Brett Dionysius

B. R. Diony­sius was found­ing Direc­tor of the Queens­land Poetry Fes­ti­val. His poetry has been widely pub­lished in lit­er­ary jour­nals, antholo­gies, news­pa­pers and online. He is the author of six col­lec­tions of poetry and won the 2009 Max Har­ris Poetry Award. He recently was a joint win­ner of the 2011 Whit­more Press Man­u­script Prize and will have a new book, ‘Bowra’ released in 2013. He lives in Ipswich, Queens­land where he teaches Eng­lish and writes sonnets.


Christ­mas Island Rat

Rat­tus macleari

We were wor­ried about what you would bring
Into our coun­try of nests & dark bur­rows, intrigues
You could only guess at. A nation of rodents brawl­ing
All night, we encour­aged high-pitched wars & rapid
Cou­pling, but kept those red land crabs in check.
It was the van­guard you sent ahead that fin­ished us.
Not our black brethren who swarmed new con­ti­nents
Walk­ing planks to explore the world through a rat’s
Tun­nel vision. But the other refugees they car­ried.
Dis­eases that pushed like rail­roads through vir­gin
Blood­streams. If only you could have been processed
Off­shore on some other ocean rock & kept at claws
Length in manda­tory deten­tion. Not per­fect, but it
Would’ve given us time to think up a (s)pacific solution.



Ele­phant Bird

Aepy­or­nis maximus

We came from the largest sin­gle cells ever to be thought
Into exis­tence, larger than dinosaur eggs our shells cracked
Open your leg­ends, your mouth­wa­ter­ing myths imag­ined us
Haul­ing off ele­phants; heavy-lift chop­pers, the East named
Us – Roc; who messed about with Sin­bad & we prob­a­bly
Were a lit­tle impos­ing for you stand­ing at a lit­tle over 10ft,
Weigh­ing in at half a tonne. Big Bird’s street­wise pro­to­type.
Then Marco Polo, that intre­pid reporter of mis­quoted facts
Named us Ele­phant Bird, now that hurt, how would he have
Liked us to call him ‘lemur-man’. Coast­line hug­gers came next,
French too scared to pick through our deep­est secrets, gave us
Pirates’ sta­tus – a lost trea­sure by the 16th cen­tury. Voroma­p­a­tra
In the Mala­gasy tongue – ‘marsh bird’, fit­ting really for we sought
The most lonely places of all; at least your imag­i­na­tion took flight.