Big Blue Mouth

Here is another of my colour poems. I hope to cover the whole spectrum by the end of the year. This poem exists in two different forms, both of which have received multiple publications. Here is one of the variants. It appears in the book of the same name:

The sky is
a big blue mouth
that child’s tiny run-
away balloon.

An Exercise in Colour


Think of a colour. Any colour. The first that comes into your head. Now write down images one after the other which are that colour. With luck the images may relate. That’s how I wrote this:


Red was her hood.
Red too the leaves that blazed
In the wood,
The snarl of the wolf’s mouth,
The floor where he stood,
Dressed in grandma’s
Garnet gown,
Up to no good.

“You do get compulsive.”


It could be a novel or short story they’re talking about. Do you know what it is?

“When you’re working on a piece, you forget to eat, you forget to drink, you even forget to sleep. You get up in the middle of the night, and go into the room so you can keep working. You get completely caught up in it. You want it to be perfect.”

Do you know what he’s talking about?

Here’s a little more:

“You’re trying to make something come back to life.”

Bingo! It’s a taxidermist talking about his craft.

Mr. Morosi

Mr. Morosi sits by me in the Food Hall. He does not acknowledge me nor I him. I continue eating my tub of yogurt and reading the magazine about Sea World, about the dolphins in their ‘aqua prisons’. I glance across at him. His chin rests in his hands. He looks heavy as a ship’s anchor, his mouth down turned like a glum clown. That’s why I call him Mr. Morosi. Losing your wife, especially if you were close, would do that to you. He’s locked in a prison too, one of grief. He’s been there for two years. I’ve thought of talking to him a few times but his grief might drag me down like an anchor.


Did I tell you my poem ‘Short Shorts’ was chosen from over 100 others as poem of the month for the Friendly Street reading for October? Friendly Street, as the website will tell you, is the oldest longest running poetry reading in Australia. They run 10 readings a year and choose the poem of the month for each one. It is an honour to be chosen. I hope you like my series of haiku-like miniatures:


I watch the shirts
On the line
Breathe in and out


They line up along
The footpath mouths open
Hungry for mail.

This insect that just landed
Stretching wings, legs
Doing tai chi on the page.


That rustling in the hedge
A short story
Stirring into life


Bald and black
As an emu’s egg, the helmet’s hatched
A biker’s head.

My Mate from Mogadishu

My mate from Mogadishu keeps phoning me at odd hours of the day and night. The weird thing is he always hangs up before I reach my mobile. Two rings. That’s it. That’s all he allows. I don’t get it. Sometimes I phone back but all I get is elevator music. Perhaps he’s phoning from an elevator. Perhaps he’s stuck in a lift and each call is an SOS. I know he’s from Somalia because Telstra tracked down the number. He’s not really my mate though we do have a connection. A missed one. I wonder what he wants. If it’s a scam it’s a wildly ineffectual one. Perhaps he’s a learner. If so, his mentor must be tearing his hair out. It’s weird though. When I hear his call — it’s always two rings so I know it’s him — at one or two in the morning, it’s strangely comforting. I turn over and go back to sleep.