Tough but fair confronts human vulnerability

Man being interrogated

Poems by Lea McInerney and Sandra Renew


Aluminium walking stick clangs
            against the metal leg of the café chair.

The old man wields his bulk clumsily, limbs
           wayward on this cruel outing.

His body used to be a machine, set to grab
            quick coffees between big decisions.

Now his wife stirs his cup as he leans
            into her, their bond a parade of regret.

– Lea McInerney

Sitting By Her Father’s Grave Ten Years On

Up on the hill across the valley
the skyline glows orange, distant clouds

promise rain. A flicker of life
in a tree close by breaks

her far away gaze: a bird
showing its fledgling how to fly.

– Lea McInerney

Hemmed in

Although at first glance it seems improbable,
there is a season in the swamp
when ants grow wings and fly
in the last light before the rising fog.

I know it is also in the normal range
for a murmurer, hemmed in by government perfidy,
a biting gnat in the morass,
a bitter poet whose tongue is not silenced,
to fly, for one moment.

– Sandra Renew


The young man puffs out his cheeks, blows air out through pursed lips.
He runs his fingers through his hair, elbows out like chicken wings.
The woman holds up her hand to stop him speaking,
with one finger pushes her black-framed glasses back into place,
continues tapping keys in a large face calculator.

The dog, a bitzer with a lot of kelpie in her, tied with a rough rope,
sits erect looking from one face to the other,
water dish untouched.

And the tiny baby in the old pram sleeps.

adding up
the measures of a life
debts and balance —
will our children
know the cost of it all?

– Sandra Renew

Lea McInerney

Lea McInerney's poetry has been published in Cordite Poetry Review, Southerly and forthcoming in Meanjin.





Sandra Renew

Sandra Renew, who worked in Afghanistan and other war-affected and conflict areas for eleven years, has poems published in Flood, Fire and Drought (Ginninderra Press), an anthology exploring the effect of weather events on the Australian landscape.




Man being interviewed image by Shutterstock.

Topic tags: Lea McInerney, Sandra Renew, modern Australian poetry



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