New poetry by James Walton


Lombardy poplars held magnet to the sky

the slow horizon a repast of moon

to lick the salt bone of stars

my hand bleeding from an oxide barb

a fortune told by every runnel

catch at them as they mind

the fat house cow kicking out

against the pollard grip of entrapment

cold lambs asleep by the wood box fire

mothers calling gunnery under the veranda

tethered by mid creamy clusters

our lives as steadfast as marble

coiled to place by that ropey dock

holding mauve as dreams faded

to brittle headstones of fool’s gold


Three houses down

on a morning with snow

I notice while out walking

a kangaroo in the vacant block

where they tore down the last

of the fishing shacks

to build three huddled units

She stands at full height to query

as I take a phone shot to prove

my presence in her moment

And how I wish to hold her

paw in hand with trust

back down the road to the Reserve

close the gate on this suburb

watch her hop and turn a farewell

float the gravity of leap

Wave a palm so close to mine

We could be family

She knows the truth with humans

the hurling want to be

waits for me to pass

delves deep into the long jump

better to leave that flowing symmetry

of tempting feed and boundary

One Easter at another place

marsupial arms reached by the sliding door

hungrily taking hot cross buns

from my children giggling giddy

On entering our lounge I stop to ponder

Can we ever be sure we’ve not met before?


all night the mopoke asks

how to restrain the dawn

preferring the dark romance

of a prayer in anonymity

unspooked by examining moon

hidden by philosophical niche

an urn of the tails of things

unscripted by human tongues

harsh judgements cast by summary

in the shriek of meal governed time

the hunt a flying suitcase capture

wraps around any scurrying thing

spills messed vacation clothes

a pin prick undoing of finest needlework

fertile as the surgeon’s scalpel

where the brutal edge sings

disappearing within morning foliage

slow as a nocturnal drunken handclap

between each eye’s blinking rotation

settling feathers like a gardening glove


it might be ice

broken glass rises

from the camber

sharp as a walled camp


locked treads

in counter curve

lose their algorithm

a condolence of wattle

the forensic lumen black

where primary colours meet

something darker rises in me

leave things be

let the blackberries renounce

the cock’s thrice summons

on one arm, mother

the other triptych, fucker

head forward in a gymnast’s pose

I make the call

the patrol officer

is younger than my daughter

a first death stalls in her throat

a gasp of brandy catching

broken rifles kindling on the slope

atonement in a carmine morning


Thirteen seconds of rain fell today

some sieve of conscience

enough to have a spider re set

a filigree of spent gossamer

either side the hours baked away

hardboards caked in a dust of flour

setting on the Mediterranean herbs

no longer happy this far south

we have aged beneath hats

unwashed to bare our tannins

tattoos run to veiny course

wiped clean in the mystery of towels

these delta maps pertaining

swing a mattock if you can

count out the longer shadows

of inky hot and blistered sweat

remember to listen to the drops blessings

choke down the boot polish of yoke

as you know deep in the strain of things

the time for talking is over

About the contributor

James Walton was a librarian, a farm labourer, and mostly a public sector union official. He resigned from an elected position in 2014 to be able to write creatively, having not done so since 1971. He is the author of three collections of poetry published since 2015. The Leviathan's Apprentice 2015, Walking Through Fences 2018, and Unstill Mosaics 2019.

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