Robert Edmonds

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:

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.

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