In addition to the Carmelite Library in Middle Park, I have been known also to haunt the State Library of Victoria, it’s central, so so pretty, an easy place to occupy oneself before, after and between things and I love their exhibit of the written word from carved stone tablets, hand-drawn illuminated manuscripts and giant atlases to the printed word.  It is a creative space and that is what I go there and “take out”.

“Libraries are reservoirs of strength, grace and wit,
reminders of order, calm and creativity, lakes of mental energy”
– Germaine Greer (one of the big quotes on the wall)

Today I find myself in ‘LT A821 Poetry’ and I take two books off the shelf back to my spot in the carrels, called “Poems from Prison” and to contrast perhaps, “Sometimes Gladness” but, first things first, this fell out as soon as I opened it:


Who is the Reverse Butcher? <obviously as I was sitting in the library, I did not know, but that’s that magic of time and connectivity, I can insert the link right here and you can have a look!>

Speaking of time – has this poem been tucked inside the book since last year or was it written then and only placed in the book today?

This is an intriguing and colourful way to communicate… it might be a fun exercise to attempt in fact – isolating words on a page to say something quite different that what the original author intended… can you still cal it an original artwork when you have literally carved it out of someone elses work? It is fascinating I think, our capacity to take things others have said or taught or done and make them our own.

How much does it cost to get postcards made up?  what is it for? what does it do? anything? Perhaps it is not its purpose to do anything but ‘be’.  Outside of the normal rules of submitting poetry this is anonymous and there are no criteria to fulfill… I’m a little #antiresidency myself, at least as far as The Establishment is concerned did it feel ironic (or clever?) to tuck it between the pages of a book on “Poems from Prison”?  So many questions!

Now, I actually copied quite a few poems out (how often do you get to hear poems written by people who are in prison after all?), this is their truth and, I think, something of their healing… I’ll limit myself to two.


I don’t want to believe
the message on your face
inches away
through the rust wine
finger-clutched smooth
by husky love promises
but my eyes
blind to all
blind to nothing
that it’s true

But I remember when
one summer day
we held hands like children
and went into a
brand-new empty house
smelling of paint and plaster
and looking out strange windows
we could see
the wilderness over the back fence

so we made love
on the fresh-sanded floor
and your thighs
tasted of sawdust
happy but sad too
we went outside to our
mickey mouse car
with the baby on the back seat
and left

like love was
left on the stove
to stew and simmer until
all the impurities evaporated
and nothing
remained but enough tasty poison
to murder us both
or me
was I such an enemy?

wise but helplessly dumb
touched with a little style
guile-smart with experience but
gifted only with the power
to live your life in more sadness
a normal person could
think of

Four foot round the chest
I opened bottles with my teeth
tore Rod McKuen books
in half
with my bare hands
but I wasn’t strong enough
to make you happy
how could you forget
blame never alters
kind words are hard to find



I want to write a book about ANGER
about how anger CAUSES things
I want to do this.  I’ll show it SUBTLY and
in various stages.
I’ll do it something like Bronte did love.
I’ll show anger in DEGREES.
I’ll build it past recompense,
demonstrating how a moment’s ANGER
can warp a whole LIFE,
and give a man a fork through his lip
or an empty eye socket,
or maim him all in a minute
to be endured forever.  The book
will be MATURE, and for adults.
It should be a masterpiece of informed
intelligent writing.

…and from “Sometimes Gladness” by Bruce Dawe (because sometimes poets can say things our spirit knows but can’t find words for)


Always the first fragmentation
Stirs us to fear… Beyond that point
We learn where we belong, in what uncaring
Complex depths we roll, lashed by light,
Tumbling in anemone-dazzled fathoms
Seek innocence in surrender,
Senility an ironic act of charity
Easing the agony of disparateness until
That day when, all identity lost, we serve
As curios for children roaming beaches,
Makeshift monocles through which they view
The same green transitory world we also knew.


When you find him,
that last citizen,
hiding wherever there is left to hide,
too timid to surface,
living on nuts or whatever was at hand
when the flash came
– be kind to him, comfort him,
break the news to him gently
that he is the sine qua non, the ultimate reason
for everything.

Let him walk where he will,
let him reassure himself with trees, yes, and the light
walking between them, let him listen to waters
conversing like children, the rain
telling its secular tears, let him
lose himself in what was, roaming
the city streets where wires hang
like ganglia, let him touch things
and remember. Soon enough
logic may cross his brow
like an evil shadow.

When you find him
– give him your alien kindness,
stroke him with feelers of love.