Ivy Ireland: 5 poems

A distinctive poetic voice: Brook Emery launches The Owl Inside by Ivy Ireland
The Clearing

Today concerns the clearing of indifference:
flight on the horizon, the reaching after it involved,
that one sure math required to get us anywhere.

Then the great pause of intake:
the sugar of this golden finch,
these grasses slithering with spiders.

And those mountains, beloved, mountains!
Undersea, lurking where we will not
uncover their mysteries without the necessary history.

Or more special simplicities: things doing and undoing,
disguised as raw meat or not, enamoured or disgusted –
as I with you, as salt with heat.

To think we used to fear those pavement cracks.
Now we prod at them, romantic in volatility,
mythic in belligerence.

To think we used to sit with backs to the incoming comet,
eyes squished shut to the flashes in the corners,
the next ice age and the end of our form.

Now we allow a few clarifying blinks before
facing Armageddon. Now we reach through the clear
cold circumflex surrounding true sentience,

towards the veil that would cut us off, the great
gaping hole in that veil the last comet creates.
Now we gather lost fists together that used to shake at gods.



“The world is a corpse-eater’ – Gospel of Phillip

hesitant mauve against final cause red. jacaranda bows to the flame tree. sea hawk powers past. dog moans somewhere distant. dry wind cuts through dead snake grass. the cosmological decisiveness acquiesces to give you a seat in the scene. instead you rise.

you rise. too tardy for proper courtesy. introduce terms like teleological uncertainty to the morning. feel bad about it. continue on regardless. whims like intelligent design seep from the landscape. you roll your eyes. thread your toes through the pre-crushed petals. bleed more red. mauve deserves to be ignored. too reminiscent of society ladies.

camphor laurels are society ladies. they loom out there. nodding heads at fashionable dinners. chickens bob about in their run. they have not had breakfast. you have not had breakfast nor have you kissed your lover’s forehead for days. the ocean you can barely see is out there anyway. constantly gobbling up shore. discretely so you barely notice. it is edging closer.

every day I realise we’ve left it too late to get it back, but then I work like a bitch to get it back. speaks a bush regeneration agent in the new day air. but you are scribbling. too busy for Sisyphus. lines turn into letters turn into denials you will never send. lack denotes longing. admission of longing assumes a fault somewhere. fault leads itself right down the garden path to blame.

there are billions upon billions of parallel worlds reclining just through that mauve and red. bathing just beyond that powdered baby blue and new leaf green. colours are veils. there are other worlds. just there on that other side. just get to them. just go. just get to one.


Incidental Complications


A feather and a hammer fall at the same rate on the moon.


There are two,
somehow this is important,
we shall name the feather he,
the hammer she,
though they are any given splodge of particle dust.


Through all this star-picketing off,
one from the other,
the world is,
after all,
an interconnected whole.


Say they were on the moon, these two,
the seeming difference
in weights of heart –
her hammer,
his feather,
would lack consequence.


On earth,
a resistance in the air is doing the damage:
something they are born into,
an incidental complication.


A simple turn of events
is given far too much importance,
drains what is essentially them,
a togetherness,


Yet see him approach her,
side-stepping genetic spectres,
a relic of light from some
dead celestial body,
biting his own finger –
the only available response to all this
here and now.


Yet watch her astronaut crescendo
through here and now
to the FACT that remains.


Most everything the writer seeks to reveal
concerns this nonlinear system,
refers to a pact made between these
to somehow reach the Absolute,
via whichever polypeptide chain suggests itself.


The interconnected whole
must equal the sum of its parts,
the combined weights of their hearts
as they fall through, endless through,
oh so gradually
and because they must,
thinnest space,
his feather
her hammer
at the same rate
must equal…

must equal…


must they be on the moon?


Single Mum

The objects scattered across her room are galaxies
rising up, hovering for an instant where they are, then
flinging themselves out the door, flying
by my fixed presence in the hallway –
always too fast, with far too much velocity. I can’t catch them;
I never could. They have done this to me all along.
Teething toys to Barbie dolls, Goodnight Moon to Matilda,
Beetle to Scrabble. There were nappies, once.
Who can forget breasts squirting milk across the cosmos?
Spew rags and crapped jumpsuits. Sleeplessness – yes,
when a good night’s rest took off, that was a one-way journey, too.
Suggestions, snide comments. Everyone else knowing better, doing more.
Febrile convulsions in Emergency, night-wetting – my bed, my leg – and
preschool paintings on rented walls. The body holds it all, the mind cannot.
Now, out beyond the constant giving-over of homework,
dubious BFFs, extra-curricular whatever afternoons driving
absolutely wherever into Friday night school-mum wines,
these constellations of a life still push past my wide-open eyes,
speed by my O-gape mouth of quiet surprise. Who will close my lips?
Who will put these things back in their place before this tiny world comes home?
All this clinging to edges, clutching at an expansion that cannot be comprehended,
let alone ended. I’d cease, but the objects don’t. Stop?
The future crone me, still hovering in the hallway,
expecting to get hit with all this endless shooting stuff,
cackles at the very notion of severance.


Spotted Pardalote

The notion falls
back down to Earth:
unexpected coughing fit,
a ghost against your neck.

Just sitting there,
looking in to look out,
minding nothing but
your own small business,
you get hit with
the thought’s return.

A flicker of some
tiny chirpers
flit and flare past
this aspect, in particular.
Headache birds
in breeding season:
their pitch is a gong.
Return to now.

Then the slow,
meticulous rise of
spirals of gnats.
Dew-lined spider web
dazzling in new light,
two days since Solstice.

You’ve come here to barely notice,
to explore the soft buzz of quarks.

A trickle of cyclists
dismount by your bench.
Grins trickle down to dirt,
praising sweat, miles,
their own endorphins.

Stillness breaks,
chirpers scuttle,
gnats scatter,
the notion
forces its way in again –
you might as well name it.

Betrayal: that secrets
cause cell-death,
carve themselves into the liver
once the etched-over heart
has been etched out.

Clouds like discarded
wads of chewing gum
splatter through the now
pavement-grey sky.

This panorama is so close
to what you needed;
all this here is so almost there,
you might have arrived at
the pith of it.

You give in,
leave the lookout
to those on a high,
begin the slow descent,
a question folded inside:

how can the absence
of one other –
among seven billion others –
influence any outcome
in any significant way?


A distinctive poetic voice: Brook Emery launches The Owl Inside by Ivy Ireland
Photo Trisha Pender

Ivy Ireland is the author of Incidental Complications (2007), Porch Light (2015) and The Owl Inside (2020). Ivy’s divergent career paths include bookstore owner, magician’s assistant, musician, cabaret performer, writer, lecturer in Creative Writing and academic.
Ivy’s literary awards include the Australian Young Poet Fellowship, the Harri Jones Memorial Prize, the Thunderbolt Prize, the Newcastle Poetry Prize local award, and she was the runner-up in the UC International Poetry Prize. Ivy completed her Ph.D. in Creative Writing at the University of Newcastle and her poetry, essays and reviews have been widely published in journals and anthologies.


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