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Content From Issue: Volume 7 Number 2 (October 2020)

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From: Vol.07 N.02 – Writing in the Pause

from Cut Flowers

by Harrriet Tarlo

Published: November 2020
Harrriet Tarlo

is a poet and academic. Her single author poetry publications are with Shearsman Press and estrucan books, and her artists’ books with Judith Tucker are published by Wild Pansy Press. Cut Flowers is forthcoming with Guillemot Press, 2021. She edited The Ground Aslant: An Anthology of Radical Landscape Poetry (2011) and special features on ecopoetics for How2 and Plumwood Mountain. She is Professor of Ecopoetry and Poetics at Sheffield Hallam University, U.K.

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From: Vol.07 N.02 – Writing in the Pause

Writing in the Pause – Introduction

by Jonathan Skinner
Peter Knight: photograph from Richmond, London allotment, 4 April 2020

Over a period of several months in 2020 most of us lived through a slowing and restriction of movements, unprecedented in global scale, as we complied with extreme ‘social distancing’ measures in response to the novel coronavirus pandemic. Some referred to this period as the Great Pause: empirically measured in the 17% drop in daily global CO₂ emissions from last year’s mean. How did we take its qualitative measure?

Emissions are on the rise again, and people have once more been on the move, if more locally, while economies have ‘reopened’—though falteringly, as Europe now enters a second wave of lockdowns (and Melbourne has only just now exited a second, strict lockdown). The experience of the Great Pause was uneven, to be sure: the pandemic tended to expose if not exacerbate existing socioeconomic inequalities. Some of us (‘key workers’) kept commuting to the frontline, while for many there was no ‘pause,’ only a shift to working ‘remotely,’ an accelerated digitisation of labour eroding boundaries between work and home. Many have been furloughed or laid off, with or without some form of taxpayer support; for many it was a season of fear and isolation. And for some: illness, suffering, death, grief, without the solace of communal rituals or even the proximity of one’s closest kin. The immiseration of millions under lockdown with no home to call a home went largely unreported, as did the weaponisation of the virus at sites of Indigenous resistance, a form of violence with long precedent. For most of us, the Great Pause disrupted usual movements.

What in this disruption did we learn, about where we live and who and how and what we are? What differences lay exposed, and what common ground? How did we mourn in the absence of gathering? What have we come to celebrate? What would we like to remember, as we accelerate again towards capital’s limits accumulating in the atmosphere? This feature invited submissions of writing in the pause.

‘Lockdown Window’ photo by Jonathan Skinner 2020

At one level, I was interested in the renewed attention to place and to community the ‘lockdown’ enforced: writing on, in and around attention to the local, the neighbourhood, what can be reached on foot or observed in one’s backyard or even in one’s home—along with changed observations of and interactions with neighbours, of whatever kind (for many, this was a time of seasonal transition, for others an initiation to mutual aid). Did new kindnesses emerge out of previously fixed relations? Were old injustices newly audible? Were interactions reduced? At another level, any distance on what was considered ‘normal’ only months before could prompt breakthroughs in perception and writing.

Writing in the Pause called specifically for writing connected to the change in our mobility. What would happen when we took the travel out of ecopoetics? This was not to privilege the local over the planetary, simple ideas of home over global complexities, nor the descriptive over the conceptual, but to prompt writing that listens in the pause.

Seismologists observed a 30-50% reduction in anthropogenic ground noise. In this temporary drop in vibration, what did it become possible to hear, as if for the first time? What keening or ode to joy was now audible in the ground between us? I invited listening in the broadest possible sense, below and beyond the bird song we might first notice, once the roar of vehicles and airliners and the distraction of our own speed was turned down. To paraphrase Pauline Oliveros, did we now find our ears in our feet?

Formally adventurous submissions would catch my attention, writing that tarried with an ecotone (or ‘edge effect,’ however that boundary be construed). I was less interested in the ego than in the eco poetics of the Great Pause—writing vulnerable to its own falsifiability in and through contact in the field. Crossings of genre and media (including work with sound) was encouraged. I read for irony and humour as well as sincerity. Decolonial perspectives were especially welcomed.

The call was ambitious and so were many of the submissions. I was not prepared for the number of submissions written expressly in answer, or so it seemed, to the terms of the call. Having to choose between so many pieces composed thoughtfully from a place, space and time of active listening, within uncommon hearings of self, made for an unexpected—and pleasurable, albeit challenging—task. To listen for listening often meant reading beneath surfaces, bracketing what one thinks to know. One detail I did not know was the authors’ names, as I read the majority of these pieces anonymously. About two thirds of the final selection came from general submissions, one third I was able to commission. It was gratifying to be able to discover so many new (to me) writers. There are many (more) from either category that I would love to have included. I am immensely grateful to all who submitted.

The Cubbington Pear (ca. 1770 – 20 Oct 2020), felled to make way for the HS2 high speed rail project

Inevitably, the throw falls short of the aim, as I feel the issue just begins to lock in the transmissions that might carry us through the coming ‘normal.’ Goddess help us if we return to ‘normal’—my hope is that the pause enabled many to step a step back in space and time (those with the luxury to pause), enough to witness how extreme, mindless and hellbent the ‘normal’ was and is. It has been disheartening to witness the onward march of the construction industry, deterred not a whit by the pandemic, its massive infrastructure projects (already made obsolete by the flip to ‘remote’ working) propelled by the momentum of sunk costs and demands of the banking sector. The predictable structural adjustments of disaster capitalism are already making themselves felt across every sector, not least that of higher education on which many contributors to this issue depend for their livelihoods. What will return and what changes will remain? Will we Zoom more and fly less? Can and will we ally with resurgence—e.g. the record number of olive ridley sea turtles (from nests thriving in the pause of tourists pressuring these beaches) released into the sea just yesterday off the coast of Sonora by Indigenous Seri people? What modes of listening in these poems are made to persist?

We launch this issue on the eve of an (to use another word from the pandemic lexicon) ‘unprecedented’ US General Election, whose outcome in ‘normal’ times should be certain but in the ‘actual’ times we live is far from being so. The outcome of the vote counting that begins in three days could signal at least a bit of breathing space, a knee off the neck of Democracy, if not a clawing back from the abyss of a theocratic and populist authoritarianism, and biocidal administration like no other (except perhaps the current Australian government), the likes of which have rarely if ever been seen inside US borders. Or it could initiate judicial dispute and, pending outcome from a Supreme Court with a now solid (6-3) conservative majority, a decision that plunges the divided country into chaos and civil unrest. All at a time when nations need desperately to be finding ways to cooperate to combat not only a global health emergency but an ecocidal rush to four degrees Celsius global warming. No way to know if we are just off the backside of this sickeningly giant wave, or beneath a still breaking crest.

The element that most marks this issue, however, is fire, crackling and hissing through and between the lines of the poems, from Australia’s Black Summer of truly apocalyptic “bushfires” that inaugurated the year and, as one poem in the issue notes, killed “over 1,000,000,000 animals/ a conservative estimate” (Goetz), to the Uttarakhand Forest Fires in Srinagar, to (most worrying) wildfires well inside the Siberian Arctic Circle, to (also worrying) fires accelerating the Brazilian Amazon toward its “Tipping Point” (toward becoming savannah), to the Delta del Paraná and Córdoba wildfires in Argentina, to unprecedented wildfires across the Western US, especially the “Lightning Complex” fires in California, and even to fires inside the Chernobyl exclusion zone. Perhaps the call for work should have been for Writing in the Fire. Nevertheless, all the contributions (for me at least) can be read as so many ways of bringing oxygen to a collective body in the grips of the political and ecological equivalent of a cytokine storm.

Just as significantly, another kind of fire—or perhaps the same fire, the fire next time: “Do I really want to be integrated into a burning house?” asks James Baldwin—flickers at the edges of this issue: flames consuming the Minneapolis Police Department’s Third Precinct in the USA, as riots and protests consumed cities across the US in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd, one of a string of black men murdered in cold blood by white (and often uniformed) men, murders caught on cellphone and broadcast across the world’s social media. Floyd’s state sanctioned murder sparked a summer of protests, occupations of city centres, toppling of symbols of racism, falls from political grace, and a general reckoning of the white supremacism at the heart of Western democracies (and especially of the American project), but also at the heart of every group or individual agenda, however liberal, well informed or intentioned. The ‘unprecedented’ events and results of this conflagration are too numerous to list here, but they have helped shape the imminent election and will be legible in the result. And they guided many of the editorial decisions I made in assembling the feature. I did not receive many submissions directly addressing this context (or perhaps it was the main event) of the pause, despite the call’s angle for social contexts— “what differences lay exposed, and what common ground?” —yet the reckoning brought on by the murder of George Floyd (murdered the very day we put out our call for work) echoes throughout.

Despite these fires, I find no single overarching theme to the “pause” as explored in this issue, and I would not want to prefigure in my introduction what this gathering of work from more than forty writers spread across three different continents (and one Pacific archipelago) manifests, singly and in relation. Since the formatting of an online issue forecloses the editorial composition of sequencing and spreads, we have gone with an alphabetic table of contents. It is my hope that some of the perspectives, positions and themes I sought to balance with my selections, as well as a kind dialogue across borders and geographical antipodes, will become audible to readers who spend time with the issue. A good number of visual, audio and audio-visual contributions remind us that writing at the site of ecopoetics often pushes at alphabetic boundaries. The superb translators of the couple of bilingual contributions (look for links to the original language versions) have my gratitude for working on tight deadlines—there is still too much English in this measure of the pause, but consistent regard, I hope, for what might answer the lack. My heartfelt thanks goes to Anne Elvey, who prompted this issue and has done the bulk of the real editorial labour, including the careful layout, and to all the contributors for their inspiring and seriously playful work.

One certainly finds an inward turn, a solitary note and a quiet to many of the contributions—entirely in keeping with the pause—but to open rather than mask our hearing. If there is a ‘school of quietude’ here, it is one that studies how “Everything makes a sound/ in the moment of its destruction” (Bach). It is a “coalescing eclipse pattern” (Alexander), where we “take [our] bod[ies]// to the margins” (Burnett). “You, not I, are produced in the margins,” writes Dorantes (trans. Myers). “The street breathes us, we breathe the street” (Capildeo). Parents are “waiting to wrap arms around [their] children again” (Clarke), in a “world still to be woven” (Clarkson). “[I]n the inverted lake of insomnia” (D’Aquino, trans. Gander), “[c]row humour or philosophy makes it through the walls” (Farrell). As we pick apples in plague time (Ladd), “[c]itizenship makes moral and ethical claims upon our bodies” (Kuppers). Suddenly we are “making some day somewhere,” focused on “the observance of the object and its indentation on the space, the redirecting of one’s gaze onto the minuscule details of the object, the incidence of light on that space” (Guerreiro). I could go on, weaving a cento of my favorite lines from the contributions, but it’s time to let readers wander . . . watch out for the nettles!

30 October 2020

with grateful thanks to Peter Knight for permission to use his photo for the cover image

Published: October 2020
Jonathan Skinner

is a poet, field recordist, editor, and critic, best known for founding the journal ecopoetics. His poetry collections and chapbooks include Chip Calls (Little Red Leaves, 2014), Birds of Tifft (BlazeVOX, 2011), Warblers (Albion Books, 2010), and Political Cactus Poems (Palm Press, 2005). He has published numerous essays at the intersection of poetry, ecology, activism, landscape and sound studies. Skinner teaches in the Department of English and Comparative Literary Studies at the University of Warwick.



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From: Vol.07 N.02 – Writing in the Pause

As Grass Will Amend (Intend) Its Surfaces [extract]

by Peter Larkin


Published: October 2020
Peter Larkin

The proceedings of a symposium on Peter Larkin’s work are appearing in the Journal of British & Irish Innovative Poetry. A new collection, Trees Before Abstinent Ground was published in 2019 and a pamphlet, Seven Leaf Sermons (illustrated by Rupert Loydell) has been published by Guillemot Press this summer.

Nocturne #2

by Vahni Capildeo

I am

so tired and full of tears,

said the threadbare cloth of gold.

Beaten hands, beaters’ hands

rock the monsoon-baby’s crib.


I am

so wakeful and full of fears,

said the fountain in the square.

Visitors, thirsty, put

chapstick lips to dirty pipes.


I am

so mended and full of cracks,

said the walkway to the house;

so careful, so old, so planned

to give support. Say no more.


Nocturne #3

Published: October 2020
Vahni Capildeo

is Writer in Residence at the University of York, where their research focus is on silence. Recent work includes Skin Can Hold (Carcanet, 2019), Odyssey Calling (Sad Press, 2020) and Light Site (Periplum Poetry, 2020), reflecting Capildeo’s interest in place, plurilingualism, and immersive or participatory performance, such as Trinidad’s traditional masquerade.

Lullaby #5

by Vahni Capildeo

For a never-to-be-finished farewell


In memory   in false memory

The rain tree stood   the saman

Canopied us   the vast dome

Had not been cut down

O why

was it cut down?

Black gateway

Tearing the drive with amber

Dropping pods akin to figs

Dried and gummy

It ploughed up

the concrete into furrows,

a rough sea greyed to a halt;

We stood

would not have stopped there;

In true fact

would’ve tapped into,

hooked, root-shaken foundations,

Small leaves up above

Small-twigged memory spread

Over us

caused ruin;

What kept us back

Hooked and shaken


to drop a branch,

hit a child

As we were

hit the roof

Only going to say


hit the T.V. aerial

BANG!   e   x   p   l   o   s   i   o   n



why was it cut down?



You want

Loan words

the house to fall down?


There was another reason.


Tree   wake and sleep

Tell me why

Live and die   with me

it was cut down?

Tree    wake and live

Strangers would park up

Sleep and die   with me

to have sex

by our gate;

the tree had to go,

it hid them.


O –


Tree   live and sleep

Die and wake   with me

Lullaby #6

Published: October 2020
Vahni Capildeo

is Writer in Residence at the University of York, where their research focus is on silence. Recent work includes Skin Can Hold (Carcanet, 2019), Odyssey Calling (Sad Press, 2020) and Light Site (Periplum Poetry, 2020), reflecting Capildeo’s interest in place, plurilingualism, and immersive or participatory performance, such as Trinidad’s traditional masquerade.

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From: Vol.07 N.02 – Writing in the Pause

Global Worming

by Julie Patton

I solved the problem of composting during the cold seasons by maintaining an indoor worm bin all year long. They, my breeders digest, live in the living room among a stand of ferns and various other houseplants. One gigabyte, gaggle, murder or bin of. Been since Genesis. At least.

They run for cover, dash into corners as if shocked. Light. Light. Light! As a penetrating bullet when I come to change their bedding, diaper of newspaper, and organic matter. They leap from their tiers like Olympic divers. Plop on the floor then scoop across the floor: like babies . . . A way from mother’s looming shadow. They become getaway car and driver. Red Wigglers. Unlike European Night Crawlers who are “strong enough to break the earth. No frigid waters or heat [or even distant continents]” are ever enough to keep them from get’n on or get’n it on. As I learned from friend and fellow greenie, Maurice Smalls, a giant of love for natural processes, vermicomposting, food security and all things nourishing for the earth: “All they do is eat, have sex all day and poop.”

I am reminded. A memory lesson. Faded version. From grade school days. Enough recall for my purposes here:

Even though worms may destroy my body; yet in my flesh shall I see God whom I shall behold and not another . . .

Something of this tone or spell I could easily “google” ( a way of worming, oogling through digital holes) but don’t bother. It is. A memory. Lesson. So let the break in such fabric, momentum of time. Be. Sufficient. As

word worms

scrawl crawl . . .

On the surface of things, scoop’d or coop’d up

One dash at a time they race me (or my shadow), tickle me trying to escape between my fingers, or out of the strainer I use to keep them from drowning in their own urine. Poop poop poop . . . They are always in an uprising. Some even take a knee. I’m surprised some enterprising rump of a human hasn’t raced to exploit them, put up a finish line and make them race across it and against each other. For applau$e. Or run them out of the White House lawn. Because they brown, black or red.

The meek shall inherit the Earth, have the last word, the counsel of living and dying language

porous secrets. Secreted inside my palm worms don’t arm and hand

guns. the skin of the world

mouth death          munch attention

scraps, chaos

writing writhes

epigeal creepy

global endings

scrounge into dirt

a worm body years long long long

living language

secreting secrets

I take counsel from humble origins, “theirs”

and “mine”

below the surface, or on

until written

out of life

Published: October 2020
Julie Patton

an extremophile fluid across many artistic borders enjoys making room, space, play pens, and meaningful sanctuary for others whether down and about in New York City B.C. (Before Covid); or in a mess-pot in Cleveland stewarding a landfill confiscated with First Nations People in mind.

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From: Vol.07 N.02 – Writing in the Pause


by Janet Jiahhui Wu

cut a section


seeds  ovaries  half flowers

heads buried in wombs

break  the woody bread

snake  around the waist of the cross  the edges burrow

the shadows name  bulbs pale green  hurry our footsteps into dawn

through the rushes  unit small families

straw-colored demands  against the furry gray

buildings perennial  overtake our place  little parts in their aquatic habitats

swim against the current  onto our plates

suction  digestion  planes  carry their boxes  sell  unto us

slice us  with a rudimentary blade

fjords  tree-like  mountains  rock-like

weep us  with wheat  barley  maize  and rice

divided  like sticks of sugar canes

rotting  like cavities in teeth

petrol prices rise and fall like the tussock grasses

wind!  do you not blow   across countries?

pushing  classifying  grating  demystifying  elated  enthusiastic

stamen bisexual  sometimes unisexual  or sterile

spike and make

amenity  humanity  amending  repenting

virgin soils

torn or eroded

harvest a berry  or capsule

the black seeds  of civilization

the lilies  forming clumps  overcrowd the streets or parks

ornamental in their whorl  hasty in their pattern

please  help us forget—

how good  how precious  how sad

a sickness brings

veins  marbled on the margins

lights  lobed in their printed forms

friendliness  perhaps unwise to have cultivated

loneliness  the leafless wandering without roots

join hands  in apples  pears  and quinces

the husk of an almond morn

swarm basils  thyme  sage  and parsley over common graves

let the whole of circular life  circle

let the panflower prick

petals  paper  eyes

arms of the dandelion

let scatter all the ears

opposites  absences

all directed towards the bloom

when the night rhombic

scatters the oblong feather

we alternate

but towards death

with constancy.

Published: October 2020
Janet Jiahhui Wu

is a Hong-Kongese-Chinese-Australian visual artist and writer of poetry and fiction. She has published in various literary magazines such as Cordite Poetry Review, Mascara Literary Review, Rabbit Poetry, Plumwood Mountain journal, foam:e, Tipton Poetry Journal. She currently lives in South Australia.

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From: Vol.07 N.02 – Writing in the Pause

Fifth Moon at Redgate

by Robert Wood

After The Book of Songs ‘Seventh Moon’


Fifth moon, bunny orchids come like comets, ears upwards,

bonfire rages in the light rain

breeze comes slowly the whole day

and red tails gather to pepper,

abalone grows fat and sizzle hits the pan,

the crays have gone away.


By seventh moon, we do not know barefoot,

it’s cold to the face without bitterness

no emu sighted, gone to lay,

boots with wool blessing the toes as frost bites the roots and

stew becomes curry becomes stock becomes soup

becomes stew again stew, rassam that we knew,

night calls to load the wood basket as fog comes in against blame

elders in the photo frame, jarrah ablaze.


Then, eleventh moon, all memory fades,

and, in sun, we burn the colour of bottlebrush flowers,

the fields like dun anticipating the dust,

the saltbush pushing up, and we walk towards the granite outcrop

to hear the buzzing of the hive

ready for honey to be ripe.


Fifth moon, we forget the first

when we went without wetsuits

and dived in the hole of the reef,

saw the whole of the world

like a song increasing as we knelt on the path,

pigfaced the northern star.


By sixth moon, the weather has come in

and grey skies speak of the ball they kicked to heaven

to wake the gods from their slumber

to watch us play,

and when they conclude in ninth moon,

we will say, the wind here hasn’t dropped today,

crays are on their way,

the farmers will be back at market soon

and the blow-ins coming too

from eastward and northward looking for a truth.


Fifth moon, we say comes after eighth

if we were from a place

that had belts for saucepans and bowed before the violent

who wore crowns of stolen gold and stolen diamonds at ceremonies starched white

for lack of sun and refinement.


Fifth moon comes again, but this time after fourth

when karri strips itself into pink,

salmon running with dolphins rounding in the bay

and their presence teaches us how the cycle goes on,

bleeding the fish headfirst in the sand

like the others who are casting here, wading in thongs.


They’ll recall those days in ten when the breeze switches place

and the squid sucks away the night sky

forgetting the ballot and the tennis and the games that don’t belong,

when cicadas have their way

and offshore makes the spray,

and the possum comes to look through the early moon

and the potaroo and the quenda do too, boobook hoot.


Between twelve and one moon, two and three moon,

the fever starts and pitches up

the whiskey flows and the patches of seaweed bring maggots

for freezing when the herring and the whiting and the mulloway

come back for more, labouring close to the shore.


Now though, fifth moon,

it is ham and cheese toasties on rising

and the crays come to this place

as they have done, always,

when better people than us, giants, wake at dawn

and the stars that are the ancestors are still at play.


This never was, never will be

our land,

but we like it here anyway, do what we can.


We cannot stay

for our place is out there, on the waves,

guests till the end of days,

in the pages of history down Kerala way in god’s own country,

eating appam and idli and rava thosai

avial, prawn curry and beef fry

putu and polichattu and roti

giving thanks in the coconut shade for sovereign territory

back home again with the fisherfolk and the family and the ghosts of Puthucurichy,

unfolding with grace

letting fifth moon turn into sixth moon into seventh moon into infinity

far from Redgate knowing our place as Malayalis.

Published: October 2020
Robert Wood

is a Malayali poet interested in place, belonging, dream, identity and enlightenment. He currently works as the Creative Director of the Centre for Stories and is the Chair of PEN Perth. Robert’s latest book of poems is Redgate in bilingual Hindi and English edition from Red River in New Delhi. He lives on Noongar country and can be found at:

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From: Vol.07 N.02 – Writing in the Pause

The title of this poem is Deferred

by Tyrone Williams

In the old math

of Base Lumber


the square root

of a two-by-four


is two-by-twos

of sawn timber


dredged up

from a flood-


plain nee wood-

headed vector


following a tangent

only up


to a point

on a curved


surface that

for all the world


appears flat.

Now the dispensation


of carbon-based

attachments to






future extinctions


of a specious

nom de plume






tilts to



browns out-blue


skies blue

as the blue-


eyed earth

watches God-


black holes

wink at palimpsests.

Published: October 2020
Tyrone Williams

teaches literature and theory at Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio. He is the author of several chapbooks and six books of poetry: c.c. (Krupskaya 2002), On Spec (Omnidawn 2008), The Hero Project of the Century (The Backwaters Press 2009), Adventures of Pi (Dos Madress Press 2011), Howell (Atelos Books 2011) and As Iz (Omnidawn 2018). A limited-edition art project, Trump l’oeil, was published by Hostile Books in 2017. He and Jeanne Heuving edited the anthology, Inciting Poetics (University of New Mexico Press, 2019). His website is at

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From: Vol.07 N.02 – Writing in the Pause


by Robin Tremblay-McGaw

bird night.          areola.           a little beer.

of something                  metallic

seamed    shocked                                            ringing

a week of rush:

dresses on CindeRear in my feed

Derrida’s “death wanders between letters”


desire responds to commodity

in the beginning was the mouth

Flaubert’s perfect capsule

the interval is what is

day of the farmers market

day of grading

day of walking

day of bleeding

day of take-out

small joys

of plummet

of the beauty of the word grisaille

day of losses around us

pepper spray

day of A’s birth

day of knees

of ends seen forthcoming

of the very thick

day of the delayed


of this breach        the present

of ricordanze

day of awash

of re-opening

of dialectical reasoning


structured here

day of antimonies

and entropy

of more confederate and other racist

day of manifest disparities

of latent narratives

of the flight of white-throated swifts

of the migration of images

of country convulsed

day of artificial  confirmation

of breaks in temporal unity

of monuments fallen

of ardent circling

day of scattered phenomena

of autonomous free and temporary

day of reparations

day of over & over

day of     any  way

of rubber bullets

day of the gospel’s account

of fossils

of tear gas & milk

of christ’s ultima verba

of impurity

day of an irregular galaxy

of the revenances

of I am lost unto this world

day of slack channels

of exam wrappers

of the death of social forms

day of Bruce’s the universe is a joy machine for itself

day of brugmansia solanaceae, night blooming

day of desiring and rebuffing

of cloud and

of calmness

day of observation

day of would she and anyone

day of aufblitz

of unseasonable rains

of finches and parrots

of the skies above

of the threshold

newly painted

the day

of nightshade


of mundus in gutta

of M80 booms

of desire according to minutiae

of the interval

of the body is not an apology

of being thus

Published: October 2020
Robin Tremblay-McGaw

lives in San Francisco where lately the skies have been rust and yellow with the smoke of myriad fires. She teaches at Santa Clara University and is the author of Dear Reader (Ithuriel’s Spear 2015) and co-author with Rob Halpern of  From Our Hearts to Yours: New Narrative as Contemporary Practice (2017). Her writing has appeared in Tripwire, MELUS, Aufgabe, Crayon, On Contemporary Practice, Elderly Magazine, Feminist Spaces 2.2, Places Journal, and elsewhere.

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From: Vol.07 N.02 – Writing in the Pause

Two Sonnets

by Rodrigo Toscano

The Mounds


Tips of spears, pottery shards, how bones lay

Shell’s beach of origin, which way stones point

Mounds not clear to the eyes at first, rising

Kinda mushy (by now) generations

Of grass, of ceaseless rain, blurring the lines

Of forethought, persistence, endurance, wit

Rendering the scene (truth be told) vacant

To eyes and ears tethered to blinking screens

Superstructures driving your sex by bits

You think it was different back the in the day?

Smokey campfires, come gather round, listen

Hear those that came before, left all this junk

As we fast ditch our junk, dreaming deep space

Always deep space is sex as skulls retrieved



Destinations of Things


Consumables, ponder them briefly, breathe

Circuit board mound, forty meters in height

Jakarta slum, pickers climb high to pluck

Teeny, tiny chips, there, there’s a one, breathe

Exhale, what’s stirring behind the curtain?

What’s rattling there? Bring on the chronicler!

Eighty ten kilo buckets in a row

The clunking’s increasing, now fading – gone

Shsh…is that a one? It’s back! Supply line

Tankards! tankards! bring on the sorcerer!

Oh you mother plucker son of a bit!

Breathe, it’s calling out, tankards, supply lines

Bring on the rhapsodist! Buckets, exhale

This micro play of words as chips in play

Published: October 2020
Rodrigo Toscano

Rodrigo Toscano’s newest book of poetry is In Range. Previous books include, Explosion Rocks Springfield, Deck of Deeds, Collapsible Poetics Theater (a National Poetry Series selection), To Leveling Swerve, Platform, Partisans, and The Disparities.  His poetry has appeared in over 15 anthologies, including Diasporic Avant Gardes and Best American Poetry.  He works for the Labor Institute in conjunction with the National Institute for Environmental Health Science. He is currently working on research and training projects dealing with Covid-19. Rodrigo lives in New Orleans.

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From: Vol.07 N.02 – Writing in the Pause

Two Poems

by Edwin Torres



to sleep of anxiety

we find ways to dream of anxiety while sleeping through it

to dream of the relentless pounding of anxiety

we find ways to declare anxiety as a replacement for sleep

to darken anxiety by sleep of it

we find ways to achieve darkness

to close our eyes in a darkened anxiety

to be reminded of anxiety during sleep

to achieve a darkened anxiety while closing our eyes in the being of anxiety

we find ways to know that we are sleeping

to sleep in the knowing

to describe to a lesser being the hierarchy of darkness

to the being of a room lessened by becoming darkness

to the lesser being lessened by being

to assume hierarchy by being lesser than

we find ways to achieve status by stating anxiety in the realm of sleeplessness

to sleep in a darkened knowing of a lesser darkness

to know there is another darkness

to drop one for the other

to one being the other’s opening

to encompass the lessons of concentration as a guise for meditation

to spell differently the idea of quiet using meditation as a lark

to leave this

to become the one reading this instead of the one sleeping

we find ways

what is there to remember

waiting deep in the folds

of pixelated grey matter

what lies beyond the new day

an alarm that doesn’t want to sleep

in my house steady as a breeze

a sound on a waking world

ready so not for change the orange sky

falls through my pockets and I think

it’s not me it’s the world

unrest at an easy juncture I step

on a long night and nowhere

was there a manual for keeping sane

in the middle of the street heart sterilized

in the back of a throat what is there

to remember






we find ways to isolate truth

to isolate power

by calling on the shapes that save us

the shapes that survive us

out of brain into body


we call on our instincts

to isolate hurt

away from emotion

to protect our power

we call on our truth

to attempt deflection out of heart


we call on our hurt

to isolate deflection

away from the shapes that save us

the ones that define us

are the ones we call on

to survive our truth


we call on our finding

out of knowing

away from doing

we find ways

to isolate truth

Published: October 2020
Edwin Torres

Edwin Torres’s books of poetry include, XoeteoX: the infinite word object (Wave Books), Ameriscopia (University of Arizona Press) and The Animal’s Perception of Earth (Doublecross Press). He is editor of The Body In Language: An Anthology (Counterpath Press). His work appears in the anthologies American Poets in the 21st Century: Poetics of Social Engagement, Who Will Speak For AmericaPost-Modern American Poetry Vol. 2, and Aloud: Voices From The Nuyorican Poets Café.

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From: Vol.07 N.02 – Writing in the Pause

saltmarsh community, u.k., may 2020

by Harrriet Tarlo

with grateful thanks to the people of the Fitties, particularly Caroline Carr and Katie Teakle who gave words here


going down through


we’ve been very lucky here – had very few cases

i expect it’s the sea air


sandy grassland bright trefoils, patternings of whites –

stitchwort, queen ann’s lace, and milkwort

bracted pink through green swathing


i don’t have the energy I did – it’s been so silent, no traffic

how it would have been, the sky bluer –

you re-look, re-visit


past sea buckthorns holding dunes with their roots

 old papery webs wound around spines and spikes

before bud, before leaf, before berry


my life is really small now, small and quiet – the day is the day

it’s comforting to me thinking that everybody else is

doing the same thing


looking out over the sands bright cord grass colonising

sand under water out of water setting roots setting

mud flat wedges into marsh flagging up


the coastguard were saying don’t come

it’s treacherous here at the best of times and

the water fowl are breeding, all the birds and amphibians


pale early white-pink thrift flowers within flower

out of bronze sheath under singing lark sky


they miss their family, they’re a really close family

you know – we hear him singing to

his grandchildren on the phone


 sea arrowgrass clumps pools wet edges, stalks spiking out of

leaf-curves into the wind, just making early purples

tiny separate globes under strong sun



this place has been rolled over because people

are tender and they’re not knowing

and they’ve been rolled over


into the marsh heart of golden creek & pool



shielding, staying put – but he’s still doing

his 6000 steps round the garden

every day the same



points of white, english sea scurvygrass angelica with a catch

and a tapering, single serration distinguishes

separation from self


she was hardly eating but I’m cooking anyway

so I’m bullying her into it – it’s just a matter

of sorting out what she can’t eat


deep green ovals of sea lavender’s broad lush leaves –

not even a bud yet – up through grey-green mosaic of purslane’s

spread rosettes, soft-sharp elliptical leaves sending salt out, dropping colour


we’re more vulnerable because more remote but

I’ve never been a hot house flower –

yes I stayed


the further out in the open you – tide low – samphire just surfacing

among last year’s skeletons, pushing wet pink-brown up

globular not yet branching



you’ve still got the air here

even if you can’t get

to the sea


across mud flats, salt pans, creek’s edges

according to light & tide

just like last year


Published: October 2020
Harrriet Tarlo

 is a poet and academic. Her single author poetry publications are with Shearsman Press and estrucan books, and her artists’ books with Judith Tucker are published by Wild Pansy Press. Cut Flowers is forthcoming with Guillemot Press, 2021. She edited The Ground Aslant: An Anthology of Radical Landscape Poetry (2011) and special features on ecopoetics for How2 and Plumwood Mountain. She is Professor of Ecopoetry and Poetics at Sheffield Hallam University, U.K.

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From: Vol.07 N.02 – Writing in the Pause

Remaining In(sights)

by James Thomas Stevens

I’m guessing the rabbits

were always here, but the one-eyed dog

in the windowed hallway was

bed-intent. Blind.

Now that he is gone,

the rabbits are rampant.


I’m guessing the corn stalks/stover

were always dagger-like at midday

before evening’s cool release.

But homebound I see them doubly.


I see because I’ve been double–sensed

the mole above my beloved’s

shallow navel.  It has always been there.


How rarely and careful

we see one another now.

And when he leaves, there is

the sound  glass bowls make

when  one is nested inside the other.

I too make this sound, when

waking alone in the middle of the night

I slide back into myself.

Published: October 2020
James Thomas Stevens

Aronhió:ta’s, (Akwesasne Mohawk) attended the Institute of American Indian Arts, Naropa University’s Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics, and Brown University. Stevens is a 2000 Whiting Award recipient, has authored eight books of poetry including, Combing the Snakes from His Hair and A Bridge Dead in the Water. His next book, The Golden Book, is due out from SplitLevel Press in April, 2021. He is currently Chair of the undergraduate Creative Writing Department at the Institute of American Indian Arts.

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From: Vol.07 N.02 – Writing in the Pause

With words like doom-scrolling …

by Julie Maclean

what century are we in? What time is it?


From across the closed world you tell me

you imagine your bookshelf as a row of edible leaves.


I order my days as a Vermeer woman in an apron—

baking bread, taking time to make the bed, the one I lie on


drowning in white noise I call the Hum.

The other day, I don’t know which one, I heard a call.


It was new to my garden.

I wanted to understand how Time had lodged itself


in that black-capped turn

of a curious head. It had one eye cocked


giving me the time of day

before setting off on some miraculous migration.


Or was it, like me, here to stay?


In some loose part of me I hoped it would never end—

this day, this reckoning sky


now open to conversations with small things

climbing stairs an hour each day


my solo trek to the top of the mountain

enough oxygen to make my way down

Published: October 2020
Julie Maclean

Julie Maclean’s poetry, fiction and reviews have appeared in Griffith Review, Best Australian Poetry, Cordite Poetry Review, Island, Overland, Plumwood Mountain, Poetry (Chicago), Rabbit and Southerly. She is the author of four pamphlets and one full collection, When I saw Jimi, Indigo Dreams, UK (joint winner of the Geoff Stevens Memorial Poetry Prize, UK).

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From: Vol.07 N.02 – Writing in the Pause

from The Institute of Loafing

by Tim Shaner
























Published: October 2020
Tim Shaner

is the author I Hate Fiction: A Novel (Spuyten Duyvil, 2018) and the poetry collection Picture X (Airlie Press, 2014). His work has appeared in Capitalism Nature SocialismThe Poetic Labor Project, Colorado ReviewThe Claudius AppJacket, Kiosk, The Rialto, Ambit and elsewhere. He teaches writing at Lane Community College in Eugene, Oregon

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From: Vol.07 N.02 – Writing in the Pause

This Dusk

by Robyn Rowland

His heart wearing out its desire for action,

at one hundred he stumbles on this childhood deck

pushing my hand away, stubborn for independence.

I am back from the top of the globe to care for him

but it has been a hard day. Humour seeped away.

And so much has slipped from me, been left.

It’s confusing, love and a kind of anger, a kind of pain.


I sit the required personal distance from my

childhood friend, eating chocolate Easter eggs,

drinking hot coffee, letting it all go into the

mild dusk, into this autumnal softness

with its scatter of camellia blossom.

I’m unused to it in April, my home another

world, boxed somewhere on an ocean crossing.


When it settles next to me on the railing –

this Rainbow Lorikeet – I think it won’t stay long

but babble to it anyway as if it might listen.

Curious, it cocks that indigo-blue head,

red beak opening in song, not squawking at all,

but a squeaking, burbling tune, its mate hidden

in the grevillea tree returning single staccato notes.


So stunning in brightness, there’s a hurt

in its perfection, a sweet disbelief.

Across its belly plumped on nectar,

swathes of orange, yellow and blue sashes,

and I remember after my cancer really seeing them,

as if for the first time. In a new awe for life

I understood, nature likes to colour extremely.


Long tail splayed with emerald feathers,

it goes and returns, chattering to me

strangely sure of safety, hanging finally

upside-down from the house gutter above me,

relaxed in connection, unafraid. I smile so.

There is a dusk inside and out here, yes,

and a long day ending, but brightly.

Published: October 2020
Robyn Rowland

has 14 books, 11 of poetry, most recently Under This Saffron Sun – Safran Güneşin Altında, Turkish translations by Mehmet Ali Çelikel, (Knocknarone Press, Ireland, 2019); Mosaics from the Map, Doire Press, Ireland (2018) and This Intimate War Gallipoli/Çanakkale 1915 – İçli Dışlı Bir Savaş: Gelibolu/Çanakkale 1915, Turkish translations by Mehmet Ali Çelikel, (FIP, Australia; Bilge Kultur Sanat, 2015; Spinifex Press, 2018) Her poetry appears in national/international journals, over forty anthologies, eight editions of Best Australian Poems. Her work can be viewed on film at the National Irish Poetry Reading Archive, James Joyce Library, UCD, available on YouTube.

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From: Vol.07 N.02 – Writing in the Pause


by Claire Miranda Roberts

“Mimicked song elements within the lyrebird’s display [have] been used as evidence that the song is culturally transmitted … a population of superb lyrebirds (Menura novaehollandiae) introduced to Tasmania continued for several decades to imitate model species that were no longer present”

— Putland, Nicholls, Noad and Goldizen, “Imitating the Neighbours”



Who bears witness.

The once-green furrows.


Sunlight filters through vulnerable tree ferns.

Mountain streams ventilate and turn the soil.


Grey mountain ash rise from auburn skins.

Lyrebirds mount their U shaped lute and archive song.


The lyre fans in a corsage of white fronds.

Remembrance is a corpse of trees and glaucous bloom.


An enclosed theatre of towering ferns.

It will be kept among us.


When petioles die they leave hexagonal scars on the trunk.

Whose characteristic shadowy forms combine relic verdure.


Whoever listens.

Birds and trees in broken silences.


Nature builds a vista.

Chanting a thunder-psalm.


The peculiar note of the lyre.

It holds the eye.


Putland, David A., James A. Nicholls, Michael J. Noad and Anne W. Goldizen, “Imitating the Neighbours: Vocal Dialect Matching in a Mimic–model System,” Biology Letters 2 (2006): 367–370.

Published: October 2020
Claire Miranda Roberts

holds an MFA in poetry from the University of St Andrews, Scotland. Her poetry has appeared in Sentinel Literary Quarterly and Blue Bottle Journal. She resides in Melbourne.

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From: Vol.07 N.02 – Writing in the Pause

Robin’s Nest

by Wang Ping

There’s a robin nest on top of the lamp, under the roof. It’s been there for years. I enjoy watching them and hearing their chirps. My Native brother told me it’s good luck to have a robin’s nest. But that’s all I know about robins.

This morning, I poured a bucket of dish water around my rhododendron. We’re having a drought in Minnesota. So I’ve been collecting used water for plants.

A robin came out of the nest and started pecking the wet ground.

There was rice and vegetables in the water. She must be hungry to pick up the food from mud.

“Oh, you poor thing,” I cooed. “It’s so dirty. You’ll get sick.”

I took out some quinoas seeds, and spread them evenly on the dry ground, thinking the robin would be so grateful for my good heart.

But she ignored it, just kept pecking into the wet mud, her beak and breast covered with black earth, then she flew back to her nest, and spread the disgusting dirt in the nest, then sat down, looking smug-happy.

Hmmm, what’s going on?

“Kiddy kiddy kiddy,” I called, “come and eat the quinoas. It has all the 8 essential proteins.”

But the robin ignored me. She fluffed her feathers, moved around, scratched around, sat down, looked down at me with an even more smug smile.

“Stupid robin,” I muttered, “why won’t you eat the delicious nutritious seeds? Why do you prefer the dirty wet mud? It’s full of virus and bacteria that might kill you!”

She looked down at me with her bright round eyes. Her beak was clean. Her red breast was clean. She chirped and moved about, then aimed her butt at me.

She was MOCKING me!

It suddenly occurred to me that she was using the mud to build her nest. The sticky wet dirty disgusting bacteria ridden mud serves as concrete for her nest, to add weight, to glue the light dry grass, feathers and twigs together, to prevent the wind from blowing it away.

Now I remember growing up building my chicken coop like the mother robin. I remember living in a mud house when I was a farmer in China, when I visited Africa last year…They are cool in the summer, warm in the winter, easy and cheap and fast to build…all we need is a pair of hands, a bucket of water, a pile of mud and straw, and the knowledge passed onto us from thousands of years ago, the knowledge mocked and abandoned and replaced with wood, concrete, glass, steel, oil…all returned to me by a mother robin.

We think we are above nature, we can conquer nature, we are master of nature.

But today I learned, no, I remembered, through an American Robin, that we’re only a beakful of mud away from nature.

Published: October 2020
Wang Ping

was born in Shanghai and came to USA in 1986. She is the founder and director of the Kinship of Rivers project, an international project that builds kinship among the people who live along the Mississippi, Yangtze, Ganges and Amazons Rivers through exchanging gifts of art, poetry, stories, music, dance and food. She teaches creative writing as Professor of English at Macalester College.

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From: Vol.07 N.02 – Writing in the Pause


by Robyn Maree Pickens

What did you learn? (Avoid singular first-person pronouns)

        How to tack cardboard to the bottom of doors to prevent draught

Was the ocean in the distance?

  Folded-up chicken wire can be inserted between gutter and roofing iron to prevent rodents

Did you experience fragmentation?

   Use a tarp to drag a heavy piece of furniture from the basement up a narrow path to your study

Which muscle group did you use?

 The fear was always that it would spread to the refugee camps

Were you scorched?

What can [ ] ask of the other?

Did you exist between carrying and being carried?

 In the beginning it felt unsafe to touch ferns on neighbourhood walks

Was there an alignment between inner and outer layers?

 The yellow of the sun intensified the yellow of the leaves

Did you cut your hair?

Yes, but this is normal

Would you like to add anything?

A mouse had ossified in the hot water cupboard

Published: October 2020
Robyn Maree Pickens

is an art writer, poet, and a critical/creative PhD candidate in ecological aesthetics at the University of Otago, Aotearoa/New Zealand. Her poetry has appeared in Empty MirrorInto the VoidPeach Mag, SAND Berlin, amberflora, CorditePlumwood MountainMatador Review, Jacket 2, at ARTSPACE, Auckland, and in the Brotherton Poetry Prize Anthology published by Carcanet Press, and in Fractured Ecologies.

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.