Justin Lowe

Justin Lowe was born in Sydney but spent large portions of his early childhood on the Spanish island of Minorca with his younger sister and artist mother. Completing his schooling back in Sydney, Justin gained a BA in the Central West of NSW and then spent several years in Europe working odd jobs and honing his skills as a writer. On returning again to Sydney, Justin settled down with his partner in what was then a fairly crusty Newtown teeming with disparate souls where through the course of the 1990’s he published more and more of his poetry and collaborated with some of Sydney’s finest songwriters such as Tim Freedman of The Whitlams and Bow Campbell of Front End Loader and The Impossibles, as well as editing seminal poetry mag Homebrew and releasing two collections, From Church to Alice (1996) and Try Laughter (2000). In 2001 Justin moved to the Blue Mountains west of Sydney and has since published one more poetry collection (Glass Poems, 2006) and two verse novels (The Great Big Show, 2007 and Magellenica, 2008).


Will Oldham


her nape

smells of the earth

where I will hum my one, long note


in the powdery dawn

when the crocuses are budding

and the quicksilver in their irises


speak of poor choices

a fatal misreading of the times

though if there are limits


to the limitless

they are drowned

in the banquet trill of the magpie


and she turns

so slowly, anyhow

she barely troubles the creases


where I have let my hand travel

like God’s cold eye

along the ragged exodus


feeling out the green, ticklish spots

the gentle frost that never lifts

the hmmmm of the little girl stuck in her throat


and the question always asked

when the end is slowly dawning on us

crisp and golden in the lattices


baby, what time is it?




hers is the beauty
old prophets once exhorted
too long in the desert
pining for that cold touch


what some call purity

others a blade

the idiot wind

how many times how many times


but I am already

turning this poem on its head

for she is not one of those

ice maidens of sepia


the fog light tavernas

of the mud-caked generations, the ashen-faced:

the gods have not been kind to her

but nor have they played their usual games


she had a good man

a good, sweet, honest man

and he stuck by her

the Lord alone knows why


for she sang of him

but never to him

sang so long and loud of him

that all the nameless suddenly had a name


all the faceless had a face
all the silent stirred like crumpled paper
while all the blameless suddenly confessed
and all the heartless wept
and this good man drowned lonely in her throat




Patti Smith                                                                                                          

his was the first instinct
to protect his own
and so he did
and so
the pinched face stares up
and the pinched little fingers scratch at the sun
and the line crackles
and I am back there as he cooks
buttering over the thousand silences
so I assume
she cackles as at a name
she does not like
water with oil
the absence of hesitancy
is the absence of humour
a dry cackle
some ancient enmity
neither has the time to explain
or perhaps because
he clutches his pink little fingers
at the myriad whispers, the opaque face
high strings
and a lonesome baritone
and every river gurgling down to the sea
the salty death in his tiny mouth
where the gulls hover hungry
and the sun feasts on the eyes of everything






if by a gypsy you mean

a man skirting the hearth light

the spastic dance of the tv


then I am your gypsy


I have a home, Johnny

but it is not of this world

whisper of traffic on a rainy Sunday


I am that hunch you see

on the stone plinth in the trench coat

with the eyes of tarnished copper


the stiletto wind on Canal street

the echo of your guitar in the old farriers

like a tap dripping steel in the old farriers


I hardly know you

why do I bother trying

to cut this cloth for you?


tapping away on that fretboard

like the ghost of a factory child

humming my heart and soul over and over


time is not our currency –

is that what you’re trying to tell me?

live short and punchy, Steven


make shapes of their hours



Cameron Lowe

Cameron Lowe lives in Geelong and works as a plasterer. His writing has appeared in Island, Meanjin, The Age & The Best Australian Poetry 2007 (UQP). Throwing Stones at the Sun, a chapbook of his poems was published by Whitmore Press in 2005. He is currently undertaking postgraduate study at The University of Melbourne.




for Alice

Deferring to wind & water a sort of swimming
begins, an allowance for flotsam on the tides of memory,
ambit lights glowing in the midnight depths,
slivers of silver teasing at the edges of sight.
             To be alone, then,
moonlight playing upon the sea’s skin.

Thinking scales, a child’s game of spindly fins,
the past rising toward its surface of familiars,
the things we are, in this darkness,
& the things we are not,
the dried thing we found on the tide line,
going a little green about the gills.

There will always be this gentle stirring,
this need to hold onto something
even as it changes shape, the little fish’s lullaby,
or the siren song amid the storm,
swimming in a music that breaks upon no shore.


at the shores of the afternoon’
                                       Nick Riemer
Between painted lips,
or deeper inside the body,
closer to the chest’s cavity,
listening to her swimsuit swelling,
fingers a clutch of leaves
swaying in the summer breeze,
hands smoothly-shaped stones,
the diaphragm contracting,
even now that eyes are closed.
Seashells, she might say suddenly,
half-asleep in the sun, dreaming
perhaps, of distant, pebbled shores,
little waves rising,
crumbling, repeating again & again,
meddling with memory, the map
of her back itself an ocean,
glistening with oil,
under the long echoing blue sky.



Desh Balasubramaniam

Desh Balasubramaniam is a young poet. He was born in Sri Lanka and grew up in both the war torn North & Eastern provinces. He fled to New Zealand at the age of thirteen with his family on humanitarian asylum. He is a qualified barrister & solicitor of High Court of New Zealand. He has spent number of years travelling on shoestring budgets around the world with the strong desire to understand the world and his place in it. His first return to Sri Lanka in 2005 had further enhanced his passion in writing and various forms of art. He describes his writing as “a voice for the unheard”. His work has appeared in Blue Giraffe and Sunday Times (Sri Lanka) Online. He is currently working on his first poetry collection.  



Woods behind the yard
              a month-old calf cries into deep night
Dogs in wolves’ mask
yowl in cemeteries of the streets
Voices, voices––that scream
              fade as another gun fires
Nail the windows, slam dark the doors
Hide within the cracks
              next to centipede stings
Last night’s blood in the throat
taste of cold feet to the heels
A game of hide (without seek)
              as death nears the bend
Neighbour’s misery (a school teacher)
baton across his learned temple
              the rusting knee caps
His wife’s sari on the floor
––scream of silence amble
Shadows beneath the door-split
            hunting dogs––their prey
Will you fight for freedom?
Will you rather pray for life?
              (a lifeless life)
They came and they came
              to our homes lit by kerosene lamps
dressed in green, a metal face
              to liberate us (they said)
Armed with a paint brush that fired
the island’s expressionists they screamed
Painted our homes with bullets, and
a trail of blood they walked


Waiting for Freedom

Down a blurred alley off Serangoon Road
in view of Perumal temple
five-headed bells ring
             waking the sleepless sleep
Familiarity within unfamiliar corners
             strangers begin to lose their shadows

Courtesy of a spaceless room––windowless
shoulder to shoulder, the six of us
Staring at the dim of ceiling
waiting for words
             madam from the mansion

Through the racket
            rough lovemaking from the neighbouring room
father confirms: “freedom awaits in a new land
our futures”
             ––away from the death knot of civil war
common obituaries
the unforgiving sharpness of a knife
She screamed finale––a long aaahh!
              a moment of freedom felt by all

Dressed with a thin noose
the interview at High Commission
Raised to answer every question
in little known language of English
Yes madam, even though it ought to be no at times
she smiled at my village-school politeness

Father forced to turn home
five unguarded left on our own
              ––the bells kept their heightened blare
Months passed, so did my case of puberty
Sympathetic strings of sitar
our story in a melodious eulogy
Unable to meet the rent
sought asylum from the unknown
Perumal stood his solitary stance
unheard our pleas

Living on milo bungkus
and daily dollar of curry puffs
Counting the number of passing cars
drunken men who sing their misery on Indian streets
wiping the tears of mother
(I had grown––
faster than the roaming clocks)

Month after month
under the lowering opaque ceiling
we waited––shoulder to shoulder
for a letter of freedom

Month after month
under the lowering opaque ceiling
we waited––shoulder to shoulder
for a letter of freedom.


On My Way To Asylum

script of my memoirs, I find
on unlined pages
rear of a novel I read years ago
written with blood of my own
photographs in black & white and burnt edges
smell of ash
            brittle memory of a life buried beneath
an affair with question
never leaves the bed
mind hangs on a barbwire fence
commas turned to colons
            showing clear breaks
story with a struggle for breath
born on a tear of Indian ocean
without a nation for some years
covering the scars with a silent pair of eyes
crawling on bare knees, with
broken body of words and a weightless bag
I arrive here in the cold
            with and without will
searching a new beginning
my drawn hand to greet the horizon