Issue 26: Stuart Cooke


The night’s worn down by the ridge

until it breaks apart and day unfolds

like a chapter down the street.

Branches twist into salmon fat

and sand ribbons and strap

my body to the glass limit.

A canyon’s intentions

are dwarfed by a lanky huntsman’s

endless jaw, all black cavities

and stripped light, entombed heat

pouring into that vast, bubbling stomach

crimped by a ruined castle’s tuber,

its ponderous orbits of cicada and verge

until pink flames crack the canopy.

Slowly, the sodden bowl’s wrenched free.

Gumnuts mime the chorus,

sandstone and iron-

stone shiver with rubble,

the opening returns, its slumbering muscle

twitching with the residue of

the current that cut

through clumps of bush

to scrawl its name upon the lens,

back when billows nestled and chattering

magnified into ache, or swoon.


The eye is in the mind,

     molten lens,

     grassed then hurried

with shiver,

     bristled with talk.

     To touch it

is a yarn, an element

     of fable augurs

     the drizzle,

each drop slips into a quick

     little mouth, busy copper

     pops in the Central Desert,

where words carve the laws

     of their origin, let Country

     ferment, or rest

in the strobes

     at the edges of vowels.

     After, strips of light

blow down the valley to sketch

an old bed, the eye

     lost on a somnambulant talus.

     Wet forests thread

plains of thorny bushes

to slogans of bleached-

     white blossom.

     The angle is released from the earth

into the nerves, which melt

into white strings

     down the saddle,

     a tome in trickles    

like the skeletons

     of migrating songs.

Stuart Cooke is an Australian poet and translator. His latest books are the poetry collection Lyre and a translation of Gianni Siccardi's The Blackbird. He lives in Brisbane.

Copyright © 2021 by Stuart Cooke, 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.