Near Ferntree Gully



Selected poems




Through a drab-green social afternoon

as to-and-fro the emptied bottles roll

this question floats up, bleary, out of tune:

can a fuckwit have an immortal soul?

When will the vulgar court the lyrical

and bullshit fertilise the laurel crown?

When will cute images plainly tickle us all

with ratbag stylists going on the town?


Only when stories happen on a seam

whose gist gets memorised from north to south,

swimming through mythology like a dream:

the dingo with a baby in its mouth.

Smartarse and dickhead, trendocrats and folk,

nothing unites them like a dingo joke.




Bastard Valerian

An ample buzz of bees this year, thronging

that lairy bottlebrush tree and

plenty of sparrows once again. How

the living creatures do go forward

in cycles! But our ebullient blackbird

flaunts up high, even on the chimney


to boss those insolent Indian mynas,

near a swooping reptilian wattlebird and

hard by two somnolent doves. Are these then

seeds of the new life? What to write next

that's grand? Or utterly strange

but suitable for spring of course,


a season that flows to us in the coldest winter

as each blossom amplifies its temper




Near Ferntree Gully

'I always wanted to see more.'
— Hockney


Staring toward the stringy picture

through a linguistic lens

I have begun to see that the elderly magic,


deplored by most religions,

was a daughter of coincidence

mathematically robed


in some downright glorious colours.

That's the satin-sheen of it

or a very simple fall of rattling dice.


Fair enough, but necromancy

had no trouble believing herself

the stern mother of history,


able to carve its crude bush track

through the merely actual

like a cake-knife through cheddar.


But staring still at the number thirteen,

I wonder how we got here

so greenly, after all.


Naturally after all

some kind of sleight-of-hand,

using an old projector.



Chris Wallace-CrabbeChris Wallace-Crabbe is an Australian poet and emeritus professor in the Australian Centre, University of Melbourne.

Topic tags: Chris Wallace-Crabbe, poetry



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Existing comments

Crikey! You're still alive and still writing. I remember your lectures at the Shop in Parkville in the early 1970s. A while ago you mentored a young Vietnamese-Australian novelist. It's good to see you're still firing, Chris. You weren't as melodramatic as the other English professors, Sam Goldberg and Vincent Buckley. Thank God! We needed more down to earth mentors such as Hume Dow and yourself. Keep up the good work. You're an understated gem. Understated but far from insignificant. So many of the Old Shop Crew like Weston Bate, who taught me at school, have passed on. Many, many more years to you!
Edward Fido | 18 November 2019

Wow. These require an instant rereading. So congratulations, Chris. You've achieved the impossible in the digital age - not skimming, rereading :)
Sue | 18 November 2019

Thanks Chris. Always love your work; a beautifully lyrical sense with a good, unexpected wallop where needed.
Jorie Ryan | 19 November 2019


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