Issue 30: 

in memoriam Catherine Vidler

The striped world

The striped world flexes through venetian blinds ::

I blink & tremble :: then I self-subdue ::

The fruit bowl advertises its sweet kinds ::

I turn away & dive into the blue 

which beckons me :: a sea-creature-askew 

asks for directions :: which I can’t produce :: 

My mind is reeling :: feelings overdue ::

Apologies :: it seems I am no use ::

Forgiveness somewhere hides like a recluse ::


The wandering is feral :: weeds & fish ::

With sensitised awareness :: heightened sight ::

I see you there :: somewhere amongst :: I wish 

then wish again :: constrained as a brief kite  

acrobatting in high winds :: colour-bright ::

My eyes begin to close :: just so :: just so ::

Thoughts gleam & slip like rawly fresh egg-white ::

A question :: how far back must the brain go 

to find its answer :: shivering in snow ::



dots of light


dots of light up &

down a wall :: breeze shifts on skin ::

changes direction 


unfurling flower ::

its moist centre under sun ::

petals travelling 


planets swarm :: recede ::

tickets everywhere are cheap ::

your turquoise iris 


slight slapping of blinds ::

lazy day in fragrant shade ::

this brilliant sky


oasis gleaming

with component parts (which shine) ::

I query (again)




surprise in a box 

in a box a surprise in

a surprise a box


jolly greetings :: or

similar :: the air is keen

with particles (see?)


pinned to the thick dooor ::

a rose in rainbow :: & so

it goes :: noiseless :: sweet


birds twitter against 

a current of air :: feathers

in readiness (for?)


I ask a question ::

the question is quite patient ::

‘however’ :: it says


a stop sign traces 

its well-worn edges :: singing

softly of self-touch 


whenever I get 

like this I remember when

ever I wasn’t




seclusion :: seaweed ::

you & me :: swimming along-

side :: the shape of it


slits of light :: insects

thrumming :: the season settles

in :: for the long ride


night opens its coat ::

the stars are a recklessness ::

(arguably so)


especially on

days like this :: or that :: (or both) ::

especially both


blouse trembling over

a heartbeat :: the paint-box waits ::

its wandering brush 



foils of cloud


foils of cloud :: wing-flutter in the head :: 

a carved out sea :: dust-motes in this simple light 

composing itself across several lines :: in bed 

with the covers drawn :: an animal :: a slight 

fever on its wits :: confusing matters :: quiet blur 

of dreams in exceptional number :: the dials 

are spinning :: glossy & ecstatic :: wires 

crossed & crossed again :: with him or her 

or perhaps both of these :: on the shelf :: vials :: 

violent with colour :: arguably medicinal :: fires 


which burn anaerobically :: helicopter sounds 

in the pent-up air :: New Year’s Eve on our tails ::

the garden is cornered :: a-burst with mounds 

of churned up soil :: we sit amongst :: the tv wails 

& winces :: clarities papered-over :: re-invented :: then 

lost :: mould self-converses in a popular spot :: 

the walls otherwise almost entirely blank :: 

waiting to be scrawled upon :: where & when :: 

there once was a wound :: moving clot to clot :: 

there once was a boat but it invariably sank :: 


hiding in the broom cupboard :: alien to a broom :: 

an alternative tool :: primarily verbal :: it introduces 

itself to the pungent darkness :: there’s no room 

for a difference of opinion here :: enough said :: fuses 

wait on the sidelines :: dry as bone :: in a paperweight 

a story :: repeating itself to the point of :: displayed 

from all angles :: whistle in the eaves :: a bird’s nest 

crackling next to a window :: before the creak :: the gate 

swinging haphazard :: tries to shake the story off :: wade 

into the ocean instead :: it implores :: forget the rest 


of what I was about to say :: birdsong squeezes its cloth 

& relaxes :: late morning sun as dull as an old coin :: 

the sky crying out for some decent conversation :: a sloth 

waves goodbye and not without gratitude :: the join 

is imperfect :: which carries the usual consequences :: 

plates which spin improbably have the least to say 

or at least that’s how it seems :: maps unfurling 

at an unprecedented rate :: palings refusing their fences :: 

at most for the foreseeable :: an incredible array 

of butterflies hovers above the field :: a curling  


of cloud further above :: dreams mature like fog on glass ::

the interpretation couldn’t be more relevant than it is 

as the whole thing turns to tears by the wayside :: a fuss 

of sound makes small trouble in the corner :: a bus- 

ness of ferrets conducts ardent negotiations under 

a strawberry mooon :: a clock continues its press-ups ::

and it isn’t long before the rest of us are joining in :: 

exuberant music encroaching :: a crowning wonder 

of evening stars afloat :: planets playing dress-ups ::

as New Year freshens itself :: where on earth to begin 



pressed to the wall :: as litter blows




pressed to the wall :: as litter blows

& settles :: there :: moon bows ::

a water feature ::

lolling silence :: you create your

sweet picture :: subtle lines ::

o wind which moans


I travelled to a seamless land ::

resided there :: a frond

tickling my cheek

until I woke :: was wide awake 

then woke again :: the dawn

birds' song-serene 





released into a barren space ::

all restless here :: sun's hoist ::

a side-lined drought 

rung in your ears :: an un-drawn thought ::

erasure’s sour shape ::

o breathless pipe


remained I in the fraying town 

& roamed there :: ferns ungrown ::

my untouched face 

until I slept :: the deep dreams' rise ::

I slept again :: the night

birds' chafe & grate 



detritus blocks the autumn stream


detritus blocks the autumn stream :: palely 

sunlight :: tripping & clasping  [ bleak fancy ]


cakes teeter on extraordinary display ::

customers gaze :: salivate [ treat fancy ]


a fantasy slides sideways through the room ::

collides with a chair [ impeded fancy ] 


night opens its cloak :: envelopes the field ::

he whispers :: her earlobe burns [ sweet fancy ]


a letter out of alphabetical 

order re-inserts itself [ sleek fancy ]


ccc tests the temperature :: enters

the lake :: exits:: again [ repeat fancy ]



smooth concrete :: interrupted


smooth concrete :: interrupted :: dappled shade 

which shudders in this cheeky breeze :: the heat 

is to be reckoned with :: at home :: unmade 

the bed :: its disarray forgotten :: feet 

to the ground :: furthering :: a timely seat 

amongst these flowers :: contemplate :: the sky 

outdoes itself with cloudlessnesss :: repeat 

then carry on :: that old tree :: resting :: spry 


I venture forth :: of course I could have stayed 

beneath that tree :: its picturesque :: its feat 

of age :: a time when mind was sweet-unfrayed 

but rose I did :: continued :: grasses meet 

my gaze :: a-flutter with butterflies :: treat-

ing me :: I linger :: let them fill my liquid eye :: 

then :: seeking seaward :: the enthused heartbeat 

which carries on :: that old tree :: resting :: spry 


I lie down :: my abandon :: music played 

within my limbs :: the mind cannot compete 

nor does it wish to :: seeings swell and fade :: 

small headland :: rocky outcrop :: and a sheet 

of translucent cloud :: joyous glands secret- 

ing as a seabird clasps me in its fly :: 

eventually returning to the street ::

carrying on :: that old tree :: resting :: spry 


then homeward to sweet calls of lorikeet 

by contrast with my cumbersome tongue-tie ::

evening comes :: the moon is so petite 

above that old tree’s carriage :: resting :: spry



evening birds cluster & thrill the air


evening birds cluster & thrill the air :: 

interior escape is pending :: still ::

distractions loom :: receding :: one swallows 

shallowly :: then once again :: taking care 

to pace the room :: with or against the will ::

the landscape difficult ::  hills & hollows


have their own voices :: echoing :: the mind 

responds by nature :: questions dip & fly ::

lie down :: just briefly :: obscured by the grass ::

its blades and sprays are many :: you won’t find 

the answers here :: the soil is broken :: dry ::

so rise :: brush down your clothes with little fuss


or fluster :: resuming the modest route ::

from wall to wall & back :: a shoreline tree

bears elaborate fruit :: it’s not like you 

to eat it :: but there you go :: like a brute 

you’re gorging now :: tasting the hasty sea 

inside a potent core :: altered the view 


as you inward turn :: creatures arrive :: fast

& fertile :: eyes fluttering beneath lids ::

all gills & fins & silver scales :: under

a sky nested with cloud :: future & past 

a ditty sung :: harmonious :: light flits 

& flashes :: steady comes this soft thunder



a truck passes


a truck passes :: then relative silence ::

as disparate items agitate & settle ::

the worm farm is hot & fresh with lime ::

what time is it inside that darkness ::

text shifts to diagonal :: it’s not simple


to read :: I internalise its smoky rhyme ::

minutes pass & comprehension starts

to exhale :: I decline :: in an adventurous 

tone :: re-alignment :: then wait :: a river

stone :: cold beneath the throttling water


for many hours :: days perhaps :: the sky

torn up with cloud :: the air a crisp shiver ::

an existence welcoming of touch I feel 

for the bedclothes & pull them up :: my

shape so easy to confuse :: the venetian


blinds are nothing if not semi-vigilant :: 

a lawnmower drones in the background ::

my head lolls :: partial :: to completion ::

the dozing has begun :: sweet beneath 

various aircraft :: under the rooms above :: 


what pictures will come :: I hold my hands

in tender expectation :: as the clock slides 

sideways then back again :: the wet light is

nimble inside my thirsty eyelids :: it stands

& twirls across this fantasy’s shifting sands  



a territory-unknown


Slid fast into a territory-unknown,

the looking-glass warping & weaving its way,

unfettered mouth, enchanted touch-stone,

lengthwise approaching, the end of the day 


was on all creatures, of wild sea, untamed land, 

swift colour-wheel spinning its breathlessness-sweet,

these open ears could not understand, 

closed, these eyes saw a column of concrete, 


shimmering here, there, with an exquisite thrum,

wrapped up in divine threads of music & song,

dropped me to ground, my breath became hum,

time dilly-dallied both shortly, & long,


till moonlight made magic of water & soil,

I slept for some hours, anonymously,

the dreaming as seamless as a fragrant oil,

scent-in-release, impressive, but tenderly



like a cloud


separation of a previously unified object, like a cloud,

or perhaps the opposite, a vaporous reconciliation 

of sorts, my hands still shaking like leaves on street-

trees outside the aged care facility, the murmur of 

cars diminishing as I play the same scale till it hurts 

a bit less, then cease, so what is left in an ensuing 

silence beyond the memory of sound, I don’t ask the question, nor wish for an answer, but the cabbage 

garden is approaching its prime, I’ll settle for that


the screen glows and sucks, a white hole hungry for

the middle of the night, I am eating apricots which is

code for nothing special, however the lingering of the

stone’s a discrete event, so may I sit by you in a place

of your choosing, perhaps on a vintage carousel with 

its postured creatures and carriages, perhaps against

a wall on an ancient street, any which way the mirror

is exhausted with clutter, it yawns but remains erect &

cognisant, I remove some objects to relieve its burden


how many birds are responsible for these current cries,

the intricate detail like fast calligraphy, stop and start,

I chew my gum in lieu of speaking, close my eyes in lieu

of chewing, it is finally midnight, but there are no stars,

only sombre cloud and a moonflower, gently opening 



an apple falls :: in extremis



an apple falls :: in extremis :: to the ground :: 

light follows it tenderly :: 

you notice it too :: like a soft animal :: 

minor the disturbance :: a bell sings its sound ::

long flower-stems slenderly

shivering :: air cloudless :: white noise minimal ::

thoughts exposing frankly to subliminal ::

a television stoops & wheezes away 

throughout the reluctant day ::

he is here he is there you are witnessing 

this :: accentuated locale-liminal :: 

desire a courteous matter :: with each way 

articulating new shapelinesses :: stay

focussed :: the relevant senses grimacing 

at splinters of glass :: there is such richness in 


them :: shadows strut their attitudes on the walls

then disperse :: disappointed 

you shift your gaze to your lower body :: still 

under pressure from itself :: which also calls

& cries :: your limbs appointed 

to their discrete duties :: outside a quiet trill 

of birds :: the question becomes itself :: how will

you travel through such dense terrain :: sunlight seeps

steadily :: the hot eye weeps 

at the pace of it all :: or nothing :: these caked 

footprints in sand :: re-iterated :: they fill 

available space :: elsewhere a cornfield sleeps :: 

sweet dreams teasing things into relief:: it keeps 

changing though :: the picture :: the story :: then wake-

fulness :: turn on the light :: procure the old rake 


and start your sweeping :: from A to B :: C :: D :: 

the bedspread’s pattern repeats 

itself soothingly :: your eyes flitting inside

the skull :: there is much work to be done :: the sea 

brims distantly with its treats :: 

white-caps making tiny salutes as they ride

the currents :: a bottle washes up beachside ::

message-less amongst the bleached debris :: brief swells

of breeze cross :: bringing sharp chills :: 

rockpools shine :: multiply :: in the headiness 

of day might he come here :: depending on tide

levels :: to visit these salty :: complex cellls 

seething with bright weed :: crustaceans casting spells ::

feet cool to touch :: hands open in readiness

for weather :: you start to spin :: dare giddiness


to drop you to the ground :: does he see you there

amongst fallen fruit & grass

singing against the flow of melancholy 

tunes :: aromas punctuate the air with their

uniquenesses :: more or less 

poignant :: do not lose control of your trolley 

whilst attempting your first true roly-poly

& not just in the mind :: a cloud splits its side

at the sight of you :: your ride

to the base of things unencumbered :: sort of :: 

you lift your head :: peer around :: this was solely 

recreational :: & something more :: the slide

& slip of it :: dizziness :: go back inside

& make your reflections :: await the sweet dove

which daily arrives at your rooftop :: above 


the bird soon materialises :: below

the surface worms churn the soil :: 

flagrant petals flare from hot summer flowers ::

there’s inadequate time to go with the flow 

but short-cuts exact their toil :: 

you purchase a clock & dispute of its hours 

till sleep comes like a crescendo :: its powers

absolute :: but only temporarily ::

sweet-mutely & merrily ::

you slumber deep beneath a time-wrangled shrub 

through sunshine and some significant showers 

before rousing to dusk :: its outlines barely 

there :: refreshed to the point of it all :: curly

clouds shifting across the nonchalant moon :: rubbed 

stars apparent :: long roads droning with cars :: nub 


of night encroaching :: your eyes widen :: their gloss 

switching between stimuli :: where are you now :: 

arms stroking the cool air :: how 

will you endure this darkness :: a firefly 

trembles at waist level :: you let out a sigh 

and drop back to the ground :: caught by softest moss ::

from afar a cat releases its meow ::

in the abstract world you make a little bow

& start walking :: somewhere remote :: yet close by 





Sheet lightning skips between

purplish cloud.

I walk on uneven ground,

my spine singing 

a painful tune.

It is not late in the day,

but all the clocks

are dozing. 

Inside, the heater rattles

by the bed, awaiting

my return.

Sodden leaf-stars 

adorn the pavement.

I avoid slipping, but only just. 

Catherine Vidler, poet, graphic artist, living and working in Sydney, Australia, died this year after a long struggle with cancer. She published chapbooks in Australia, and poems in literary magazines in Australia, New Zealand, the US and the UK. Catherine was editor of trans-Tasman literary magazine Snorkel. Her first books, Cloud Theory and Furious Triangle were published by Puncher & Wattmann in 2007 and 2011. Canberra Poems was published by Ginninderra Press in 2016. Chaingrass was published by STALE OBJECTS dePRESS in October 2016: a chapbook of 28 visual poems, it was made out of and in response to 'chaingrass', a word from Bill Manhire's poem 'Falseweed'. Further chaingrass work appeared in The New Post literate, Otoliths,, RENEGADE. This was followed by chaingrass errata slips (SOd press, 2017), chaingrass night and unresolved chaingrass tiling (SOd press, 2017). Her lost sonnet series featured in 78 composite lost sonnets (Hesterglock Prote(s)xt, 2018), Lost Sonnets (Timglaset, 2018), collected composite lost sonnets (SOd press, 2018), lost sonnets (Spacecraft Press, 2018), and the table set series in 2017 – table sets (no press, 2017), lake labyl (Penteract Press, 2017), table set poems (Penteract Press, 2017), table set poems (Spacecraft Press, 2017), lake labyl (SOd press, 2017). Keyboards: 14 poems for Tom Jenks came out in 2019 with The Blasted Tree. Her wings collection appeared with Cordite books in 2021. Her collaboration with Tom Jenks, the pangrammatic novel pack my box with five dozen liquor jugs, came out with Penteract Press in 2021.

Copyright © 2023 by Catherine Vidler, all rights reserved. This text may be used and shared in accordance with the fair-use provisions of copyright law. Archiving, redistribution, or republication of this text on other terms, in any medium, requires the notification of the journal and consent of the author.