Rozanna Lilley: 2 Poems

The Hurricane

In the heart of the hurricane belt
Terangi hangs from the topmast
more bird than man

Father Paul chatters in his crumbling belfry
as Dorothy Lamour is lashed
to a banyan tree, her sarong slipping

Thirty wind machines whirr
while rollers pump giant waves
until pinpricks of blood
stipple pancaked cheeks
………….she’s a pure pro Gauguin-girl wired-for-sound

Murder and mayhem at a matinee price

A half-drowned atoll remains
salt-laden pandanus nets
skim azure lenses
refracting ghostwhite coral

Flash forward to
the exhausted chirr of storm petrels
circling the mournful sea

An auteur’s South Seas prophecy −
tomorrow is taken today


Lovers and luggers

I want to know how it feels
to be a man again

The world open as a billiard table
the globe slow spinning

To descend twenty fathoms
for a single pearl ………kiss on delivery

At China Tom’s
East is East and West is West

Charlie Chan’s a Japanese diver
(close enough) and

The Captain’s daughter
cross-dresses in the dark

Can’t we just go on pretending?
plunging in and out of giant tanks

Black hulls gliding
across the Strait

Pockets emptied ……… playacting
the depths of our paralysis

A monochrome sunset
blushing luridly tropical

The tabloids call this
realism ………… with a vengeance


Rozanna Lilley is a researcher and an author. Her hybrid (prose and poetry) memoir Do Oysters Get Bored? A Curious Life (UWA Publishing, 2018) was shortlisted for the National Biography Award in 2019. In 2020 her chapbook The Lady in the Bottle  is being published in the Eyewear (London) poetry pamphlet series. Her poetry has previously appeared in literary journals, newspapers and anthologies, including Best Australian Poems in 2015. The poems published here are part of a work in progress, Pixelated: Australia 1938-1953, which draw on the popular pictorial magazine, Pix, over a timespan of 15 years.

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