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From: Vol.03 N.02 – Decolonisation and Geopoethics

What The Land

by Michael Farrell

It’s the usual rhetorical question. Don’t begin to

Understand yet, the poem hasn’t quite begun. Quiet. The

Only sound that of words on paper. Still: the

Only movement that of the past, history if

You will. The reading contract (not the writing contract)

Is that you understand that you will feel

Or think something. What the land forms in you

In your mind. This relates to the history

Of reading poetry, and to that of writing it


Money is part of it, take

A step further, killing is part of



We know that


It could probably be seen from the moon if

Anyone was there (up, down, across), watching. The moon’s

A whole other concept

Of land, related to space programs and other exercises

In propaganda, imagination and syntax. We are

In view of it as the sun and stars


Everything seen is implicated. Everything heard and said. Are

You an unbeliever? Or are you the one who

Understands, without reading, my love? Ok, that’s ok

You will never know I asked. The fragmentation

Is complete. So

Is the building. Now the poem can begin

Oh. I am tingling. The wind is

In the ruins. But the sound is not

A message. There is residue

In my teeth, teeth that

Ache for the ground, that

Are part ground. Try to hear what is not

An effect. What makes sense? Not writing. But

It’s the only challenge I want, not when

Or whether people began to see a God, when

That changed, how. If you carry a blue

& white flag that says

Your name’s James Joyce, it makes sense


You come to the city because

You want to show it to your dog


You can’t stay in a hotel so

You sleep nearby. The social seems

Only to be between you. No local sees you


There is nothing ‘going on’. If we step

Outside we feel the mood, while others try to

Escape the mood. A café is not a verb


There are realities. There are things we stopped believing

In when we were seven that haunt

Us forty years later if we make

It like guardian angels


Adopted northern structures. The spines of the

Oak trees reach though power lines. The power lines

Run through the trees. Gold pours into the houses

& other places mining for human feeling, boring holes

In the world. Magazines flap against newspapers. Everything

I thought all day was untrue. Time

Especially. Alarms push themselves out into the air


A poem can’t begin with so much action

Published: July 2016
Michael Farrell

edited an Australian feature for ecopoetics journal in 2009. More recently he has published an article on poetic craft in an Australian context (in Wasafiri), and is also working on an animal species project. Books include Cocky’s Joy (Giramondo) and Writing Australian Unsettlement (Palgrave Macmillan).

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.