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.


My last doll is dead.

I made it with a porcelain face
and body
A petticoat, a pinafore
I was trying to play
by the rules, play

but the porcelain became flesh
The doll stood up on its little legs
flexed its newly-made hands
grabbed at my hem
Its clean blue eyes looked straight into mine

I made an enormous prayer for it and recited it to the sky
I held my hands still
averted my eyes
Every one of me

the watcher
in the cortex
pronounced the doll dead
It lay on its back
eyes no longer

Someone in the right hemisphere
tried dreams in lurid 3D
The doll in a locked basement
sitting in tears on a metal shelf
among cartons of yellowed papers

But truth
is truth. My last doll
is dead. If I ever make another
it will not be a doll but something real.
I will have no more dolls,
no more Frankenstein creations.

the doll is weirdly heavy
I lay it in a ten-inch plywood box
Nail down the lid

A place for everything …
Maybe I can put the dead doll box
in the bottom of the cupboard with my dress shoes

I might want to wear the shoes again
one day

Maybe I can bury the dead doll box
in the garden

I want to sit there
see things grow

Maybe I can take the dead doll box
deep into the smoothpale tallness
of the wandoo forest east of the city
Dig its grave alone and weeping
among granite outcrops
and prickly dryandra

The ground there is hard

Maybe I can burn
the box, the body

To generate enough heat
I’d have to pile up all my books
my laptop my albums my guitar
sweet-and-sour power chords
skin-and-sweat backbeats
The sounds and all the words
all the worlds and certainly my dress shoes
My whole goddamn wardrobe
Douse it with petrol and
torch it

I’d glide away airy and lucent
like the music of Mozart or Haydn
The music of the Enlightenment
Of thinking
you have
the answer

Glide away lucent, a cellophane sheet
ready to be blown by the next breeze
wrap around the next gift

I would still be this bone and meat
these earthbound feet

I would find the box charred in the ashes
the doll intact
the dead eyes still blue …

Neither earth nor fire will do. I must
unbox the doll
sling it on my back
and walk
Leave the city, its little forest
Venture off the hem of the map
Discover the river coiled in the cleft
of the valley at the root of heaven and earth
Wake the grandmother who sleeps there

She will bathe the dead doll in the water
invite the winds to toss its hair
++++(like this like this)
carry its weight up a mountain (like this)
leave it exposed to be stripped by carrion birds
++++(like this like this)
and let its bones rest heavy
++++(come birds)
for as long as memory

From A coat of ashes


If I handwashed my clothes every day
I could meditate on the process.
Attain enlightenment while massaging
the fabric or something. I could have two

robes and wash one while wearing the other
or something. Perhaps there are different
enlightenments. Surely the laundry sink
one can’t be the same as the

sunlit mountaintop one where
you see all creation unedited?

And then there’s the Headless Way
one, which I did experience. You do
the pointing experiment, looking for
yourself as a thing. But you find,

instead, Nothing. You’re a naked aware
singularity — an infinite container.
It’s all here, you say. I am. Also,
I am Love. I shared

the link on Facebook and wrote
Katsu!  No-one Liked it.

From A coat of ashes

Katsu!  is a shout used by Chan and Zen practitioners to acknowledge or induce enlightenment.