Hello there, Flying Islanders!
My first poetry collection – Gravity Doesn’t Always Work – got its soft launch at Kit’s Markwell Poet’s Picnic in December 2020 and is slated for launch in Sydney in February 2021.
I’ve been published hither and thither a little bit, and had a couple of nice moments – Jack’s Pack was long-listed for the University of Canberra Vice-Chancellor’s International Poetry Prize) (not the world’s most lucrative international prize but the one with the longest title) and The Long Jetty Ghazals won Third Prize in the 2020 Newcastle Poetry Prize.
It’s great to have a book out, and it’s great to be in the company of other poets at the occasional launches and picnics, but also in spirit.
I live in Long Jetty on the Central Coast, and am in my late 50’s (well, I’m typing it, but I don’t believe it – still, if it gives you the impression that I’m a steady, wise old guy, then it’s worth admitting) (but I’m not).
I’m for anybody who’s got a creative commitment, be it poetry, prose, art, music or dance or whatever. Not just a hankering, but a regular commitment to turn up and possibly (or in my case likely) fail.
I love truth in poetry, and I love humour and ghost stories and love too. But I just write the poem that turns up.
Here’s Jack’s Pack:
When you’re twelve and bored, and then life hands
you the chance to mess around with a ghost
along with a bunch of three or four friends,
you seize it. One long suburban summer,
Barclay, Dowd and I, in our endless search
for novelty, tried a séance. We knew no fear.
After school, at home, my only fear
was how to keep other hungry hands
out of the cupboards and let me search
for an empty glass to harness our ghost,
some scrabble letters to fend off summer,
and ways to make some Ouija fun, to keep my friends
alive, alert, and keen to be friends
with each other. I didn’t count, I fear,
on hosting another guest that summer.
We’re all left to deal with what our life hands
us, each to each, with not a blessed ghost
of an idea what it is for which we truly search.
“I am Jack,” the glass spelt out. “I search
for my buried body.” My shouting friends
and I believed we’d found a daylight ghost!
For whom the blazing sunlight held no fear!
“Wow!” yelled Dowd. “If this murdered dead guy hands
us fair dink clues, we could dig him up this summer!”
We met each day, and spent our summer
holidays in a circle séance search
for Jack’s latest clues, then to ride, all hands
on bikes, to yards neither I nor my friends
had any right to snoop around in. What fear
is prosecution when you’re not scared of a ghost?
We found boots on a back step the ghost
said were his killers. Jack’s one big summer
fling had gone wrong. I felt a strong fear
of death – the glass lurched, and took a slow search
Around the table passing all my friends
and then it spelt – “you’ll all die at her husband’s hands”.
“There’s no ghost!” I yelled. “Barclay’s moving the glass! Search
me how all summer long he’s pulled a con!” Then, friends,
we ran in fear when the glass rose up through our hands.