Issue 31: Adam Stokell

Here’s world


After dark ages of prickly box, gahnia


this held breath

brief clearing


Here’s where the crash landed

propped on macropod hindsprings


Here’s where boots stopped crunching gumshed


Here’s world, frozen

its wallaby pole

its I pole


these beats per minute

this pin drop


Across curved space, brief metres

fear clocks fascination

two tunnel visions and the time zones between them


wallaby’s cloudy midnights

my bluegrey noons


and the tropic age we thaw towards

and the new animal emerging in the middle

hindwinged, headlong







We find the wing near the south-east edge.

Huge, nearly whole, fresh.


Terrible to think:

birds up there big enough to slice dragonflies out of the sky.


The wedge we do to get that span up and onto our backs,

touch and go under the strain.

The long rickety train we spell to move it.


Rewinding the clay road we set out along at dawn.

Same, different.


That meteoric downpour.

Fatsplash summer drops that had us cowering beneath tree-ferns.

The road smudged, groggy. And now,

here – dusk and a downbelow hum within reach –

a torrent of runoff arrests us.


How to get meat to mouths across this sudden river?


The wing gains weight in the mud.

We make a go of our bodied chain,

pull stones from the bleeding clay,

cause them into a way across the torrent.


The dead wing weighs in.

No, it’s not impossible.





Estuary code


if track is made of yellow then boots uphill are made of black

  sun bone connected to lung bone


trees in lockstep climb beside

  panting fade of green

if trees are casuarinas then birds aboard solar lift are gulls


up yellow gravel goes up trees then sheer brown down a drop

if cliff is faced with angry rocks river comes to terms below

  stone bone connected to sea bone


boots keep telling yellow back

  sole-crunch loud above gull-drift

if wings sing grey-white beats are few and far between


gravel made of sun ground down

panting lungs of faded trees

sweat of broadcast salt


if casuarinas flock the slope then thin

flightless plumes remember water

  tongue bone connected to stone bone


telling only goes so far uphill against the grain

sea below is hearing river





Lavish variations


could you make it to the grounds the local

council keeps green around its chambers

certainly the sunny amber air


you could answer all the way across the wide lawn

the blooming ironbark at the far edge calling anyone

but you as you near you would nail no colours


as long as no one’s listening you would say

a run of bleeding salmon blooms upstream


blooms and having reached the tree

bursting words of glass


shards of bird-shrill cutting no one else

but you as you hear you can call no science


you can stand behind your phone and scroll identities

lorikeets?      musk lorikeets      musk? 

if there’s a whiff it can’t be heard below their spectrum


amber all the while the solar wash

braining down dappling through

the ironbark’s maze of long green leaves


if I know you you will try

to avoid becoming cut and dried


as long as no one’s looking you would play

the storm the lorikeets surge

flinging happy shards about the blooms


will you begin to call their jade electric

the red-light district lit across their eyes

compare contrast the salmon blooms seem to bleed less redly

certainly the long green leaves retire


if I know you you will try

to lavish variations on a theme of shattered glass

you will try to traffic lights of ruby amber jade

riff upon a tiring run of salmon


but you as you learn making sounds less certain

guess your I will take some felling yet


you could scatter all your colours like

the filaments the feeding musk

lorikeets discard beneath this tree


but won’t you reconvene me at the next green edge

Adam Stokell's  poems have appeared in numerous publications, including The Prose Poem, The Honest Ulsterman, Porridge, Dust, Unbroken Journal, Cordite and Burrow (Old Water Rat Publishing). He lives in lutruwita/Tasmania.

Copyright © 2023 by Adam Stokell, 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