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From behind the easel

he looks out through the window,

through buds, leaves, branches

and the shrivelled berries

of the myrtle in his front garden,

at Gatsby Villa across the street.


He mixes a yellow,

paints the glass of the fanlight

above the door, glass turned

golden on this dim afternoon

by the hall lamp they don’t ever

switch off. And he places


a slab of blue-grey

hard against the yellow for a leaf

that catches the dull shine

of the sky, then next to it

turquoise for a half-open shutter

and day after day he goes on


with his patchwork of near, far,

near: bits of porch, myrtle stem,

brick, hedge – working

towards that moment just before

the painting would have locked

and shut everybody out.

Nice Toed Bluff

Nice-toed, Bluff, Fresh, Nonpareil


My man knows a hat when he sees one. His

is yellow. He’s good on shoes too – my sorrow:

they cover his lovely feet.  Nice-toed man.


His smile is a row of suns – how his lips stretch!

He looks straight at me if I go on and on – no

nagging or womanly smart-alecking fazes him.


My man’s got a click and a clack to his fingers

you’d die for. Sometimes he’s bluff, sometimes

he’s chic, sometimes he jiggles about. Mint mad


he is: keeps him fresh . . . oh, and isn’t he fresh.

He can scoop me up under one arm, the kids

under the other, joggle up and down, and run


us all into the waves, or off to the Handi - Pandi

which, in our part of the world, responds well

to a fella who’s not only It, but nonpareil.



The stars were just there – there, just beyond our reach,

the black between them and us, between each of them

and between each of us the same black.


We lay three feet above the red, warm dust

in the bare garden of our new white homestead, on camp beds

our father had placed across forty-four gallon drums.


Perhaps it wasn’t quite so hot out of doors, perhaps it was,

but nothing could beat the way

sounds came across to us in the open air – snorts of the horses


at the trough and the clatter of their hooves against stones,

a dingo’s howl, urrk-urrking of chooks,

the flap-rattle of ears as goats under the gidgee


shook their heads. And nothing could beat

having poddy lambs beneath us. They bleated now and then,

rubbed against the drums and pestered the collie


till he snarled. Above, the whoosh of an owl,

star after shooting star, and, the only clouds in that clear sky,

those in space: the Dark Clouds and the Magellanic.

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