Featured Writer Owen Bullock: Seven Poems and Three Untitled Prose Poems

Three untitled prose poems

Yeah. Yeah, that it’s bro. He had a skinful. Yeah. I couldn’t tell, just had this feeling, you know. Back of me head. No, I never been there before. But I knew that’s where the horse would go.

People say, I’ve looked a hundred times – usually in the same places. So I look where they don’t think it could possibly be, and there it is.


He hid inside a ball, the juggler found it. Mill’s Mess made him dizzy; the Shower lashed boredom. He made a new game: keeping arms and feet splayed wide, sprung off the wall rap rap rapidly. He was starshaped. Hands and feet wore down, limbs shivered and cracked, spun about, shaved to stunted. Shrunk to a ball. He fit. In.


The fool’s cap was full of sheets of paper. When I reached my hand in, something bit me, skin torn from bone. The fool laughed, offered a salve. The hand healed quickly. I followed him, took money as he performed on the streets, watched as he milked the wealthy for attention, courted favour for position in the senate. I offered a man my own hat full of sheets of paper. When it bit him he slapped me.


Coaching tips

The first thing we did with the new coach was learn how to juggle. Fucking stupid. But keeping three balls in the air gives you a lot of confidence when you drop back to one. We all had to kick with both feet. The forwards as well as the backs did half-back drills. He made us agree there was no point carrying flab; we got rid of it. We gave up beer. Stopped talking about luck. Finally, we beat the All Blacks.



in the sheet
.                   Martin’s absence
Martin’s travelling

light in the room
.                           contains days
he walked beside the canal
.                                           looking for birds

shadows on windows

.      not an exercise

you walk away
.                        find yourself
at the edge of a lake
which precedes
.                         white paper



.          to Barthes

I don’t know
what a red-letter day is

understanding male and female

like theorists
coming to an empty room

perfectly appointed
on the side of a mountain

inside, a table set for dinner
and no food

you can sit
as long as you like


Meditations on Švankmajer

stone drop
this me
in another life

.                                  rage
.                                  at the man
.                                  let the guinea pig go free

with the beast

.                                  without him
.                                  we have a picnic
.                                  & don’t even know
.                                  what we are

beating faster
the story crumbles

.                                  objects
.                                  torment him

voyeur –
feathers win
for a while




her lips
without opening
in a twist of defiance
the struggle to find
wood for the fire
worry the roof might


her lips
in tight lines
the mannered nature
of words, careful
to say the
precise things


his lips
with a little
bleak humour
falling off his bike


free-ass (paroles)

Saussure, sausage
bake in a
rin-tin-tin, Bakhtin
with the exciting adventures of
Kristeva Christabel

birds answer stars
a blush of light
between clouds

a blurb of light
a typo, the Bibel
a rustic joke
(or primitive instrument)

kind wakefulness

what’s the password.                          [clues
.                                                           which can be
is being dyslexic.                                taken out]
any kind of advantage?


Mother referenced multitudes:
to be Pacific, dear


the stool wobbles

for what’s hard to say

.           I didn’t have the muscle tone
.           to cut it off

early morning
a knotted handkerchief
at the end of a stick

he steps onto the drive
the journey ends


thoughts cross easily

a bridge
between sign
and wilderness


met him
a simple metonym

homonym Watt

shuffling bags
towards the exit

left out a personal pronoun
took the bus instead

he was also

a thrush he remembered
on the fence post




after the first sip
settle to reading Bakhtin
.           the charm in knowing
.           the cup is ready

something catches your attention
an idea odours the room
wash it down
with sips

Bakhtin’s second page
the word ‘neutral’
in the quote by Zirminsky
the phrase ‘linguistic descriptions’
applied to novels

someone is talking
raise the cup
I’ve learnt the word ‘variform’

a wash
the cup empty
‘the higher unity of the work as a whole’

-Owen Bullock


Owen Bullock

Owen Bullock’s publications include River’s Edge (Recent Work Press, 2016), A Cornish Story (Palores, 2010), and sometimes the sky isn’t big enough (Steele Roberts, 2010). He has two new collections forthcoming in 2017: semi (Puncher & Wattmann) and Work & Play (Recent Work Press). He won the Canberra Critics’ Circle Award for Poetry for his performance of urban haiku for Poetry at the Gods in September 2015. Owen has edited several journals and anthologies, including Poetry New Zealand. He recently completed a PhD in Creative Writing at the University of Canberra. He tweets @OwenTrail

Biographical Note

River’s Edge, 5678, and Urban Haiku are available from Recent Work Press


Comments are closed.