02 min 
Issue Five & Poetry


By Mohammad Ali Maleki*

 I dedicate this poem to the Manus Island detainees who have lost their lives.
We have them all in our minds and will never forget them.


Hey, Freedom.
You are not colour
You are not smell.
You are not shadow.
You are not sunshine.
You are absolute darkness for me,
with no beginning or end.

In which part of the world can I find you?
If someday you pass though this city
tie a red scarf around your neck
so I can recognize you.
I’ll sit on the train tracks waiting
for you to descend.

Hey, Freedom,
I don’t know what you are.
But I whisper your name like a lost child.
Freedom, set me free from this prison!
This prison made by fellow human beings.
Hey, Freedom,
I am a rain drop
waiting to join the sea.
Hey, Freedom,
look how my brain is frozen.
A spider web has surrounded my thoughts.
Smoke and dust sit on my mind;
my heart is surrounded by hatred.
They made a cage in my throat —
But they left this voice and enough breath to speak my truth.

If you come to this country someday
you will pass through a city of blood.
If you saw all the blood on the ground
you would never return, from fear.
We accept death just like life here:
we see no difference between water and blood.

Hey, Freedom,
tell me about windows that open to gardens.
Tell me about the singing of birds.
Tell me about the dancing of butterflies.
Tell me about the playing of fish.
Look how I forget these simple, everyday things!

Hey, Freedom,
I will not sit waiting for you.
You have killed my hope.
You have destroyed my goals.
You did not show mercy to my friends —
You led them to their deaths.
You made men sick by searching for you and killed them.
You hung and murdered others.
You pushed another into the river to drown.
You hit a stone on some poor man’s head and ended his life too.
Is this the meaning of freedom for you?

Hey, Freedom,
I’ve accepted my death here.
For years the ceiling of my room has been my sky.
Take my life and set me free.
I’m fed up with dying every single second.
Pour my blood into the veins of my country —
I don’t want my blood to dry beside my bones.
I had hoped to see my mother again one day:
but the dandelions have told me she is dead.

*Poem by Mohammad Ali Maleki

Translated by Mansour Shoushtari

Edited by Michele Seminara

Artwork by Kathryn Lamont.

41 sec 
Genres & Issue Five & Poetry


By Michelle Cahill

To ride the curved fronds
of rain-splashed palms
with nothing but
exiled eyes,
to cut through
manacle vines.
To moult
like the sunburnt skin
of a gum tree,
wounds flayed exposing
an ivory gleam.
To drown in the truth
of gardens,
as rain glistens silver
on a ripple of green.
To feel like a panther
in an auditorium,
like a cripple
on a glass mountain.
To enter my heart
the arc of a bird
to fly from my pain
an entire flock

There’s a shiver
beyond sky
stretched like a graft
of mottled cloud,
cicadas hum
with tireless generosity.
And a whipbird hides
in coils of lantana
his serrated tongue
the gentle stanzas of dusk,
its verdant syllables:
its fragrant leaves.

First appeared in The Accidental Cage, IP 2006

Artwork by Kathryn Lamont.

On a boat
03 min 
Issue Five & Poetry

I was on the boat, now I am on the road.

By S. Nagaveeran (Ravi).

I was on the boat
now I am on the road.

There wasn’t safety in my land
and nothing free was in my hand
I couldn’t walk freely and I couldn’t talk fairly
so I seek the place where there is peace on earth
I found the place and I landed the boat.
and I thought I was on the right road
In the dark, each other’s face we can’t see… we were loaded,
a big boat like they were loading death fish.
Nice smells that brought sick to my tummy and threw out what I had lastly with my family,
it’s sad because I mixed the love food with salty water.

I saw the bright moon on the dark sky…
there were stars sparkling with the queen
and stars trying to fall in love with the moon
My heart full of hope…
my mind full of plans,
but I am still scared…
and my body is shaking for the higher waves
Darkness was slowly falling, sexy with brightness and trying to bring the baby blue sky
my eye winks and the winks feel shy to see the brightness,
my lips bring a cute smile,
my deep breath mixes with higher waves and storms.
I saw many others being the same on the boat…
could see everyone’s eyes carrying millions of dreams
and I could feel the pain in hearts for what we missed already
and we could still be laughing, still enjoying super-high waves with shaking bodies,
each day the same as usual…

Rain knows we can’t have a shower with good water
so rain pours, sometimes in the day, most of the time midnight, with amazing lightning and thunderstorms but we can’t say no and we can’t hide
It needs to shower… yes nature
was forced to have that shower… if it comes anytime.
It’s funny we all want to fall to knee to take a bath,
yes, slowly the rain’s stopping, it bathes us and bodies shake with cold as wind cuddles…
We started drying with what we have, wet clothes
yes, then the sun will start to hug us softly, to kiss our bodies.
When he comes in the middle of the day… he will start to love us too much, like real Australians…
sometimes the sun does unconditional love
makes us more tired… with sun baths.
No place to hide, even if we hide, sun or rain will find us,
someone had white skin that’s gone black
Mine’s gone more black.

Yes, 22 days… Beauty mixed with a dangerous road on the boat journey,
each one has a different experience.
But we are all still offered the life in the deep water to see freedom!
yes finally, we arrived in the beautiful land called the Cocos Island, the beauty of Australia.
My deep breath mixed with the wind and smoothly caressed my black skin, it still reminds my mind…
lots of hopes and dreams and laughing smiles from heart and high fives, tears with joy.
It’s all I thought: I am going to plant my dream seeds in this land and make a beautiful garden
suddenly I was stripped inside-out and my name was changed to a number,
And I saw inhuman treatment once again.
In the humanity land
where I thought… to plant my life trees.

I never thought that dream seeds would be taken and thrown so far from me—yes
it’s all gone and I was super-tired, more than in my land… and more than
my risky adventure moving
Quickly… In a deep ditch
I am surrounded by some kind of sickness
It’s called suffering with mental illness
yes… held in the mental cage… and I do war… like a bird singing and crying for flying with free wings… And biting the cage steals.
Yes, finally my mental cage was open… but my legs are still tight with mental laws I call your unfair policy
but they say it’s asylum seekers policy.
But I am still mentally sick,
still I am trying to get out of that mental war without giving up
I wish and hope to see an ending with peace.

Five years ago I was on the boat to seek peace – now I am on the road to find… peace that I missed…

I was on the boat
now I am on the road.

Artwork by Jackie Benney. Published with permission of the artist.


Syria's Children
01 min 
Issue Five & Poetry

Syria’s children

By Lizz Murphy

Screenshot 2018-06-08 17.21.14

Screenshot 2018-06-08 17.23.36

Screenshot 2018-06-08 17.25.47

Screenshot 2018-06-08 17.27.07

Screenshot 2018-06-08 17.28.57

Screenshot 2018-06-08 17.30.20

Screenshot 2018-06-08 17.31.30

An ekphrastic sequence written in response to photo-stories by award winning photojournalist Magnus Wennman titled Where the Children Sleep published at Mashable Australia. My thanks to Magnus Wennman.





Some sections have been previously published on Not Very QuietURL:

Syria’s children

and Project 366.


Artwork by Jackie Benney. Published with permission of the artist.

Sing Your Sing Landay
34 sec 
Issue Five & Poetry

Sing your landay

By Moya Pacey

In the dark cage of the village
a woman’s voice sings of the girl
who stole her brothers’ honour.
They shaved her black curls,
closed her green eyes, scooped
the body into a sack
threw it into the cold river.

Come back into the world
girl with black curls and green eyes.
Put on your wedding shoes.
Let your hennaed fingers
beat the hand drum.
Sing your landay
over and over.

(First published in ‘One last border: poetry for refugees’ by Hazel Hall, Moya Pacey and Sandra Renew (Ginninderra Press, Adelaide, Australia 2015); also published in ‘Eureka Street’ 2015 and in Moya’s poetry collection, ‘Black Tulips’ (Recent Works Press, 2017).)

Artwork by Kathryn Lamont.

44 sec 
Issue Five & Poetry

The woman carries an aid box on her head

By Moya Pacey

Dressed in a shapeless abaya
she is neither young nor old.
The cardboard box has moulded to the shape

of her black-veiled head, she holds it steady
right arm extended, narrow wrist exposed,
fingers at full stretch.

Her face uncovered and her gaze calm
unhurried she turns to the camera,
eyes narrowed against the light.

Behind her in the photograph, men
walk along an ancient road
towards the open gate of the refugee camp.

The men wear jeans and warm jackets.
Some have hoods pulled around their faces
others bare headed. All empty handed.

The scene might belong in a book of bible stories.
The story in which the woman goes to the well
balancing a ewer of water on her head.

The one where she meets a Good Samaritan.

(First published in Moya’s poetry collection, Black Tulips (Recent Work Press, 2017).)

Artwork by Jackie Benney. Published with permission of the artist.

After the boats
59 sec 
Issue Five & Poetry

After the boat (view from the shore)

By Ramon Loyola

Trammelled by felled trees on each side of the
shore, my limbs feel invisible and mangled,
after two months and a quarter of a night
at sea, with hands firmly shackled by breaths
on a bobby boat full of desiccated
skin and saltine hair, the lips chalked by the salt
of the sea, the eyes stung by murmurous
soot in the wind — I don’t know which peril is
more fatal: the carmine depths of the waters
outside Sadr or the denied embrace
(anticipant promises) in the reaches
of Darwin. It is pertinent. It is the
way of destiny. Not fate. Not fate.

Were there stories told of escapes from the
mouths of vagabonds, there would as well be tales
of sorrow in the choking limbs of sentinels
and wire. All I need is the embrace of
freedom, the insured lush of wind in my hair,
of sun in my eyes, the sun that blankets your
shores, the wind that blows through your valleys.
The land promises that; the man’s arms are folded
in perceived peril. Promises — they fall and
fail and falter in embraces denied,
never given, almost always foresworn.

Artwork by Kathryn Lamont.

36 sec 
Genres & Issue Five & Poetry

Preconceptions in Palmerstown Park

By Nessa O’Mahony

November, post-work.
Strewn leaves trip up
on the weary walk
to the car parked
far enough out to be free.

The Starlet misplaced
on this street of Victorian villas,
high gates, granite steps
rising to painted porticoes,
bay trees in pots
(discretely padlocked).

I look up as the young man
skips down the last few steps,
lips moving to the beat
of a hidden blue-tooth.

Closer, I hear
what is untranslatable,
the growling vowels
of Eastern Europe.

Surprised, I tip my hat
to integration, admire
the upwardly mobile
as he strides easily
over flagstones.

I miss the satchel on his back,
the rolled up copies
of freesheets
as he fords the next gate
under the sign
that the house is to let.

Artwork by Kathryn Lamont.

I stole these words from syria
24 sec 
Issue Five & Poetry

I stole these words from Syria

By Sandra Renew

why are the poets the first to be killed?
he was killed because of that poem
where did he hide his poems?
he hides them in his head
and so did we…
when they opened his chest with those bullets
they saw the words also on his heart
a poet is a dangerous thing to be…


(First published in One Last Border: Poetry for Refugees(eds. Hazel Hall, Moya Pacey and Sandra Renew, Ginninderra Press, 2015).)

Artwork by Kathryn Lamont.

The Great Hunger
49 sec 
Issue Five & Poetry

The Great Hunger

By Fiona Perry

My kind owes a debt to the people of the Choctaw Nation
Torn from the bones their progenitors left as a sacred
Deposit on land as revered as womb. They know
What it is to be a tribe shaped by tears.

To the unbroken, newly freed men and women of the Caribbean.
To the pogrom-sorrowed Jews of Congregation Shearith Israel.
To the unproselytizing Quaker. To the principled sepoy of Calcutta.
To the redeemed and redeemable of Sing Sing and the prison

Ship Warrior. We, the Irish, honour you in increments by burying
Ebola victims with dignity, blanketing Syrian refugees in
Camp and succouring the famished of East Africa. Some
Leave a corner of their field for the poor and the stranger

If they are able; the Sultan of Turkey and Baron Rothschild.
The rest of us, we will feed our kindred with a widow’s mite.
Certain of the crystal growth of it. The fractals meshing on and on and on.

Artwork by Kathryn Lamont.

Random Acts of National Identity
31 sec 
Issue Five & Poetry

Random Acts of National Identity

By Richard James Allen

I am not sure if where you live
is a statement of intent.
It might be a statement of accident.

Like accidents of the light
reflecting between the eyes of two
soon no longer to be strangers,
followed by accidents of love
or accidents of fear,
and then accidents of birth
or accidents of death.

Don’t take for granted
your passports or your borders.
There are no insurance policies for
the accidents of history.

(Previously published in Colon, C., A. Gristwood, & M. Woolf, eds. (2018): Globalization, Civilization, and Their Discontents, CAPA: The Global Education Network, Boston, MA.)

Artwork by Kathryn Lamont.

mia council casa es tu council casa (OT)
02 min 
Issue Five & Poetry

mia council casa es tu council casa

By Ali Whitelock

i live out of sydney these days it is close

to the beach though we are not wealthy.
Some days there are whales other days dolphins
occasional jellies and never dead babies i like visiting
the art gallery in the city it takes me one hour
to drive there i park at the expensive
multi-storey it is a $10 flat rate on a sunday
after parking i cut through hyde park past the statue
of robert burns standing alone and too far away
from scotland we are both foreigners here of the acceptable
kind. i like the location of the gift shop
it is right next to the entry which is also the exit
i always go to the gift shop first they have handbags
made of unshaved cow and earrings like hot air balloons
and a dimly lit section at the back with mysterious
art books in thick polythene covers the thickness
of the polythene indicates their seriousness
and the price and there is an arsehole in there wearing
jesus sandals though he bears no resemblance
to jesus and the arsehole says to a random
woman (who turns out to be an arsehole too) he took a holiday
in paris once on the left bank some thirty
years back when it really was something and if hitler
was alive today this whole thing with the syrian refugees
would not be happening and the female arsehole agrees
then the jesus sandalled arsehole says what’s going
on over there is nothing but a european invasion
and the subject of the little boy’s body on bodrum
beach comes up and i have been there on holidays
some thirty years back when it really was something
the hotel was right next door to the doctor’s surgery
bent black clad women came daily clacked rosary
beads on milk crates in full view of fat tourists
bathing topless on hotel loungers ordering
chips and cokes they did not need from kadir
the turkish waiter who brought me proper chai
in a glass and taught me how to say
‘tomorrow i am going to instanbul’.
After the little boy’s body got washed
up on the sand australia offered synthetic
duvets fake chai lattes and empty promises
to twelve thousand of the five million
in camps who cry themselves to sleep at night
and i have calculated this on my iPhone and it works
out to be a teardrop in the ocean to the closest
decimal point australia i have offered
more hope to more cockatoos more safety
to kookaburras more gum leaves to koalas
than the crumbs you are flicking
from your all you can eat buffet
it is time to feed the birds australia
tuppence a fucking bag sure what does it cost
to pipe in a haggis share some tatties and neeps
raise a glass to their health mia council
casa es tu council casa australia the world’s
eyes are rolling in your general direction
and right now you look like some kind of jesus
sandalled arsehole sitting on the veranda
of your ocean front property with your deep pockets
and short arms pretending you don’t even know
it’s your turn to buy the next round at the bar.

(First published in Ali Whitelcok’s debut poetry collection, ‘and my heart crumples like a coke can’ (Wakefield Press, 2018).)

Artwork by Kathryn Lamont.

Politics (OT)
01 min 
Issue Five & Poetry


by Jordan King-Lacroix 


“Let’s not talk about

“You’re going to let
ruin a friendship?”

“Two things you never discuss at dinner;
and religion.”

“Ignorance is bliss,
just makes people depressed.”

“Life’s too short for


Sew buttons on your own eyes,
leave mine open.
Give me that remote and unmute
that, I need to hear
what’s going on.
If we don’t talk about it,
how will we know
who thinks

we deserve to live?
we deserve to love?
We deserve to live freely

without fear of boot-in-the-door raids?
of gun-to-your-head arrests?
of bullets-in-your-back-with-your-hands-up?


If we opened our mouths
and sang with our convictions,
at least we’d know where we all stood:

are you on a precipice,
or am I about to jump?


none of us wants to be
but the cheetah doesn’t ask the zebra
if it can be devoured,
which is to say
we might be animals,
but we’re trying to be better
and sometimes better
means stepping on some toes
and saying, “no,
what you’re doing is wrong.”


opinions are like assholes,
but they’re also for things like
“I prefer caramel over vanilla.”


“I don’t think you deserve rights.”


A sea of humanity is frothing,
scared, and looking into our eyes.
As we turn our backs,
those with the keys have
unplugged the drain,
hoping we don’t notice
as that sea dries up
and dies.

but we do.


how will that crow taste
when you’re forced to chow it down
as you look upon the crowds
and announce, “I did nothing”?

Artwork by Kathryn Lamont.

Babies Eyes Final (OT)
29 sec 
Issue Five & Poetry

Babies’ Eyes

By Wendy J. Dunn


Babies’ eyes
I want to cry
They haunt me

Babies’ eyes
Disengaged from life
Babies who don’t know
How to play
Babies born in prison
Born in fear
A prison for the innocent
Men, women, babies
All innocent
Locked away for –
What? Why?
A denial of our humanity?

What are we doing?
What am I doing?
How can I be human
When I avert
My gaze
From Babies’ eyes?

I am ashamed
I am an Australian
And guilty
I cannot wash my hands
Of this massacre of the Innocents

Artwork by Kathryn Lamont.

Now he is here
Issue Five & Poetry

Now He is Here

By Denise O’Hagan

I tread between slabs of stone
shining like the underbellies of giant bugs
in the shimmering light
of an autumn afternoon
and think that this was just
the sort of day he would have loved.

He used to eat olives
and anchovies
and sardines
and now he is here.

He used to drink
his coffee espresso
standing up at a bar
and now he is

He was
a quiet man
a reserved man
he did not subscribe
to the confessional age
but rather to an older European formality
like his suits, his polished shoes
and his ability to listen
and now he

I jam the bottlebrush
into granite urns
spots of blood
speckling my knuckles


Artwork by Jackie Benney. Published with permission of the artist.

29 sec 
Issue Four & Poetry

On making the Three Decades

To commemorate the Official State Visit to Australia 2017 by Michael D. Higgins, President of Ireland, we are deeply honoured and grateful to reproduce the following poem, written by President Higgins, with his kind permission:


On making the Three Decades


                                             for Alice Mary


By Michael D. Higgins, President of Ireland


Time will never make a boundary that could contain,

nor space enclose,

those moments you turned to gold

with a light that will always be your own.


Read more

18 sec 
Issue Four & Poetry


By Geoff Budden

(July, 2005)


Summer school; after school; help from his patient mother;

but his stammering tongue still betrayed him in class.

School books ill-fit his hands; another bother.

Grade Ten was the last one he passed

But hammers, planes, plank; these he understood.

“Measure twice, cut once”; confidence and certainty.

He was articulate with saws, numerate with wood.

A man sought out for finish carpentry.


Read more

Issue Three & Poetry

On a wing and a prayer – by Anne Casey

Tiny star twinkling in the mid-morning sun

Minute emissary

Expelled from clustered time

Set adrift to witness the callistemon calyx

Wither and die

So close to fertile ground


Parachuting past the brush turkeys

Scruffling and scrounging

Irresistible instinct pressing them

Into early spring service

Beneath the branches where a

Gaggle of galahs cackle and gorge


Indifferent to their albino cousin’s difference

His anaemic peculiarity obscured

By whatever kinship lies within

Drifting in the neverspace

Solitary voyager

Cast out of cosy consort


Past the pair of kookaburras

Silently surveying their domain

Resolutely unperturbed by the

Noisy miners with their bombing raids

Archly arrowed

Determined to harangue


Yearning for the warm earth

To be swallowed up shallowly

Thirsting for the bright, soft rain

To swell and burst you

Into a new magnificence

To rise in glorious reflection


And adorn the morning

With your golden crown

Tiny star

Floating on a spring breeze

Aching to arrive

To be reborn


Adrift alone