A- A A+

Blood cancer solidarity

Peter Mitchell |  25 February 2013

Final Straw

Our future was a sky sprinkled with daisy stars.
Sitting on the Murwillumbah XPT homeward bound,
eyes tremble, tears water-fall dry skin,

choking breath as if a swimmer gasping for air.
Was it the explosion of your troubled dreams?
Were your five knuckle arpeggios the last straw?

Through the night, a chaos of dreams: halo of purple
storm clouds, sweet talk as barbed wire, roses powder
to dust. Legs are tight knots of muscle.

With morning, considerations of independence, of being single
content the light. Legs become supple stretches in a cool, free skin.
A white care cruises a straight freeway, open windows winnow the past.


Bandit Country

Some symptoms of illness are bandit country:
_________sudden intrusions into our lives,
the treasures of
____citizenship stolen,
__________ruddy health shimmied away.

Life margins tumble and slide
_________as night lives with day and day night.

Bodies wither, legs are twigs.
_________Dreams snag on thorns.

Our lives are
____envelopes in the post with no address.

Stick figures stand at crossroads in frayed dusk.
Coloured flags point north
_____________and south
_____________and east
_____________and west,
all points on the compass benign,
_______________without judgement.

From nor nor east, words suddenly appear,
____fly through thin air,
____vowels and consonants as wingtips
____feather our closed eyes.

Our eyes open,
____word storms smother bandit country
____in black-on-white.
Diagnostic words return memory of sky,
____solace of light.

Our envelopes are posted abroad.



A lymphoma brings affiliation: disquieting
fears as bedfellows. One, a doppelganger head —
Mars-sunset eyes deep sunk, prune wrinkled hide,

cheek bones protruding like clenched fists,
hovers above the bed of respite. In the silence,
this fellow-feeling fissures the lines of my ordinary features.

The chemical triad: Epirubicin, Vincristine and
Prednisolone are calligraphies rewriting cells and
DNA strands with recombinant healing.

The hologram dissolves to the high blue nothing.
My heart shines with golden flowers
as these blooms adhere the known world. 

Peter Mitchell headshotPeter Mitchell lives in the Rainbow Region of NSW, writing poetry, short fiction, memoir, literary criticism and a range of journalism. His collection of poetry, The Scarlet Moment (Picaro Press) was published in 2009. 


Peter Mitchell


Comments should be short, respectful and on topic. Email is requested for identification purposes only.

Word Count: 0 (please limit to 200)

Submitted comments

Now this is poetry! It has that dimension which separates the poet from the writer of contrived, masquerading prose ('prose poetry') and from the structured rhymer. I recall that John Keats, as a young resident doctor at Guys hospital in London, interrupted his roommate with,"I have written a line - 'A beautiful thing is a constant joy'. "Yes", his friend replied without enthusiasm. A little later Keats again interrupted his friend. "What then of this?' A thing of beauty is a joy forever, its lovliness increases, it will not pass into nothingness. "Now that,Keats", his friend replied, "will last forever." Such is the mark of the poet. Thank you Eureka Street for publishing what is, to me, real poetry written by a true rather than a confected poet. I will have to read more of this bloke, Peter Mitchell.

john frawley 26 February 2013

My husband died of leukaemia. How this resonated!

Helena Sweeney 26 February 2013

Reading this, and other poems by Peter Mitchell today, for the first time, has changed the tempo of my day. It has interrupted routine with reflection and taken me to places outside my office, a few of them ones where I'd rather not be. But all the same, I'm glad I took the trip as my brain feels clearer; I'm looking through different lens now for a while. I'm recommending folks read Peter's poem called Robinson Lookout Lismore and the one called Stone. Together with these treasures, it's been an amazing, and unexpected, interlude in my workday. Thank you.

Melanie James 09 October 2014

Similar articles

Election year food, sex and meaning

Barry Gittins and Jen Vuk | 08 February 2013

'Best Australian Essays 2012' book coverDavid Marr's withering piece on Tony Abbot completes the political trinity. These writers manage the impossible: they have me feeling sorry for politicians. Well, almost. I'm not sure if such magnanimity is allowed in an election year. But what a pleasure to discover those grey Canberran corridors harbouring such a chiaroscuro of emotion.

A fine teacher's urination solution

Brian Doyle | 30 January 2013

Sad girl with her head in her handsSister Marie realised that Linda had been robbed of her lunch, and had not eaten at all, and had been humiliated by the theft, and was more humiliated now by public revelation. She straightened up and stared at the older kids, but just as she began to speak, Linda sobbed even harder, and a rill of urine trickled from the back of her seat.

Bedtime flatulence and marital bliss

1 Comment
Tim Kroenert | 24 January 2013

Leslie Mann brushes her teeth, Paul Rudd sits on the toilet with an iPad. Movie poster from This Is 40Despite moments of crass humour, This Is 40 is centrally moral, even conservative in its elevation of 'heteronormative' family unity. It stands as a nuanced riposte to the simplistic assessment made by one character that Debbie and Pete 'aren't right for each other'. Marriages are complex, and even troubled ones may not be easily dismissed.

Love poem to a Hills Hoist

Kevin Gillam | 22 January 2013

Hills hoist, white text on greendear hoist, still standing? still spinning? still lapped by buffalo? we loved you. weren't allowed to of course. but we did. draped over, swung from, cranked up and down, merry-go-round on green sea. Mum's peeling carrots, voice piercing the flywire.

Rape and restorative justice

Ellena Savage | 18 January 2013

Hand holding a stone, with words superimposed: 'The First Stone'. Detail from the cover of a book by Helen Garner

My friend was raped by a stranger at knife-point. When the police found the perpetrator she learned he had raped other women, and had murdered some of them. While he was being charged, she decided to opt out of the proceedings. She didn't believe prison would rehabilitate him, or aid her own survival.