Monthly Archives: April 2016


Brian Purcell #27 The Boys In The Canoe



This is my last post for my month in Project 365 + 1 – thanks for the opportunity to contribute as a guest – perhaps I can return later!

 The Boys In The Canoe


The Point, Bellingen, Summer


The boys in my canoe have plumbed the river

shot the rapids and returned a secret way

spooked by an eel longer than their oar,

stood up to drink in the secrets of the new

ways unsettling their consciousness

stars above their mountain,

a priest on the sandbank turning

from a drinking fountain while other boys

climb trees, hold ropes in a revelation

how many times singing my son, my son

running from the steep bank swinging on a rope

hungry for life and letting go for life

that comes splashing up twice his height

age not ardor, a blue heeler leaps up

for drops of water big as marbles

and down he goes into the golden water

so deep and immense he cannot open his eyes.

They say a bull shark’s down there

carried up with the floodwaters

now trapped and lonely biting into eels

half as long as cars, no metaphor needed since

the river is itself idea, essence, experience

the mauling cauldron of our hopes and fears and families

lie unselfconsciously and float and sink like gods


while King Parrots peck out the eyes of the sun.

Below the kids press mud into their dripping hair

swear like their fathers losing jobs, emptying cartons

their grown brothers throwing wasted bottles of bourbon

into the man-high reeds spattering girlfriends

and wives with the cold spray of failures.

Meanwhile the boys stand in the canoe like sailors

looking for much more than they might expect at home

Dissolving in the water when their need is supreme

finding a purity in the icy depths

whose surface bounces hard-edged screams

of frustration rebounding on and on

while the river swoons at our passionate calls and embraces

a teenage boy accuses the other of being a girl and maybe

desires it they take turns to drown each other like unwanted cats.

The road offers its way out if only an unbudgeable tree

at its soft-edged side, the roots drinking the endless blood

of the lost boys and girls while the untroubled sky looks down

like a feckless king or queen on what it cannot touch

on all that it has seen.


Bewildered tourists take rope swings from outstretched sticks

and flop predictably not far from the treacherous clay

sliding down into the waiting mouths of gigantic eels at play

or blundering down the rapids in their hostel innertubes

past the island that is no longer theirs the flying foxes

wrapped in skins of glory squeal plaintively at the tourists

roasting and floating on their black bladder boats

as they inch their way to Lavender Bridge.

From where do tourists come but our breaking hearts?

Sad vagrants wandering the face of the earth

driven by our laughter from remotest Bellingen

carrying with them the salt of our tears

and our children, following these stoned Pied Pipers

to cities of hard angles and cacophonous tar

neon-lit vistas of limitless opportunity

to wholly remove themselves from what they are.

They carry with them an exuberant light unfurling

from their spines like a flag of profound liberty

but on turning they see a dark, flaring shadow

unscrolling as they walk through the outskirts of the city.


Satellites observe them and their progress

cataloguing loneliness and gradual heartbreak

waiting for their tears to rise to heaven.

They enter the golden arches we have created

and eat and eat as there is no satisfaction.

How do the inhabitants of Eden know it is Eden?

There are leeches and ticks that can bring down a horse

the water is not golden only muddied by the children

but the snakes are benign, beautiful and cannot reason or talk.

At night stepping out from their work in a backlane kitchen

bodies sharpened by angles of artificial passion

the children huddle beneath bridges and crumbling arches

immense structures whose smiles stretch towards heaven

to which there is no entrance and no way out.

As they close their eyes they’re startled by the vision of this cauldron

the façade of the riverbank and massed ascending gums

see the faces of their friends moving in the branches


Brian Purcell #26 At my mother’s retirement village


burke: HAIKU (redgum)

lizard in
a woodpile, looking
for its tree

papa osmubal’s ‘at a portuguese restaurant in macau’

Anna Couani #114



lanes are the best thing

about Surry Hills

The Cross and Darlinghurst

contain the heart

of migrant Australia

what all the migrants

have in common

hang iconic

in Australian paintings

bring the old countries

into the new country

dark with dim street lights


of the deco apartments

of Elizabeth Bay

the novelists who travel there

now the ghosts of trams

After a Hard Day's Night

After a Hard Day’s Night

27.4.16 (#117) Good Grief by Myron Lysenko

Good grief is when you learn
that the school bully who tormented you for six years

grew into a policeman

who died from gradual dismemberment of his limbs

at the hands of the higher sector

of your local motorcycle gang.

Bad grief is when your mother dies
in a nursing home in another country

and nobody tells you until you’re on your death bed.

Average grief is when the tadpole you caught
at the creek and carried home in your school lunchbox
dies a few hours later before it could turn into a frog.

Interminable grief is being a cheer squad member
of the St Kilda Football Club.

Suffering grief is when you keep on spreading
your grief at the loss of a loved one
while all your family and friends around you
just want to get on with their lives.

Collective grief is when the party
you vote for wins the federal election

but the major policies remain the same.


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