2014 Overall Winner & recipient of the Babies of Walloon bronze statuette
by Shelley Hansen ()
Chairperson’s School Award
by St. Mary's College ()
Edwards Property Mentorship Award
Aurora Australis by Anne Reardon ()
Have you ever seen the mountains brushed with light from summer’s storms,
When thunder plays a song of green and grey,
When the storm fronts roam the landscape, roiling waves that claim the sky,
And break the bleak oppression of the day?
Have you walked amongst tall timber that’s alive with mist and cloud,
When bracken drips with vibrance from the rain,
When the freshness of the ozone of the earth and leaf and bough,
Breathe life into the senses once again?
In that world of shifting colour, has your mind been gently drawn,
To the silent world of beauty in a leaf?
Does it speak of life’s aurora, in the grip of every day,
Does it breathe into your soul some small relief?
Have you shivered on a mountain top awash with silver light,
With air that’s crisp with brilliance from the stars,
When the power of the ramparts and the vastness of the sky,
Remind us of exactly where we are?
It is easy to forget this as I beetle in my car,
Along the narrow roadway of my life,
In air conditioned comfort with my fav’rite MP3s,
I’m drawn into the comfort in a thrice.
We can look upon the mountains and the storms upon the plains,
As observers in a bubble world of glass,
Soothed by sweet seductive sameness and the comfort of the couch,
And the TV selling dreams that can not last.
But we can’t forget the landscape lives and breathes within our blood,
As it did for all of those who’ve gone before,
That our souls seek symbiosis, not detachment’s muted grey
As we sit in total comfort wanting more.
The storm clouds paint the landscape and the mountains join the song,
Songs of peril, songs of hardship, songs of life,
They paint the subtle colours that speak straight into our soul,
And they light the bright aurora of our life.
In a continent of contrasts that were cherished in the past,
Where hardship was the stone that whet our steel,
Do we really needs such comforts that wreak havoc on this Earth,
What is it we’re so afraid to feel?
Will my children climb wild mountains, all alive with mist and cloud,
With souls alight with pleasure from the strain?
Will the legacy of living, what we took and left behind,
Awake that bright Aurora once again?
Ipswich Theme Awards
Flood Warning – 1974 by Fran Nicolaou-Wilmot (Open Age Winner)
(Special thanks to ‘Banjo Patterson” – but only for the rhyme…)
We were staying down at Palm Beach when my father phoned one night,
And announced the creek was rising by the hour,
That the tanks were overflowing and the paddock looked a sight,
And he added, “This is more than just a shower”.
So we settled down the children, and we packed up both the cars,
And we planned to leave at break of day.
And the rain came down in torrents, and the car park looked like Mars,
And my husband said, “Thank God, we`re on our way…”
As we crawled along the Coast road with my husband looking grey,
(And the kids all meek and quiet like little mice),
Saying “…make it past the Crab Farm – then I think we’ll be OK…”
As he grimly gripped the steering like a vice.
So we ploughed on through the water and we slowed at Yatala town,
It nestled under bleak and angry skies,
With the kids all roused and lively, chanting, “We’re not gonna drown”,
And suggesting that we stop and buy some pies.
When we finally reached the turnoff and we beeped ‘farewell’ to mum,
(Who took off to Bundamba mighty fast!)
Through the static on the wireless, the kids began to hum,
And my husband smiled, “Thank God, we’re home at last!”
But as the day grew shorter and we paddled through the yard,
We received an urgent phone call sad and grim,
“We’re all leaving,“ cried my mother, “And your sister’s took it hard,”
“But the only way to Ipswich is to swim”
“So we’re heading to the neighbours, ‘cos they live on safer ground,”
“And your sister’s packed her precious wedding dress.”
“And the poultry shed is open – they’re not making too much sound…”
“When all is said and done – it’s for the best…”
We were worried sick at Wacol for the message got around,
That Wolston Park had bedding by the ton,
They could house the whole damn suburb – they‘d been built on higher ground,
And our neighbour, with sarcasm, said, “What fun…”
Waded down to Wacol station for the S.E.S were there,
They were motoring round in weathered outboard boats,
With the water drowning platforms, all the tracks and up the stairs,
And lifting anything and everything that floats.
It was rainy Sunday morning, but the air was sweet and light,
With a breeze that caused a gentle shiver.
Caravans had drifted down to the golf course overnight,
And most of Goodna nestled in the river.
And a cow from ‘back of Goodna is a household word today,
No calmer creature folks had ever saw,
How she floated to the “Royal Mail” no one can really say,
Chewing cud, quite content, to topmost floor.
It was evident at Wacol that supplies were looking grim,
All exit roads trapped by the murky water,
Should we wade on down to Darra, catch a boat or even swim…?
“I want Minties, milk and Milo”, sang my daughter.
He was beaming through the lamplight with the kids all tucked in bed,
The floor revealed one tiny muddy shoe,
“There’s no power”, he was groaning, “And the televisions’ dead”
“So, honestly, what is a man to do?”
And when it was all over with the water all gone down,
We took off up the road and far away,
And onward on to Redbank, Ebbw Vale and Ipswich town
And I’m sure… it was nine months to the day.
It was obvious in hospital when the little miss was born,
Her eyes as deep and dark as storm swept skies,
That she’d turned up like a blessing, on another rainy morn,
So we called her our ‘flood baby’, – what a prize!!
And the locals told the stories (who did what and who was sent),
Of the mighty Queensland flood and all their fears,
And they told themselves, “Don’t worry, it was just a ‘one’ event”
“Never ever…never more…in a hundred years…”
Chair’s Encouragement Awards
Uncle George by Sunseria Vestey (5-17 Yrs. Winner)
Uncle George why so glum, are you sick of being here?
Uncle George why so sad, did your pet dog die?
Uncle George please stay strong you are the only one.
Uncle George you are one of a kind.
Uncle George why did you leave my heart broken?
Uncle George why did you die?
Uncle George did God treat you well?
Uncle George please wake up, your heart stopped beating why?
Uncle George please don’t die you left my world so cold?
Uncle George what happened did the acid get to your bones?
Uncle George you are weak but very strong on the inside, stay a while,
Uncle George you didn’t even say good bye.
Uncle George you are in heaven now God loves you.
Uncle George you were right, you will get hurt.
Uncle George you are crippled, why?
Uncle George I will miss you dearly.
Uncle George goodbye. I will love you I said goodbye.
Bye Uncle bye. Uncle George you called me squirrel bye, bye.
Uncle George, I will watch Curious George because that was your favourite show because it was you. I will dearly miss you Uncle George bye bye, good bye.
Uncle George why did you go? You are cold now your heart went into de fib and then went to a sisterly and the acid killed you because of your diabetes.
This poem is dedicated to my Uncle George who picked me up when I was down.
He is one and only in my heart he loves his pumpernickel bread.
Bye Uncle George
People Like Us by Susan Sommerlad (Open Age)
Pale moonlight stretched across the waves, bright stars the darkness blessed,
She sat upright in creaking bows, her babe clutched to her breast
Her mouth was dry, her face was burnt, she yearned to see the land
She dreamed of purple mountains, green palms and shifting sand.
She saw her village childhood, running barefoot free and wild,
Baking bread and fetching water, just a dark- eyed mountain child.
Her gentle mother’s smiling face, giving joy to all she met,
The call to prayer at sunrise from the crystal minaret.
Her father and her husband then appeared before her eyes,
Their gaping wounds their tortured limbs, the blood, their desperate cries,
Please save the babe, just flee with all the strength you can command,
the choice is death, or chancing it in unknown seas and lands.
The darkening clouds obscured the moon, the swell rose o’er the rails,
The white surf crashed upon the deck, the wind tore at the sails.
The boards began to split and grind, they splintered, cracked and moaned,
Small figures clutched the listing hull, lost in the churning foam.
Down in the blue green watery depths the silver bubbles rose,
her hair flowed loose, her breasts fell free, she held the child still close.
I see my purple mountains, the red and shifting sand,
God keep my babe, God give me peace, help me to understand.
And in the press the following day, a minor entered fact,
“another boat broke up and sank, before we turned them back.”
And on that outback Christmas morn, the flame trees all in bloom,
Good folk adored another child for whom there was no room.
Rosewood Green Award – Open Age Local Poets
Dementia, the Demon with a Sneeze by Ingrid Mason (First Prize)
They often passed The Home,
where it lay,
on a sunny balcony
feeding on thickened fluids.
She felt a chill.
He warmed her in his coat.
It prowled in the garden,
fumbling through handbags, searching
for keys, scratching at the door.
She was frightened.
He took it by the scruff.
Creeping like a stray, through
an open window,
chaos on the kitchen
bench. She struggled for words.
He pulled them free,
Stringing them into smiles.
He made a barricade
of lists and
soon crumpled, they fell away.
He gave her a pillow to hold.
She sang it songs,
and he was comforted.
It settled in the bed
he read it every morning
for the day’s proclivity.
She loved music.
He played her memories.
She didn’t recognize herself,
he took away the mirrors,
and she gazed at the blank walls.
But she knew love,
he loved her even more.
It broke his heart to hear her
to come home, from the past,
and fruitless telling her why.
She couldn’t drink.
He fed her thickened fluids.
They revisited The Home,
He saw ghosts there, guarded day
and night by Health and Safety
to Love. He couldn’t bear it.
He imprisoned her in his arms.
robe, dusted with roses, it
was the life he promised her.
tea and toast and Nembutal.
They went to bed cocooned,
soft in the glow of lamplight
And sometime in the night,
The Demon sneezed
and slipped away.
Happiness by Kenneth Weaver (Second Prize)
How do you measure happiness?
Is it the dissection of an emotional moment?
Or should we wait to the end
And have our lives weighed on a mortuary slab?
Will they say I had a happy life?
How do you measure happiness?
Do we lay out our things for crass calculation?
Should we subtract the sad, bad, and melancholic times
And cancel out all those in between days?
Will they say I had a happy life?
How do you measure happiness?
Do I dare to pretend I even care?
Is it a foolish folly of the way too comfortable man,
A parlour game of the ignorant and self-obsessed?
Will they say I had a happy life?
Give me the chance to be,
More than the sum of my past.
A Survey of Community Fireworks by Scott Thouard (Third Prize)
out of the hive dark
The Backyard Brothers by Marcus Richardson (Highly Commended)
They gathered at the weld-mesh fence, the suburban boundary line
to observe the backyard brothers in the middle.
The washing waved at a mother who had left the ‘Hills’ behind
and joined the crowd confounded by the riddle.
“What’s the score?” she whispered, to her son who looked bemused.
“The elder retired – none for a hundred and four!”
“The younger?” she enquired, joining the neighbourhood confused.
“He’s a run short and he can only face one more!”
As backyard tests would have it, dinner time meant end of play.
The stewing steak and fading light could mire
the unlikely journey of the younger, would he have his day?
And lift the older brother’s curse he so desired.
It was spring, nineteen eighty five, two brothers had a bet.
Two brothers backed their talent to a win,
on a wicket with an incline and a rabid bindii threat,
hemmed in by fielding flora and a bin.
It was concrete where the dog lay, conveniently scratched
on the wicket where a savvy bowler placed
a nippy little delivery, simply impossible to dispatch,
unless you’re batting bravely with your face.
With the dog abetting bouncers for those bowling slick
with a half insulated tennis ball – taped.
The ball could swing with fortunes, glorifying the quick
or tear away the hopes a batsman shaped.
So the elder won the batting rights by sharply yelling, “Flats!”
At a coiling bat the younger had set-a-spin.
Through the air while hoping, praying that the twirly, twisty bat
would land on ‘hills’, just to give a win.
The elder grabbed the bat and faced, the younger had the ball,
no advantage held before the start of play.
The footfalls of the bowler signalled the umpire’s call,
the backyard test was finally underway.
As the younger ran into bowl, a thousand times rehearsed,
he faced the broader burden of the two.
He charged in fully laden with the older brother’s curse.
He always won, that’s what older brothers do!
He screamed and lunged determined as the ball left his hand.
Hopeful his older brother would be trapped
by a delivery that’s only purpose was to find a place to land,
so that it could be arrogantly slapped,
By the elder to the fence with the biggest runs to yield.
Over the bowler’s head, no run required.
“Six!” he screamed smugly, as the younger ran to field
the tatters of a sporting wish expired.
The younger bowled another and it was whipped away
and another and another, then repeated.
Footfalls, grunts and “Six!” became a pattern in the play,
the dreams of sporting glory soon depleted.
The elder waltzed into the nineties, his tally screamed,
Neighbours’ kids gathered hearing the score.
“Ninety two!” Thwack! Then, “Ninety eight!” he beamed.
Thwack again! “None-fa’ a hundred and four!”
The elder raised his bat up for the hundred he prepared,
as he’d done a hundred times, a winner.
He looked up at the fading light, “I think I should declare,
I’ll bowl ya’ out before we go ta’ dinner.
Ya’ no hope of winnin’, ya bowl better than ya’ bat.
The neighbours are all watchin’ ta’ see
me bounce holes in ya’ head with this ball and after that
they’ll see the only winna’ here is me!”
The younger faced up gingerly, looking at the yard.
Fielding trees menaced with their greed.
Hitting one on the full was out and even that was hard,
the ‘thwack’ of bat and ball not guaranteed.
The first ball was a puff of dust and a wallop on the head.
Again, the dog and he won bragging rights.
The second bowled him neatly, “One-fa’ none – ya’ dead!
Eleven wickets comin’ without a fight!”
The elder pranced for the neighbours, as he was prone to do,
when he had his little brother on the skids.
The younger faced a torrent as he ducked around a few
that nearly ripped the lashes from his lids.
The ball took his wickets when it wasn’t around his ears
“Five-fa’ none, you are the king of nought!”
The younger had enough, he would swing away the fear
and get a run or two from the onslaught.
He missed slashing at the next, it clipped him on the chops,
and ran away down ‘leg’ towards the front.
He then darted like a dingo with a rabbit on the hop,
off the mark with a browbeaten bunt!
The younger dodged the bindiis, as the elder chased the ball.
In every stride the younger eagerly poured
all the scamper he could muster in this backyard cricket brawl,
to take three runs, he was on the board!
“Ya five fa three ya knucklhead!’ The elder slowly growled.
‘Ya gone now, they’re gonna come quick!”
And they did, the bowling blistered as the elder prowled
and he took three more with a hat trick.
Dad walked out the back, “Boys, ya dinners nearly done.
You’ve only got time to bowl four more.”
Two more wickets tumbled, ten wickets for three runs,
the last surviving batsman yet to score.
The elder thought he’d wrap it with a bouncer for some fun,
then with his last, take the final wicket.
He drove it at the dust like it had been fired from a gun.
The younger was no hope to pick it.
So he closed his eyes and hooked with the greatest of belief,
the ball taking an edge from the swat
of his wildly swinging bat, the joy of connecting no relief,
the journey towards a tree was all it got.
The ginormous Jacaranda tree, standing silently at mid-off,
the elder cheered at another wicket receding.
The ball just kept on climbing and the cheer became a scoff,
Mother-nature butt in on the proceedings.
A gust of wind patted the younger brother on the back,
as it bent the utmost branches on their side.
The Jacaranda bowed at the climbing ball’s tack
and cleared all its foliage for its ride.
It skimmed off the backboard of the basketball hoop,
mounted on the gable of the shed.
The elder watched in horror as the ball gently ‘shlooped’
through the ring to fuel a pending dread.
Both boys looked to Dad, who gave a solemn nod,
the younger stood politely stunned.
The elder stood indignant, for the unlikeliest of prods
gave his little brother a hundred runs.
A hundred runs written in the backyard cricket lore,
a hundred if you get it through the ring.
The younger was in territory not tip toed in before,
he raised his bat to join cricket’s kings.
“Ten-fa’ a hundred and three!” he was brooding and terse.
The elder steamed at the top of his run
and charged in fully laden with the older brother’s curse,
he was the older brother, older brothers won.
The final ball whistled and swung with a fury twice as hot,
pitched to claim the crown of backyard brothers.
This time the younger saw it and leant well into the shot,
he belted it with grace through the covers.
The dingo inside him fired as he exploded to run two,
having never held the joy of feeling trumps.
The elder fielded the ball and turned and blindly threw
towards the younger returning to his stumps.
He crossed as the stumps shattered and the elder cried,
“You’re out! Ya’ knew you’d never beat me!”
They both turned to their father, unbiased and dignified,
“He’s not out,” was the closing decree.
Two brothers sat to dinner with stewed steak on the plate,
backyard brothers tamed for eating dinner.
The elder hacked bitterly, each mouthful painful that he ate.
Across from him the younger smiled, a winner.
Flat-headed Catfish by Brett Dionysius (Highly Commended)
The catfish doesn’t know
that it swims in muddy water.
That is our conceit, to try & match
its experience with ours & call its home a river.
We swim like a dead battery dumped
in a stream, our intelligence has corroded
our connection to the energy of things.
Our brains spit & fizzle under water
like aluminium thrown into a microwave.
To the mouth with fins, it may as well
be trawling over a vast liquid tongue;
for taste buds stud its body
like the beginnings of pustules
on a plague victim or gooseflesh
that erupts when the neck is licked.
Each pimple tastes the fast wet molecules
for chemical scents, for food that flows
into its wide rabbit-trap maw to be
swallowed whole, caught in the iron cage
of the fish’s gullet.
The flat-headed catfish is also a beardman.
It sports a double row, Guy Fawkes mo,
six barbels that curl at their pink tips
like a new fern.
These electrical-tipped appendages
seek enemies like Tasers & grope like hands
touching the river’s bed for information,
the same way boys will search out golf balls
sunk to the bottom of a water trap with their feet.
A lightning jaw blows up this parliament of mud.
Larger ones will shoot up a fisherman’s arm
like a long winter glove.
The catfish’s eyes though, are of no use.
They are black & dead as trench coat buttons
decaying in a field of sludge.
Although we try to pin it down
with human tropes, the catfish
is alien as liquid methane or a
planet where it rains glass. This fish
exists in its own universe.
My Mother Sewed for Me by Wendy Davies (Highly Commended)
My mother sewed for me,
Together we would shop for materials
at Gardams, McWhirters down the Valley,
the Queens Street Myers Centre when it was
Alan and Starkes, and of course David Jones.
we moved to Brisbane, we would pore
over little swatches of material stuck in huge catalogues
that came twice a year across the seas
to New Guinea from a Sydney Department Store.
We would look at the swatches,
touch them, and feel the quality,
Then order by the yard after much deliberation
and decision making.
Order by mail, then wait impatiently.
for the precious materials to travel
On slow boat from Sydney to Lae
And up dusty dirt roads
through the mountains
to the Bulolo valley we called home.
There anxious hands would tear through
packaging to feel and see if swatches
matched the material of our dreams.
Then my mother would start to sew.
She was so clever, my mother.
Self taught and confident
She could conjure up like magic, different
three dimensional creations from material
chosen months before as little square swatches
stuck in a catalogue from David Jones.
Oh how I loved to wear those pretty dresses
I didn’t realise then
they were designer clothes
made to measure with so much love
from pictures in a catalogue.
Drafted and fitted and pinned to match
Material with body shape.
There was nothing she couldn’t do.
From debutante to wedding gown,
Cossies, Fancy Dress costumes,
school uniforms and party dresses
all chosen from pictures in a book.
“Oh look Mum, look!
could you make me this?”
Of course she could.
She loved to dress me in the fashions of the time
Until her hands could not do
What her heart desired.
As arthritis marched her painfully
away from her creativity.
There was one dress – a pretty little creation in blue.
Copied from a stunner at a fashion parade
I had been to see,
of an Australian designer – Prue
Acton from the “Swinging Sixties.”
It was complicated, short,
and very desirable.
I wore and wore it everywhere.
It always made me feel like a princess
whenever I slipped it over my slim shoulders.
Some years later my mother said. .
“Remember that blue dress? It was so pretty.
As a memento of all the many dresses
Made by your mother over so many years,
Will you keep it as a memory of me?”
“Too late!” I answered softly.
I had already cut it up to dress a nativity Mary.
for my children’s Christmas. I saw her face fall
Had I such little respect for all
She had done for me?
I felt her sorrow, for it matched my own.
And yet, each Christmas as I unpack
Mary and Joseph from their box,
I touch the soft blue organza of Mary’s gown
and remember with joy the amazing love
stitched into the clothes I wore
That my mother sewed for me
her only daughter,
and feel again her warmth and love
and she is close beside me once more.
Joy Chambers & Reg Grundy Award – Open Age Other Poetry
Ashes to Ashes by David Campbell (First Prize)
We scatter her ashes
where the rock shelf
falls to the beckoning waves and the long,
slow swell of years.
Ave, maris stella,
Dei mater alma…
set her free once more, break
the shackles of a prison
with bed-bars, shadows of the past,
and sour stink of urine; carry her
on the Roaring Forties to the Spice Islands,
home to tales of tall ships
laden with nutmeg, cloves, saffron,
and the dreams of a small boy
in the warm blanket of night…
where my father waits, resplendent
in uniform, like the photograph
on the wall before she forgot
who he was. He is young
again, with that smile
from my childhood,
and her arm proudly linked in his. It is
enough. In that place which needs no words, just
the love in her eyes…
which kept him sane until he could escape
Ambon. But the memory of the men slaughtered
by the airfield at Laha
haunted each night; she
held his broken body close
in the darkness, hearing the cries
of the condemned. He left us too soon…
on a winter morning with the water pipes
frozen and the hoar frost brittle
on cracked earth. So much is lost
in the loneliness
that follows; so much lies
in the private spaces where once
there was a glance, a voice, a smile,
a touch. Now gone. Returned, she always said,
to Ambon, to the Gull Force comrades
brutalised beyond belief
on the banks of the Lethe…
in a horror akin
and Hellfire Pass,
where the bones of men
paved a victor’s path. Death
was a lover’s embrace, yet
brought him home…
where my sister claims the Edwardian
inlaid mahogany dressing table, crossly
noting the drawer that won’t close
properly, warped by rising damp
in a renovator’s delight
with exceptional promise…
and my brother complains that the Victorian
bow-front carved oak crystal cabinet
contains an incomplete
Meissen tea set,
and two of the cups are chipped…
while I hold her wedding ring and marvel
at the miracle
of my birth…
requiescat in pace.
Sunflowers at Wilcannia by Kate O’Neil (Second Prize)
Beside the road to Wilcannia,
a solitary sunflower
sings a clear yellow note
tuned true to the bright day,
the round breve of its throat
turned to the climbing sun.
We admire the ardour
of its singular devotion
as we drive on through
endless low grey scrub
until we see them –
dozens of them –
a whole burst of sunflowers,
all standing tall
like a triumphal ovation,
the yellow so loud
we are laughing.
Who would have thought it –
here, in this desert place
to hear such praise
from such a congregation?
In perfect unison
they lift their song
into clear blue.
A sense of blessing
stays with us
as we drive on
into more desert
towards the Darling.
There a last
sings its antiphon,
Goddess by John Egan (Third Prize)
I used to think of you
as a goddess.
Today I’ve known you five years.
Now I love your human imperfections,
your slight vanity.
From the cold, austere heights of Olympus
down to this,
your warm hand in mine
as we hurry for the bus.
Hire Education by Will Moody (Highly Commended)
I’m seventy three and, between you and me, it’s a terrible thing to grow old.
I’ve not much to tell. If you think it crap, well…at least you can’t say you weren’t told.
I’ve made a fair fist of most things on my list. Yes, I’ve battled, but I’ve battled through.
I’m not laying blame. Life’s a pretty tough game, and you play the hand Fate deals to you.
My Uni days flew…well…my classes were few…my professors made nary a dent.
I gained no degree…no surprise, you’ll agree…for the fact is that I never went.
To me was denied all the mysteries residing in halls of great wisdom and lore.
I couldn’t afford (I was not born abroad!) the high price-tag enlightenment wore.
I sometimes now think, on senility’s brink, how one’s options are few when you’re poor.
What might I have done and what laurel wreaths won had I just got my foot in the door?
Would fortune and fame have accrued to my name, had I only the cost of the keys?
It’s doubtful, although, I guess we’ll never know how my name might have grown by degrees.
Seems nothing has changed and the chairs still arranged for the few who can bear the impost.
What singular brain will in Limbo remain in the ranks of excluded we’ve lost?
How many a mind will stay blinkered or blind for the lack of the light it required?
How many a flame in a breast will be tamed…go untended, unfanned, uninspired?
Can we be as “clever” a nation while ever we bury our students in debt?
A growing reliance on imported science is something we may well regret.
An impotent force, like reversed cart and horse, for some kids is their future it seems.
The miser’s tight hoard would be better rewarded invested in youth and its dreams.
We’ll not be applauded or praises accorded if all we provide for our youth
is diminishing hope for expanding their scope and a heritage rude and uncouth.
There is no escaping, the vessels we’re shaping today will be tested and tried.
The world we’re bequeathing is war-torn and seething with ignorance, dogma and pride.
The triumph of Reason may yet have its season if we on our youth can bestow
the seeds that are needed…by class unimpeded, the freedom to flourish and grow.
What cost to be paid for discoveries made, were financial constraints not so dire?
What cultural leap, were not course fees so steep? Were not Wisdom, made whore now, for hire?
With free education for all in our nation who knows to what heights we might reach?
The door should swing wide for those waiting outside with a hunger for all we can teach.
The future seems bright as I sit here tonight (though I vent my political spleen)
for this country I love, but…good heavens above! …when I think of what She might have been!
Brother Wool by Janeen Brian (Highly Commended)
She pushes the needle
winds the wool
at home, while her thoughts
she doesn’t know where.
Round and round the needles go,
four of them to knit a sock
dark wool, practical
One row plain
one row purl
back and forth like
Turning the heel now, the toe,
the calf all done.
Now for its mate
the second of the pair.
Round and round the needles go
the click-click of love
to the brother
They say there’s mud over there
as well as fighting.
Still she knits.
But when she heard
the needles stopped.
Never picked up again.
Like his life
Adhesive by Roland Leach (Highly Commended)
My mother wears a band-aid on her nose
to cover the cancer that’s eating
it away. She has worn it for two years
and refuses to see a doctor. We tell
her that it is cancer but she says, No,
I just keep knocking it. Leave me alone.
When my sisters finally bring the doctor
to the house, he tells her it is serious,
it is cancer. It is not, she says. He tells
her again. It will kill you. She looks at him
as if cancer is beneath her. No it won ’t,
she says. She has been applying band-aids
to the troubles of her life so long
she almost believes they have worked.
Still Life by David Campbell (Highly Commended)
As a snake sheds it skin, I let the city
slip away: sour exhaust fumes furring
the back of my throat; the intoxicating
salt-lick of finger-hot chips; the dank
dead-fish stink of overflowing rubbish
wet from last night’s rain; brash trams
bells clanging, shouldering their way
through lunchtime crowds in the mall;
teenagers, baseball caps disdainfully
cocked, as graceful as ballet dancers,
pirouetting casually on skateboards;
young children whispering: Oh, look
Mummy, look…see the funny lady!
So I fix my gaze on some high point,
perhaps an office window or a patch
of sky, and Melbourne disappears.
Then l am in Sydney, at Circular Quay,
ferries scuttling water-beetles, flocks
of colourful tourists fluttering to earth,
chirruping sweetly at my artistry. See
how she is so still. How does she do it?
She doesn’t even blink! Slowly, slowly,
money accumulates in my hand-made
basket, and I am grateful. But then
there are the ragged days of winter,
whipped by careless rain, flesh cut
to the bone. lf I stay, the face-paint
runs, and the costume begins to smell,
not the glutinous stench of perspiration
but the earthy, coffined dampness of decay.
The cities eat their way into my soul…
they are in my hair, caked in the sweat
on my body, fused with the grit on my face.
I stand in the shower to wash them away,
but the water shimmers, a rippling stream
on rough stones. The surface is stripped
clean, but layers of grime are trapped
deep in the pores, setting like concrete
day after day, month after long month,
moulding my body to its city-shape.
Each night memory’s gate swings open
on a red-dirt track snaking between fields
of stubble to the homestead. Beyond, the land
falls to the gutted creek, where red gums
stretch withered arms to an eggshell sky.
My mother stands on the tray of the ute,
watching my father pump water into a trough.
The cattle lower heavy heads to drink. Ghosts
walk the land. The cities took the young,
stole the lifeblood of a generation. At dusk
my parents sit on the veranda, mourning
lost hopes in a vast, echoing silence.
Sometimes, as the hours drag and the coins fall,
I see the pink of a sunset in my little patch of sky,
or a cloud becomes ground-mist in the valley
of dreams, with a white pony running free.
And then the passing children see my tears.
Diptych: This Winter Beach by Mark Miller (Highly Commended)
On the edge of the jetty
the wind pares me to the bone,
the water is pewter and dirty-white-cuffed,
a scrunched grey muslin.
Silver gulls scatter,
tossed into the spray
as if blasted by a giant blow-dryer,
they hold fast, dip and bank sidewards,
clawing the wind’s slippery net of sky.
Along the shore plastic bags
are sucked and bloated,
they shoot into air,
chasing the gulls.
Pelicans, hunched into themselves,
clump together beneath the bridge pylons,
boats knock and clang,
slammed against their moorings,
the howling wind gives them no rest
it takes hold of a store-front shutter
and won’t let go,
slapping and clunking until it seems
the whole sky will lift off its hinges.
Seen from where I stand
at the edge of darkness,
glowering, aubergine clouds
Drops smack like lead ingots
out on the mercuric water,
waves coil and uncoil,
back-slamming the sand.
Like specks of Windblown paper
crested terns scatter in the spray,
their querulous cries pitched
across the roiling spume.
Starless and straining,
the sky gives way at its centre,
collapsing on this winter beach
like a black tarpaulin.
Without the Definite by Marjorie Lewis-Jones (Highly Commended)
1. Place of recollection
Shimmery water, birds lifting off
Tickling the waves
My hand wanting
Never in yoursYours
2. Without the definite
Sky is breaking
The broken sky
Retracts my veins
The skimming birds
Undo my vision
I can’t see a way
I can’t feel your hands
I can’t find my feet
For Those Just Starting Out by Bruce Marshall (Highly Commended)
On the mantle sits her photo as a girl,
And behind her in the image is a picture
That still hangs
On the same wall, which somehow stands,
While termites hollow out the heart
Of this old house and leave
The fragile outer skin to form
Illusions of some permanence,
To waver in the breeze.
Against the wall a chest of drawers lies prone,
The floor collapsing from beneath.
All this she notes
Not in dismay but unconcerned,
Mere ants and eighty-seven years
She shrugs off with an ease
That makes me, less than half her age,
Feel old and insecure.
And half convinced that she could live here still,
She shuffles pots and soot around the stove
As if to show
That nothing much has changed,
And she could start the day the same
As she had always done.
But now the chimney leans,
And looking at the angled shelf she laughs,
‘I put that thing up straight.’
Then in her eyes I see a fleeting hint
Of sadness and despair at leaving this,
And trying to select
Which things to take to fill the void
Of one small room
That now must hold her memories,
Her young girl’s dreams, her world
That has been gnawed
By ants and age and time.
Even for her, this packing is a strain.
At home, but somehow lost, she looks around.
So much is here
That cannot be retained and must remain
To crumble with the walls and form the past.
But reaching forward with some plates,
She says ‘Take some of these,
For those just starting out.’
Square of Yellow Light by Roland Leach (Highly Commended)
I came home late one night, very late,
to find my father making his lunch
in the square of yellow light in the kitchen.
We stared each other down. He standing
at the bench cutting thick slabs of bread,
filling the holes of day with processed cheese.
I thought it was resentment that stared out
at me from behind the bench. His nineteen
year old son at university coming home
early morning, having climbed out of some
girl’s bed. A boy who had never done a hard
day’s work. He could only see me as frivolous.
Then he asked if I wanted a cuppa tea,
and there may have been admiration,
some eye contact of approval as he looked up.
I said, What’s wrong, but he smiled and remarked
I was the clever one, I should know.
But I was never that smart.
Metro Hotel Ipswich International Award – Open Age Bush Poetry
A Lesson in Life by Shelley Hansen (First Prize)
He was just an old bloke who was probably broke,
and he camped in the bush by the creek.
He would carry his swag and an old duffle bag
when he walked into town once a week.
Other boys would poke fun, shout their taunts and then run
as he stopped by our small corner store
for his meagre supplies. They’d kick dust in his eyes
and would call him “Old Ashes” – and more!
But l never joined in, for it seemed like a sin
when I thought of the hurt he must feel.
I’d seen hobos before, but to me he seemed more…
with a dignity hard to conceal.
So I followed him back as he walked down the track
till we came to his camp, where l knew
that he couldn’t see me as I hid near a tree
while he boiled up a billy of brew.
Then he suddenly said without turning his head,
“Are you coming to join me, or not?
There’s no point lurking there, and we might as well share
while there’s plenty of tea in the pot.”
We just sat for a bit by the campfire he’d lit,
drinking tea without talking at all,
and I saw in his gaze a whole lifetime of days –
sweet as honey, yet bitter as gall.
Then he said with a sigh, “Lad, I’m not quite sure why
you stood back while the others poked fun.
But l know that took nerve, so I think you deserve
to find out who l am, what I’ve done.”
He said, “Lad, I’m no fool. I once taught kids in school,
and those times were my happiest years,
for my future was bright, and my work a delight
till the day it all ended in tears.
I had put my roots down in a little bush town,
wed a girl who was sweet as could be.
Then our hearts filled with joy at the birth of a boy –
there was no one more lucky than we!
And I taught from the heart, as l tried to impart
all the learning that l loved so well.
Through tough times we survived, and our tiny school thrived
as together we strove to excel.
But, my lad, it went wrong one hot day when a strong
summer wind parched our throats and our eyes,
and we saw with dismay bushfires heading our way
as a pall of smoke darkened the skies.
As the gusts fanned the flame, it swept onward to claim
crops and houses, consuming them fast.
But we stood to defend our school right to the end…
and we saved it! The wind changed at last.
But my wife was away. She had gone for the day
to a neighbouring town with our son,
and there wasn’t a phone, so she wouldn’t have known
that the blaze in the hills had begun.
And l knew her return would collide with the burn
where she’d probably meet its full force.
So l hoped she’d delay – find a safe place to stay
and wait there till the fire ran its course.
But in vain she’d begun to drive through, to outrun
the inferno that raced down the ridge.
But she slid off the edge of the river bank ledge –
in the thick smoke, her wheels missed the bridge…”
As he faltered l saw what I hadn’t before –
weathered tracks from the tears he had shed.
There seemed nothing to say as he thought of that day
when his hopes for the future had fled.
Then his story went on, “With my family gone
I lost heart as l withered inside.
Overcome by my grief, l could find no relief –
and my passion for teaching just died.
So l took to the road, and I’ve carried the load
of my swag and my sorrow alone.
Now the earth is the bed where l lay down my head,
and my story – to most – is unknown.
People don’t have a clue! They take one look at you
then decide what they think you might be.
But there’s one thing I’ve found as I’ve travelled around
Never judge just on what you can see!
People come and they go, and you often don’t know
just what cards they’ve been dealt in their life.
You can make up your mind to be harsh or be kind –
and thus lessen or add to their strife.”
I went back the next day, but he’d gone on his way
and the dregs of his campfire were cold,
and he never returned – though I waited and yearned
to hear more of the story he’d told.
Now the decades have flown. I have sons of my own
and I watch their advancement with pride.
I have tried hard to show them what counts is to know
what a person is on the inside.
And I sometimes go back to that place down the track
where I sit and remember the past.
Then I think of my friend as his days reached their end –
and I hope that he found peace at last.
In the Wake of the Deluge by Brenda Joy (Second Prize)
Through build-up of cyclonic swell, torrential rains gave birth,
with force that Man could never quell, to deluge of the Earth.
Events of fierce ferocity had made us all aware
of Nature’s cruel atrocity. We know for we were there.
As wastelands turned to inland seas within a flood of tears,
evacuated refugees endured their greatest fears.
Though empathy for others’ grief brought sorrow to each heart,
we watched it all in disbelief – aroused but set apart –
till danger loomed upon our range. We felt the grip of fear
that heralded dramatic change: The threat was real and near.
But nothing helped us to prepare for what was yet to come.
Surrounding din made us aware – a deep, almighty hum…
…like roaring jet planes, sonic wave, beyond the speed of sound
as stressed escarpment failed to stave off might of water’s pound.
The surge that ripped the mountain height with force like lava flow,
oblivious to tragic plight of landscape down below,
released, in cascading decent, the debris of its rape.
Electrified pulsations sent us hurtling to escape.
Sheer volume from the torrent’s thrust – a wave ten metres high –
determined in its raging lust that all it touched would die.
And that’s what happened to our town. In fraction of a breath
our homes, our stock, our friends would drown. Our valley turned to death.
How some survived is all a blank, our minds have blocked it out.
We know we have our God to thank. He kept us safe no doubt.
Now T.V. images portray the overall extent –
the ‘highlights’ of our horror day, the visions of lament.
The ‘Bridge of Death’ that claimed its toll, the houses in the hay,
demolished, twisted. No control! Oh take these scenes away!
No-one’s been spared that demon’s touch. That mighty predator
has swept our valley from our clutch, has scarred us to the core.
And onwards still its mighty sweep into the very fields
of commerce where twin cities reap the wealth that progress yields.
It shocked when centres deemed to be secure from Nature’s force,
faced suffering, so plain to see, as flooding took its course.
Though now communication’s spread its network ‘round the world
yet urban realms succumbed to dread when Nature’s wrath unfurled.
But we’ll take faith from courage shown, heroics, love embraced.
Our passion to survive has grown through chaos bravely faced.
No matter if we are inclined to city or to land,
catastrophe of wide-spread kind has helped to understand.
We can’t cast Nature to our spell, her trials come to test.
We’ve learnt that lesson all too well: We live at Her behest.
Yet we’ll abide this nightmare phase. We’ll help each other grieve.
We know our pain we’ll not erase – but neither will we leave.
Combining skills from land and town, we’ll see this trauma through
Disaster will not drag us down. We’ll show we are ‘true blue’.
We’ll build again, that’s what we’ll do, we’ll make another start.
The spirit that will bring us through pervades our region’s heart.
The Untold Story by Leonie Parker (Third Prize)
Just a simple wedding band, plain gold and unadorned,
he wore it on a chain close to his heart.
I wondered at the story but my nursing colleagues warned,
“You won’t ask any questions if you’re smart.”
I paid them no attention when they told me not to snoop,
so sure I knew it all at seventeen.
His, “Mind your own damn business” really threw me for a loop;
I wondered what the hell made him so mean.
Admittance applications made no mention of a wife.
He claimed to have no living next of kin.
I questioned what had led to such a sad and lonely life,
his surly disposition – or his skin?
He left this world behind him where nobody held him dear,
too many bridges burned along the way.
His mostly untold story might have never found an ear
if someone else had been there on that day.
I found the ring discarded in a drawer beside his bed,
removed so they could knot his only tie.
I searched for an inscription but found nothing to be read
until a battered notebook caught my eye.
The notebook was his journal and it told a sorry tale,
a tale that’s not uncommon to our shame,
a stolen child who spent a lifetime in and out of jail
and never knew his people or his name.
The day the troopers came and tore his carefree world apart
his mother pressed the ring into his hand.
Although he never spoke of it he wore it near his heart
and finally I came to understand.
I put the ring into his hand and closed his fingers tight
around the only comfort he had known.
I never knew his heritage but prayed he’d find the light
and when he did he wouldn’t be alone.
When he returned to Mother Earth nobody else was there.
The sky was heavy with impending rain.
A common koel’s mournful call was drifting through the air
joined by another in its sad refrain.
And for a fleeting moment as the sun broke through the gloom
I caught a glimpse of rainbirds on the wing,
with feathers black and glossy like some Gothic plant abloom
and round the leg of one – a golden ring.
How Long Will We Cry? by Kevin Pye (Highly Commended)
From Bundaberg to Brisbane and all places in between,
Then inland to Emerald and St George where crops were green,
The flooding rains relentless burst the banks of country streams
In a turbid, foaming deluge that ravaged peaceful dreams.
Through Lockyer Valley’s farmland, a Tsunami surged along
And a wall of water rushed, metres high and all too strong
From Toowoomba to the coast, claiming lives along the way;
Will we cry for them tomorrow like we cried for them that day?
We might sing of our heroes gone with torrents as they rose
Or those who tried to rescue, as their bravery clearly shows;
We write of devastation and the future now in store
And then we lift our spirits and we open each new door.
Sweep the city streets of mud and remove the foetid air,
Lend a hand to friends in need, honour those who lie somewhere
Laud the name of Jordan Rice, just a boy who chose to stay
While his brother’s life was spared for the price he had to pay.
Our Nation’s hearts were heavy for it’s hard to understand
How scenes that we have witnessed could be cast upon this land;
Still Aussies share a mateship when we suffer, work or play
So we’ll cry for them tomorrow like we cried for them that day.
The tide surged ever eastwards, overwhelming all in sight-
Each daylight brought new meaning to the terror of the night;
The eyes of this great nation saw “My Country’s” flooding rains
But hearts were far too heavy to sing MackelIar’s old refrains.
Yet spirits rose as always when adversity’s at hand
And residents of Ipswich stood as one to make a stand,
Restoring their dear city in the face of Nature’s trial-
United although shattered, helping hands there Aussie style.
The image of the city is enhanced around the world-
Raw courage on a banner, on a mast has been unfurled.
Heroes last forever so l ask you if I may
To honour those who left you when you cry for them today.
Fire at Dawson’s Run by Catherine Lee (Highly Commended)
The stockman lived alone for years, preferring things that way,
was thought of round the district with respect;
a man who worked the property with seeming tireless ease,
and known for being helpful and direct.
He’d settled on the station, where he supervised with care
the livestock and the workers who were hired;
and Watchman was his trusted horse that never left his side-
a true and loyal friendship that inspired.
He’d trained the brumby foal he’d bought years prior at the sales
when spotting him while passing through a town in New South Wales.
The horse stood fifteen hands and was a well proportioned beast,
with long arched neck and withers well defined,
his forehead broad, a shining coat as black as raven’s wings,
strong back and muscles perfectly combined.
His hooves were hard and well conformed with power in their stride-
a mount men miles around could recognize;
perceptive and courageous, with a quick sure-footed tread,
unruffled nature, deep expressive eyes.
Yet Jack had bought him cheaply, for his price had been knocked down
because of trauma suffered in a blaze near Campbelltown.
One night, with moonlight glimmering through gently sighing gums,
the creaking of the iron roof was slight,
a rustling in the bush the only evidence of life
as dawn had not yet come to bring the light.
The stockman Jack slept soundly, separated from the rest
in quarters at a distance from them all-
with Max convulsing, snoring loudly, hunting in his sleep
and Watchman safely stabled in his stall,
and things secured the world was still just waiting for the sun-
the atmosphere seemed fine and normal there at Dawson’s Run.
But evil lay in wait upon the mountain’s rocky paths-
went creeping through the forest in the dark;
five thugs were on the loose, their bellies filled with beer and rum,
and out to cause destruction, find a mark.
With loaded guns and foolish plans they swaggered to and fro
while swaying on fatigued bedraggled mounts-
decided Jack could well afford to share his hard-earned yield;
the station thrived, they’d heard by all accounts.
So once agreed they’d stage attack, the gates and fences breach,
they slunk in shadows down the track that led from Devil’s Reach.
They came with stealth, positioning themselves behind the doors;
their strategy they hastened to deploy,
with plans to leave no evidence to link them to the crime,
just steal what they could find and then destroy.
A stirring in the stable gave them little pause for thought,
but Watchman paced alert and ill at ease.
He kicked his stall and whinnied-Max awoke, began to bark-
the thieves rushed in to plunder and to seize.
While one subdued the dog another threatened with his gun,
and three began to search and raid the house at Dawson’s Run.
Though Jack had grabbed his rifle he’d been taken by surprise,
so hadn’t time to raise a loud alarm.
They operated ruthlessly with blows to overcome,
despite no earthly cause to do him harm.
Then finally they set the place alight and scuttled out
to leave him at the mercy of a blaze.
He rallied, grabbed the dog and staggered out towards the barn,
then hit the dirt collapsing in a daze-
was helpless to protect his horse, could only agonize
while watching as they roughly forced him up McKenzie’s Rise.
As Jack lay semi-conscious breathing smoke and scorching wood,
the breeze began to spread some dancing flames;
the brutes had got away with almost everything he had-
no witnesses to even venture names.
Black rage consumed his final thought as unexpectedly
a rotting beam ignited, smouldered, fell-
he heard the fading hoof beats echo loudly in his ears,
but where they took his brumby, who could tell?
He thought they might be heading south towards the sheltered ridge
that marked the boundary of states beyond McBurney’s Bridge.
Intoxicated laughter mocked the silence of the bush-
the crooks were running free and on a high;
for miles they pushed their stolen acquisition on and on,
and fought him as he reared and pawed the sky.
They harshly whipped and kicked, derided angrily and swore-
the animal was panicked and distressed-
yet grimly persevered until they’d forced him to obey
and cease his futile struggles to protest.
Then finally, beyond the bridge they camped beside the creek
which nestled under Bogan’s Ridge beneath Malingee Peak.
They tied a rope around his neck and harshly pulled it tight,
secured him to a eucalyptus tree,
provided him with water then, and following debate
supplied him with some food begrudgingly.
The horse stood by forgotten as they sprawled within their camp
discussing their intended next attack,
while counting up and gloating-but it wasn’t very long
before they’d had enough and hit the sack.
Their drunken sleep was heavy so they didn’t stir or toss,
and silence reigned beneath the ever-present Southern Cross.
The sudden peace pricked Watchman’s ears; relief was fast and deep,
for patiently he’d waited in the gloom
observing while he chewed the rope until it frayed and snapped,
preparing for his journey to resume.
He lingered for a moment, on alert for any noise;
once satisfied he turned, again to halt-
continued very cautiously until he felt assured
that no-one moved. The time had come to bolt!
He dipped his muzzle, buttocks tense and twitching, head oblique
then resolutely hastened north and left Malingee Peak.
Some rain began to drizzle; vicious lightning slashed the sky,
the wind picked up and thunder split the night,
but Watchman kept on galloping with firm and steady stride
and rescue as his only goal in sight.
Resourceful and intelligent, retracing every step
he swiftly made his way from Bogan’s Ridge,
then navigated somehow the terrain traversed before
and launched himself across McBurney’s Bridge.
At last he saw a slope that he could clearly recognize-
began his arduous ascent, and climbed MacKenzie’s Rise.
Intent and steadfast on he went, his only thought of Jack,
while flashes forked and crackled to the ground.
The rain was intermittent but the storm was raging hard-
it seemed the earth was trembling with the sound.
He hurtled from the pinnacle towards the home he knew,
perceived the conflagration from afar;
but never hesitating for a moment in his stride,
he charged like some demented avatar.
Then suddenly, with courage none could ever hope to teach
he leapt the dreaded precipice that loomed at Devil’s Reach.
The wind was howling-workers battled on to save the house
with Jack still trapped beneath the fallen beam,
unnoticed out the back because of urgent job in hand-
half-conscious, he believed it was a dream.
He heard a sound like distant drums and glimpsed a flowing mane-
his spinning mind found tricky to accept
this glorious black Pegasus with pacing, airborne hooves-
it felt like time stood still as Watchman leapt.
He didn’t falter-Jack watched stunned, in awe of what he’d done,
while Watchman cantered up to where he lay on Dawson’s Run.
Undaunted by the danger, eyes wide open, spitting foam,
his nostrils flaring, flanks awash with sweat,
the horse defied the heat and smoke to drag the stockman free,
no longer heeding any fiery threat.
The rain increased, and suddenly the men had gained control
of flames consuming trees and structures there;
but Watchman had fulfilled a purpose none had realized-
‘till now they’d been completely unaware,
despite the burning stench, the chance that fumes could bring him down,
and memories of terror from that day in Campbelltown…
The thugs were caught and thrown in jail to rot for many years,
while Jack was compensated for his loss,
but legends of this partnership the people still recall
through every state the bushmen ride across.
From way up north in Arnhem Land to western New South Wales,
Victoria to Queensland and beyond,
they share the story widely how the stockman and his horse
developed such a strong, amazing bond;
how Watchman fled, leapt Devil’s Reach-that blaze he didn’t shun
but faced his fear to save his master’s life at Dawson’s Run.
The Tale of Molly Riley by Catherine Lee (Highly Commended)
She lived alone at Wombat Creek and tended to her garden-
a convict girl who’d since secured a governmental pardon.
They said she had the gift of sight with stars and moon to guide her,
a healing touch-though others swore the devil lived inside her.
But seek her out they did and came to warily respect her,
while legends grew round Molly and her lack of male protector.
Her cabin lay a mile from town amid lush vegetation-
she spent her time alone and in medicinal creation.
The only blight on Molly was unwelcome keen attention,
a guard named Gerald Rickman she’d rebuffed while in detention;
an arrogant and brutal boor who threatened, teased and taunted-
avoiding his advances she continued on undaunted.
Though often he would visit speaking words of false assurance,
she suffered him reluctantly with cordial endurance;
the false facade masked plain desire for merciless seduction,
his smirk of insincerity the essence of corruption.
The outlaw Billy Moyes possessed a horse of great devotion,
so one day when it sickened he approached to seek a potion.
The moment Molly met him they were bound in love forever,
the kind that neither human, beast nor law could hope to sever.
Despite a heavy bounty on his head for cattle stealing,
he risked his life to visit her-could not deny his feeling.
He’d softly whistle through the trees beyond the jacaranda,
and Molly’s arms would greet him on her fragrant dark veranda.
Then came that fateful night when Rickman, drunk and feeling frisky,
injected with an evil purpose thanks to malted whisky,
went trotting out to Wombat Creek in search of satisfaction
determined on a brutal path of shameful, wicked action.
The gentle glow of moonlight made the forest seem to shimmer,
and vague disquiet stroked him in resulting ghostly glimmer,
but shaking off his caution at self-pleasure he’d soon render
he kicked his horse and trampled through the verdant shadowed splendour.
The noise awakened Molly and she grabbed a weapon quickly-
a poisoned blade she kept inside-her breath came fast and thickly.
He squashed her foxgloves, slashed through ivy, wintergreen and roses,
while flattened lilies launched accusing perfume at their noses.
At first she watched impassively, regarding Rickman coldly;
contempt transformed her features as he lurched towards her boldly,
dismounting and approaching with disdain and coarse berating-
she smelt his lust for power, felt his anger emanating.
A dingo howled, a dry twig snapped, she heard the trickling water
as suddenly he grabbed her by the hair and roughly caught her.
“Enough of all these games you witch! Don’t struggle any faster-
your sorcery means nothing now-I’ll show you who’s the master!”
The blade had fallen down to earth to land amongst the nettle
while Rickman gripped her forcefully, an ancient score to settle.
The glazed expression in his eyes made Molly feel defeated-
she knew he’d not release her though she tearfully entreated.
A whip cracked loudly through the air and landed with precision!
Her arm was dropped-she watched surprise take over harsh derision.
“No Billy, don’t!” she yelled, then watched the look of consternation
on Rickman’s face convert to glee at this new situation.
The outlaw Billy Moyes would bring a bounty few could better-
he couldn’t miss this chance because he’d never get one better.
With narrowed eyes now boring into Billy’s blue and steely,
the loathing there was palpable and flowed between them freely.
They circled like two animals in seething detestation,
the night alive with malice and a common desperation.
This stand-off lasted moments, then they clashed in bitter fighting,
determined on conclusive course of absolute requiting.
When Rickman drew his gun she couldn’t stand it any longer,
for Molly knew the weapon made his chances so much stronger-
and sure enough he aimed and fired and since the gun was loaded
it stained the eucalyptus red as Billy’s chest exploded.
A blinding rage took hold and Molly scrambled for her dagger-
as blood gushed forth she watched the guard recoil in shock and stagger
He screamed his fury, cursed her as the devil’s evil strumpet,
then fell to earth amongst the thriving, toxic angel’s trumpet.
With Rickman slowly dying Molly focussed full attention
on Billy’s fatal wound, her world in horrified suspension.
She cradled him and watched the light within his eyes receding,
but tried in vain to will him back to life and staunch the bleeding.
With dawn’s arrival Molly sat alone on her veranda,
her heart in pieces, underneath the fragrant jacaranda.
Her tears fell ceaselessly to earth as, heedless of her garden
she dwelt upon the fact that this time round there’d be no pardon.
Although they said she had the gift, yet nothing could recover
the life of her beloved Billy-ally, friend and lover;
so seek her out they would and take her back for condemnation-
the gallows as her destiny, the noose her last sensation.
She watched them riding through the gums with rifles at the ready,
while grasping Billy’s lifeless arms for strength to keep her steady,
recalling as she looked around the way she’d once meander
through paths of cycads, larkspur, golden dewdrop, oleander.
The gentle susurrations in the trees and shrubs appeased her;
serenity prevailed as that oasis calmed and pleased her.
No witnesses could clear her name-she faced complete dishonour-
she resolutely raised her glass and drank the belladonna.
Now no-one lives at Wombat Creek, the garden lies untended,
while cobwebs drape the wooden porch and nothing has been mended.
An eerie shroud of silence cloaks the cabin in the clearing,
and superstitious dread descends on all who may be nearing.
Remaining blooms are overgrown, the dying foxgloves drooping,
while angel trumpets waft in wild profusion where they’re stooping
as if to mourn a girl destroyed by man devoid of honour-
and every slightest breeze transports the scent of belladonna.
The Property by Susan Sommerlad (Highly Commended)
His grey eyes scan the distant hills,
The dawn breaks gently through the haze,
Paddocks grown green with recent rain,
The steaming cattle gently graze.
The mist drifts softly on the lake,
The lilies bloom, the lotus bright,
Kingfishers swoop, a flash of blue,
The herons rise in golden light.
He leans against the homestead rail,
His kelpies linger at his feet.
He turns to saddle up the mare,
He’s much to do before the heat.
The busy day spreads out before,
The cows to milk, the calves to drench,
The steers to load, off to the sales,
He needs more wire to fix that fence.
The farmstead’s sighing in the wind,
The silence breathes of lives now past,
The empty rooms, whisper of joy,
Of hopes much cherished, love that lasts.
The children now no longer run,
Along the hall and down the track,
The kitchen scents no longer rise,
No baking now welcomes him back.
And where those perfect hazel eyes?
The quiet voice, the calming word?
The soft form warming winter nights?
The long hair straying undeterred?
Mid-day comes soon, his muscles strain,
The sweat dries streaked upon his face,
The dogs crave water, seek the shade,
He mends the fence, no slackened pace.
At last with shadows lengthening,
Sweet garden blooms held in his hand,
He slowly walks along the track,
Towards a piece of sacred land.
Beneath the fig trees towering shade,
He lays the flowers by granite stone,
The grave is tended lovingly.
Her kelpie keeps watch here alone.
He sits and talks in softened tones,
Narrates the happenings of the day,
Their sixty years of married life,
Death cannot take the love away.
He will not leave the farm’s embrace,
For she lies here in silence deep,
One evening she will lead him home,
They’ll lie here sharing perfect sleep.
100 Years Since Anzac by Jim Cosgrove (Highly Commended)
There’s 100 years since Anzac, since the war to end all wars
Yet Australia’s sons and daughters still respond to freedom’s cause
In those hundred years of fighting there’s a lot that’s still the same
And the good old Aussie Digger still brings honour to his name.
We behold the Aussie Spirit in this proud Centenary
And the birthplace of a Nation – “Anzac Cove – Gallipoli”
Where a Lone Pine tells the story of those men who paid the price
And is testament to Glory found in acts of Sacrifice
For it’s not the prize of victory that marks our celebration
But the ‘Spirit’ of Gallipoli that so describes our nation
It’s the character of Mateship, it’s the courage that they showed
And the selflessness that saw them fall with faces to the foe
They were young and full of life when they responded to the call
They were looking for adventure and they knew no fear at all
When confronted by the torments that for all who war awaits
They endured the hell and horror through commitment to their mates
They endured great deprivation, hunger, hardship, thirst and pain
Beside their mates, with gritted teeth they’d joke and not complain
They would clamour over trenches with machine guns spewing death
They knew their Mates would watch their back until their dying breath
At battles on the Western Front, in jungles of Korea
The mud of the Kokoda Track, the Last Charge at Beersheeba
The Tunnel rats of Vietnam, Malaya, Timor Leste
Tobruk, Iraq, Afghanistan – Our diggers gave their best
Let us recall our Diggers’ traits of which we all take pride
The Larrikin, the Optimist, the ones who always tried
The willingness to lend a hand and greet life with a smile
The willingness to sacrifice their lives in times of trial
Across the years these Anzac voices call to you and me
Do not forget the sacrifice of mates who set you free
Of those young souls whom age won’t weary nor the years condemn
By living Anzac Spirit lives – We will remember them
So when we hear the bugle play its solemn haunting strain
When Last Post bids us to recall young vital lives again
In silence may our hearts reflect on Anzac’s hundred years
On those who sacrificed their lives and those who shed their tears
Then as the bugle rouses us from silent reverie
As themes of life and freedom dawn anew for you and me
Australians all let us rejoice – For we are young and free
The Spirit of the Anzacs starts its second century.
Ipswich City Council Award – 16-17 Years
Wholly in the Deep by Kate Wilson (First Prize)
When I was three I almost drowned
Because I walked into the dark
I wore my twin brother’s tutu
And my white captains hat
I thought I could be everything
My mother saw only the little white sailboat floating
Crumpled in the middle (it was never fit for the seas)
And the arrows in the night’s reflection
The stars chinks that winked in the changing motion
Of the shallows and the deeps
She ran out in her pretty dress and her chiaroscuro eyes
The ones she only wore when her parents were around
Gathered me up in arms like God
And kissed my fingers under the Moreton Bay Figs, (breathe in, breathe out)
My eyes, a reflection of hers, with a shard of river water and a fragment of night in their fullness
My father used to tell the story
Called me his water baby, his fearless warrior
But I told my mother that we had the eyes of the depths
While he had the eyes of the blue and he didn’t know
But her arms became more like empty hands than holy
When I was three I almost drowned
Because I walked into the depths like it was where I belonged
I wore my eyes full and encompassed the deep like a father
Held a map in my hand and picture of my mother in the other
Because she taught me I could be everything, deeply and wholly
Return to Jerusalem by Joshua Dunne (Second Prize)
I dare say England’s grown a little cold without me.
The fires dead, extinguished one by one.
The people scurry in frantic search about me
Seeking warmth, seeking shelter.
The people see my broken body,
At my scars, they look away.
The kind ones go to give me money,
As if a ransom they might pay.
Still more engage in conversation, when they see my feet and hands.
They ask which war it was I fought in – “Iraq or Afghanistan?”
I give a saddened smile; it was the Middle East alright!
But I suffered voluntarily; I went down without a fight.
The bitter winter biting at my heels,
The biting gale bearing winter’s snow
Bites not so hard as lashes as you kneel.
Lashes as you stumble. Lashes as you go.
But even whips lend gentler wounds than words
That flow from mouths in unbroken, hateful floods.
Or beaks, for they are like flocks of starving birds
With their cold, dead eyes and anguished thirst for blood.
Flocks of birds that have no shepherd
To find them when they go astray.
What caws of racist hate I’ve heard!
Things I thought I’d never hear men say.
Though, I can’t say I’m surprised to hear the rampant insults thrown
From every angle. I am not the one the people here have known.
In their Churches and Cathedrals, in every image I am shown
As one from Manchester or Bristol! With skin as white as snow!
They use me and my story,
One of pain and loss and woe,
To build their palaces, their glory.
What I fought against, long ago.
I dare say England’s grown a little cold without me.
The lights go off in bedrooms, one by one.
The angels weep.
The sword hand sleeps.
As all my work begins to come undone.
Dear Ma by Gabriella De Oliveira (Third Prize)
The year we lost our minds
“Tell Mum to put the turkey on
We’ll be home just in time!”
Was the year we nearly caught it
I hid my head between my knees
Beneath the table, beneath the sortie
Was the year they took your son
The gun is a cruel teacher
That marks off the roll, one by one
Was a cold year for you
They came for your food, friends,
Home, husband and daughter, too
This time they came for me
And I waved to you from the tram carriage
Feeling smart all dressed in green
We keep coming back for more
We are hungry for power
And thirsty for war
So I washed up alive
Back on the shore of home
Carrying those who died
You had back all your kids
Two sitting on the sofa,
One on the mantelpiece
Indigo Shadows by Tessa Campisi (Highly Commended)
The clock on the hearth ticks,
Places to set.
Shelves to dust.
Silver to shine.
Billow in the wind.
She contemplates her nest,
With all its perfection in tow.
And ironed creases.
Her husband lounges,
Pipe in his mouth.
Ash falls soundlessly upon the floor.
Where’s the broom?
The guests are set to arrive presently
The wafting smell of rhubarb pie:
And sweet memories.
She wipes a trickle of sweat from her brow.
Silence and the beat of her heart.
‘Where’s my tie, Woman?
Tie held forth.
He snatches it.
A matrimonial memory,
Framed in white,
Hangs in the hallway.
He grips her around the waist
Perhaps too firmly?
They smile at the camera.
‘The happiest day of her life’
Or so she was assured.
The photographer had said.
And she had smiled.
Because she was told to.
She reaches up
To straighten the frame.
Suddenly it is
Tumbling through her grasp.
Shattering upon the tirelessly polished floor;
A thousand crystal tears.
Hide the imperfection.
Sweep the accident away;
Out of sight,
Out of mind.
Cutting her hands on the
In the mirror
Eyes her off.
Deep indigo eye shadow
To mask yesterday’s bruise.
A shadow of her husband’s hand.
The reflection stares back.
She sees her deceased mother
In the mirror.
Is she but an echo,
A mere reflection of her mother?
Her mother’s brooch upon her chest,
Her mother’s pie within the oven,
Her mother’s plastic smile,
She so despised,
Plastered across her face?
Was it with the same shade of purple
Her mother hid a secret?
Hid the same secret?
A knock at the door.
The room whirls around her.
And cordial exchanges
Ms. Merriweather, what a pleasant perfume!
How lovely your geraniums are, my dear!
Dote upon one another.
Baring their teeth
In what they call smiles.
A nervous butterfly.
Betty, what a lovely house you keep!
From the corner of her eye, she spies the roses.
Betty? Did you hear about Jane’s son?
The petals fading,
Hadn’t she picked them that very morning?
Betty, are you heading the missionary group this year?
At a distance
The pink petals
Still seemed perfect.
But why did they bruise so?
As if dying
From the Inside.
Hide them away.
Before somebody notices
The wilting petals fall.
She had always detested roses.
Her husband holds her waist,
Like a doll,
Like a trophy.
And manicured lies.
Where’s your famous rhubarb pie, Betty?
Do you smell smoke?
The voices disappear.
Into the air
The hours spent
The relentless kneading,
All up in smoke.
A glance at the clock.
She rolls up her sleeves,
And ties back her curls.
She emerges, smiling.
One may catch a glimpse,
A hint of
The stewed rhubarb.
Through the cracks
In the pastry.
That crust was perfection, Betty
A perfect conclusion
To a perfectly pleasant evening.
Once bid adieu
It would be later commented that beneath the pastry –
The perfect crust –
The rhubarb was,
A little too tart.
A somewhat bitter aftertaste,
Lingering just beneath
Such a sweet exterior
Across the Seas by Tessa Campisi (Highly Commended)
For ten years she lived in the land of the sun.
Beneath boundless skies,
One and connected as the birds and the beasts.
Until sails appeared on the horizon;
Deceptively white clouds to a latent storm.
The people of the sun watched from the sand.
Strange men, pale faces.
Foreign footsteps and deceiving smiles.
They furtively approached these peculiar strangers;
Curiosity and open arms.
A sickening thunderclap.
Children fell before her. The water stained ruby red.
Men were seized. Women snatched.
Babies whisked from mothers,
discarded in the deep.
Blistering her skin.
Swept up and stolen. Stowed away.
Whisked across the seas and perilous waves.
Rocking to and fro, a sickening lullaby.
Below the waves
Bloodthirsty predators lurked.
Icy Fear pierced her heart. Hot metal pierced her skin.
Rotting flesh, tears and the dark,
3 feet below deck,
already buried alive.
Robbed of her innocence by flickering candlelight.
Mocking faces and callous hands.
A new soul thrust into her arms, ensconced in her womb,
A second heartbeat that too soon faded to nothing.
Ten thousand miles from home.
Four hundred lost souls.
Eighty unlucky survivors.
40 days and 40 nights.
Finally the new land came to view,
The skin on her back craved the sun’s tender affection.
Yet the sun was not the same.
The birds and the trees did not sing her song.
The people remained pale; rejected by the sun’s warmth.
Stripped and beaten. Starved and whipped.
Her mangled body screamed hunger.
Her eyes searched for familiar faces. Her heart yearned for home.
The strange land brought strange smells and strange tongues.
Her own language felt heavy and strange in her mouth,
Lost in a void of silent consent,
at mercy to the hand of the white man.
For ten years she awoke to fear, ensnaring her limbs.
The black night followed in the shadows,
Gunpowder thick in the air;
Burning stars and hopeless dreams.
Fear and bullets quaked the house in the night.
The smell of death,
wafting down the street.
Families reduced to less than the rubble underfoot.
All she could do was run.
Her mother’s hand slipping from her grasp,
A tenuous grip on reality in the foreboding dark.
Her brother and she.
Leaving behind her life.
The only trace their footsteps in the dust.
The sound of the crashing waves lost to the thunder overhead
A stranger’s blood upon her hands.
They clambered upon the wearied, wooden fishing-boat.
Perilous for but 10 souls.
100 grievously crammed inside.
The decrepit hull moaned,
Speeding through the cold and the damp and the dark,
Tears froze on her face,
All she could do was clutch her brother close
And pray to Allah.
Her hope fading fast,
like her brother’s breath and lifeless stare.
The waves toppled and teased the boat,
40 days and 40 nights.
Finally the new land came to view,
With the silent hope of a new life
Free from pain.
Where you could walk fearlessly down the street,
Where hunger no longer plagued every waking moment.
Where you could praise your own god freely.
Hope shone like a candle in the dark.
Snuffed out like a candle in the dark.
White men looked down upon her,
Dirty sneers and sleazy remarks.
And abused her from their TV sets.
Politicians held her life in their hands,
Unwilling to share their
‘Beauty rich and rare’.
How was she different to them?
Did they not all seek happiness and safety?
Her brother and her mother and countless hours on the Pacific Ocean.
Lost in an ocean of politics and paperwork.
At mercy to the hand of the white man.
A Trojan Elegy by Joshua Dunne (Highly Commended)
Upon the earth the broken bodies lie.
Scattered like leaves after a storm,
As an unbroken, noxious swarm
Of insects ‘round their bodies fly.
And there you are.
These were the finest of men, the very best from either side.
They lived and fought with honour and with dignity they died.
And with dignity they strove and with dignity they tried
To right the wrongs committed years ago by you, undignified.
And there you sit.
Will you be king now, little child, will you be king now for a day?
Will you rule over those who, for your lust, such sacrifice have made?
And was the blood of thousands yet enough to wash your guilt away?
Or must still more and more be sacrificed?
Is the ransom still not paid?
And here we lie.
How strange, that you, the only one whose life should surely end
Have yet survived. I would have hoped some justice would this wrong amend,
And yet – nothing. No justice here is found, as good men bury friends,
Their children weep. You soundly sleep.
You, who men died to defend.
And here we cry.
Verging upon Virgil by Emma Hartley (Highly Commended)
This is not
The story of the man
who left his wife on a pyre,
Who sailed away
Looking back at smoke
But not seeing fire.
Yet somehow it is:
The muses are left liars.
Nor is it
The story of the city
Whose walls burnt down,
Their slender Corinthian majesty
Giving at the knees
As they all tumbled down.
Yet somehow it is:
History wears a wooden crown.
The poets were tired
When they etched at their verse.
They wanted to make men heroes
But instead made them worse.
Marri Yatarla by Meg Stroud (Highly Commended)
Under summer moons, far from urban hum
A forest lives. Alive like a thousand beating drums
Below my window, a clean rasping sound
When the noises stop, pathways can be found
My feet step, walking. I look up
Until my steps have led me to the undergrowth
Trees like eyes, and darkness like panic
Stepping to the rhythm of the forest drum
In this place the dreamtimers are hidden,
Sheltered like cellar doors to forgotten things
Their ancestors float, always lingering
The whispers here, I feel them in my bones
Taunting, watching me. Teasing at my clothes
The edge of the river swims over my feet,
Soft like tears and drained of all heat
It sings, it dances, it bends and it breaks
A heartbeat settles to the rhythm of the Marri Yatarla.
Night sinks deeper and the emerald forest dances with me
They are alive and speaking, singing like sparrows,
For a moment, fleeting, sometimes I catch
Their wild dark faces. Unearthly looks traded at a glance
Tossing their heads away in foreign sprightly dance
Just past dawn, the sun begins to stand
The heavens turn red and the forest drums fade
Night retreats from the shadows, the woods glint virescent
And the dances slow as daylight descends
Once the sun swallows the moon, the stars run away
My feet step, walking. I look down
The cold cement slabs from my house can be found
I’ve left that place but the drums can never be drowned
Amongst soil and earth, framed by hazel pastures
There danced the dream from the people of a nation
Once stolen, and entirely stripped of liberation
The forest is now free to thrive and grow
Forever loyal to people we stole, and will never truly know
The forest is much more than just trees and rivers
It is enchanted and captivating, thriving in untamed rhythm
Quiet, unchanging, spirits dart between dappled trunks,
Glimpses of the past between rivers and bush bends
Beckoning me back; to the Paperbarks and their unusual friends
Fruit Bats at Lockyer Crescent by Serena Green (Highly Commended)
They’ve got you in their teeth,
the yellow flesh bursts between the skin,
the spit-wad pulp trailing
its Machiavellian seeds.
We find the graves in the morning fighting
for their 3 feet of the roof,
tin-lined so we hear the gunshots
The dulcet stench wafts green in
the window, the ripest loss with
no sight for summer.
They grow in waves, each
a speckled shell growing on
a high tide
plucked from reach.
We see the echoes in the dark,
each spark a sea wrung
bolt from Calypso’s
arm, a lamentation for
bounties searching still
We cannot fight, they have
taken what we can give them with
so we tune to tomorrow
when the mango grenades cease
falling onto our roofs.
Junk Dragon by Luka Zubcic (Highly Commended)
Joy to ride a junkyard dragon
rescued from his scrapheap sty –
toasters, fans and barrow wagons,
bound and learning how to fly.
Watch this gross amalgamation
chortle to the stratosphere –
fragments flying in formation,
laughing through the old frontier.
Now his aluminium armour
shimmers with the rising sun –
joy is not in keeping karma,
joy is when the welding’s done.
Little Girls by Emily Eastwell (Highly Commended)
Little girls skipped around the garden,
Ribbons in their hair,
Frilly dresses tickling their knees.
The smell of the peonies ghosted in the wind,
The sugar crystals of cotton candy sparkling in the sun
The little girls carried it on cones of paper,
The pink clouds sticking to their hair,
The moments all captured on Mum’s Kodak camera.
Queensland Times Award- 14-15 Years
History Rewritten by Ella Fox-Martens (First Prize)
Theseus, I imagine, would have sailed home
to the riotous stamp of feet on pavement, to the bright slashes of flags
breaking the air in reckless, blind adoration.
Gold would have been poured down on him,
women would have slunk up to his palace in the dead of night,
breathless and dizzy,
their easy laughter beckoning him into bed.
The stars would have bowed down in defeat, touching their light
to the cold ground,
the gods staring in reluctant, rough admiration
as the fires in the city burned as fierce
as any Olympus night.
And I imagine that Theseus himself
would have sat in his father’s chair-
empty mind and broken spine,
the music echoing in hollow bursts around that grand
and known exactly
what Midas felt like.
And they say Ariadne fell in love
the moment the boat brushed the shore.
That she looked at the girl
who seemed like a man,
and lost her heart to the blue of his eyes,
to the tender way the sun grazed his (her?) skin.
And I think that he must have known,
must have played the princess like
plucking all the right strings,
crooning the perfect harmonies.
(we forget he would be nothing
without a ball of twine)
So she whispered in his ear the way to kill a monster,
and he whispered back a beautiful
which she took for truth.
I do not think of Theseus slaughtering
the Minotaur, I do not think of
little boys hacking at each other
with wooden swords,
calling his name like a medal slung
around their necks.
Many songs have been sung
about the width of his shoulders,
and the courage in his beating heart,
the way his sword sunk into
the flesh of a sad, lonely animal,
who never learned to be anything
except for what he was taught.
I do not think of the history that
calls him a hero, a saint,
or the glorified bloody terror
of what happened in the
brutal twists and turns of that labyrinth.
I think instead,
of the people Theseus
ruined, left behind,
the lives he broke between his hands
as if they meant nothing more
than the ants he crushed underfoot.
He took threads he had no right to
and tangled them together into
a painful ragged mess.
And how can he be a hero
if he shattered hearts,
if he was so careless that his own father
hurled himself down into a ferocious,
that body falling, falling, legs thrashing,
his crown toppling
into icy waves.
If he left the woman that saved him,
simply because she wasn’t beautiful?
And I hope that as the years passed him by
like sand slipping through his fingertips,
he would have found himself dreaming of her;
his ugly princess searching the blank sea
for a boat that would never return.
That he would have woken up with her name
on his breath and his stomach flooding with cold,
The Cry of an African Heart by Erica Emms (Second Place)
As the winds toss the sea of grass,
A heavy heart climbs its way
Before the break of day
A sigh from an African heart.
Bare brown feet on the sands aflame
A mind going back on her childhood,
Eyes are welling with a heart of pain
For once in a place she stood.
A tear finds its way down a creased old face,
The pains of the past
Were not the last
A tear from an African heart.
Yes once in a place she stood alone
Young and strong and free,
Listening to the seas wildest tone
Fate had sprung, for her eyes to see.
Now fear crossed that creased old face,
The tremor of an African heart.
The sea was once no dread to her
But Hark! Betrayal!,
No longer would the sea defer
The white and ghostly sail.
The fear was now too much to bear,
She seemed to fail
All sickly and pale
The sway of an African heart.
She had eyed that sail with a curious eye
As it approached the shore,
Flee little bird and let hopes still fly!
But nay! All hope is sore.
Now anger was aroused within,
A flare from an African heart.
Shyness over the youthful face spread
As rowboats drew on nigh,
Sounds of the brutes stealthy tread
Fly little bird fly!
Now anger was too strong for tears,
The furnace of an African heart.
Behind the shadow of their captain’s swagger
They formed a circle around the girl,
Pulled out sword and pulled out dagger
They captured an African pearl.
Anger devouring the frail old form,
What’s left in the African heart.
The little bird was caught in the net
It was struggling, screaming but in vain,
Doom and the bird had at last met
This the beginning of pain.
Now anger died down to a cinder,
So it’s just pain
All over again
A moan from an African heart.
On a man’s face there was a seer
Away from his breath she recoiled,
He carried a club and carried a leer
Her cowering was but foiled.
There’s pain but no more tears,
Tightness in her breast
Tightness in her chest
A gasp from an African heart.
The club had made its painful mark
She knew not what then followed,
Just dark, just fearful dark
And in it she wallowed.
The red old eyes lifted themselves,
They soon found
There’s beauty around
A breath from an African heart.
Her youthful eyes had fluttered open
There was nothing but darkness bleak,
Only the sound of a sloshing ocean
And the joints of a ship that creak.
She cooled her feet in the shallow frothy water,
Rinsed her tear stained face
Leaving but little trace
Of the pain in the African heart.
Now she had no room to spare
In the darkness deep,
Many hearts cried in despair
From their home they started to creep.
Her head started to throb with her heart
The thudding of an African heart.
With the ship her people groan
Death was near at hand,
While the seas forever moan
There’s longing for their land.
The beauty around her did not care,
They had no worry
Nor were the sorry
Of the bleeding in an African heart.
The revenge of the sea went on raging
On the ship she held,
The people were ever waging
For death among them dwelled.
Her burdensome eyelids won their war,
Yet her mind was ever going
Memory ever sowing
Pain in the African heart.
The waters swallowed many a body
White man saved his skin,
The future was but bleak and foggy
Little was left of her kin.
The weak old eyes rested awhile,
They did not see
Resting was she
Relief of an African heart.
At last the eyes could see a light
No more sitting in waste,
Life is still a desperate fight
A new master now she faced.
Anger crept in again, impossible to keep away,
She wanted to cry
And then just die
The infliction of an African heart.
All hopes and fears were but sore
Sold and branded, a slave was she,
Told: ‘You belong to God no more
But you belong to me.’
But death seldom will come when wanted
Tears would not come
And life was not done
Resisting the African heart.
She now worked in a sugar cane field
Corpses caked in mud,
Together packed and sealed
Sugar mixed in African blood.
Her heart so tired of life and death,
So weak so sore
Could handle little more
Of the life in an African heart.
Little children swallowed by fire
Grown men too tired to weep,
Forever there’s a groaning choir
Lives too much to keep.
Despite the dull thud in her heart,
There’s a whisper of light
Breaking through the night
The sight of an African heart.
She was to die one sweltering night
She stumbled close to the flame,
A steady arm reached to her plight
A silhouette, of a thin strong frame.
Yet week and feeble a smile had spread,
A tear left its trace
On the creased old face
The healing African heart.
Bright kind eyes looked down in hers
She knew she’d found a friend,
Her vision at kindness blurs
She from death had been rend.
The thought of kindness softened her heart,
Tears washed away
The shadows of the day
The view of an African heart.
Someone who cared and stood by her
Someone of freedom dreamed,
Someone in her heart would spur
Love and full esteem.
Death lifted its heavy blanket,
Her heart adorned
With love that warmed
Sunshine in an African heart.
A night were the moon was covered
A secret marriage was held,
Two hearts together anchored
With love which was not quelled.
A thin tight line of determination,
A heart set hard
Even though it scarred
The shreds of an African heart.
They were to escape the misery
For freedom now they strived,
To strive for love and victory
While they were yet alive.
Her heart started to beat anew,
The wind whistled
Her neck hair bristled
The flutter of an African heart.
Soft and as silent as the night
Into the mist so deep,
Even a sound ever so slight
Will break the dogs light sleep.
The embers of her eyes on fire,
They are shining
Through their lining
The fire of an African heart.
That frail night there joined a few
Together they crept along,
Through the wind that ever blew
All hearts throbbing song.
In her heart there rose a song,
ln the depths of an African heart.
The frail old night died away
They found a hiding place,
There the waited all the day
Hounds were on the chase.
The song began to take its shape,
There’s hope and despair
Singing all its care
ln the longing African heart.
Hopes and fears hung by a thread
Hearts frozen inside,
While above their masters tread
A hungry infant cried.
Desperate is the tone of her song,
Desperate to the core
Desperate and so sore
Is hope in an African heart.
Flinging themselves on their master
The desperate struggling fight,
No time to answer
His words for her, to take flight.
Her song wanted to stay and flee,
Torn in two
Confusion in the African heart.
Leaving her heart behind
She fled a little way,
Stumbling along as if blind
She hid at a crossway.
Scared and lost nowhere to go,
The plummeting African heart.
White, white, is her face so pale
She followed her love so sweet,
All her hopes in are now betrayal
The whip crushing his heartbeat.
Anger, despair, and pain
All in a clot
Tied in a knot
The struggle of an African heart.
Night fell, alone she crept to his body
Struggling for life his last words gasped
“Look after yourself, our unborn baby”
Hand in hers he passed.
She could not see could not feel,
Her chest heaved
She battled to breath
The anguish of an African heart.
There she had sobbed the night away
Week and drained she stumbled along,
All hope she would not slay
For him, she would be strong.
Her heart set hard like a rock,
The bottled African heart.
Freedom was a reality
Feet on safe brown earth,
She had struggled with difficulty
To suppress the pangs of birth.
The rocking of her body and heart
As memory shot
To the spot
And broke the bottle of the African heart
She looked into the crumpled face
It was cold and blue,
The truth too much to embrace
Her baby was dead, that she knew.
A river of tears on the creased old face,
A heart that drifted
Towards relief of the African heart.
Arms held out toward the sky
There rose a feeble plea,
That she would be free to fly
‘To a place with my love, my baby, and me’
The cry of the heart was heard.
A Heart’s Desire by Dylan Burgess (Third Place)
We’re the youth of a burning fire, a heart’s desire
But inside’ our heart’s a liar
We’re the youth of a greener grass, a bigger ask
But we hide, behind a social mask
We’re the youth of a brighter day, a better way
But our emotions have died and feelings get locked away
So listen! I’m not gonna shoot-cha!
But you should know! You are the future!
Family… What’s it to you?
When there’s kids growing up
With no parents or food
And all you can do
Is stare down at ya phone
Liking statuses and messaging
People you don’t even know
But gee though! Your ego is so ugly though!
You don’t see though, you complain when we know
You don’t fit ya chinos ‘cause ya sit there
Eating ya burritos and Cheetos
Ayo l think, think
Just to be fair though
“Believe you can and
You’re halfway there” though!
Ya think ya hot as hell
Or as large as life
But you’re not so swell
You’re as cold as ice
Kick the bucket and you’ll
Cause a chain reaction
Ya friends will get depressed
And head towards suicidal action
Sniff Sniff! ‘til you’re so high you drop
Then share with your friends ‘cause ya think it’s hip-hop
Uh Oh look who’s come through!
Black boy sniffing fuel and young boy too!
Smart as a doctor
Sharp as a boxer
But who’s left? Are the rest pale as death?
And if they’re left, then who’s right?
The kids in the dark?
Or the kids in the light?
Is ya God white? Is ya God right?
Is ya faith tight? Who’s ya k/night?
The one in the sky – or the man who died?
Is ya life full of lies? Is it the reason you cry?
Is it a reason to die? Or a time to defy?
We’re the youth of a burning fire, a heart’s desire
But inside’ our heart’s a liar
We’re the youth of a greener grass, a bigger ask
But we hide, behind a social mask
We’re the youth of a brighter day, a better way
But our emotions have died and feelings get locked away
So listen! I’m not gonna shoot-cha!
But you should know! You are the future!
The Beauty within the Beast by Vegini Krishnamoorthy (Highly Commended)
Most will think of bees,
as short tempered, wicked beasts.
They’ll mimic their harsh buzzing,
with words that maliciously sting,
but there are few who can admire
their determination that does not tire.
Most will think of snakes,
as ruthless, callous, invertebrates.
They’ll imitate their cruel hiss,
but not all will amiss,
its talent to shed, past skins
and transform from within.
Most will think of spiders,
as fearful, creepy liars.
They’ll duplicate their poisonous bite,
with insults that are quick to excite,
but few will marvel at its ability,
to design a web of such ingenuity.
Most will think of hyenas,
as thieving, low-life scavengers.
They’ll replicate their greedy drools,
by stooping to the level of fools,
but only few can listen with favour,
to their unceasing, and joyous laughter.
Most will look up into the darkness of the night,
and will be consumed solely by fright.
They’ll see only the dark footsteps they follow,
and will thus be doomed to the gallows
but few will look up into the night sky with eyes tender,
to the sparkle of stars that dance with splendour.
And these few who do see the light amidst the darkness,
and discover the beauty within the beast,
will become the very stars that they witness,
and will find, amongst a raging storm, the island of peace.
Who Dies in the End? by Sara Suk-Udom (Highly Commended)
She was shooting at a steel wall
Heard his false pleading
The bullets may have stirred him
But she was the one bleeding.
He was trapped beneath the cold chains
Desperate to return her calls
The bullets may have shaken her
But his blood was on the walls
Old Man Winter by Emile Regano (Highly Commended)
Now the buttons have wilted shook free,
Of a coat of rolling hills,
The pockets are empty no daisies to dress,
Those threads of summers the rills to line,
Blow away in a cold caress.
Now old man winter has blown his horn,
Apart the lapels to tear,
And the elder gums again will watch him tramp,
The trail of seven rills, where they – will
Follow in the leading of his lamp.
He rolls his swag ‘neath the Milky Way,
At the crest of night-time gap,
Dreamer in a slumber mid’ the frost and cold,
Stir, thou art the wind to lap the shore,
Betwix the winter garment’s folds.
By purring brook and silenced meadow,
Reaching at the feet of pines,
Ah! Twas here our felon passed when robin came,
Follow in the trail that winds its own,
Behold in the casting of his flame.
The Race by Darcie Smith (Highly Commended)
Sausages, salad and soft drink is the diet of an athlete
Tennis with the cousins is how we train on the burning concrete
Beach cricket is our warm up, Nan-nan takes a dive
Time to hit the waves, the race starts in five
Out the back we head, our boards are at the ready
Turn around it’s coming! Lie down nice and steady
All 15 of us are racing and we’re nearly on the peak
‘Jump on!’ Dad yells and ‘Make sure you kick your feet!’
Only six of us managed to get on top of the wave
The other nine are out, including Uncle Dave
On the tip of the wave we are, I feel on top of the world,
Here comes the descent, watch your position or you will be hurled
We’re on the wave now, and we’re barrelling down the front
There goes Mya, it turns out she was dumped
We have sand in our hair and salt water in our eyes
But these moments are unforgettable, the beach has us mesmerized
The race is on and we’re heading toward the shore
Jonty took out Claire now there’s three more
Matt is in the lead but Paige has approached
I make my move as her space is becoming encroached
I knock off Paige and she goes thrashing through the shallow sand
But before she goes under she seizes Matt’s hand
Together they take out some surfers who were intently spectating
The space is open for me as the crowd starts separating
The sand is on me now, l know that I can win
I throw my board and look around, my family is clapping me in
I have done it, I have won the race, so it’s time to catch some more
Before l know it, l am tackled to the ground, this means war
My cousins are at it now, collapsing on one another
I jump on Jonty and then comes his brother
Through the sand we go, wrestling, tackling and laughing
The race is over but the fun is only just starting
Here We Stand Side by Side by Erica Emms (Highly Commended)
Where the hot bright land forever weaves
The golden wheat, the golden sheaves,
Where the land divides in cracks
Where the mighty thunder thwacks,
There a people stand.
The soft bright moon upon the rippling land
Two people stand hand in hand,
Despite the beauty of the night
Overhung the shroud of a plight,
There in uncertainty they stand.
The pools of her eyes overflowing “oh Jo!
Do ye have to go?”,
He caresses her bright young face
And chokes “I as a man, must take my place!”,
With his arm around her, there they stood.
“I must stand by my fellow people
And must fight against all that’s brutal”,
He looked down at her with earnest eyes
And wipes away the tears she cries,
Standing looking in her face.
In her eyes he seemed more kind than ever
Sacrificing, she knew all forever,
“Aye go and fight!
Go and fight for what is right!”,
For the last time they stand side by side.
There she watches him go away
She moves her lips as if to say,
“No matter where we will go
Ye and I my dearest Jo,
Here we stand side by side!”
I Forgive You by Erica Emms (Highly Commended)
The black, black night, stiff and cold
The grasses shiver uncontrolled,
The heavy trudge of drunkards stumble
While he passes shacks, all a crumble.
There he bursts into what was a house
Startling and scattering the rat and mouse
His daughter in a corner shrinking
For he bellowed, for more drinking.
A crash! A scream!
Under the moons cold white beam,
A plead for compassion, a plead for mercy
Sprawled his child, clinging to his knee.
But his belt rose up, up so high
Reflecting in her trembling eye,
Her shaky hand then tries to scrawl
Three words upon the dirty wall.
Blind by slumber blind by drink
He watches as his strong blows sink,
On the body in the corner cringed
All because of his weekly binge.
“Now, I am to depart!
May God forgive your guilty heart!”,
His daughter cried out aloud
Then fell under deaths heavy shroud.
When he awoke from his drunken state
Realization began to penetrate,
Up above the corpse he slew
Was written I forgive you.
Yggdrasil by Simone Engele (Highly Commended)
They say there was a giant ash,
And on its strong branches,
It carried the whole universe.
Every leaf a different life,
What an amazing thought,
That we are all connected,
Each one joining with another.
But now you didn’t hear much,
About this tree,
This beautiful ash.
I wonder where this tree has gone,
If it still exists,
Still carries these worlds.
So I looked in the mirror,
And raised my arms,
And stared at the veins running around,
Branching into my wrists and fingers,
Sapphire and scarlet,
The colour of space.
The colours that make up the universe.
And I realised, maybe,
The great ash Yggdrasil,
Was inside all of us,
The vein-like branches,
The blood like sap.
We are all Yggdrasil.
We aren’t so different after all.
The Lady Who Went for Afternoon Walks in High Heels by Emily Parker (Highly Commended)
She was crinkled all over,
Tiny, fragile hands and cropped short, curly hair,
She called herself a boy’s name, I never understood that.
Grass stains of her gardening clothes,
Planting pretty flowers that smelt funny to my little nose,
Garden scissors always in her hands, trimming grass until its exact level,
She was the lady who gave me ice blocks and chocolate bars.
Her fluffy teddy bears on her bed,
Her rainbow bird and long haired dog,
Tangled pastries covered in icing sugar,
Behind her gummy smile there lies her sad history.
Fleeing evil men who slaughtered everyone she knew,
Only allowed to take one stuffed toy and a bag of clothing.
At age 15, she fell in love
Moved to Australia to start a family of their own,
Had many children when everything started to fall into place,
Left alone to raise all 5 children,
Left alone to pay the bills,
Fighting for rights, without any.
There was no hope at all.
The children turning their backs on her when they grew,
Hating because she was always miserable,
She was left alone again
She hardly saw her grandchildren,
When they did they were forced and never hugged her.
With little money she had left after her child stole,
She brought a house for herself,
And lived there on her own.
I was five years old,
l never saw her grief.
The lady who gave me chocolate bars and ice blocks,
Threw my balls over the fence when they were lost,
The lady who made us tangled pasties from her home land at Christmas
And the lady who walked in high heels in the afternoons.
Never did I notice the picture of her husband on the wall,
Or the few of photos she had of her children or their children.
Broderick Family Award – 11-13 Years
Happy Holidays! by Charlee Sutherland (First Prize)
The school bell rings out loudly
We packed our bags and cheered,
The year was finally over,
THE HOLIDAYS ARE HERE!
The car was packed and in the drive
Our cossies and suncream too,
The traffic was looking really bad
So Mum brought out the food.
I scoffed a million chocolate buds
They melted in my mouth
How many could I fit inside?
Before long I lost count!
The movie on the seat in front
Was action-packed and loud,
My travel sickness soon kicked in
And my stomach went KAPOW!
The vomit landed in the dash
And on my mother’s head,
My brother looked quite shocked and green
“GET ME OUT OF HERE!’ he said.
The traffic was still grid-locked
My mother could not turn
For every avenue was blocked
My mother’s death stare BURNED.
The steam was coming out her ears,
The smell was quite REVOLTING
The swear words coming from her mouth
Were new to both our knowing.
Without a towel or tissue there
There was nothing left to do
I sat there, cold and wet,
Sitting in my spew.
Resigned to fact we could not clean
We proceeded on our way,
Heads protruding out the car
To keep the smell at bay.
At last our destination came,
We leapt out from the car.
Our Uncle met us with a towel
But stood back from afar!
My poor Mum had the horrid job
Of cleaning up said spew,
Alas, I’m now not allowed to eat
Unless I’m near a loo!
Crows by Tiriei Kamide (Second Prize)
There is something desperate about crows
maybe it’s the way their pit-less black eyes
slide over you
always watching, unsure
suspicion constantly on the brim
ready to overspill
Maybe their ink spill of wings
an oil spill spreading
then taking flight
rasping their cries
into the empty sky
Perhaps their greed
scavenge the bins, the parks, the ponds
only to find themselves
Stream by Hannah Vesey (Third Prize)
a silver snake winding through the woods
singing a watery song
dancing over a bed of jewel-like stones
a shining ribbon on a tree-covered landscape
glistening in the sunshine
catching the light of a million diamonds
around hills and across fields
collecting in deep, quiet pools overhung with ferns
where dappled fishes swim
white spray soaking the grass
water splashing against the banks
cheerful and playful
cold as the winter snow
gushing into the harbor
meeting the embrace of the sea.
World by Kiara Bell (Highly Commended)
The world is spinning
We sit here not noticing
What is happening.
Home by Leisl Lucerne-Knight (Highly Commended)
A dark stage is set,
smoke and ashes are drawn like curtains,
red dancers illuminate the passion in spectator’s eyes
sparks fly like the phoenix,
a burning love,
that shall never die.
2. The Bird-Bowl
The pure calm serenity,
a peaceful place
for those who wander and wallow.
Blue smooth swirling bliss
reflects your smiling face,
illuminated by the glistening sparkles,
radiating from the joyous sun.
She sits and stands
up for my rights,
and sits beside me,
through black and blue.
Before I was born,
and even when I die,
she shall never lie,
and her spirit will never die.
I may not know you,
I may forget you,
but I know someday,
when the sky has gone grey,
I will sit and see your smile,
and laugh along for a while.
And when the day is at its end,
I will come and smile with you.
5. My Cousin’s Pregnancy
Bells ring at the sound of your arrival,
some may cry at the possibility of your loss.
You are your own,
and you will make me smile,
at the sound of your laugh,
and the words of your eyes shall make me cry,
and I shall smile when we do meet in person.
6. Emily my Friend
You are a lioness,
You have stayed by my side
through black and blue,
and I have done so to you.
You sit and smile when l smile
and cry with me when I cry.
You sing like a bird,
and fly with your words,
and I shall forever adore you.
7. Mehki my brother
When the weight of the world
is on your shoulders,
I shall help heft the weight,
and when a dark cloud
pelts rain down upon me,
you shall convince the sun
to come out and play.
Stolen by Lisa Nguyen (Highly Commended)
We were stolen from our mothers,
We were stolen from our fathers,
We were stolen from our homes,
They stole our identities.
We were forced into strange ways.
Praying every day.
We had to do what the white ghosts said.
Lying in strange beds.
We searched and searched for our identities
but nothing could be found.
As Mr Neville checked our backs,
we weren’t to make a sound.
We tried to get back home.
To retrieve our identities back.
Leaving the others all alone,
Hearing the lightning crack.
We wondered, we walked
We tricked that tracker.
Like a cunning crow,
we were smarter than them.
We missed our mum,
like a dingo misses its pack.
But we did not dare howl
as we might be stolen back.
We wondered, we walked,
until we found the fence.
We jumped for joy,
and followed this fence, feeling almost free.
Mavis was taken to Moore River too,
She knew what we had been through.
But her life was not worth reminiscing,
And her identity was still missing.
We wondered, we walked.
We just followed the fence,
towards the horizon.
No north, south, east or west.
Only those desperate enough
Would leave the shifty shadows
Only to be swept away like an owl catching its prey.
Tears falling down the face behind the window.
We wondered, we walked,
Until we couldn’t move anymore.
The eagle protected us,
And home was just a little furthermore
We were stolen from our mothers,
We were stolen from our fathers,
We were stolen from our homes,
But we stole our identities back.
My Grandmother Refuses to Die by Olivia Williams (Highly Commended)
My grandmother is refusing to die.
She stands at the fly wire with a broom
waiting to shoo away death when she hears
the click of the gate. My grandmother’s crazy,
you may say, but she’s completely sane.
My grandmother (whom refuses to die) stands
at the fly wire every single day,
but we understand why.
Of course no one wants to die,
but it eventually happens
and all we can do is cry.
My grandmother is a stubborn old bird,
doesn’t want to do this or that
because ‘my back hurts’!
my grandmother’s warm and full of fun,
but when the gate clicks
the fun turns into a gun
waiting to shoot
down death before it can get her.
My grandmother’s old, fragile
And like a piece of frayed leather.
Her skin’s like a sponge,
absorbing everything around her.
She smells like all old ladies smell,
like soap and very clean.
She’s a tough old bat with a broom and gun
swatting and shooting death
whenever the gate clicks.
My grandmother’s not afraid
of death, she is just afraid of dying
and what she’s going to miss when she’s gone
The Fascinations of Millinery by Lewis Orr (Highly Commended)
A keen eye descries some ludicrous hats,
Trilbies, and bowlers – all with ribbons to match,
All bobbing along in contentious bearing,
And representing the humans that had chose them for wearing.
First came old top hat, from a day at the club,
Swinging his cane and just dying to snub,
All hats who came beneath his wealth,
With no means to equal his portly health.
And the newsboy cap sang of new issues galore,
To which the beanie responded with a crude implore,
“Be quiet, ragamuffin, for you have no insight,
Into the biting cold weather and the climatic plight!”
Whilst the fedora was chuckling at these two hats wrangling,
He was nudged by the bonnet, who was weaving and tangling,
A gossipy rumor, and a scandalous tale,
About the pillbox’s romance and its doom to fail.
The straw hat looked on with the hint of a scowl,
At the bonnet’s forked tongue going rather afoul,
For the farmer was a character of simple folk,
A blunter knife, and a basic bloke.
The panama was grumbling to the beret beside,
Bemoaning economy, politics, the tide,
For pessimism did rule, his thoughts and his mind,
He honed it and groaned it, making sure that it shined.
Though one may interpret this tomfool society,
As lacking grace and allure, and a presence of piety,
It is they who serve a very true function,
One yielded at a most peopled junction.
For when the clouds draw back and harsh sunlight is rayed,
It is the hats who together provide the shade.
And when heads are warm until the day’s end,
It is hats to who gratitude should be kindly sent.
Television by Kate Chan (Highly Commended)
The television is wonderful now wouldn’t you agree
Sit your kids in front of it and they’ll be happy and filled with glee
They’re learning so many things just by staring at a screen
Don’t tell your kids to go read books, now wouldn’t that be mean
Your kids will be quiet and will always be on their best behaviour
In my opinion I think television really is a saviour
They’ll be so glued to the screen that they’ll leave you alone
And you’ll never have to shout at them in that angry tone
Some shows on TV are actually educational
And all the shows are really quite sensational
‘Please don’t take the TV away
We’ll be on our best behaviour’ they’ll say
Your kids will beg
And not let go of your leg
They’ll cry and cry
And say they’d rather die
They’ll hate you forever
And never grow up clever
You’ll tell them to read a book
And of course they’ll give you a nasty look
You’ll take out their collection
But of course they have TV infection
They’ve rushed back to turn it on
So you’ll call in your husband John
John will grab his heaviest hammer
‘Dad please don’t’ your children will stammer
Your children will run to grab hold of the TV
They will sit there sobbing and hug it like a tree
‘Dad we will not let go’
‘Dad you can’t, no. No. No.’
John will swing the hammer down
But of course John misses and it hits the ground
Now when the John makes his second swing the whole thing is tragic
The thing that happens next could be classified as magic
John swings the hammer down into the TV
But smart little Bob pushes his Dad and the hammer goes straight to John’s knee
John screeches out a very loud top C
This surprises his neighbours and his family
He screams, he swears
He’s louder than a sleuth of bears
Once he’s finally calmed down and finished shouting at Bob
His neighbours walk in and offer John a job
They tell the man that he can sing
And that opera is really his thing
So in the end John takes the career
And with his friends he celebrates with beer
Remember next time to never touch the TV
Just leave your kids there sitting so happily
What I Want to be When I Grow Up by Anna Harisson (Highly Commended)
When pondering what job I should do,
I wasn’t stuck just between two,
But was thinking of so many choices,
A world of wonders to me
If I was a teacher,
I’d be an awful creature,
I would become bald from stress,
And in old lady clothes I would dress,
My voice would be raspy from being mad,
And my everlasting supply of apples going bad,
All the students would hate me,
So they’d put poison in my tea,
I’d be dead before I knew it…
If I was a hairdresser,
My money would be lesser,
I would probably have nits,
From those little kiddy twits,
I’d have to listen to people’s issues,
I’d probably run out of tissues,
From wiping my greasy hair-touching hands,
And feeling sorry for my fans,
Who insist on the latest hairdo…
But if I was a private eye,
People around me would be shy,
In fear of giving away secrets to me,
For everything I would see,
A life of mystery I would lead,
But to me everyone would plead,
Don’t give away my secrets for money,
My life would be so lonely,
I’d probably end up in gaol accused of stalking….
If I was a politician,
I would have great ambition,
To lie to everyone in sight,
I would give them such a fright,
And then they’d give me all their cash,
Because scaredness causes thinking rash,
Too bad I would be a laughing stock,
For the newspapers would talk,
Of how bad a person I supposedly am…
I would be in a lack of glee,
If an office worker I was to be,
Sitting on my bottom typing bore,
It would be such a snore,
And so much sitting that,
Inevitably I would get fat,
I wouldn’t get through the office door,
And I’d lose my job typing bore,
I’d end up on the streets at that pace…
Considering my options I’II have to admit,
There seems only one thing for it,
That instead of deciding,
On one profession that everything would be riding,
I should just not grow up instead.
Ipswich District Teacher Librarian Network Award – 8-10 Years
The Sea by Cooper Whelan (First Prize)
The sea is a grave for boats
Clashing against rocks
Like a tiger striking its prey,
Swishing and swaying
Dragging boats to their grave.
As boats sink down
To the depths of the sea,
Rip, crack – the sails are breaking
Sending boats to their grave.
The sea is a grave for boats.
Minecraft by Sophie Horner (Second Prize)
Build a house one or two
Build houses to keep the monsters away
The next day mine for gold, iron, diamond, emerald and cobblestone
Dig dig dig deep down
Do not go in lava or you die
Defeat monsters at night
Craft some more and grow some trees plants, flowers and poppies
Stay alive and keep safe!
Get friends and pets to make sure you don’t get lonely
Get some armour and tools to help you survive the night
Eat chicken, ham and food to recover your health
STAY SAFE ON MINECRAFT
Netball by Cadence Creighton-Jay (Third Prize)
Like a helicopter the player throws
The coach calls like an alarm
Ball kangaroo bounces
Crowd yells like a bunch of crickets
Forest by Gemma Nicol (Highly Commended)
I can see
Trees stretching as far as the eye can see.
The orange-brown Orangutan hiding from danger.
Snake, searching, slithering up a tree.
Teeny tiny ants crawling away from the stranger.
I can feel
Ow! Ouch! The dreadful wasp sting.
Soreness of animals caught by tired teary-eyed tiger.
Something etched in tiny bits of grass, a thing.
My big backpack falling apart. Useless fibre.
I can hear
BANG! My water bottle fell out of my bag.
Splish, Splosh, Splash! Waterhole is near.
My favourite magazine… It’s gone!
Roar! Jaguar growling. That’s what I can hear!
I can smell
The horrible smell of decomposing animals, bad.
The smell of bats, they stink.
Terrible smell of dead horse makes me mad.
Baboons bouncing in trees, they smell I think.
I can taste
The taste of dry mouth. Horrible.
Crash! The taste of bark, a tree fell down.
The air, I can almost taste it. It is terrible.
Taste of wildlife. It’s like they are all dressed normally and I’m a clown.
The Junior Girls’ Toilets by Grace Finlay (Highly Commended)
In the Junior Girls’ Toilets there is gossip and chat
Gossip and chat
Gossip and chat
As well as the gossip and chat
There is glug in the toilet
Glug in the toilet
Glug in the toilet
As well as the gossip and chat
Glug in the toilet
There is screaming and shouting
Screaming and shouting
As well as the gossip and chat
Glug in the toilet screaming and shouting
There is nonsense
Nonsense, nonsense and plain old nonsense
Because of the gossip and chat
Glug in the toilet
Screaming and shouting
And the nonsense, nonsense, plain old nonsense
That is why I look forward to Thursday afternoons when the Junior Girls’ Toilets are being cleaned
And I get to go to the Senior Girls’ toilets.
Sunset Dragon by Alycia Muchiri (Highly Commended)
The black midnight dragon
Flies south into the red blazing fire
Dashing into the night sky.
The rare sunset dragon
On the way to his
White Tiger by Emily Sopar (Highly Commended)
Eyes like diamonds search the ground and watch for life,
Frosted like ice looking for food to freeze,
Pads like cushions move swiftly through the trees prowling over vines,
Fur like snow glistens with dew as it sheds tufts,
Claws like knives tear at the ground and shred leaves,
Cubs like lightning dash to the trees play fighting,
Tails like snakes swish to and fro with strength,
Legs like pistons shoot through the bushes,
Teeth like daggers tear at flesh,
Ears like silk twitch with anticipation,
listening for a creak or a snap,
Paws like steel gallop to the hills as the sun sets over the grassy plains.
You are a white tiger.
Jacaranda by Ellie Richter (Highly Commended)
Growing on a tree
With a bright vibrant purple
Slowly drifts to sleep
River 94.9 Award – 5-7 Years
Night Time by Abby Jennings (First Prize)
It looks like darkness and shadows – shadows like hands trying to come into my room
It smells like the washing powder that mum washes my sheets with
It feels like my cuddly toys at night that keep me safe
It tastes like cooked vegetables that my mum makes me eat – I like them raw but sometimes I have to try them
It sounds like silence – except for people pitter-pattering across the floor and the house creaking in the night when it is cold and it shrinks
Night time makes me scared. But in the morning when my brother wakes me up, I just wish I could stay in my bed and sleep in – for a while at least
Something Red by Alex Milne (Second Prize)
My dad was at the shop.
He saw something red.
Thought it was a capsicum,
Bought it and took it home.
He opened it.
Took a big bite,
His face went red.
His eyes watered like rain.
We gave him a coke,
It made it worse!
His head exploded.
He needed a head transplant.
Burning tongue, it was on fire.
Cough, cough, cough!
We laughed harder.
Then we gave him some milk.
He ate chilli.
End of story.
Running by Bastion Wright (Third Prize)
hot and tired
I did it!
You Might… by Jarryn Emms (Highly Commended)
Find a bun in the sun
The bun in the sun might be Alan
The bun in the sun might have a cup of cordial
And the cordial might be brown
The Desert by Chloe Goodingham (Highly Commended)
I fall to the ground hungry,
My head pounding in pain.
I dug and dug for a year.
Not a drop of rain fell on my tear.
I hear the eagles above me.
I hear them squawk above me and I am terrified.
I don’t know where to hide.
Dead trees. No leaves.
I see cattle dying of hunger and thirst.
I see a glimmer.
Is it someone to save me?
The Beach by Olivia Weise (Highly Commended)
The beach is a wonderful place.
I hear the crashing waves.
I go over the bumpy waves on my lime coloured boogie board.
I walk with my dad to look for little seashells on the golden sand.
I see a beautiful white seagull going across the cool water.
I do cartwheels and handstands on the soft sand.
I spy petite fish swimming in rockpools.
I pack up and go back along the hot sand.
What a nice day on the beach!
The Great White Bite by Jarryn Emms (Highly Commended)
Take a bite
Swim through a strait