“humour, pain, judgement, and celebration”: a selection of poetry from ‘Open & Unfold’ by Cecilia Morris

Don’t Go Home

The practice of giving patients the psychedelic drug, LSD, was used in Newhaven Hospital in the 1960s and 1970s

At Newhaven hospital Kew,
I curl up deep in the bed.
A neat little psychiatrist, pebble glasses,
grey striped suit, sinks a needle in my arm.
The scent of ammonia and sheets cold as stone.
I hear only his soft voice bedside, questioning.

He interprets my hallucination of
my father hiding behind tree trunks.
Laid out eulogies.
Mouthfuls of dark memory, beat
like bogan moths around my head.

Elwood park, scuffed dust of the playground,
touch of cold metal, my hands on the swing chain
pushing and catching unable to stop.

My mother on a broomstick,
swoops low, beating air too close.

I should have gone mad,
but continued treatment as his gold-plated tongue
demanded more telling.
Six weeks, six overnighters.

He said, at five your father knew you too well.
That’s not how I remembered my father.
I stopped treatment.

Little by little school lunches were made again.
My two children played on bikes.
The husband continued his external life.


Wharf 3 Moama

This is where we learn stop.
The houseboat moves alongside
red river gums as old as the taste of olives.
Beside strands of limbs, an interwoven
past written in Braille.

The river is a caretaker of openness.
Travellers converse.

Night sky is pitched against brilliance,
no movement inside the river’s arms.

Three painters wash colours
gold and brown, elbows of river.
White backed swallows weave alongside.

From the stern of the houseboat,
hold a long silver slotted spoon
scoop mottled gums lit by Venus
turn your eyes upwards, a feast.

Breathe into exhalations of the Murray River.
The temperature is 40 degrees.
We lie on dampened white sheets listening.
An occasional fish a sharp splash.
The air smells of baked earth.


We’re in a rain shadow

you’ll spot the roundabout by the scribbly gum tree
turn to your right
along an almost invisible path
just after the boom gates
then turn sharp left
beyond an overhanging fig tree
leaves as large as a human hand

keep clear headed walk tall past
a lemon tree heavy with globes of light
increase your pace to strides
curse the road you have to cross
from asphalt to coarse yellow grains

be wary of jellyfish between the lisps of wave
a kite flies overhead in this soft mouthed bay

a shaft of magnolia moonlit across the skin of dark water
feel the closeness to miraculous
so strong that you will bend at the knees


Beachworth Abandoned Hospital

As I stand here
I feel my way back
to a hand in the door
of my mind
where a white lily beckons.
I taste childhood like sweet sharp
crushed mint,
hear my father’s sound long drawn out.

The little town below breathes,
the murmur of turned down beds,
church bells clamour for attention.

There are some things we don’t talk about ever.

I belong in the opening archway
of this abandoned building,
nobody knows I am here,
and no one will know when I’m gone.


– Cecilia Morris


Launch CM
Cecilia Morris. photograph by Lexi Johnston

Cecilia Morris is a Melbourne poet whose work has appeared in Quadrant, The Age, Reflections on Melbourne, Poetry d’Amour, Suburban Review and Australian Poetry Collaboration. Her third collection of poetry, Open & Unfold, was published by Belgrove Press this year. She has also co-authored three books on relationships, lectured in sociology at Monash University, and hosted a talkback radio show on 3AW.

Les Wicks launches Open & Unfold by Cecilia Morris.
Barbara Boyd-Anderson shares her thoughts on Open & Unfold
Open & Unfold
is available from Belgrove Press: contact salescm@belgrovepress.com


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