Poetry | To sleep in a strange place


in a corner of the dark    

he paces lickety-split

arms stiff to his sides

hands flat out fidgeting


it is definitely not ballet

he spins a few circles

then claims he needs to pee      

I pull him close


to breathe and breathe

until he finds a groove

in the liquid gloom

the heartbeats loosen


into something at ease

and holding five fingers wide

I run an index up

and down the skin


coaxing a little Buddha

and I speak mantras

so my youngest might

lasso his runaway self


we talk of how the night

beaches in holiday homes

and if you close your eyes

the blackness can somehow


be your own type of tar

I say count the sheep

leap the fence  

time to be ready


prone to the dusk

braver now he says Dad

stay close make enough sound

so it’s not just me and silence



under the cloak of this house

he calls but never for me

all night gun barrel dreams

make him sound round notes


and I become the far off rain

clotted cries ripple the night’s barn

fending off some floor stripped away

in that moment no longer a father


only a bubble loom croon

a hollow fur flying by

a clink of chains in the darkness

a hinge opening on a home


Overland’s Friday Features project is supported by the Copyright Agency’s Cultural Fund. 

Sam Morley

Sam Morley is an emerging poet living in Melbourne. His work has been published by Cordite Poetry Review, Red Room Poetry, Hunter Writer’s Centre and shortlisted in the ACU Poetry Prize 2020.

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