I love this poem because I loved writing beautiful words about the sun and it brings back exciting memories of our visit to Canada, Vancouver and Victoria Island, and staying with Decima’s family and getting to know a little about this country.



on victoria island near vancouver

the sun could be canonised as a miracle worker
it hangs mildly in the sky
long and lingering
here on the forty-ninth parallel

its holy hands
turn this sullen inland sea to shimmering silver
if it were a shining mirror
one could say the sea sees itself
and shyly smiles

like the water’s thoughts
tiny fish rise ripple the surface
and quieten again

i stay quiet
allow the useless constant nibbles of my thoughts
to settle into the deep

the space between

The name of the poetry book is taken from the idea of this poem. This poem was inspired by a visit to the National Portrait Gallery in Canberra where portraits of my two favourite women poets were hanging by each other. I do not have pictures of the actual portraits. The following ones are pictures I like of them.

Oodgeroo-Noonuccal-narrow (1)


the space between

two women poets
hang side by side
in the portrait gallery

contained now

the space between
has its story
of times around the kitchen table
when these two women
saw other ways of being

words their weapon
justice their spirited charge
to break the wall of apathy
lift us beyond its rubble
give us new possibilites

oodgeroo noonuccal white-washed as kath walker
with sombre dark eyes and black skin

she anchored herself in hope
survived its instability
and kept it alive

judith walker social conscience
soft wrinkled sun-dried face in wide brimmed hat

a peace warrior she raged at injustice
her words a cry
against ignorance and greed
together they gaze out
calling us to listen

(Oodgeroo Noonuccal 1920-1993 and Judith Wright 1915-2000
poets, activists and friends)

lights a candle


When our Asylum Policy became secretive and we have no names and no stories, it is easy to be “crooned into amnesia,” we can actually “forget our humanity” as the second last line says.

In The Lorex, by Dr. Seuss, the final lines (which I read to children at home and at school many hundreds of times over the years) after all the trees have been cut down, he drops a seed, the very last seed of them all, and unless some one like you, plants it, and nurtures it, . . . . my poem calls for  action from us, for unless we act, be it light a candle or show we care , unless . . .

. . .lights a candle

and it comes to pass
we misplace our hearts
lose the song
forget the dance
break our tambourines
turn our backs
tremble with fear

when the unknown arrives
close doors

no names
no stories
no refugees
only a coined word

alleviates responsibility
croons amnesia

and in time
forget our humanity

unless someone like us . . .

this poem is about silence







Today in Australia we have a stalemate with the issue of Asylum Seekers, Refugees. and Boat people. We have had incidents of horrible things happening because of powerlessness. Stitching lips together, burning themselves alive, riots and destroying things. When one has no hope one reacts how one can.

This poem was first published in Eureka Street, a Social Justice Journal. I hope this poem has a voice for anyone who reads it, for “evil thrives under silence” is a line towards the end of the poem and that calls each of us to be awake and to be prepared to stand up and be counted. It has been said “when good people do nothing evil triumphs” In the movie Milk , they quote Martin Luther King, “To ignore evil is to be accomplice to it”

At the Jewish Museum in Sydney my breath was taken away by a wall painted with the words:

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out –
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out-
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out-
Because I wasn’t a Jew.

Then they came for me – and there was no one left to speak for me.”

this poem is about silence

words get in the way of silence
it needs a blank page
it needs space
in silence there can be longing
there can be anticipation
intimate or hostile

you can hear it
in the pin-drop moment
between bow and string

you can feel it between breaths

the inarticulate uses violence
for expression
is this silence?

can you say the sharp sickle moon
that glows on a dark winter sky is silent?

when one turns their back
silence is palpable
and what of silence imposed in fear?

silent protest is loud

when the powerless stitch their lips together
with needle and fishing line
is this silence
even as tears fall?

evil thrives under silence

a poem about silence
needs to be loud
to be heard