three poems of Australian childhood


The sound of rain on a metal roof,

an orchestra of cloud spirits

drumming just above your head.

The first such night is sleepless,

but then it becomes the most soothing thing

and the rhythm just carries you away.

When that roof was replaced by tiles

that deadened the sound,

Mum kept a large piece of tin

on the ground outside her window

to hear the rain, to dream of the clouds.


The only collecting I did as a kid

was of coins from all around the world;        

I still have them today in an old suitcase.

Anyone who travelled outside Australia

was a target for my pestering

and over time I gathered a metal atlas

that I used to see the world in my mind;

Ireland’s harp played a journeying call

and Italian lire intrigued me.

None of my coins have any real value,

but that was never the point; they were symbols,

token entrance fees to a festival.


A town of five thousand people

that takes an hour to cross on foot

under a boiling sun

has lots of empty space

and parts I hardly know.

You walk and walk and tell yourself

that somewhere in these streets

is the very thing you’re looking for,

but each and every corner

is another disappointment.

Published in A New Ulster

4 thoughts on “three poems of Australian childhood

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