common or garden poets #6 – Irina Frolova inviting Gillian Swain



for Gillian Swain

…the garden guides us…

says this is how it feels to be alive

Jill McKeowen, ‘suburban garden song’


November’s whites & greys

a melting memory

today the purple

and the scarlet bells

ring in

the summer’s reign

I wander through the garden

between the worlds

of losing

and finding

the jacaranda begins

to fade and scatter

the Flame trees’

fireworks go off

the ground sticky

with fallen blooms

no use fighting

the mess

it will go on and

I give in

to its tenacity

its beauty

this moment

hold it lightly

a snowflake on my palm

I watch it glisten

 melt with

no regret

common or garden poets #6 – Irina Frolova inviting Gillian Swain Read More »

Gillian Swain

Gillian Swain My Skin its own Sky (Flying Islands Press 2019) is Gillian Swain’s first book, following the chap-book Sang Up (Picaro Press, 2001). Gillian’s poetry is published in various anthologies including A Slow Combusting Hymn (ASM & Cerberus Press, 2014), The Grieve Anthology (Hunter Writers Centre, 2014; 2019) and some journals including Burrow #1 (Old Water Rat Publishing, 2020), and the Australian Poetry Collaboration (2019). Gillian shared equal first place with Magdalena Ball for the Maclean’s Booksellers Award, in the Grieve Project 2019. She has been a feature poet at several events around the east coast of NSW, holds poetry workshops for adults and children and is the curator of poetry and related events at the Indie Writers Festival ‘IF Maitland’, plus other poetry events. Gillian spent her childhood exploring the waterfront of Lake Macquarie and has lived in Newcastle, Northern NSW, the UK and Ghana, after finishing studies at the University of Newcastle. She lives in East Maitland NSW with her husband and their four children, where they run their successful coffee roasting business, River Roast.

The cover picture on My Skin its own sky is an extract from Girl on a swing in blue on blue by John Maitland. Look up his work, it’s wonderful.

Poems from My skin its own sky

Summer Holidays 

After “Fair Haired Girls End of Summer Holidays” by John Maitland.

Broom-straw grass whispers to our shins

as we wade toward the end

of summer holidays.

Our hair fair and sun-bleached

scruffy clusters like

broom-straw grass.

We have played, these days.

We have moved stridently

across the endlessness of summer

have understood the sky

and have become the dry, bending

hush of broom straw-grass.

Our longish white dresses breathe.

We look forward and completely

occupy each step and have nowhere

except the heat-hazed horizon to reach.

Nothing is everywhere. Nothing

fills our days solidly.

Summer sweeps us forward as we

are every   last   delicate   chance   of magic

we sweep through, ethereal.

We don’t know how beautiful we are.

All we know is floating

and sweeping

through summer parched paddocks

and broom-straw grass.


They took you this morning.

The lamp turned like a red light-house

one way.

You’re on rocky ground

I balance

for now

on love’s groundswell of stillness.

This too will pass.

Renovators hints and tips 

No crimes are hidden

in the white bathroom

of one who washes often

and cleans rarely.

My Skin, its own sky

and how did the storm treat you

Sheets lit

sky bright

skin electric

took me up

gave a good thrashing.

how did the ground reply

Grass leant

back to let it

in   happy for the return

of wild.

Familiar wind hurl of   rain

slid like syrup down

soft blades

to earth.

were you hungry in the cold

Not cold.

Warm air   wet every

pore swam and I gave it

salt   my skin   its own sky

my tongue

fresh with the landscape of night.

Hunger only for more.

was it deafening

All I could hear

was everything,

flicked and billowed out

crowds of spirit answerings

there for the listener

in time with always.

was the room big enough

A storm needs no manners

treats as it pleases

and what lush treat it is.

You wonder at the space an altar

inhabits   hear this

the gods laughed when you asked

these questions

thunder has no walls.

Gillian Swain Read More »