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Approaching the turnstile

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Selected poems


Shy birds

saturnine, specious — some of the dusty words shelved, reserved

others, elsewhere in the alphabet — leonine, pellucid

also, seldom called for

a few colours best isolated

lime green kept away from brown

but communion is expected of the living

trees in forests, termites in nests and with birds

always congregation:

at every soak, budgerigars in profusion

swamphen, coot and ibis, thick on every shore

with human kind the same, almost

hysteria to be linked

a few odd bods about, still: non-conforming, exotics

chick less, night parrots of the street

though not excluded by choice, or as yet extinct




Approaching the turnstile

The holder is a valued member of our community. Please extend every courtesy and assistance. — Government of Western Australia Seniors Card


this far from the turnstile

even this close, I know less than a handful

that will attend at my passing

yet am I dismayed?


nothing attaching to my name

shall be recognised after I'm gone

yet knowing this

am I dismayed?


but if, when called upon

at eighty years of age

I cannot prepare a sandwich

make a mess of my words


I fear that the thought may occur:

I have my Seniors Card but I have no legacy

and I have no Torah

I have no Bible

and I have no Koran





Outside Dunkeld


mist floats above grey valley floor

rises around Gariwerd's* pilasters

through this foggy lens of dawn

I try to fix a kangaroo tableau

before it begins to blur

my hands shake as breezes

tease dew dropped grasses

twitching noses read — a human here


two different species

haunched at half trigger

a moment of jointed


my camera still unfocussed

then it all blows away


*The local Aboriginal name for the Grampians.




Backyard campaign

sheltering in the gloom of the shed, he witnessed the storm's assault

his treasury of plants ransacked-vegetables devalued, cannas rag dolled

rose petals scattered, bushes bleeding from the guts

herbs planted in an old dog's bowl a week ago, sun supercharged so much

they're now cooked in their shell


rot then came to lettuces he'd drowned weekly in Thrive

let go to seed, broadcast by a windy day, now he picks the rogue results

sky clouds over so slowly, a slug's slow progress

he lopes around whatever else he planted months ago

what he has tended like a new born babe, now weedy thistles in tanks


little stalk of man-hat, spade, wheelbarrow

remembers frenzied locusts, sees where fire has been

treads in sandy runnels from a prior flood

it's contrary for Nature to be returned to exactly what it was

but a fresh campaign begun to salve this tender spot




Westfield World

if unbusy enough to live a lot

in shopping centres, your time's spent

swimming along arcades

reflections of your angel fish face

staring in at merchandise

behind glass plate


escalators drop and load you

at the Atrium-

a glass cone which fills, empties, refills

with: other people, bread, OJ, air


you float through the Food Market

to the central stage

see the latest ‘Face of Myer'

model pret a porter


the claps you hear are

mixed with muffled sounds

of cars being shuffled

in and out of car park decks


the rumbling is from shopping

trolley trains jack-knifing

between ramps

and self-opening doors


for whatever's left of a lifetime

you'll be just another

wrinkled face

stuck behind a daily paper

in Scope Café



Ross Jackson headshotRoss Jackson lives in Perth. He has had work in many Australian literary journals and some of his poems have appeared in New Zealand, Ireland, England and Canada. He writes about the experience of aloneness in the suburbs, about aging, visual art and other topics.

Topic tags: Ross Jackson, poetry



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Existing comments

I like these, so much.

Pam | 14 January 2019  

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