Selected poems


autumn, mutable


relief from heat and

the gushing sea breeze and

this stillness has me wanting

this morning the belly of the river gurgling

— digesting one tide, devouring another

this afternoon, driving up the scarp, a headless dugite

on the off ramp glistening in the acute light

I’ve noticed before how trees begin to die

in the dry granite beds waiting for the rains


this buttery sun clarifies shadows

they sit close    inviting


someone up the street is pruning

secateurs counting cleck cleck cleck



caducità  falling

this march

after reading Dear March – Come in by Emily Dickinson

closing the leap on February’s door

its Easterly thrashing at night

our skins stretched  feet obese

— the heat of it      leaves crisp-dried

scratching down the street

we’re wishful thinking the old seasons


on our screens a virus eats time

winds and weaves     grows and

weather leaves the conversation and

we’re streaming news feeds

dealing statistics  hygiene

anti-bacterial shields


in the harbour commercial channel helicopters

hover over cruise ships — passengers file

to quarantine or hospital sheets  

pandemic lexicon of the news

social distance  lockdown  confused

Praise and Blame both mere and dear


Still   the season will have its fill of fruit

quince and pumpkin plump themselves

pomegranates are rosy and heavy

the caesia a fall of pink tutus

stops strangers on their allotted walk

to call over the fence what tree is that? 


Dear March, you Can’t Come in

don’t touch the door handle

I’ll send you an email with a new refrain

— stay safe



all of us


the Notre Dame spire fell

a clip on a newsite some punctum

a thin spire like all the spires

in all the villages


I went back to the quiet spaces

Sunday mornings on a pinewood pew

creaking with the weight of us

huddling between coats

the smell of people’s wardrobes


all of us

sinners and drinkers and lovers and babies the townies the farmers cousins gossips the southerners the northerners orchardists spud growers mill workers butchers the matron the chemist the betrothed the flower arrangers the brass polishers footballers ready to leave early some still drunk from the night before and those who just wanted to feel as if Christmas still exists


laying our traumas down

singing in unison — con brio

looking up

at the plaster saints


a long way from Paris

someone’s rearranging the stains

the awe of juveniles tender as veal

power nudged from its hiding place behind the rock

those who found a god through the rod

wounds still raw smouldering


they will build a new spire


will we ever re-learn

the habit of sitting

beneath that flat sky?




Josephine ClarkeJosephine Clarke is a member of the Fremantle-based writers' group OOTA, and has had short stories and poetry published in Australian journals such as Westerly, Southerly, Cordite and the ABR (online). Her first collection of poetry, Recipe for Risotto, will be published by UWA Publishing in June 2020.


Topic tags: Josephine Clarke, poetry



submit a comment

Existing comments

So emotive.....beautiful Josephine
Sue L | 07 May 2020

"this buttery sun....", love it! Great work Jo.
Kevin Gillam | 15 May 2020


Subscribe for more stories like this.

Free sign-up