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Christmas Island crabs

Various |  28 November 2011

Asylum (i)

In the hallway, she holds her breath, waiting
for the voice again that calls from there, and just there.

In a white nightdress, she is a ghost, feeling the walls
as though they are faces, locked tight with stories.

In slippers and night silence, she strains for a whisper that says
'hello, how are you?' and reminds her not to put cans

in the microwave, or to fall asleep in her chair, or to
forget that the most important things have been, and are going.

Somewhere in a drawer, there is a letter that contains
delicate things, and some words about gardens and the weather.

She calls a name and then cries it, trying to force it into
the paintwork like an indent, a foothold.

Alyson Miller

And the red crabs feast

Red crabs' diet consists mainly of fallen leaves, fruits, flowers and seedlings. They are not solely vegetarian however and will eat other dead crabs, birds, the introduced giant African snail and palatable human refuse if the opportunity presents itself.*

Christmas for crabs; their island blooms
with a rare largesse of flesh
mashed to pulp on rocks —
such 'palatable human refuse'.
They too migrate, ten million scuttles,
on their yearly prickly walk from forest to sea.
But roads are cleared for them, cars parked,
as the needful eggs pull them down —
a crimson shawl over grinning cliffs.

We make space for the moon-mad crabs,
their urgent surging back to sea.
A wooden shell, a thin plank hull,
is no match for a carapace.
That homely self that moves
and so always has just room enough.

P. S. Cottier

*Australian Government Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities website

The boat people of the New England Highway

An animate darkness deeper than understanding
Rain from the day of creation    
when belief filled the oceans
swamping and exposing the reef we had become
Windscreen wipers at hummingbird speed
hovering above surrender I gripped the wheel
as if it turned the earth the gelid breath of spines
attuned to survival Our metal carapace
a reed-thin membrane between parallel worlds
of dry security within gale-force immolation beyond
Neon squints room at the inn
a sanctuary of function and budget
undressed bricks food without flair
the next day limned with our hope
for better weather waited the other side
of the pillow For others launched
upon an unbarded sea of troubles
welcome is uniformed the inn is surrounded
by razor wire hope is finite
and days innumerable threat grows inward

Paul Scully

The politician

The more he spoke, the more it seemed,
his lines were all rehearsed,
and English was his second language —
Yeti was his first.

Damian Balassone 


Alyson MillerAlyson Miller lives in Geelong and has recently completed a PhD in scandalous literature at Deakin University. Her short stories and poetry have appeared in Staples, Verandah and Groundworks

Damian BalassoneP.S. Cottier's new book of poems The Cancellation of Clouds has just been published by Ginninderra Press.

Paul ScullyPaul Scully is based in Sydney and has been writing poetry on and off since his teenage years, having been inspired by his father, the poet John Dawes. He has been published in several Australian journals. 

Damian BalassoneDamian Balassone is a Melbourne poet whose work has appeared in various journals, magazines and e-zines. He is currently working on a second collection. 



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