Train station
Twelve minutes to wait
Five dollars
Plastic wrap
White factory bread
Stiff tomato
Square of solidified cheesepaste

Perforated steel bench
I sat
Unknown language
Stuck-out chubby legs
Small shoes

I turned toward him

He looked into my eyes for half a second
without speaking or moving his face.
His pupils and irises were deep and black.


That was it! I thought. What I’ve been looking for.
In the open dark field of the child’s clean eyes,
the What and Not I saw
was That. And him and all his kind the cells of it.

From A coat of ashes

The Millennium Simulation

Stills from one of the Millennium Simulation videos from the Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics

For those who are afraid, this
is what we are.

Made of spots and threads of light,
it looks like a giant brain, tissue
microscoped. Each neuron, gathered
axons, spot of light, plays
a cluster
of galaxies. Each drift
of connective tissue, teased-out wisp
of dandelion clock, mimes a trace
of dark matter. The scale indicator
reads one
gigaparsec: two billion light-years.
No commentary, no soundtrack.
The great column
of colonies of shining globules and filaments
turns in majestic silence.

For those who are afraid,

The view zooms in: the ship flies closer.
Among the lights, black gaps appear,
spread, become caves
of space, of holding

apart. Gravity
and Light. Play it
again. Listen. Is that
a sussuration? Whispers, waves, pings
along the filaments? What is it?

For those who are afraid.

From A coat of ashes

Watch the videos and read about the Millennium Simulation Project at the Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics.

The italicised phrase in stanza 4 is from the poem “From The Testament of Tourmaline” by Randolph Stow, in The Land’s Meaning, Fremantle Press 2012, p. 147.

between the bones of my temples

the silence has no colour no temper
and yet is as warm as my blood
according to Husserl, Descartes’
cogito includes not just thinking
as red as my reddest meat
on paper fingers riffle
but also feelings desires
I love therefore
in my throat a clicky gulp
refrigerator snargles and screes
I am if you’re human love is a thing
of the flesh we don’t speak of
its discordant gasmetal anthem
the wide sigh of a car passing
even platonic
love is about physical

the silence is the liquid inside
my eyes like ultrasound gel
the Enlightenment without love is
yang without yin anarchy without
a transmission medium the sounds so cold
the riffle white the sigh a black swathe
empathy or land unable to touch

that is the god that
when my breath goes out of my nostrils
goes out and becomes all the air
justifies murder in the name
drives the father to sell
the silence between
the stars in space my ears
into slavery that instructs
the mother abandon her
between the bones of my temples
a crow’s voice from a blue
baby that legislates
the lovers they cannot
aeroplane’s voice collecting sky
spitting it everywhere

but the Divine if you actually
experience for example
the rails singing green heralding
a crow’s open voice
by the Headless Way
is love benevolent

From A coat of ashes. First published in The Authorised Theft Papers, the Australasian Association of Writing Programs’ (AAWP’s) 2016 conference proceedings.

The Headless Way, originated by Douglas Harding, is a particular approach to investigating the nature of one’s being.