Contemporary Irish Poetry Featured Writer: Jessica Traynor

Three Poems              Contemporary Irish Poetry Index

Jessica Traynor’s debut poetry collection, Liffey Swim (Dedalus Press), was nominated for the 2015 Strong/Shine Award. In 2016, she was commissioned by the Arts Council and the Irish Writers Centre to write a poem for the Easter Rising commemorations. A new commission, a sequence of poems in response to Swift’s A Modest Proposal, is forthcoming from The Salvage Press in 2017. She was recipient of the Ireland Chair of Poetry Bursary in 2014, was named Hennessy New Irish Writer of the Year in 2013 and won the Listowel Poetry Prize in 2011. She reviews regularly on the radio for RTÉ’s flagship arts program Arena.

Jessica Traynor’s website




Jessica Traynor reads her poem “Liffey Swim”, in the UCD Library Special Collections Reading Room

Jessica Traynor: Three Poems

Biographical Note              Contemporary Irish Poetry Index


Matches for Rosa
In Bath Cathedral
The Swarm


Matches for Rosa
‘I want to give it to Rosa Luxemburg, who loved birds and flames.’
………………………………………………………………….– John Berger

These matches are a gift for Rosa –
I’ll send her a text first, so she will expect them
where she lives now, in a room
on the other side of water.

Even the dead can light a fire with the right tinder,
like these matryoshka matchboxes –
each one hiding a smaller lacquered case,
and a painted Russian songbird.

Perhaps each bird with its sloe-deep eyes,
its harlequin flashes of scarlet or gold
will be reborn as a phoenix in that other place;
where the dead live, sparks catch quicker,

and maybe in return for my gift,
this woman so in love with fire and flight
will send her blazing birds to my pyre.

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In Bath Cathedral

O reader stay one moment with the dead –
our bones are mingling beneath your feet
and we are all alone.

Stay with us while our knuckles roll
amongst pence and relics, over curses
scratched on tin or silver to hex a neighbour

for a stolen blanket. All the company
we have now is Minerva’s stone head
that never suffered joy or entropy,

her brow smooth while all around us
hot spring water picks holes in bones.
Stay through days of rotting joists,

through bombs that make the air sing
with flying glass. Stay, though the nave
be scattered with broken saints;

stay and hear and remember –
our echoes chime around the world.
They sound through the breath of others,

in the unimagined deserts of the mind,
in Damascus, in Aleppo, in Palmyra.
Stay and hold vigil. The dead are all the same.

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The Swarm

Search for them in the canopy,
among the meadow grasses,

you won’t spot them;
the thousands of bees

that unzip the air,
follow the day’s weft,

that rip the silence like cloth,
tug the tiny hairs on skin

with their ghost music –
bees long dead, bees soon to die,

as the ladder of evolution
reaches its vanishing point.

They hide here
among birdsfoot trefoil,

purple vetch, self-heal,
among hemlock and nightshade

and they wait,
these phantom bees,

between the pines.
They have nothing to fear

from me or you,
these numberless dead.

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Jessica Traynor was one of a number of Irish poets who were commissioned by The Irish Writer’s Centre to write poems in response to the experiences of the leaders of the 1916 uprising, set at various locations around Dublin. Jessica chose to write about Dr Kathleen Lynn in City Hall.

Visions and Visitations: Melinda Smith launches ‘A Casual Penance’ by John Foulcher

John Foulcher’s latest collection, A Casual Penance, was launched by Melinda Smith at the Civic Digest Cafe, Civic Theatre Newcastle on 8 April as part of the Newcastle Writers Festival

John Foulcher and Melinda Smith at the launch of A Casual Penance . Photograph Pitt Street Poetry

Thank you all for coming. I’m very honoured to have been asked to launch John Foulcher’s A Casual Penance this evening.

This book probably marks the beginning of a new period in John’s creative production, being his first post-retirement release – although many of the poems were written while he was still working as a teacher. At any rate future Foulcher scholars may look back on it as something of a watershed.

The book is divided into three sections:

  • First, an astonishing sequence of poems on Toulouse-Lautrec, ‘Crachis’ (named for the spattering technique used by the painter to create mists of colour on his lithographs).
  • a central section containing a variety of lyrics, meditations, elegies, a love poem and a nightmare.
  • The final section, a sequence of prose poems ‘The Greater Silence’ , which could be characterised as a spiritual autobiography – a re-telling, a re-appraisal of some formative spiritual moments, from 1958 to the present day. Containing one of the most unsettling wardrobe malfunctions I’ve ever read in a poem.

The three sections are book-ended by two rhyming pieces: a sonnet and a quatrain.

I’ll just talk a little about a few of the book’s themes and read you some tasters.

The Crachis section is outwardly a condensed biography of the painter Toulouse-Lautrec combined with an ekphrastic engagement with many of his well-known lithographs and paintings. Every poem in the sequence is beautiful, with a consistent, spare, tender, tone. From their tight focus on the life and work of one man they open out kaleidoscopically to encompass themes of mortality, disability, art, shame, and love. Most of them are apostrophes, addressing the painter directly. To give you just a taste, here is a little of ‘Portrait of Lucy Jourdan, Aging Coquette, 1899’:

‘ …Her eyes are slits

of eyes, trickling with sight, as she watches
your face beyond the frame, as red as her lips,
your body a starved, knuckled thing. She leans

into the light that rears from below,
as if from a row of footlights. She asks no favours,
no accolades. She is like a curtain coming down.’

Moving on to look over the rest of A Casual Penance, we see John returning to some of his favourite themes:

  • the spiritual / the numinous
  • particularly in The Greater Silences, his relationship to organised religion, and eventually to the Anglican church (which at points in the poems becomes entwined with his relationship with his wife Jane, an Anglican priest )
  • mortality / impermanence.

As John himself has said, the poems written at this time of life can often spring from a look back, a desire to re-assess, to understand fully in retrospect. 20 20 hindsight… ‘a reckoning’ if you will.

At this age too, lots of the fixed lights start to wink out, as captured in ‘The Day David Bowie Died’ (I love the images of disintegration in the poem’s final lines)

and shards of his life were scattered across the screen,
as if there’d been an explosion. On our way to the station,
a busker with a guitar plucked away at China Girl,
caressing its lean melody, coaxing the notes
from the prison of strings. A note, then silence,
then another note, blown about in the blustering wind,
falling on the ground around us like flakes of the finest snow.

There is a distinctly elegiac tone to many of the poems and several are actually elegies. The most devastating of these is ‘Two Farewells for Cameron Allan.’ We also have, from ‘Her brother is dead’, set outside a rural church after a funeral: ‘ The cross should be sharpened, I thought, like a stake. It should go deep into the earth. How else, I thought, could it carry a man?’

There are visions and visitations too, as in ‘Before the Storm’ when the poet’s father, fifty years dead, comes to stand on the other side of the flyscreen door and say his name.

There are other delights in the book as well:

  • Wildlife in the landscape – stark, and brutal but beautiful too, as with the dead baby wombat in ‘a walk’:

……………….the dead baby
that crawled out from under its mother’s trunk,
its skin dark, and as hard as bone,
its mouth burred with flies.
We finish the walk, and don’t talk any more.

Also the magpies’ song, in ‘Magpies and Sleep’, how it

‘sway[s] like a rope dangling from a branch,
sweet and low, tangled in the bark and twigs
laid bare in the great burlesque of winter.
Perhaps one has woken and remembered
something that can’t wait until morning.
Perhaps it’s just a lover’s tiff, or the soft,
unguarded talk after sex. Perhaps
they’re summoning the sun, like shamans,
or making promises they can’t keep.’

  • John’s longtime fascination with light gets a look-in, as in ‘Domestic’, a small marvel of a thing.
  • Not surprisingly many of the poems take us to France where John spent time on an Australia Council residency – not just the Toulouse-Lautrec series but several poems in ‘The Greater Silence’ as well. I think my two absolute favourites among these are ‘City of Bone’ and ‘Snow Falling in Paris, 2011’. From the latter, we have this:

….The snow gnaws at your hand. In another world, it would turn you to ash, it
….would burn you to bone..The snow keeps falling and falling..We press our hands
….to the window, we see the world dimly. We have only the things we have done,
….those we have loved. We see the street lamps blooming

  • Several of the poems are set at Reidsdale, the site of a de-consecrated country church he and his wife Jane are restoring. The unforgettable bat guano poem (‘Clearing out the Bats’) is one of these as are ‘Church for Sale, Reidsdale’, ‘Swallow, Reidsdale’ and ‘Night, Reidsdale’. This is the church described as ‘a barn filled with night’.

I can’t finish up without mentioning that one of the many things that has made me an enduring fan of John’s work is his excellent ear for speech. He knows exactly how to deploy a little snatch of dialogue to perfectly focus the poem, or the line, and to delineate character and add drama with supreme economy. Like this little exchange from the prose poem ‘Mark, Pauline and Me, 1970’:

I slit open the great bag of silence, say There are more stars in the universe than the grains of sand. We are lying on the grass, we are a trinity, on the grass. We are lying under a dark, pointillist sky. Bullshit Mark says there’s no God. 

I’ll leave you with an excerpt from the list poem ‘the greater silence’, in which John enumerates several of the rarer kinds of silence:

‘silence that tempts you with a handful of the future
silence that is covered with dirt and stone
silence that has been roped that is thrashing about
silence that is a kind of wind
silence that wakes when the streets die when the lights go out in our rooms
silence that sinks and keeps sinking
silence that dancers ignore’

There’s plenty more where that came from. Grab your copy today.
I am very pleased to be able to declare A Casual Penance officially launched.

 – Melinda Smith


Melinda Smith won the Prime Minister’s Literary Award for her fourth book of poems, Drag down to unlock or place an emergency call (Pitt St Poetry, 2013). Her fifth, Goodbye, Cruel, is out now. She is based in the ACT and is currently poetry editor of The Canberra Times.

For information on how to purchase A Casual Penance contact Pitt Street Poetry at

If you are interested in reviewing A Casual Penance for Rochford Street Review please contact us at

Contemporary Irish Poetry Featured Writer: Adam White

Adam White Five poems    Contemporary Irish Poetry Index


Adam White is from Youghal in County Cork, where he served his time as a carpenter before travelling to Brittany to work and learn French on the building sites. He later read English and French at NUI Galway and started to write poetry. His first collection, Accurate Measurements, was published in 2013 and shortlisted for the Forward Prize for best first collection. In recent years he returned to live in France and works there at present as a secondary school English teacher. His second collection of poetry, What Else Is There?, has just been published (February 2017) by Doire Press.

Accurate Measurements and What Else Is There? are available from Doire Press

Reviews and Articles

Adam White: Five Poems

Biographical Note            Contemporary Irish Poetry Index


A Load of Firewood
Mare Nostrum
Robial Habtom
Mickey Filth


A Load of Firewood
for John Walsh


Was it me, then, or was it you,
who came backshifting the weighty trailer
through the open gates and tipped it there,

when the scrape and topple
of a few loose blocks quickened
to a thunderclatter over half the yard,

and the all-of-a-sudden presence
of so much timber at the ready
made me feel at home,

like a mite or a burrower in the bole?


Did it open your eyes
as much as it opened mine,
the way a woodpile drying
in the right conditions

has the fat worked off it by the years,
and downsizes
to a tightening of material,
the way less volume means more heat?

Something like birch
to get the whole thing started right;
the slow release of oak and ash
to keep it going through the night.


What is a log cut from a tree
if not a cross-section of living?
— the good years and the bad years
set down in pressed layers of xylem
and phloem, and every now
and then some vexed heart’s eccentricity.

Later, on quiet nights in,
going over all of this with a warm
gun is a thing that some of us will do,
like cutting a tree through and through.

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Mare Nostrum

North-westerly course out of Tripoli.
(Re)Provision of foodstuffs and water
to the offshore rig Zagreb 1,
fifty miles (nautical, mind) off the coast
of Libya. When one of my officers
spyglassed what looked to be an agitation
of gulls over a small craft, I gave orders
to tack and when we closed and saw
it was of course men hailing us with their shirts,
yelling in the unintelligible,
sent my second in command, an Egyptian,
to sound out the crew in Arabic.

……….Well I saw ants once, when I was a child,
eclipse a slice of apple let fall
on the front stoop of our building,
and that’s what it is:
one hundred and fifty souls overcrowding
the deck of a fifty-foot wooden vessel,
and as many again squatting below
between the boards, you learn subsequently.
That they badly lack water and food
is relayed, that they’re about parched for petrol,
or adrift under a big midday sun,
and never a rudiment of navigation
or a lifejacket amongst them.

……….Now, international regulation
on sea rescue prescribes such persons
be repatriated to the nearest port,
which means a U-turn to Tripoli,
but some demand you tow them
to Italy, and the whole boatload boil over
to a frenzy when you have to refuse,
threatening to fling themselves into the sea.
Considering women and small children
are in the hold, the middle ground
is to bid them board, the orchestration
of which veers perilously close to mayhem,
but it’s a mayhem you just get used to.
Water, chocolate bars and first aid
can thus be duly administered.

……….Some of those we treated for pussed-up
bullet wounds and knife cuts just blushed
like men and women showing their private parts;
the more mouthy there raged at paying
thousands of American dollars for passage
to Europe and being abandoned
in the middle of the Med like a pail
of kittens. Evidently there’s money
to be made in promising a man
some crackpot impracticality
he has fantasized,
or that was once engraved somewhere in his head.

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Robial Habtom


Tonight it was on every channel.
A mile-long line of lorries blocked
at the jetty checkpoint, that big sign
flashing Calais 5, Calais 5.

The length of this safeguarded pass,
geared up police inspect the cabs
severely, scrutinize
under chassis, flashlight the dark

places behind engines and wheels
before any gesticulated all clear,
and iron bucks on iron when
a rig’s motor lows up the gangway.


So did you know the hot space
between that one’s back tyres?
Did you bearhug the crud
of its underbelly or cling

to its rattling hindquarters
with all your remaining strength,
get drenched in the scent
of its diesel musk, its oil drool?

And how many times
did you do this to yourself
only to be discovered
and discouraged through punishment?


Seeing each lorry get its all-out
going over, why am I struck
again by those television
images from years ago

of men in white boiler suits
on the Louth-Armagh border,
face-masked, gloved and goggled,
tight-circling every vehicle

on the road from Meigh to Proleek,
who bleached and power hosed
any outbreak of foot and mouth
out of our country?


When I imagined your drowned body
in the harbour, all I could see
was the sea-girt bloat
of your trafficked arms and legs,

your dough-pale, freighted head
missing its eyes, lips and ears.
Before you were dredged you were downdragged
and caught in the undercurrents’

cold for a whole month,
bottom feed in death as in life
and, only for the tattoos,
unidentifiable, dead twice.


The newspapers’ black and white
said there was a watertight
plastic bag tied to your waist,
keeping a family photo safe.

To me, the way you surfaced fast
to that bubble of a past
your own country made unworkable,
was the once-and-for-all unsaying

of all our front-page-story speak
and brass-necked eldorado talk
that must have been raging hurt for you,
insult to your original restlessness.

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Mickey Filth

From the rain and mire months
(those oilskins his only hope of shelter)
to the hardhat’s dust and sweat
summer softening on the sweatband,
he slogs it out in all weathers
to work off a penance.
Straddling steel in house foundations
or down laying shit pipe
in the soup of trenches,
he’s a ground worker with a dirt wish.

All week you may suffer his dirt
and silence, but he has been sentenced
slowly to the rest of his life.
Nights out, he’ll extinguish
the flicker of a conversation
like he grinds out each butt
in the smoking ashtray,
drown the drought of good company
in as many cold pint bottles
as loved ones who left on the Big C.

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Not the ones he left behind;
as they shoulder up underneath
and steady into step, bell-slow
toward the waiting hearse,

I must be reminded of an evening
a month ago at most, drizzle
trickling down the last glints of day
on every single thing, and seeing him

alone at low tide,
struggling in oilskins,
unrooting scrap from the soft Slob Bank,
shouldering it away to a trailer.

Before I can think of the ones he left behind,
I must keep going back
to him going back
for every keel piece and rust-bitten half barrel,

for every pennyworth of copper,
stooped under his own weight in old iron
so that the full load he’d have to tow
might equal the dead weight of his worry.

Teasing Threads – Lady Gaga’s ‘Telephone’

Chris Palazzolo looks at a quintessential piece of Americana

Image result for lady gaga telephoneBarack Obama has a lot to answer for. The image of disciplined professionalism his administration projected to the world, its cautious multilateralism in foreign affairs and its progressive domestic policies, disarmed Australians to the US culture that fills our media, as if ‘Obamaism’ was somehow a permanent thing. We can thank the election of Donald Trump for reminding us that America is not benign and its cultural products which we consume are not made in our interests, but in America’s interests. I’m not for one minute arguing that we should embargo American cultural production. We should all admire the beauty, energy and humour of American movies, music and literature. I’m just arguing for the need to sharpen our critical faculties in order to put a bit of distance between us and these products. In other words, stop consuming them as if they’re as natural as air and water.

Lady Gaga’s Telephone (both song and video) is a ballet allegorising the phrase “Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” from the Preamble of the US Declaration of Independence. The Declaration of Independence is a revolutionary document which means that at the time of its publication its principles were unrealised; only in revolution would they be realised, and revolution, which entails the radical alteration of an existing condition, is unknowable. Lady Gaga is in prison. She is without liberty. Furthermore her air of unflappable coolness indicates that being without liberty is her normal condition. The chains that drape her shoulders and bind her arms look like accoutrements to her costume of stiletto heels, fishnets, black lingerie, and chrome studded wristbands and choker; a fashion-plate harlot of the ancien regime. She is led along the prison gantry by two screws dressed in lesbian-fascist bondage gear; the state is just a big control fetish that derives its pleasure by seizing her body without her consent (an insert shot shows her naked body covered with yellow crime-scene tape). All of the other inmates, in the cells and in the yard are black and Hispanic. Gaga’s whiteness makes her stand out but she quickly proves she’s just like them by her willingness to put out. Everyone is the same. They are young and warrior-strong. No one is sick or depressed. The weak have perished, only the strong and pissed off survive.

Gaga gets a call. This is the song, a gentle anxious rill on a harp which turns into a stomping warlike anthem, in which she tells a clingy lover to stop calling because she’s busy working for a living. The chains of the personal are linked to the sexual-political. She’s not telling her lover the whole truth. She lies about what she’s doing and where she is. The punching moves in her dance leave us in no doubt that she will tell the lover all if they call again.

Gaga is on remand. She leaves the prison dressed like a courtesan in a fashionable arrondissement of Second Empire Paris. She meets Beyoncé and they drive off together in the Kill Bill Pussywagon. (I’m fast forwarding a bit now). She and Beyoncé poison Beyoncé’s boyfriend and all of his buddies (and his dog) in a diner in an allusion to the diner scene in Natural Born Killers, and then dance over the dead bodies. Gaga dances in an American flag bikini. In the final scene, as Gaga and Beyoncé drive off to a Thelma and Louise type Valhalla, Gaga is dressed in leopard skin outfit, big hat, and shawl tied under her chin; a kind of jungle-pilgrim ensemble. The unthinkable in fashion signifies the unknowable of revolution.

Marx said that revolutions tend to clothe themselves in the rhetoric and costume of past Great Events – simulacra to assuage the terror of the absolutely new. Gaga’s American revolution (she’s found her liberty and is now pursuing happiness) is dressed in the rhetoric of prison-break and road movie pastiche and the costume of her private couture. Hers would be a very expensive revolution to be part of.

– Chris Palazzolo


Teasing Threads is Chris Palazzolo, novelist and poet, editor at Regime Books in Perth, radio host on 6EBA FM North Perth, and was, until recently, manager of one of the last video shops in the world. His novel, Scene and Circles, is available from

Contemporary Irish Poetry Featured Writer: Robyn Rowland

Robyn Rowland Seven poems           Contemporary Irish Poetry Index


Robyn Rowland is an Irish-Australian citizen, visiting Ireland for thirty-four years, where she lives in Connemara. She also visits and works in Turkey. She has written twelve books, nine of poetry. Robyn’s poetry appears in national and international journals and in over forty anthologies, including eight editions of The Best Australian Poems. She has read in many countries including, Bosnia, Serbia, Austria, Turkey, India, and Portugal.

Her latest books in 2015 were Line of Drift (Doire Press, Ireland, supported by the Irish Arts Council, and her bi-lingual This Intimate War Gallipoli/Çanakkale 1915 – İçli Dışlı Bir Savaş: Gelibolu/Çanakkale 1915 (Five Islands Press, Australia and Bilge Kultur Sanat,Turkey) sponsored by the Municipality of Çanakkale. Turkish translations Mehmet Ali Çelikel. Her second book with Doire Press will be out in 2018.

She has been featured on the RTE Poetry Show, Ireland, as well as PoeticA and Earshot in Australia. She was recently filmed reading for the National Irish Poetry Archives, James Joyce Library University College Dublin.

Reviews and Articles

Robyn Rowland discusses her poetry for the Irish Poetry Reading Archive.

Robyn Rowland: Seven Poems

Biographical Note            Contemporary Irish Poetry Index


The long walk
Bread line massacre
Golden flight
Invisible fields: from the sequence ‘Four Poems on Love’
Resistance, always
On the beach
Island harvest


The long walk

March 1849, Connacht, Ireland

Violet: ‘The Famine?’ Malone: (with smoldering passion) ‘No, the Starvation. When a country is full of food and exporting it, there can be no Famine.” G.B. Shaw, Man and Superman

….The oracle could have foretold it, though the wisdom of Delphi
….was always silent in winter and Pythia had long since withheld her voice,
….but with Croagh Patrick to the back shoulder without serpents
….and the Goddess still hot upon its face with the old ways
….you’d wonder all the signs would warn them, walkers grasping for grain, as
………………..into the valley of death
………………..stumbled the 600

….Snow was sheeting across Ben Gorm and the Sheeffry hills,
….Mweelrea mountains shuddering under rain,
….blight was on the land and the white globes of goodness that grew
….in the dark Irish earth had taken in fallen dust from America,
….fungus-ridden with stench of starvation through its flesh, as
………………..into the valley of death
………………..staggered the 600

….Children were barefoot in the iced air, their ragged clothes
….barely a cover for thin arms, rickety legs, their stomachs round
….with hunger, mothers too weary for tears at their cries,
….their own voices lost in despair, mouths long unfamiliar with appetite
….or taste or something solid; lost long before
………………..into the valley of death
………………..struggled the 600

….In the rage of a storm it was hard to see if skeletons they were, or
….walking dead, spirits through which the wind blew as if their bones
….were all that held them up, and try though it may,
….no wind could play a tune on these bones, only the
….clacking beat of a funereal march as
………………..into the valley of death
………………..scraped the 600

….Hunched against the blizzard, Mweelrea indignant watched helpless
….as they clung overnight to sheer rock, rough unflowering furze,
….waiting for the 7 am attendance ordered by the Guardians, and
….let’s name them – Colonel Hosgrove and Captain Primrose – who
….slept under their down and starched Irish linen as
………………..along the valley of death
………………..shivered the 600

….From Limerick, Cork, Galway food kept leaving for commerce’s hungry mouth.
….From Kilrush July 1848, 711 tons of Kerry oats, 128 tons of barley.
….Ship after ship from fine busy ports, laden with bacon, lamb, wheat and eggs,
….while Oscar’s Wilde’s mother hidden in the name ‘Speranza’
….raged in poetry at the theft of Irish food, yet
………………..still in the valley of death
………………..waited the 600

….Delphi Lodge’s table groaned under lunch while the wretched gathered
….in front of long dining room windows; and the Guardians ate and talked –
….maybe about the terrible weather, the growing cost of living, the poor;
….maybe about the comfort or otherwise of their white beds,
….while on lawns between them and Dubh Loch
……………… the valley of death
………………..huddled the 600

….They took but a minute to deem the gathering not poor enough for government grain,
….turning their empty hands away. But here the land is full of pity, and the mountains
….opened, gathering their bones into its soft peat; wind lifted them carefully in its arms
….and blew them easily into Black Lake. Snow cast a blanket over the young,
….sea washed others onto beds of Killary sand, and
………………..100 hundred only
………………..trudged out of the valley of death


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Bread line massacre

..Sarajevo, May 27 1992; 20 dead; 160 wounded
  after Roger Richards Photos, Remember Sarajevo, 1992-1999

Black and white clarity, though white looks grey.
In the cold morgue, Kosevo Hospital, Sarajevo,
his body lies on a flat wardrobe-door shrouded with sheet,
its stark shadow a jigsaw of lines on the tiles beneath.
His left leg protrudes, naked; the right, gone,
crushed somewhere under incinerated loaves;
bones mere shattered fragments in the pocked wall now;
or tossed to powder by the power of shells
lobbed with deliberation into a crowd queuing for bread.
Survivors covered with carnage struggle to throw off a woman’s
torso, head, as random limbs jostle for place in piles of body parts,
or pulped, run down drains in red rivers.
This is a strong leg, like my father’s, like my sons’;
the muscle clumped, calf broad and full –
what you love about a man’s body –
its strength, its assumptions of power.
The knee is smooth, lovely in its meniscus-shaped curve,
thigh pale from lack of sunshine close to the torso,
and the foot, its cardboard tag, five toes pointing towards the sun,
surprised almost, caught off guard.

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Golden flight

to Bob Adamson, from the west of Ireland
……….Still, these days …
……….I hold tight to what keeps me
……….alive – a spur-winged
……….plover in its broken-wing dance,
……….distracting the hawk from her chicks …
………………– Robert Adamson, ‘The Golden Bird’

October in Connemara after Atlantic gales
shred my late petunias, churning sea to growling
as it claws the stones on Ceann Dólainn bay below.
It marks the season’s late change, landscape softening,
roadsides rusting away fuchsia and blackberries.
A flock of goldfinches, their wings flickering yellow,
fall like autumn leaves from my power lines
onto newly mown grass, feeding on seeds with gusto,
and I think of you and the indelible ‘Goldfinches of Baghdad’,
your poem that rode beauty and cruelty into the flames.

Last time we met you took snaps to show Juno the jewels
of a jewfish my father caught and turned into earrings.
We swapped fish photos for months –
Bob and fish, Dad and fish – bigger, bigger.
Since then it’s been birds, birds. I watch them feed, strut,
fly through your photos on Facebook.
They stay airborne – rather than being gutted for eating.
I float the world now
as you grow more alive to your river,
so dissolved into its life it inks your veins.

You called me ‘Colour Girl’ in middle age,
though the girl was long gone.
You had really forgotten me but that didn’t matter.
I remembered you in the old days at Sydney poetry tables
all wild and scary with your word-passion.
I didn’t know you were just uncaged,
feeling your wings, and we both grew up alone,
but you were older, crazier, braver
and my voice still lost, imagining a life
outside my own loneliness in the country of the Dark.

You read too much, you talked too much,
you lived too hard till your feet finally caught again
in the oyster beds, as the river reminded you
there was solidity in a grandfather past.
I live in a watery place too, both solid and fluid,
my body and soul laid into the land so each mound of me
fits a silent bog-dip, each curve cups a rufty hillock.
Burnished wrack rings Seal Bay with amber
opposite salt-white coral strands and stone,
the grey of dolphins, with a hundred times the memory.

Your ‘speaking page’ is the Hawkesbury River
I travelled over as a kid on the Wisemans Ferry punt,
imagining I was travelling with the three wise men
walking across water. Bodies of moving water have had me since.
You make it a place we can all come to anytime,
feel the ‘serpent’s breath’ even if never spotting it,
learn the miracle of oysters, of oyster-catchers – man and fowl –
the rich unfiltered flow of river life. I envy that belonging.
How torn my own sense of it. Yet here I live inside the natural, ‘same as that’.
And birdlife here in the Irish west grows more plentiful each year.

Even the great Golden Eagles of Ireland Yeats never saw –
symbol of wisdom and power for the Druids –
are resurrected, three pair mating in Donegal.
Most birds travel long, long seasonal paths, rejoice in both flight
and landing, then take off again, different in nature and colour
from those wild reds and yellows that blaze my eucalypt alive in Jan Juc.
I can offer you music though – curlews wheeling along ribbons
of song into myth, no more than the creaking wings of
white swans before they glide into my lough
fingering the rushes for danger, their feathers for stray skin.

Skylarks climb vertically, levelling off to barely hover,
singing melodies flute-clear for twenty minutes.
Stonechats call each other in the percussion of two stones struck –
you think you’re kicking rocks walking. Kestrels, wrens, robins,
cobalt blue-tits, pheasant heads red among the reeds, massive seabirds,
magpies evenly marked with white splayed wings black-tipped,
that never repeat in their tunes, all harmony, brains working in halves –
one asleep, the other wakeful, alert. Most amazing are cuckoos –
unwooden – chameleons of the nest, male giving out the call
while he waits on her great deception.

Life is full of confusion, but holding onto beauty
in the natural gives our watery presence a firmer grip.
I think of that old table, typewriters, inked fingers,
and am glad that your keen bird’s eye
is still fishing for poems that grow fat
along the Hawkesbury banks and deeper in.
Golden Bird of poetry. Irreplaceable.
I think of your hair whitening to the chalk of oyster shells
and I like that. Better to age than to go missing.
It would be a terrible loneliness, if you were not in this world.

Back to Contents



Invisible fields
from the sequence ‘Four Poems on Love’

after Iarla Ó Liónard

One small, one larger below the house,
loughs at evening hold a late blue light
while crumpled earth around of stone and tufty bog
gathers dark in. They dare not shiver, these land-laps brim-full,
nor splash their unshed droplets across reeds
still as stick and straight in a breathless dusk.
Slyne Head lighthouse adds the beat from my suspended
heart to its own, its double flash my only compass point
toward the wide coal-black sea between us.

Your voice was so close in my ear I cradled it with the phone
as if you had breathed across my cheek in sleep
as you once did not long since, bodies hot with the sweat of love,
springy fur of your brown skin lit by the silk of me. And yet
you struggle to hold me in memory til I return?
How is love then to know whether to stay or go from the beloved
when life must be more than love alone?

Iarla Ó Liónard sings his mellow sean nós across the dark now
melancholic ache moves through invisible fields of land and wave.
Coming from old voices beyond a remembered past
his Irish more deep and sweet and mellow than mead,
he raises from the dead all old loneliness,
to cut-in bright as sharp-edged moon piercing the body of night,
scarring a pathway into water fresh and salt, sharp as the
sting of missing you, and I too am weary of lying alone, alone,
I am weary of living alone.

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Resistance, always

I call upon all Serbian women to give birth to one more son in order to carry out their national debt. Serbian Politician, 1991

They won’t do it, Mothers for Peace,
standing solid as scarred stone in the city centre
chanting for the war to end, their sons to be returned.
It is 1991, and their soldier boys are still soft with youth.
Compulsory training, a thing you do, then get on with life.

One year into the war, fifteen hundred Serbs demonstrate
in solidarity with those resisting the war elsewhere.,
but you never see these on the our tv screens.
‘Don’t count on us’ the crowd chants.
Half a million anti-war bodies sit in the centre of Belgrade.

They walk together in a March for Peace around parliament
where deaf politicians rewrite the rules of nationalism
planning a path so far from the intent of many
that Bosnian Serb military courts will have to issue
two-and-a-half thousand warrants for army desertion by 1993.

Unions hold strikes against increasing shortages, job loss.
Women in Black stand weekly vigil in the Republic Square,
silent and cauled. Sometimes they lie in a circle, feet to the centre,
spokes of a stilled wheel ringed by white daisies
their hearts the size of black suns.

Colour will die on them as the sons of too many states
are mauled by the creature of religious certainty.
Each year for seven years, they appear
with banners and posters stridently raging
‘Not in our name’ and ‘Pamtimo’ – Remember.

Back to Contents



On the beach

Bozcaada Island, Turkey

There is a bride in glorious white froth, laughing,
her black Turkish hair a net of breeze,
new husband stumbling on the rocks grinning, because
after the photographer leaves, she holds a selfie-stick.

There are two women friends, Meral and İlknur,
ambling, chatting, looking for deep-sea fossils set in stone
to embellish İlknur and Şefik’s home he builds nearby,
its stone and tiled beauty emerging from his hands, his dream.

I trail behind, head down for the small shells,
Trivia Levantina only to be found here on Bozcaada,
exquisite false cowries, tiny ridges ringing them,
their tail canals rose-pink or purple.

There is a giant ship, Egyptian, looming
into a white sun leaving the sky pink with ebru clouds
trawling across the tankers far out and strobing towards us.
Its name is ‘Mercy God’, a kind of hopeful prayer.

Shipwrecked last winter, ferocious wind drove it ashore
sideways onto this beach, then a grimace of cold sand,
its cargo of onions rotting for months,
a stench to banish all but the desperate.

Such strong women, we joke as I film my two slight friends
leaning on the ship like tiny ants pretending to push it out,
its hulk now home to crabs, birds.
Up near its prow you can just make out Arabic for ‘Allah’.

Tiny shoots are rising like small green wings
out of the golden dunes nearby. ‘Watermelon’, you tell me
‘someone’s been having a picnic’ and yes, they will grow
and the fruit will come for summer. ‘You will be here’.

On the way back past the darkening hull there is a faded lifeboat
seal-grey with orange fluoro trim, it is half buried now.
I had almost missed it, so much sand on its torn belly.
‘From the ship I imagine?’

‘No. Syrians’, you instruct me, suddenly grim,
and the way you accent it – Surians – takes me a minute to realise
in horror, sea now swallowing a sun burning orange with its last breath.
‘They tried the sea, they did not make it to Lesvos’.

I am told like a child barely able to grasp meaning.
Beside it sits just one shoe, a man’s strong walking shoe,
faded brown suede, its many laces salt-stiff.
My eyes are pegged to it, cannot leave it. I am glad there is nothing else.

On Lesvos, women are beachcombing too.
They collect children’s clothing washed up.
They itemize, they clean them for those who might still come,
who survive crossing ‘the sea of death’ that gulps them by the boatload.

Included in the debris from almost three thousand dead in the Mediterranean –
a tiny pink long-sleeved shirt with boat neck, for a girl, size 3 months;
small black stretch pants with nylon sequined bows knees, size 2 years;
a pair of sky-blue heavy fleece pants, for a boy, aged five.

*‘Crossing the sea of death’ Carol P. Christ, Lesvos, crossing-the-sea-of-death-by-carol-p-christ/. So far more than 2,600 migrants are known to have died crossing the Mediterranean Sea to reach Europe in 2015, according to the International Organisation for Migration. Death at sea, Sep 3rd 2015, The Economist

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Island harvest

for Ruairí & Marie-Thérèse de Blacam, Inis Meáin suites and restaurant, Aran islands, Ireland

Eating periwinkles requires the harvest,
back bent under a slate sky,
seawater, green as jade,
wet sand sloping to the wrack,
Ruairí lifting weed, molasses-dark and heavy
on an island so wild its rock
rises from the ground in jagged slices
striating a sky crazed-blue.

Eating periwinkles requires garlic,
white wine, swift heat,
Ruairí white-aproned,
a toothpick or large safety-pin,
a wrist to slide, twist and connect,
a heart willing to try
winkles, herbivorous, small as a
baby’s thumb, that graze on weed.

Eating periwinkles risks addiction
to the shape of conical shells in the palm,
spirals banded in fine threads of chocolate
and celandine yellow heated to downy-brown;
to a taste on the tongue of ocean secrets, and
the sense of having entered an old world
where edible sea-snails are keys to a labyrinth.

Eating periwinkles on Inis Meáin risks
not wanting to turn for home.

Back to Contents




Juan Garrido Salgado- biographical note

Juan's Launch 17

Juan Garrido Salgado. photo by Tania Garrido

Juan Garrido Salgado immigrated to Australia from Chile in 1990, fleeing the regime that burned his poetry and imprisoned and tortured him for his political activism. He has published five books of poetry, and his poems have been widely translated. He has also translated collections of poetry from John Kinsella, Mike Ladd, Judith Beveridge, Dorothy Porter and MTC Cronin into Spanish, including Cronin’s Talking to Neruda’s Questions (2004). He translated five Aboriginal poets for Espejo de Tierra/ Earth Mirror a poetry anthology edited by Peter Minter (2008). With Steve Brock and Sergio Holas, Juan Garrido Salgado translated poems from Spanish into English for Poetry of the Earth: Mapuche Trilingual Anthology (2014). His later book Dialogue with Samuel Lafferte in Australia (2016) was published by Blank Rune Press.

Juan Garrido Salgado: six poems with translations

Juan Garrido Salgado: six poems with translations

I Invite Jorge Luis Borges to My Birthday to Play Chess with Me

after ‘The Game of Chess’ by J. L. Borges


Sitting at the board pending movements,
two seats, one occupied. The other waits for my guest.
The clock is breathing space. I hear footsteps and a cane in the corridor.
The game starts. In silence he moves his pieces, blindness accurately corrected.

In mid-July, I’m on the border between Cancer and Leo in my 59th year.
My heart is like an infinite sea shore. The shadow is my own boat.
The waves are the wings of a condor, drunk and angry with the sky,
wetting my dreams with the wild sound of a wounded bird.

You move your pieces as if devouring your body on this night.
You, blind Borges, on the east side of my table,
murmuring Homer as you make your first move.
You are my guest in this poem of chess; you control the attack.

We remain at the board, moving between the candles and the drinks.

The white pieces are yours, I say,
I prefer black to represent decolonisation in the game.
Perhaps it is a metaphor.


The pieces are transformed into modern figures:
Google castle; Catullus, Lesbia’s knight;
queens Margaret Thatcher and Hillary Clinton;
the kings of all the colonies; Syria’s pawn soldiers;
the oblique bishops,shameful sins.

Please, I tell Borges, fill our glasses and let’s toast the illusion of peace.

As you wrote, in the East, the war has taken fire,
but in the West, weapons of mass destruction have created an inferno,
their colliding forces of power murdering mother earth.
We, the players, are taking a long pause for peace on my birthday.
I say, thanks to you Viejo Borges, chess master.
Who replies, this game is forever.


Invito a Jorge Luis Borges a mi cumpleaños a jugar al ajedrez conmigo


Sentado al tablero pendiente de movimientos
Dos asientos, uno ocupado. El otro en espera del huésped.
El reloj respira espacio. Oigo pasos y un bastón en el pasillo.
Comienza el juego. En silencio mueve sus piezas, la ceguera corrige con precisión.

A mediados de julio, estoy en la frontera entre Cáncer y Leo en mi 59
Mi corazón es una orilla infinita. La sombra es mi propio barco.
Las olas alas de un Cóndor borracho y enojado con el cielo
Mojando sueños en un sonido salvaje del ave herida.

Él mueve su pieza como si la noche devorara su cuerpo.
Tú, Borges al lado de esta mesa
Murmurando a Homero bajo tus primeros movimientos.
Le digo de nuevo, usted es mi invitado en este poema. Usted controla el ataque.

Nosotros, jugadores todavía en el tablero.
Nos movemos entre candelabros y bebidas.

Las piezas blancas son suyas, le digo.
Prefiero las negras por la razón de descolonizar el juego
Quizás esto sea una metáfora


Las piezas se transforman en figuras modernidad:
castillo de Google. caballero Lesbia de Catulo.
Margaret Thatcher o Hillary Clinton reinas modernas.
Rey de todas las colonias de la comarca. Los peones son de la guerra en Siria.
Obispo oblicuo y silencioso vergüenza de sus propios pecados.

Por favor, le sugiero Borges, llenar los vasos para brindar por la ilusión de la paz.

Como dijo en esta línea; En el este, la guerra se ha disparado
Pero en Occidente, las armas de destrucción masiva han creado un infierno,
Con su alianza de fuerzas de poder, está muriendo la madre tierra.
En mi cumpleaños somos jugadores tomando una larga pausa por la paz.
Le digo, gracias a ti viejo Borges, maestro
Quién responde: este juego es para siempre


I Am Reading the Line, ‘we live in a third-floor flat’

after ‘The Sadness of Creatures’, by Peter Porter

I am reading the line, ‘we live in a third-floor flat’ by Peter Porter
and my eyes climb my mind like a little boy up an old tree.
I go back to 1990, at the Pennington Hostel
when, after three months, we moved to a third-floor flat
with just a handful of English words and an old dictionary.
All we owned were clothes, toys, a black and white TV, and lots of worries.
A third-floor flat that gave us a home without beds, blankets for sleeping on the floor
and our first second-hand pots, plates, spoons and forks for this party of crying.

A third-floor flat where I do not recall seeing a single smile when we went downstairs,
only shut curtains and closed doors, the inhabitants steeped in silence.

A third-floor flat where in summer we lived with the sun as our closest neighbour,
no chance to rest inside the room that was hot like an oven all day.

A third-floor flat where at night we sensed cats drinking milk on top of the warm roof,
talking to the stars which filled the unfamiliar solitude of our new home.


Estoy Leyendo esta Línea ‘vivimos en un tercer piso de un edificio’

Poema basado en esta línea de Peter Porter

Estoy leyendo esta línea ‘vivimos en un tercer piso de un edificio’, de Peter Porter
mis ojos suben a la mente como niño a un árbol viejo,
vuelvo a 1990, a ese Albergue de Pennington.
Cuando, después de tres meses, nos trasladamos a un tercer piso
Con sólo un puñado de palabras en inglés y un viejo diccionario;
el resto eran ropas, juguetes y una tv en blanco y negro;
todo lo demás una gran cantidad de preocupaciones.

Tercer piso que nos dio un hogar sin camas, mantas para dormir en el suelo
Las primeras ollas de segunda mano, platos, cucharas y tenedores
para nuestra primera fiesta del llanto.

Tercer piso, no recuerdo haber visto ni una sola sonrisa bajando escaleras,
cortinas y puertas cerradas, pasos habitando el silencio.

Tercer piso que en verano vivimos con el sol como el vecino más cercano,
sin tiempo para descansar, con el fuego como un horno abierto todo el día.

Tercer piso, por la noche nos sentimos gatos que beben la leche sobre el techo hirviendo,
conversación con estrellas que llenan la soledad en este nuevo hogar.


As a Child on Nauru

“As a Child on Nauru I was NR03-283, but my name is Mohammad Ali Baqiri.”
As a child I had to pronounce those letters and numbers,
it was a cruel game that hurt my dreams.
In the midst of so much injustice
a guard howled from this torment of dust:
You, NR03-283. The guard said that to a child!
Now I am twenty-four, I ask, “Please bring back our stolen humanity.
I’ve experienced detention and its effects first hand
in ways I can’t yet explain.
I saw detention push the adults around me to the brink of hopelessness.
I witnessed self-harm and suicide attempts.
No one should have to go through that.”
“I was NR03-283, but my name is Mohammah Ali Baqiri.”
As a child my home was walls without windows to see the moon
or count the stars; even my dreams weren’t free.
My town was fences without gardens or birds
or animals to call my friends or play.
As a child the school where I went to learn English
was a room full of shadowy body-guards —
But they weren’t interested in talking to me,
even they were grudging teachers.
Still, I learnt enough to say —
“As a Child on Nauru I was NR03-283, but my name is Mohammad Ali Baqiri.”

* All quotes come from an article entitled ‘As a Child on Nauru I was NR03-283, but my name is Mohammad Ali Baqiri’, written by Mohammad Ali Baqiri and published in The Guardian on Tuesday 15 March 2016


Como un Niño en el Centro de Detención de Nauru

“Como Niño en Nauru yo era solo un código NR03-283,
.                                               pero mi nombre es Mohammad Ali Baqiri.”
De niño tuve que pronunciar esas letras y números,
Fue un juego cruel que hirió mis sueños.
En medio de tanta injusticia
Un guardia aulló desde este tormento de polvo:
Oye tú, NR03-283. ¡El guardia le dijo al niño!
Ahora tengo veinticuatro años y pregunto:
.                                  “Por favor trae de vuelta a nuestra humanidad robada.
He experimentado la detención y sus efectos de primera mano
De maneras que todavía no puedo explicarla.
Vi que la detención empujaba a los adultos al borde de la desesperanza.
Fui testigo autolesiones e intentos de suicidio.
Nadie debería tener que pasar por esto. ”

“Yo fui ese código NR03-283, pero mi nombre es Mohammah Ali Baqiri.”
Cuando niño, mi hogar era paredes sin ventanas para ver la luna
O contar las estrellas; Incluso mis sueños no eran libres.
Mi ciudad se hizo de cercas sin jardines ni pájaros
Ni animales para llamar a mis amigos o jugar.

Cuando niño, la escuela donde aprendí inglés
Fue una habitación llena de sombríos guardias –
Pero no estaban interesados en hablar conmigo,
Incluso ellos fueron maestros a regañadientes.
Sin embargo, he aprendido lo suficiente para decir –
“Como Niño en Nauru yo fui este código NR03-283,
.                                 Aunque  mi nombre es Mohammad Ali Baqiri.”

* Todas las citas provienen de un artículo titulado ‘Como un Niño en Nauru yo era NR03-283, pero mi nombre es Mohammad Ali Baqiri’, escrito por Mohammad Ali Baqiri y publicado en The Guardian el martes 15 de marzo de 2016, Australia.


I’m a Citizen of the Earth

I’m not an ethnic…I was born on Mapudungun land in 1957

I’ m not a refugee…my suitcases were full of memories, tears and lost kisses

I’ m a political prisoner from Pinochet’s regime…but my cell was a dark and painful space

I don’t have a permanent visa to enter Australia

I’m only a fucking citizen

On this battered land

Pronouncing broken verses

Howling the hope that still grows like scorched seed

In the forest burned by the silence of water

Arrived to this shore long ago


Soy Ciudadano de la Tierra

no soy étnico ……. Nací en la tierra de Mapudungun, 1957

no soy un refugiado … mis maletas de la memoria se llenaron de lágrimas

y de besos perdidos

soy a un prisionero político del régimen de Pinochet …

pero mi celda fue espacio oscuro y doloroso

no tengo más visa permanente Australia

soy sólo uno más de estos culiao ciudadano

en esta tierra maltrecha

caminando con versos mal pronunciados

aullando a esa esperanza que sigue creciendo como semilla chamuscada

en el bosque quemado por el silencio del agua

que arribó por mucho tiempo en esta orilla.


How to Believe in Death?

To Gaddafi and his Green Revolution

How to believe in the unbelievable death
That occurs when greed plans war?
It is a cruel distribution of profit and power,
a murderous financial system’s insanity.
NATO & the USA have destroyed homes
With their occupying army of death.
NATO & the USA have made tears run in rivers of agony.
NATO & the USA’s eyes were only open to the prizes of the desert…

How to believe in this unbelievable death?
Walls fall onto the plates of Palestinian children,
They are fed the tears and the bones of the dead.
How to believe in this death
When hatred is a legalised document
Of the United Nations General Assembly?
How to believe in this death
When power conjures dictatorships and disappearances?
When power plans massacres and exile?
When power orchestrates famine and looting?

How to believe in this unbelievable death
When I remember a time I lived happily in my country?
I was a citizen of the streets and a student of hope!
How to believe in this death
When Henry Kissinger won the Nobel Peace Prize
Living in his paradise of shit where death is celebrated?
How to believe in this death
When Gaddafi’s land was savagely invaded
As the Promised Land for the West?

How to believe in this unbelievable death
When you will not admit that what you really want is our copper,
Our oil, our salt, our rivers, our lands and our mountains?
Do you want our hearts, our bodies and our minds too?

How to believe in this unbelievable life
When you want us as slaves in your ‘free world’?

How to believe in this unbelievable death
When the revolution is pregnant
With Guevara’s spirit on earth
And with Indigenous ancestors’ dreams, carajo!!!


¿Cómo creerle a la muerte?

A Gaddafi y su revolución verde

Si el odio es una guerra planificada
Repartos de ganancias y poder.
Nada más que ganancias en crisis.
Pero la muerte de la ocupación
Tiene nombre de mi patria
Tiene hogares destruidos
Tiene llanto de ríos mudos del dolor,
Tiene ojos abiertos al olor del desierto.
Muros caídos en los platos de niños palestinos
Cuchareando lágrimas y huesos de tantos muertos

¿Cómo creerle a la muerte?
Si el odio es un documento legalizado
En la Asamblea General de naciones unidas
¿Cómo creerle a la muerte?
Si el poder fabrica dictadores y desaparecidos.
Planifica masacres y exilio
Planifica hambrunas y saqueos.

¿Cómo creerle a la muerte?
Si hubo un tiempo que viví en mi país feliz,
Fui ciudadano de calles y estudiante de la esperanza.
¿Cómo creerle a la muerte?
Si, Henry Kissinger tiene el premio Nobel de la Paz,
fue él quien sentencio a Salvador Allende.

¿Cómo creerle a la muerte?
Si, Barack Obama tiene el premio Nobel de la Paz.
En su paraíso hecho mierda,
Pero invade Libia y expulsa a Gaddafi
De la tierra prometida para el West.

¿Cómo creerle a la muerte?
Si no nos dicen que quieren nuestro Cobre.
Que quieren nuestro Petróleo
Nuestra Sal y nuestros ríos
Que quieren nuestro suelo y nuestras montañas
Que quieren nuestro corazón, cuerpos y mente.

¿Cómo creerle a la vida?
Si nos quieren esclavos en su mundo libre.
¿Cómo creerle a la muerte?
Si la revolución está preñada de verde, indígena y guevarista, Carajo!!!


Have we no voice, no tune?

after An Elegy upon the Death of the Dean of Paul’s, Dr. John Donne’, by Thomas Carew


Your voice fades with the footsteps of death

Eyes glaze beneath syllables of agony

Dry blood falls on uttered words

Music regrets bearing witness

To the speeches that brick Trump’s wall

Beyond meaning

Have we no voice left, no melody?

The poet battles

on the pages of these blank days


¿Ya no tenemos voz, ni melodía?

Poema inspirado  en la ‘Elegy upon of the Dean of Paul’s, Dr John Donne’ de Thomas Carew


la voz se apaga en los pasos de la muerte

la mirada tiene sílabas de la agonía

la sangre seca cae en la palabra  pronunciada

melodía se lamenta de ser testigo

del discurso que amuralla aquel muro de Trump

más allá de su sentido

¿ya no tenemos voz, ni melodía?

el poeta se compromete

en la página de estos días vacíos.

-Juan Garrido Salgado


Juan Garrido Salgado immigrated to Australia from Chile in 1990, fleeing the regime that burned his poetry and imprisoned and tortured him for his political activism. He has published five books of poetry, and his poems have been widely translated. He has also translated collections of poetry from John Kinsella, Mike Ladd, Judith Beveridge, Dorothy Porter and MTC Cronin into Spanish, including Cronin’s Talking to Neruda’s Questions (2004). He translated five Aboriginal poets for Espejo de Tierra/ Earth Mirror a poetry anthology edited by Peter Minter (2008). With Steve Brock and Sergio Holas, Juan Garrido Salgado translated poems from Spanish into English for Poetry of the Earth: Mapuche Trilingual Anthology (2014). His later book Dialogue with Samuel Lafferte in Australia (2016) was published by Blank Rune Press.