2 poems by Stephen Oliver


The suburb goes one way,

chimney smoke the other. One plane tree; its bole wide as

a well, lava flow of roots massing at the base,

next to the rusty rail line. A derelict munitions factory,

wall graffiti that reads, ‘No certainties in this life.’


Everything seems to be pushing away

from itself – clouds scroll Spanish like a rubric of skunks

on the move, clustering, only to expand and contract.


Those brick facades

down main street, faded dull as dried blood, each with

its fugitive dank doorway, reeking of urine, or something worse.

There’s no one to be seen, as if the rapture had hit,

but this one orchestrated by neo-liberalism.


Nobody talks about the Mayor’s

speech he gave a few years back; the brouhaha it caused,

the boosterism, hand claps and backslaps –

turning the munitions factory into a ‘museum/theme park,’

‘revitalization of our abandoned factory town.’

Someone talked about making a

documentary, but that never got done. Winter snows make

up for lack of heart, turning this place into some sort

of soft lens crime scene – from the helicopter’s perspective,


seems peaceful enough down there, fairyland graveyard,

nicely packaged rust-belt town. Trenchant as a death notice.

2 poems by Stephen Oliver

About the contributor

Stephen Oliver is an Australasian poet and author of 21 volumes of poetry. His work is published in Antipodes: A Global Journal of Australian/New Zealand Literature. His poems are translated into German, Spanish, Chinese and Russian. His latest poetry collection is The Song of Globule / 80 Sonnets (Greywacke Press, 2020), and a chapbook, Heroides / 15 Sonnets (Puriri Press, 2020).

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