Kerri Shying

Kerri Shying is a poet of Wiradjuri and Chinese family, publishing across many journals and anthologies. 

She is the author of a bilingual pocketbook of poems “sing out when you want me”,2017, Flying Island Press,   “Elevensies”, 2018 Puncher and Wattman and “Knitting Mangrove Roots”2019, Flying Island Press.

Kerri  held the Varuna Dr Eric Dark Flagship Fellowship for 2019 for her current collection  ‘Know Your Country” 2020, Puncher and Wattman, and was shortlisted in 2017 for both the Helen Ann Bell Prize and the Noel Rowe Award. 

Kerri has been convenor of Write Up for 5 years, a free arts/writing group for people living with disability.

She lives with disability in Newcastle, NSW with her famous dog Max Spangly. 

Kerri is a nominee in 2020, an activity of the Human Rights Commission, for disability activism in the arts. 

Here’s some Elevensies from “Knitting Mangrove Roots”

saw his hands  stimming over lies

and thought    it’s good you’ll be gone

soon   those buckled bulbs  for

fingernails   the giveaway  of a heart

about to blow   the eloquence of illness
far surpassed the itchy dogs that fell   limping from his mouth
nothing he said worth a dollar on the

open market   no exchange rate    for

who’d pay  some stories   ought

to die   those names for things  rubbed out

in the sand   the beginning    it was the word
why can't you whisper  it to me 

has it got to be this  shout from

one day to the next    every sinew

pulled up hard   each movement

 effort to caress what  ails    the
buttress on a falling wall  with sticks
is how i see my mind  these days

one more  pill in the phalanx  that wheels

across the week  this skirmish  or another

there is no battle    just a little less

 nothing  can be won
someone   mentioned  relativism 

in a tv show and    i thought that’s

about as café as the conversations

get  if you aren’t working   maybe

if you are  pissed you get a chat   to live  
in the revolving door  of commerce
the life social  that’s the glitter the

edible gold  in your champagne   stand

here and watch   the yearly immigration

like koels  the cab doors slamming at

2am  we raise them then they go
cream blossoms  take a drench 

beside the house the lotus pond

refills   a season  grows we have

no thought to name    the fifth

among   the too cold   too warm
here where people of the just-enough-land
pride themselves on  common

ground   this anomaly unsettles

like the lady doctor  speaking

in the house   today  answer  best

to turn your back and go the other way
three  o’ clock all i’ve had   is one cup

of coffee  soy milk     i try to imagine

eating    the fridge  is full    so full the door

fights back   listen  to my tongue   stinging

a rebuke   go on   eat your tea
beside my heart i hear   the acidness of hollow
space   pause   if i have grown to like the gnaw

my juice on flesh  my spine  a pinion to the bed

go  now hear the lettuce see the ham all wrapped

in calico  boil  rice  at least    it’s the anxiety of pain

i tell myself    you don’t have to make a meal of it
drought is in our faces now   the sea

the blue distraction   no help from

the dusted wind   i hear the back door

slamming   like a drummer    why

not rub it in    where did we think
the topsoil  of the country  would stay
not a drink to wet it down   roots

so far forgotten  they are frailer than a

thought   death lasts longer   the whole place

is on the move   still we  can’t modify

a thing   until our nostrils   cake

Some covid-19 poems; us lot had to isolate more and for longer but had more experience of isolation. Maybe we did better?

Mr Whitmont

jam your hands

in your pockets

of your suit

at the lights
I wanna see

your arse-peach

tight against

woollen superfine
business men

come back

with the right slits

shroud hips
zoom has let me down

I'm ready for the show


whether 8am or midnight lately

have been calling for attention    where

none is due      no bus to catch and still the

call to regimen a stump jump plough    persistent         

hooks   the tender lobe skin   skull bindings
         lacking that flying buttress    others
strain against demands   that ping in on

the minute       insistent  spruikers  

human potential      what a movement

what a trip to nowhere    sells you a police 

hat and cuffs     says here    arrest yourself

emperor of nothin in the land of nowhere

quaking in our boots  by the billboards 

gather   too much too late         wickedness

and words   that change directions like the

swallows  of that facebook viral video
we all sought  to marvel            lost to hard work

holding out for images  seated in the

deckchairs        with one hand full of helium

balloons           fantasy of forward 

upward   sky-high    imaginings of riches 
what's deserved is        never what we get

yesterday I swapped  a metal headband and

a floral garland  for three large lemons  at a

table up the street       they were out of

lemonade         I           fresh out of coin   the true

transaction                   that we met

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