Matchbox dreams



Selected poems


Matchbox dreams

The dirt ploughed easily under our bulldozer fists

After rain it was still dust underneath; roadworks were brisk


Kangaroos down from Mt Ainslie pooped in our miniature town

new boulders for the centre of our roundabouts

Around and out — the arteries in the front garden ended

in neat driveways bumper to bumper with matchbox cars


She had the best spot embraced in the roots of a silver birch

I had a purple Torana to her clutzy green station wagon


She raced over trailing roads; I neatly parked in my garage

of low hung shrub decorated with flower petal furniture


Round and round we drove our matchbox dreams

until something told us we were going nowhere


Ended up old in grid-patterned cities known as the real world

The matchbox cars chipping themselves silver


jostling in a box moved and stored and moved

waiting for the lights to change again



Civic carousel

Horses in revolution

entrance young eyes with their prancing

They pull their hands free of yours to give chase

A competition of brothers

riders without horses


Called back

yes, sing out that it is time


Instructions: stretch cloth full length of arms doing the Jesus thing on the cross

fold lengthwise

                           rotate in a rhythm to form a cushioning band

                           of red and green kitenge


Pneumatic organ music ends

Horses stop, the musical chairs enthusiasts of the equine world

The children return


Further instructions: get youngest child to climb up

                                        tie the cushioned band of cloth

harness him secure


Set off, toddler riding high, up and down on your back


Older child, usurped to walk will protest loudly

competing with the laughs of the carousel children

competing with the organ music starting up again

competing with the grind of all the pretty horses up and down and round


Maternal stillness eases the noise; your eyes fall

on your first-born like a benediction

you finished to cry now?


Hands hold

steadily you move in one direction on



Park dance

the council workers

wear their orange vests

to camouflage them in the autumn


in the park

with rakes not common or garden

              (industrial, edges 2 foot long)

they shepherd leaves into volcano piles

a ballet

rhythm accumulating on a step, in

to the leaves

then back out

to the edge

alternating, circling, a right foot, a left

the rakes dancing never kissing


plovers waiting to see what turns up



Jane DowningJane Downing has poems published around Australia including in Cordite, Poetrix, Rabbit, the Canberra Times, Best Australian Poems (2004 & 2015) and previously in Eureka Street. A collection, When Figs Fly, was published by Close-Up Books in 2019.

Topic tags: Jane Downing, poerty



submit a comment

Existing comments

Terrific, emotive, memory pricking!
john frawley | 28 October 2019

Lovely to read your poetry in Eurika Street Jane. Keep writing for us. Take care.
Margaret McDonald | 02 November 2019


Subscribe for more stories like this.

Free sign-up