Archives for posts with tag: Australia

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Ambulant in Twilight
by Roger Patulny

Everything is blue-black
she starts late from a nap
scattering bank statements;
Jack jumps across the covers till she
smacks him with a pillow toward his basket for his dirty PJ top
and mask of royal blue
while his father beeps his Tucson in the driveway.

The sky is a magenta smear
she runs the steel-blue bus down, now
hollow as a broken shoe, and
gasping, texts a joke to Jack about
a bus all stuffed with painted toes as she
sits among the statues, distant masks of colour
stiff against the racing cobalt of the clouds;
ambulant in twilight.

She ties her hair beside the sliding door
between a raft of tests;
temperature, symptoms, hot spot lists,
she drinks her herbs and
sticks her COVID coloured dot spot
to the cornflower of her dress
and gasps and laughs
to the flicker of fluorescent
tearoom lights
about the empty pallets
bare of masks and sanitiser,
and worries with her colleagues if
there will be enough for after?

She does the dance of donning
body bound in sterile gown and plastic covers for her shoes
a wimple of a balaclava, goggles, mask
and face shield last but for the
double gloves
and walks the sober, foggy path along the designated blue line.

Freshly unwrapped forceps
lie sweatless on the tray
of basic instruments tonight
she passes a retractor,
worries Jack is not in bed
and dreams of holidays, colour books and cigarettes
till the diathermy smoke
from the cauterised flesh
produces aerosol and risk
and she sighs and dons again.

Disposing of the Rampleys stained with
umber antiseptic
his dad calls with the bad news;
he can’t do next week after all, away
and so she pleads again to change her shifts then

puts the needle holders down,
exits to her favourite band
to get a can of cocktail from the café, then
texts Jack to say good morning and
don’t be late for school and
shuts her eyes to feel the sun.

PHOTO: Georgia Brown at work in a hospital in Australia. 

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: The creative approach behind this poem started with a focus on the lived experience of my friend Georgia, and the challenges she goes through balancing a highly complex job as a surgical nurse with caring for her young son as a single parent. The poem evolved as she revealed complexities about the fascinating work she does — from dress procedures to use of instruments — and the complications COVID has brought to this world and to her life and well-being.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Roger Patulny is based in Sydney, Australia. He is an academic, writer, and poet, with fiction published in the The Suburban Review and poems in CorditePoets Corner InDaily, the UK arts magazine Dwell TimeThe Rye Whisky Review, Indolent Books, and the Mark Literary Review; excerpts and links to Roger’s recent published creative works can be found here.    

The good things
by Oormila Vijayakrishnan Prahlad

She works at Roseville station—
a positive presence on the platform,
well turned out in her neatly pressed
New South Wales railway staff uniform,
with always a kind word and a helping hand
for the older folks, and young preschoolers
dangling on their parents’ arms.

She likes ethnic jewelry. I’ve seen her
wear metal earrings—a touch
of whimsy to her outfit. And this January,
at the risk of looking completely weird,
I got her a set of peacock motif earrings,
which I bought from an artisan
on my holiday in India.

I wished her a Happy 2020. I told her
that it’s my fifth year living in Roseville—
that the friendliness of locals like her went
a long way in making newcomers like me
feel welcome and at home.

I will never forget the surprise in
her blue irises—how her eyes grew
bloodshot. And I remember how the tears
just wouldn’t stop, how we shook hands
warmly, how overcome we both were
with emotion, in that moment.

Soon afterwards, the pandemic came
in full force. Throughout the lockdown
I’ve seen her hard at work, masked and gloved,
managing the station—white flags,
and whistles in hand, eyes always crimped
in smiles behind her mask.

Today she was on the platform, chatting
with the older folks lugging shopping,
laboring up the stairs. She told them
not to worry. Despite the pandemic
the upgrade would come—the lifts
and accessible toilets. The good things
were coming to Roseville. And today I saw
those earrings dangling from her lobes—
the silver silhouette of an Indian peacock
glinting in the sun.

PHOTO: 2020 gift box by Sasha Soloshenko91, used by permission.

Roseville-NSW-2069-Australia-2 (1)1NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I am a recent immigrant to Australia. One of the kindest people I have met in my community is a middle-aged train staff member who works on the North Shore train line. I remember how happy and at ease I felt when she greeted me with a warm hello at the local station, the first time I took the train. This poem is for that train staff member, whom I see every day, and who continues to work tirelessly during these uncertain times.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Oormila Vijayakrishnan Prahlad is an artist, poet, and pianist of Indian heritage. She was raised in the Middle East. She started writing poetry from the age of seven. In 1990, during the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, she was a war refugee in Operation Desert Storm. She holds a Masters in English, and is a member of The North Shore Poetry Project. Her recent works have been published in Neologism Poetry, The Ekphrastic Review, Nigerian Voices Anthology, Poetica Review, and several other print and online international literary journals and anthologies. Her poem “Mizpah,” about a mother who hopes for the return of her son who was taken as a prisoner of war, was awarded an Honorable Mention in the Glass House Poetry Awards 2020. She is the co-editor of the Australian literary journal Authora Australis. She regularly performs her poetry and exhibits her art at shows in Sydney.

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by Erina Booker

so we made your last-wish trip
right into the Red Centre
the country of belonging
where spirit sings in your bones
and light splits into pure spectrum colours
from red dirt to violet rocks

I’m still living this
though you are not,
photos tumble from phones
as startling as spiders
from a drainpipe —
a deluge of memory
that bends me in two

and now a print is framed
gold dingoes
red dirt
Kata Tjuta
with its a cappella chorus
violet on the horizon,
another relic

I hold it firmly against me
and all I can think is
“I got you, babe.”

©Erina Booker

Previously published in the author’s collection A Cobbled Path (2017). 

PHOTO: Entrance to Uluru (Ayers Rock) climbing point (Australia).  Photo by Alexander Cimbal, used by permission.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Uluru, also known as Ayers Rock, is a large sandstone rock formation in the southern part of the Northern Territory in central Australia. Uluru is sacred to the Pitjantjatjara, the Aboriginal people of the area, known as Anangu. The area around the formation is home to an abundance of springs, waterholes, rock caves and ancient paintings. Uluru is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Uluru and Kata Tjuta, also known as the Olgas, are the two major features of the Uluṟu-Kata Tjuṯa National Park.

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NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: From early schooling, Australian children learn geography of Australia, included in which is the central region, containing the iconic rock monolith Uluru, and the “singing rocks” of Kata Tjuta.  These are set within vast stretches of red desert, and close to many other significant rock formations, gorges, and billabongs (water holes). Aboriginal myths and legends concerning the creation of the land during the Dreaming, or Dream Time, abound. Many mythical creatures were responsible for the creation, and one that is well-known, in different localities, is the Rainbow Serpent. A home of the Rainbow Serpent is contained within the structures of Uluru. It is both a mystical and alluring landmark. My late-husband had wanted to climb Uluru, 1.6 kms of near-vertical ascent, since he was seven years old, and despite being fatally ill, we set off to do this. Success was heavily against the odds, but against those enormous odds, he succeeded. It was truly a remarkable feat, and an essential event with which to mark his life’s span.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: A photo of my late-husband Garry in the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, Australia (2015).

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Erina Booker is a poet, musician, and counselor in Sydney, Australia. She has eight published collections of poetry, contributes to journals and anthologies, is a member of the Fellowship of Australian Writers, and the North Shore Poetry Project. She collaborates with a digital artist living in Ithaca, New York, writing ekphrastic poetry to accompany his artworks. They have also produced a book together, Coalescence, Erina Booker and David Kessler (Blurb Books, 2014). Erina gives seminars on the craft and forms of poetry in Australia, and internationally to school children, via Flip-Grid. She contributes ekphrastic poetry to art and craft galleries, and judges competitions. Her books are largely available through Lulu Press, though the latest A Cobbled Path is available from inhousepublishing.com.au. She has a page titled Uneven Wings on Facebook.

seascape of Sydney
The Lotus by the Bridge
by Oormila Vijayakrishnan Prahlad

southern winter
and the fog moves in
settling like eiderdown
wet and heavy
with dusk and mystery

from the lookout on the bridge
I see the sails rise
steel and concrete jigsaws
melding into the form
of many petaled magnificence —
a lotus wearing peach-gold pearls
blooming on the banks
of the world’s most beautiful harbor

past the bobbing yachts
the orbs of light on the Manly Ferry
glimmer in the dark
an aquatic caterpillar
gliding upon the wrinkles
of prussian and teal

it’s ten to five
the last remnants of daylight
wane and disperse
the rain becomes a volley
of slanted pinpricks
lightning torching
the Circular Quay skies

Can’t you hear, can’t you hear the thunder?
You better run, you better take cover.

PHOTO: “Sydney Opera House at sunset” by Diego Matteo Muzzini, used by permission.

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NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR:  The Australian band Men at Work released their peppy hit single “Land Down Under” in 1981. At age three, it was my favorite song. As a child, the Sydney Opera House was the first thing that came to mind whenever I thought of Australia (that, and the Men at Work song!). I never imagined in my wildest dreams that I would one day move to Australia. I live on Sydney’s North Shore and to get to the city I take the train over the bridge. The Opera House greets me on my commute — a landmark that makes me immensely happy.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: I shot this photo of the Sydney Opera House in 2019 during one of my bridge walks.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The Sydney Opera House, designed by Jørn Utzon — a Danish architect selected in 1957 as the winner of an international design competition — opened on October 20, 1973. One of the 20th century’s most famous and distinctive buildings, the site features multiple performance venues, hosting over 1,500 performances annually, attended by more than 1.2 million people. (Source: Wikipedia)

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Oormila Vijayakrishnan Prahlad is an Indian-Australian poet, artist, and pianist. She is a member of Sydney’s North Shore Poetry Project, and Authora Australis. She has been widely published in both print and online literary journals and anthologies. Her recent works have been featured in River and South Review, Nine Muses Poetry, and Poetica Review, and are forthcoming in Parentheses Journal, Otoliths, Bracken Magazine, and elsewhere. Visit her blog and find her on Instagram.

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Beach
by Roslyn Ross

It was the first and last holiday
of childhood, the only time we
ever went away, and precious
because of its exceptionality,

where the riveting glaring
gaze of the white-sand beach,
remained in memory always,
and the sky burst shocking

blue, as if it held Summer to
account, and dared the days to
languish in shadow, when they
could not, and would not be

released from the brilliant grip
of sunshine, day after day after
day, where the tease of hot sand
through drying toes and the salt

captured kiss of the sea refused
to leave clothes, or lips or skin,
not even when we ate the fresh
cooked fish, caught by rod at

the edge of the beach, each day
as if the King George Whiting
waited for the hook, knowing
this was the gift they offered

in a Summer that would never
be known again, at least for
some, and therefore, would
be held in perfect prism.

PHOTOGRAPH:Spencer Gulf (South Australia)”

Ros aged six

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: We only ever had one holiday when I was a child, when we drove 602 kilometres from Adelaide to Tumby Bay in South Australia, when I was about seven. My parents, myself and brothers all went to stay with family in a shack on the edge of the beach, Spencer Gulf, where every day the adults went fishing with rods and caught King George Whiting, a succulent and exceptional fish found in the region and known as the King of Fish!

PHOTO AT LEFT: The author, aged seven, about to take off the apron little girls wore in the 1950s and go on holiday to the beach.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 
Roslyn Ross
was born in Adelaide, South Australia and has lived around Australia and the world, including Antwerp, Belgium; Bombay, India; Luanda, Angola; Cape Town, South Africa; Johannesburg, South Africa; Lusaka, Zambia; Vancouver, Canada; London, United Kingdom and currently, Lilongwe, Malawi. She has spent long periods in the United States, Russia and Portugal. A journalist/editor by profession, she began writing creatively in her forties and has completed five novels and one work of nonfiction based on her four years in Angola during the civil war. She is currently writing a nonfiction book tracing her Greek great-grandfather, a biography of her mother, and a book on spirituality as well as a sixth novel. She writes a blog on her time in Malawi and also blogs on ancestry, poetry and creative writing, with a deep and abiding focus on the human condition.

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Land of eucalypts
by Roslyn Ross

In secret, slivered slip of leaf
the frame is put in place,
a languishing of eucalypt;
as perfumed, drifting grace.

The myrtle from the southern land
is born in fire and death,
and drapes the days in waiting
until it burns again.

With serpentine releasing,
its skin is shaken free,
revealing flesh fair beautiful
as bark surrounds the tree.

The moon shines on its purity,
caresses milky trunks,
as phoenix-like she rises
on watered, ancient roots.

Like demons born in torment,
they raise igniting arms,
as if to cry for mercy
when nature calls them home.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: The eucalyptus, while now common in many parts of the world, having been exported for nearly two centuries because of its fast-growing nature, is native to Australia. The smell of eucalyptus, or “gums” as Australians call them, is ubiquitous and redolent of home, and expats over the centuries have carried leaves with them, as evocative reminders and salves for homesickness. The eucalyptus varieties, members of the Myrtle family, are also highly flammable and contribute to the frequent and deadly bushfires which ignite every summer and which are, and always have been, a part of life in Terra Australis. The smell of fresh gum leaves and that of burning gum leaves, is embedded deep in the Australian memory.

PHOTOGRAPH: “Gum Tree and Smoke” (Australia) by Claire Hull. Prints available at fineartamerica.com.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Roslyn Ross is an Australian writer and poet who currently lives in Africa. She has been writing poetry since she was a child and has also completed five novels and one work of nonfiction.

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Childhood in West Preston and Surrounds
by James Fogarty

I grew in West Preston,
a little wedge of Preston proper,
Melbourne’s best worst suburb.
Some called it Western DePreston
(Self-deprecation, I guess),
but it was always a special place.
J E Moore Park, with cricket nets sporting broken links,
and forgotten, sometimes broken balls resting on top,
which we’d take home anyway.
Sometimes we’d go the extra few minutes to Crispe Park –
when there was a game, or someone beat us to the Moore Park nets –
damped Merri soil there, my grandpa would tell me,
muddy in footy season.
Before that, Edwardes Park,
its black locomotive our gigantic playground,
worth six-hundred-forty in 1968 but
beyond price in my youth.
Nearby, we’d cut from Henty Street to the Wright Street Park,
between two leaning wooden fences,
when suddenly, a giant, rotating swing would appear,
a now-fading clown painted on top.
Once, an old lady across the road took us to W K Larkins Reserve,
where she told us: “There, a man died once”
and we believed her!
(The red paint on the rock a testimony to this day).
Back around the corner, through the laneway and up the hill –
back at home –
my newborn brother couldn’t have his name,
because that old lady’s dog already had it.
Throughout the years, with a new name settled,
the closest, J S Grey Reserve, proved favourite –
a bent tree our as goal posts,
later cut down and never replaced.
Later, I’d observe more from the bus,
and sometimes the car, like
that strip of yellow-green grass down Cheddar Road,
leading to those dustbowl ovals at J C Donath Reserve, or
H P Zwar Park, flashing between NMIT classrooms, or
G E Robinson Park, complete with spinning egg for play.
Still, the one I remember most
I’ve never visited:
Coburg Cemetery, on Bell Street.
“People are dying to get in there,” my grandpa would say,
without fail,
every time we passed.
I miss that joke,
and those parks,
but I don’t want to die in one,
like that man at Larkins Reserve.

PHOTOGRAPH: “Edwardes Park” (Preston, Victoria, Australia).

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: James Fogarty is a teacher and writer from Melbourne, Australia. He was going to write a panegyric about his childhood suburb, in Melbourne’s north, but ended up writing about the parks he frequented and the memories associated with them.

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Neil Armstrong’s Three-Stage Punctuation
by James Walton

In the slow orbit of wombats
my house hangs on to the hill,
the yellow frog flaunts the leaping crimson spinnaker of its jump
to the swallows’ rue at my reflective door,
white lightning shudders in liftoff from another countdown.

Wind dies.

Apple blossom carries the love-letter kiss of butterflies,
delivered in the slow somersault breeze
moon landing clumsy, on the creek now river.
Stars tumble into it, where the eyes of my people well at the eddy;
dreams caught wanting the release of gentle hands not fossicking.

Later, on the plain before Narrandera:

Sun and moon stare it out on the flat,
through moving windows, I make no ground in their yellow orange disregard.
Rise and set, clocking on and off.
They know the contraband in my head is safe,
no small step can approach it.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: We drove to the Byron Bay Blues festival (Australia) to see B.B. King, Mavis Staples, and Bob Dylan. We left just after a small earthquake, and 650 kilometres into the trip on the first day went from mountains to flatland, where the sun set and a full moon rose across the plain at the same moment. Felt like a journey through space and time, but somehow still in the same place, so vast we didn’t seem to be moving. A bit of past, present, and something to come.

PHOTOGRAPH:Quake light on Linn’s Hill” by James Walton.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: James Walton is from the Strzelecki Mountains in far South Gippsland — the last step off the Australian mainland before Antarctica. His work has appeared in several journals and anthologies. He was shortlisted for the ACU National Literature Prize in 2013, and Specially Commended in the Welsh Poetry Competition 2014.

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Freedom
by Irina Dimitric

Freedom to think aloud, a precious
commodity, alas, not a birthright
of all the inhabitants on Earth

My new home in the land of plenty
Down Under, how I love you!
Freedom to think aloud is mine, too

Freedom to walk on the beach
all year round, where golden sand,
the blue ocean and seagulls dance

And on my balcony, merry bush birds
eat out of my hand as I watch their antics and
the shimmering sea; then, they fly away free

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I migrated to Australia with my family in 1964. Apart from having the good fortune to live in a leafy suburb near the sea, coming from a totalitarian regime, former Yugoslavia, the right to freedom of opinion and expression in a democracy is what I truly treasure.

PHOTOGRAPH: “Balmoral Beach” by Irina Dimitric.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Irina Dimitric, retired teacher, lives in Sydney, Australia, with her husband and a canary. Writing poetry and photography are her recent passions. Her work has appeared in narratorAUSTRALIA online and in print. In 2014, she published her first book of poetry, Dreams On My Pillow, accompanied by her photographs. Visit her at  http://irinadim.com

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Ironstone Mountain
by Michele Fermanis-Winward

Blue light
folds into cloud,
becomes a turgid green,
the day suspends
as birdsong disappears.

We feel the strike,
windows shake
on thunder’s pulse,
lightning shafts
drawn to metallic stone.

The ridge electrifies,
hairs stand erect,
a scent of ozone
replaces oil of eucalypt
in ionized, crackling air.

IMAGE: “View of Grose Valley from Govetts Leap, outside Blackheath, Blue Mountains, NSW, Australia” by Roo72.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Michele Fermanis-Winward writes surrounded by bush at the top of the world heritage, Blue Mountains of New South Wales, Australia.The sounds she usually hears are king parrots and crimson rosellas.