‘Parents are a Puzzle to be Handed On’ by Tug Dumbly

‘I don’t want to die
without you knowing who I am’.
That’s what you once said to me, Mum.
Parents are a puzzle to be handed on.
‘I won’t always have you, I haven’t got you now’,
I think to look at my daughter and son.
They’ll come to sing this self-same song:
Parents are a puzzle to be handed on.
Like old boardgames
with some piece gone – Scrabble, Cluedo,
Monopoly, Mahjong –
Parents are a puzzle to be handed on.
I know a part of the song you sung,
but will never cease trying to learn that song,
a madrigal roundelay, long and long
my children will riddle at when I’m gone
some spilling mystery that refills as it runs,
sings ‘bless all our sweet sun-buttered skulls..
Parents are a puzzle to be handed on
Parents are a puzzle to be handed on’.

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from Dan Disney’s “Mannequins Guide to Utopias”

Monologue inside Breughel’s first Tower of Babel

the colonists always pack old spectres 
and memory, mad apparition, peers through cracks in day 
we scatter into, our words
ascending across air… and once that’s out, silence
fllas like love, but permanent, empires lying dormant (unstuffed
toys) we’ll kiss the photographs flat when gone 
while wrong-headed statues promise nothing yet to the gods 
new foregrounds arrive, unrecognizable 

from Dan Disney’s “Mannequins Guide to Utopias” Read More »

Rae Desmond Jones’ ‘Decline and Fall’

i hate them 

the truth is out. and they hate me.

them, the barbarians in baseballs hats, 

twisting in chairs lined up in artificial order, 

and carving their loathing on the tabletops.

do you know why the roman empire fell? I ask.

who cares? a boy giggles.

that is the reason, i say 

you are old & fat, they say.

they are young & fat, I don’t say

because i don’t want them to get healthy.

they can stay ugly and stupid so I can despise them.

why envy the awkward root they didn’t have

or their perfect wet dreams pearling 

                on the television screen?

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Common or Garden Poets #10 – Jan Dean inviting Peter Wells


This Festive Season

For Peter Wells


                   ‘you will always be/ that sole cigarette ember

on a summer night/ blending into the wilds of the garden

       you planted behind a sentinel of spiders’ — Morgan Bell



Top heavy, agapanthus, heralds of the season

kiss the ground at the front of our house

after so much unseasonal rain and seasonal sunshine.


Next door has blue ones and ours are mauve

both virginal, reminding me of my husband’s late aunt

who gifted the flowers over thirty years ago


when the house was new. She was the one who shocked

her granddaughter, uninitiated in religious life

when she lay prostrate at Christ Church Cathedral.


On the western side Christmas colours of green and red

abound, including firecracker or cigarette plant.

Grown taller than I am, there’s money plant


if you’re superstitious, or jade if you romance.

A burgundy crepe myrtle my best friend gave as a miniature

thrives, something my friend couldn’t manage.


Along that side there’s grevillea robusta, bottlebrush

native frangipani, macadamia and multiple tibouchina, masking

the view of Munibung Hill. Recent weather caused


the Havana cigar plant to creep horizontally on the path

impenetrable for the aged and unstable. There’s a place

for us though without leaving the house to partake


in shinrin-yoku, the Japanese art of ‘forest bathing’.

From my kitchen chair I look across a covered deck, a walkway

and melaleucas that fold and unfold to acreage of eucalypts, so tall


they dissolve the horizon. This year a poinsettia glows in a bulbous

terracotta pot. Following the sun’s path throughout the day

allows a sharpening of senses and calm descending.


Left alone, nature carouses. Scruffy needn’t equal ugly.

Sometimes heaven touches earth and when it happens here

it’s a blessing for randomness, since the contrived are unfavoured.


                                                                              Jan Dean

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Laurie Duggan

Laurie Duggan, born in Melbourne and later a resident of Sydney, Canberra and Brisbane, moved from Australia to the UK in 2006, and returned to Australia in 2018. His recent books include Selected Poems 1971–2017 and No Particular Place To Go (both published by Shearsman in the UK), and a reissue of his first two books as East and Under the Weather (Puncher & Wattman). He is also the author of Ghost Nation (UQP), a history of modernist tendencies in Australian art.

Links: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laurie_Duggan

Flying Islands Pocket Poet Publications

A Kite Hangs above the Border by Laurie Duggan

A Kite Hangs above the Border

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Rae Desmond Jones

Rae Desmond Jones (11 August 1941 – 27 June 2017) was an Australian poet, novelist, short story writer and politician.

Rae Desmond Jones was born in the mining town of Broken Hill in the far West of New South Wales. Although many of his poems and stories are concerned with urban experience, he always felt that desert landscapes were central to his language and perception. He wrote in colloquial language, which sometimes exploded in powerful narratives packed with ambiguous sexual and violent imagery, especially in his earlier poems and some of his novels. His original and bleak vision was frequently mediated by gusts of earthy humour and unexpected sensitivity and honesty.

He became a popular mayor of Ashfield, an inner Sydney Municipality, from 2004 to 2006, and during that period held together a broad coalition of Labor Party, Green and Independent representatives. He said that for him “poetry and politics are mutually contradictory, and he finds consolation from each in the arms of the other.”

Links: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rae_Desmond_Jones

Flying Islands Pocket Poet Publications

Decline and Fall

When I got a hold of Rae Desmond Jones’ pocket-sized collection Decline and Fall I knew from the moment I opened it and began reading I was in for an interesting and affecting ride. Yes, I’m a fan, and I was excited at the prospect of a small gathering of his previously published works (this was, of course, prior to his recent New and Selected Poems, It Comes from All Direction Grand Parade Poets, 2013).

To those who read Australian poetry, Jones is a fascinating presence, who has carved out his place in our literature as a unique, important and challenging voice, simultaneously relevant and visionary, often writing outside of the usual subjects or taking them from an obscure angle, and addressing those that are so often shied away from. Just look at Jones’ infamous poem “The Deadshits”, for example, which narrates a gang rape through the eyes of one of the perpetrators. Not Wordworth’s usual choice of subject, that’s for sure, but this is what distances Jones from the pack and makes him increasingly special, if that’s the right word. Although this poem is not included in Decline and Fall, there are plenty of others that address the unaddressable in a way that is intelligent, beautiful, humorous and more often than not, haunting.

Continue reading review by Robbie Coburn at rochfordstreetreview.com/2014/01/10/let-there-be-war-between-us-robbie-coburn-reviews-decline-and-fall-by-rae-desmond-jones/

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Dan Disney

Originally from Australia, Dan Disney has lived in South Korea for the last decade, where he teaches in the English Literature Program at Sogang University, in Seoul. His collections include and then when the (John Leonard Press), either, Orpheus (UWAP), and Report from a border (Light-Trap Press). He is editor of Beyond Babel: Creative Writing in Second Language Contexts (John Benjamins), and co-edited both Writing to the Wire (UWAP, with Kit Kelen), an anthology of poems protesting the dehumanization of people seeking political asylum in Australia, and New Directions in Australian Poetry (Palgrave, with Matthew Hall), in which a number of Australian poets theorize on the ethical possibilities of creative production into the early 21st century.

Flying Islands Pocket Poet Publications

Mannequin’s Guide to Utopias

In National Library of Australia

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Jan Dean

Jan Dean is a Hunter Region poet. She won the 2018 Newcastle Writers Festival joanne burns Microlit Award for her prose poem ‘Fish Flops and Flaps’ published in Shuffle by Spineless Wonders. She was awarded the Seniors’ Prize sponsored by Baytree by Ardency at the 2019 Lane Cove Literary Awards with ‘Moss Poem’. Her work has been published in Not Very Quiet (online), Southerly, Meanjin, Rabbit Poetry Journal, the Australian, Eucalypt: a tanka journal, and Newcastle Poetry Prize anthologies. She holds a Distinguished Service Award from FAW NSW. Her With One Brush (IP, Queensland) was short-listed for the Mary Gilmore Award and her pocketbook Paint Peels, Graffiti Sings, (Flying Island Books, Macau) is in English and Mandarin.

Flying Islands Pocket Poet Publications

Paint Peels, Graffiti Sings

In National Library of Australia

trans Ruby Chen, Karen Kun

The title of Jan Dean’s 2014 collection in the ‘Pocket Poets’ series published by Flying Island Books (a joint project of the Association of Stories in Macao and Cerberus Press in Australia) is taken from a line in a short poem called ‘Wonder’ (p.74), near the middle of the collection: “Why do people lament decay / and crave constant renewal? / While paint peels graffiti sings / the wonders of evanescence.” These lines capture the spirit of this collection by a poet with an artist’s eye who always seems to have both eyes open to the wonders of evanescence.

Review: Reviewed by Steven Schroeder, Chicago

Read more of the review: vacpoetry.org/journal/paint-peels-graffiti-sings

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