Thursday, February 4, 2021

Short poems written on two collages

une usure fertile

la profusion crépusculaire

dans les vastes étendues s’affaire

jusqu’à polir des joyaux

bijoux du temps

déposés sur la friche

a fertile wearing off

the twilight profusion

busies itself in vast spaces

till it polishes gems

time jewels

laid down on fallow field


fenêtre sur un lac intérieur

plongée verticale sur un champ de vue

lumière profondément

intensément étale

Narcisse dans un coin de mémoire

soi au milieu du miroir

a window on an inner lake

vertical swoop on a field of vision

the light profoundly

intensely still

Narcissus in a corner of memory

the self in the middle of the mirror

et si           au-devant des yeux

se tenait la matière du regard

on n’y voit plus d’horizon

l’intemporel y flotte

aussi limpide qu’une eau

inondée de lumière

what about       having ahead of eyes

the gaze-matter

one doesn’t see the horizon anymore

timelessness is floating there

as crystal-clear as water

flooded with light

au creux des nuages

que l’éclaircie déchire

bien au-dessus de soi

où l’on place le rêve

au-delà de ses paysages

les métamorphoses

in a hollow of clouds

shredded by a sunny spell

far higher than yourself

where dream is placed

beyond its landscapes








Monday, January 25, 2021



Jan Dean, a former visual arts teacher, lives on Awabakal country. Girls on Key published her Intermittent Angels in 2020. Her pocketbook Paint Peels, Graffiti Sings, (Flying Island Books, Macau, 2014) in English and Mandarin, spans a variety of poetic forms (including tanka) and subject matter from clowns in art to the imagined deathbed thoughts of Artemisia Gentileschi. Jan’s With One Brush, an art related poetry collection, was published by Interactive Publications in 2007. Having won their Best First Book Award, it was short-listed for the Mary Gilmore Award, 2008. She won the 2018 Newcastle Writers Festival joanne burns Microlit Award (Hunter category) for her prose poem ‘Fish Flops and Flaps’ published in Shuffle by Spineless Wonders. Jan was awarded the Seniors’ Prize sponsored by Baytree by Ardency at the 2019 Lane Cove Literary Awards with ‘Moss Poem’. Her writing, mainly poetry, has been included in Southerly, Meanjin, Rabbit Poetry Journal, the Weekend Australian, Eucalypt: a tanka journal and three Newcastle Poetry Prize anthologies. Online examples of her work are found at Verity La, FemAsia, Old Water Rat (from February 2021) and Not Very Quiet. She holds a Distinguished Service Award from FAW NSW. Her recent writing accepted for publication has Spanish connections although she has never been to Spain (except in dreams). Prose poetry draws her more and more.


Walking to School

Tanagura, Japan


Snow switches a light on, ices

the wooden strip around our window

transforms the dirt, stones and conifers

outside the house across the path

into a garden, places dustcovers

over gravestones, fallow fields

and rooftops, muffles sound, shows

me a new way of walking. Past

the embankment, the dog with spiky teeth

who, chained to his kennel, never failed

to startle me, has danced away

with last night’s snowflakes.

                                                 From With One Brush, first published in Southerly


Artemisia Reflects

(Artemisia Gentileschi 1597 – 1652/3)



Are those who say I was named after a genus

of plants, aromatic and bitter-juiced

wormwood, mugwort and tarragon, wrong?


Was my gift for painting inherited

or did my given name bring ability and fame?

Father teased, your namesake was a woman


and gave no details. Was my muse

Artemis of Athens, Apollo’s sister

and goddess of the moon? If so, conflict


was inescapable: She governed chastity

and childbirth. In my birthplace she became

Diana the huntress, protector of Rome.


                                                  An excerpt from Paint Peels, Graffiti Sings






In stillness

when rain impends

grey buildings disappear

and a brightly coloured edifice looks around

to see where they went.


Why do people lament decay

and crave constant renewal?

While paint peels graffiti sings

the wonders of evanescence. 

                                                     From Paint Peels, Graffiti Sings



takeaway tanka



a line of bees

through the ancient house

left me dreaming

of honeycomb haunts, dripping

liquid gold into my mouth



angelic, soothing, sweet
sang at my wedding
unaware between hymns

I saw their chewing gum



how lightly

the layer of garlic skin

floats to the floor

like a dragonfly

with punctured wings


                                                            An excerpt from Intermittent Angels

The Widow 1

by Kathie Kollwitz 1921



Forced to view some women, I might yawn and look away. This one is different. Although a curtsey is inapt, genuflect is warranted. Having drawn her many times, I am confident I have captured her essence ready to transfer her image to the woodblock. In a lifetime, of the many positions a body configures, two predominate; first foetal, curled with back curved and bent limbs drawn up to the torso; and second, full length with legs extended in preparation for the grave. She is consecrated to suffering. War is relentless; it takes everything and leaves sorrow. I carve into the surface of a wooden slab, away from myself, using force to express fragility. Raised sections accept the rolled ink and pressure is applied, allowing ink to penetrate paper, acting like a stamp. My cuts stop short of her edge, blurring it a little. Flecks create both aura and depth, hinting the wood from which the composition was derived. The widow knew trauma. She felt pain like a cricket ball lodged in her stomach, directly beneath her heart. She wanted to lie on a bed in endless float, exiting time and earthly distraction. Her gnarled hands reflect drudgery. She is stark, her face already the mask of death. As if mummified, the widow’s arms lie across her chest enfolding her son, a meaningful caress, yet he has vanished, forever gone.








I whittled a forest
to make your wooden leg
filled the sea with plastic
to give you clothes pegs
to build you a kitchen
I smoked the sky
to mold you a mudpack
I made the meadows sties
to keep your bath abrim
I dammed the streams
and levelled the hills
for the view of your dreams
I shrank the Poles to icecubes
to cool your drink
perfected scent on animals
to hide your human stink
I melted fleeting species
to make your eyelash glue
I’d love to find you flowers
but I’ve dumped the World for you.


Wednesday, January 13, 2021

go to ya lairmug troublemaker

 another leap year gone now 

but the bastards just can't stop 

 Steve Armstrong

Hi Flying Island bloggers,

I'm a poet living in Newcastle, who works as social worker/counsellor when not writing.

I launched my pocket book What's Left with the latest batch in December. I'll keep this first post brief, it being about my getting things going.

Here is a little bit of what Dimitra Harvey (fine poet, and editor of Mascara Literary Review) had to say about What's Left at the launch -

        "For me, Steve’s poetry attends to what Burnside describes as ‘a new science of belonging’ — one             that, in his words, puts us 'back in the open’, seeks ‘to make us both vulnerable and wondrous again          — to reconnect us’ with the earth. What’s Left is charged with that ecological imperative to dwell in         and with the rest of the world in a new way."

My first collection Broken Ground was published in 2018 by UWAP. For poems from Broken Ground and What's Left and more, go to

Sunday, December 6, 2020

Hiding To Nothing

In the shaded parts
behind the night
the wind was howling

the fence hid a vine for months
a sudden blossom now

Let us save an ancient forest

Sunday is still windy
what's it saying
about the people in the town
what did they miss
streets strewn with masks
the bells are probably broken

Let us save an ancient forest

in a room full of detectives
I pull my hat down low
and mumble I wasn't there

Saturday, October 24, 2020

secretly posting here


secretly posting here


where no one will think to find


run out of weather


the spontaneous overflow

(everlasting glory)


no one will know

we’re all escaping too

please plaintive



this is where I dreamt of sleep

must breathe


in the other mirror find me


a tribe inside


surely they would say if they did


find me

in the footnotes of the rain


let wisdom it’s distance

we come unnumbered now  


green blaze yet rising

still to rise

where no one comes to read

Sunday, October 18, 2020


 for the record -- 


for the record --- it was like this --- I was looking at Kerri's new poem and I said, and I believe this is VERBATIM -- 'that line in the middle is the title ... and there's five lines either side, so it's symmetrical... why not make the middle line the title? there's no reason why not... eleven lines, let's call it an elevensie' ... and I am proud to say that though my efforts with this form have been fairly miserable, Kerri has taken the ball and is still running two books later ... so I believe I feel some justifiable pride in this matter!


Saturday, October 20, 2018

Kit Kelen #1024 - let the yarn repair (for Kerri)

let the yarn repair

a tribute poem for Kerri’s elevensies

the middle line’s the title!

like a poem you wear

and listen for flowers here
(you could be deafened!)

in the sunshine of it
of a midmorning

snout deep
in a cuppa

lollop of cow
once dozy
set sail

now a truce with daylight!
(that’s how bright the future is)

listen to and through the chatter
this is Kerri’s hand-to-hand combat

it can go all kinds of ways...
best deadly

woman on porch
jibe, quip and
(she is a humorist of note
and keen at repartee...

like my mother-in-law’s fridge magnet –
‘age and cunning will always defeat youth and good looks’

but Kerri and me – we’ve got the lot!
it’s chronic!

we had this epiph together

and it was simply this –
the middle line’s the title

or, to be truthful,
it might have been
the title’s the middle line

anyway, why shouldn’t it be?
the title in the midst
the name of the thing
for an either-end balance

in media res

why should the eye be governed?
and follow this to a logical conclusion
… read in any direction you like

start midst-most though

I had a crack
but she is doing it every day

Kerri found the hexagram seesaw and sat
I feel like I’m still up in the air
held there by medical mysteries

and she keeps us reading

she keeps a room of wool
I keep it all between my ears

she keeps a shed of stuff
I have stuffed my shed as well

elevensies philanthropy!
that’s better than religion

heaven’s above
and don’t look down

Kerri is a woman of the big picture
– wiggy prophet of the Next Testament!
there isn’t a picture big enough for her

you fall into a poem like hers
expecting a clock to sneak up
like something deliciously due
another pot of tea too

a windmill never sleeps
but mumbles on the nothings

both epic
and gastric
in her own prism
(of cuticle dawn-light)

in skin
let’s not forget – embodied!
all those years of it… it’s almost as if in

blackfulla chinawoman
welcomes us

and once you know the middle is it
streets are cryptic with find-a-way

think of a first prime minister
it’s everything mnemonics
else how are we here?

you know the waves ride out from this house
reverberate? that’s what they’re calling it these days

Green library
taste me

there’s nothing that we can’t discuss

the corpus asserts

a body of words
words of the body

and the stranger graces
trouble in mind

how differently we choose
all equally far from/ by sensation
the sky ...
of Mayfield!
Mayfield of the settled dust
suburb the city approaches
(with caution...

where substance of us is a poem
hence this form of words

or fall into rhyme, like error

all vanish in one so

then here’s the kiss returned

I ramble out formlessly
I am myself being rolled out
although I know

snout deep’s how to go

a kind of a jumpsuit this poem –
a discipline
matinee jacket for a grassy knoll

so seldom smile
and curl up warm

bring your own apology
(sorry trumps guilt every time)

poems come from the remains of poems
how sad would you like to be with the fact?

it’s must be tea time again
in Near Miss mansion
views expand the shrink wrapped world

long strides taken
hidden from the air until the moment comes

to breathe all
on our cul-de-sac safari
(reminds you of Jules Verne, that does
and down in the volcano…

[no bracket ever finally closed...

armadillo plates overlap
how the planet goes round

there isn’t shit to save you from the job you’ve left undone

sweet trees
sweet sea
sweet sky


bug impervious
launcher of little fur missiles

can’t have too many autopsies
as long as yr alive

tending to what needs we heal
and stretch to be
keeps ya goin’
it does

curtain eyerolls
handcuffed pulse

Wiradjuri wordworker
a pleasure to jam with
to riff on
to honour

great enabler
and listener too, teller of truth
I salute you
and I launch you
once more into community
into the breach!

and struth!

if you can’t hear me
even if...
sing out
will ya?

there’s no smile sweeter than now!