Sans project

A dream for more is benign, without a brimming cup of piss

Published: July 2019
Ryan Prehn

is a Worimi poet and writer living on Wurundjeri country. Ryan was a runner-up in Overland’s 2016 Nakata Brophy poetry prize, and worked with Red Room Poetry & Australian Poetry on the New Shoots project as part of the 2017 Melbourne Writers Festival.

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From: Vol.06 N.02 – Intersecting Energies

Mangroves, or a treatise on ecological inheritance

by Gavin Yuan Gao

Faceless, of one mind, we have come

to know the depth of our own blood—


not the luxurious blue of sirens nor

the lightning green of pond lilies, but brackish


as the spitting sea that will outlive us—ringing

the ruthless shadows as desire rings the flesh


of the earth. The heart is a long ladder, a mirrored

& sleeved thing. Our tongues have relished


the sweetness of this year’s magnificence, our faith

lush & razor-edged. Out of the clear calm,


a shock of roots—hands of a virtuoso climb

& astonish. Here, in the north, our beauty


besieges winter. Men tread the trees’ memory

brazenly as tyrants do, not knowing the woodland


is our birthright, where the sun is all mouths

& the river writes her elegy on our limbs


tirelessly with her ink of light. Watch us toss

& lurch as a leafy coliseum under the sky’s


metallic sheen, each honest self burrowing deep,

staking a claim on what is ours to inherit.

Published: July 2019
Gavin Yuan Gao

is a Brisbane-based poet and translator. His writing was highly commended in the 2018 SLQ Young Writers Award and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. His work is forthcoming or has appeared in The Journal, New England Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, The Tundish Review, and elsewhere.

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From: Vol.06 N.02 – Intersecting Energies

Local amnesia

by Emilie Collyer

There was a tree you climbed,

height-thrill and warm bark against


your skin. You don’t know what kind of tree

it was. Today, waiting for your mother in the city,


she’s running late and it’s pouring rain,

(did she slip, is she okay?) a sudden violent


outburst—it never used to rain like this in Melbourne

did it? A heavy, humid gush that sucks brollies


inside out. See her in the distance, both smaller

and more certain than you remember.


You booked an Indigenous walking tour

for her birthday. The guide shows


possum pelts and baskets,

photographs and stats: of sheep-heavy


ships, within years there were

six million, mouths to the ground,


munching food sources, hoofed animals

galloping, an empire built on enthusiasm


and brutality. The group clucks concern—if only

they had known better, done better,


listened more, blundered less. Outside

in the rain-fresh air by Birrarung (river of mists),


the guide pulls a leaf with white spots,

people think it’s bird shit or cobwebs


but they’re lerps, from tree lice, sticky sweet

sugar you can eat. Mothers would teach their children


where honey was secreted in a flower,

which leaves to chew on and which to leave alone.


Remember your primary school

project, how proud you were to talk about


orchards planted here by your ancestors, diligent

German immigrants, long-faced and genteel,


settlers who formed a community and

called it Waldau—‘a clearing in the forest’.


How much is missing from your inherited memory?

Apples and pears were razed in favour of


suburban dwelling well before you entered

the family line. Stories passed down your


father’s side but your Mum’s a quieter song

(fragments: Dundee dirt floors, a ship,


a death at war). That photo in the yard, you as a

squint-eyed toddler, chubby and scowling on your


mother’s lap, siblings clustered close, her

face a soft surprise (How did I end up here?)


The tree’s not in the picture, a detail

half-remembered, a kind of drifting


amnesia easy to dismiss. Your life has not (yet)

depended on the knowledge of a tree.

Published: July 2019
Emilie Collyer

lives in West Footscray, on Wurundjeri country, where she writes plays, poetry and prose. Her writing has appeared most recently in Australian Poetry Anthology, Cordite, Overland, and The Lifted Brow. Recent award-winning plays include Dream Home and The Good Girl which premiered in New York in 2016.

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From: Vol.06 N.02 – Intersecting Energies

Line Dry

by Dennis Andrew S. Aguinaldo

Wrap closure with a quick reaction

Fellowship. And not build on that steam,


But help defend pulp familiars.

While still nursing a diva to his fellow


Color and delineating shadow,

‘Let’s cut through that lawn shell—


And work from there.’

But the difference was in the numeracy program. (Photo

Souped-up, the latest mix of solid skirt with white,


Architectural turbans.)

Streetwear led the charge.

Palm fronds had been pumped up. The jokes, the layers.


Everything they were used to,

Already dispatched to the area. ‘Let’s


Strip away handcrafted textures. Become laid-back,

Remote as materials in a village of napalm scars.

Become the target,


And comfort from there.’

Published: July 2019
Dennis Andrew S. Aguinaldo

teaches Science and Technology in Literature at the Department of Humanities of the University of the Philippines Los Baños. His other poems are online in Otoliths, Transit, hal., Softblow, and Petrichor. He blogs at

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From: Vol.06 N.02 – Intersecting Energies

Inland Sea

by Brenda Saunders

Clay pans shrink to pools

in the trail of a wet season

hold a microcosmos

teeming with life


Red finned gobies

flash a miniature flame

though tiny succulents


Carnivores varied as coral

wave vivid flowers

trick insects

to their water-garden


Under a shrinking puddle

snails with no shell

dig in for the long hot spell




Termite mounds signpost

a desert soak after rain

Green shoots on cumbungi

a magic lure for butterflies


Banded finches, zit, flit

in button grass, bring sound

and action to the silent pond


Dragon flies, water striders

hover, buzz the fetid air

with new life as the system

gives way to wild extremes


Low rainfall, high winds

bare earth eroding

every gully under the sun




Stored a million years ago

water from the inland sea

flows in ancient channels



Rises in sacred ‘gnammas’

hidden rock mounds

keeping the desert alive


Farmers running cattle

bore into the basin

compete with the micro life

on a land with no water


Wild creatures struggle

to hold on, losing the fight

through every failing season

Published: July 2019
Brenda Saunders

is a Wiradjuri writer and artist, living in Sydney. She has written three collections of poetry and her work has appeared in major anthologies and journals including Southerly, Quadrant, Australian Poetry Journal, Overland and Best Australian Poems 2013 and 2015 (Black Inc). Brenda is a mentor for the Emerging Indigenous Writers program ‘Black Cockatoo’ at

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.