Poems with voice

The Solitary Islands Project

This project was recorded and broadcast by ABC local radio in October. An mp3 download is available.


Walking  ‘Walking into History’ from the Kinchega suite  Place and landscape, the eco-sublime in the Menindee Lake System


Wessex From ‘Wessex Archaeology’       


Play  Cockatoos, Cooks River, Sydney


A Platypus Inheritance  Riversdale, Bundanon, from my collection Field Notes.


A white bird       from a suite of 12 Linnaean sonnets                  

for Jude PhilpWhat strikes us both is a Willow Ptarmigan, capsised on its sideonto a beady black eye; its feet are furred, no sign of claws,“The white plumage, full time or seasonal?” I ask, thinking of hares,then notice the other dozen birds are all on their backsand none healed with prosthetic eyes. This pretty bird looks well,head perched on an upright neck, good enough to be a decoy,and if I look past the barred tail? I see snow sculpting treesbefore the sun pulls the rug out from under the icing,

and the bird flying through a blizzard, and Kepler, court astrologer

walking back from the castle, noticing the snowflakes on his coat

were all six-sided, and muttering “in that we say Nature plays”;

whereas Hooke reported, “the most simple and plain operation of Nature”.

The bird flies past us all straight into the bank of snow

so as to leave no footprints for hunters to follow.


Equus Caballus                   

The jar of liquid fills with light, a hologram takes shape

escaped from a bestiary, skin pale as a unicorn’s stretched

in folds, the dainty muscle definition on the hindquarters

tapers to beautiful forms, sculpted hooves, translucent limits.

The body is squashed to fit, chin resting on front legs crossed.

When I turn the jar, he shakes his head, the nostrils flare,

the eyes almost open. Above the muzzle, two flaps lift as if a horn

will emerge (like a narwhals’ weighed in gold by medieval quacks).

The umbilical cord floats like the lifeline of an astronaut spinning

into deep space, swimming through ontogeny, life passing before the eyes.

The foetus, gentle and still, is obtained only through extreme means,

but unicorns, fierce and fast, are only caught by cunning.

The best method is for a hunter to lead a young girl to a shady glade,

their habitat; the beasts are spell bound in the presence of a virgin.


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