‘Bergère ô tour Eiffel le troupeau des ponts bêle ce matin’


False praise lights up the launch site, O delivery vehicle.


The delivery zone is empty but investors have no crisis of relevance

and couldn’t care less — deliveries are taking place

elsewhere and will continue until the cows come home —


there’s metal-dust on the water vats, the hand-sanitiser dispenser

is exhausted or ignored. Rezoning the bushland for places of worship

where bushland is a place of worship is a key to whose paradox?

You don’t need the dark web to purchase a skeleton key as they’re

available via adverts beneath online television guides: in plain sight.


The phone tower has blended with landscape — tallest tree on top

of the hill admired or ignored by those travelling in hertz rental waves.

Satellites are the Roc image of cascading truths, but where is the passion

of a God’s eye view, the shepherds mulesing the sheep — traumatised

bleats and a virtual life, well, elsewhere. Remember, those anti-pastorals

published in Cuba brought on a conversation of tangents.


Working the genealogy into a frenzy, feeling the sun probe

the factor seventy, repairing fences to work as two-way mirrors,

locating the cloud within the cloud to counteract the forecast —

psalms of endgame splashed about as memory.


Or turning away from visible streets, you might think to find solace

in a box of discarded records only to find they are littered with discs

from skinhead neo-Nazis bands, causing  a rupture in the lucky dip

of materialism, the aesthetics of fatalism. And so, the geranium

flowering affects people passing in so many different ways,

their political affiliations and anxieties finding less correlation

in facial expressions, the touchscreen correspondences.


Each eulogy of mass-communication lauds its own modes of travelling.

Easily said by someone so glib, you might say? The red flowering gum

is over the line, the other side, and yet we see and smell its influence —

I travel nowhere now after travelling as if it were a right,

which is not the same. A fantail flew in front of the car

and I braked suddenly, in time, a wagtail did the same

a few  kilometres later and I missed that as well.


Such is the irony of travel and heavy industry, but that was locally,

which we might say is not the same. How many points on the globe

accrued in moment and result? I am just saying. Or you are just asking.

What is the point of coming inside if you don’t salute the pollen,

the loose leaves, swirling of sand, the carapace of a dead beetle curling.


Testing of sewerage shows  up fragments of virus. Strong indicators.

And wide-usage of methamphetamines. And so much else?

Rivals for dominance of space exploration occupy the same space

as rivals for dominance of space. Music selected for voyages.

They wish to refill the Hadron emptiness. Exhausted by a future,

they are rezoning the spiritual in more ways than one — plethoras.

Some have contracts to offer as proof. Others have tenders

to show they believe in absolute self-belief. The dying can’t breathe.


           Who am I with my alternative up-bringing?

           Who am I with my murky personal history?

           Who am I to shade in the blanks in a colour-

           by-numbers that reveals a hawk that isn’t

           a hawk?

                         City streets traversed to know a city

           for all its change as we lapse, starving

           on replays. You could update via ‘streetview’,

           but phantom memories seem not to counter

           a short-circuit. Empirically smart buildings glint,

           gorging themselves into those Pyrrhic sunsets, wasted dawns.


The cutting of the sun’s throat is a threat made by weapons-researchers

beyond closed doors of their ‘personal lives’. As if secretive activities

can be separated from behaviour of, say, in the home. This is entangled

with patriotism, isn’t it? Being so different from watching a sparrowhawk

to learn more about its ways of processing errors, taking a non-lethal

interest in its fluctuations. The movie star can join the party of double-

standards, and millions of sceptics and believers will watch collaterally.


I’ve heard peacocks calling to close out a day, perching high

in pepper trees, retracting their displays to fit — I never saw eyes

I saw punctuation marks. And as for the lyre-bird, it mimics

a different side of the continent and sounds off the spectrum

of colours here — warning and comfort, distraction and assurance.

A lyre and a bird are at risk from foxes at risk from shooters.


Ah, disbeliever saying prayers methodically.

Discount the biography, accolades, self-permissions,

promises of deliverance, a place in the aftermath.


The monastery fantasy of devotion is a safe house of isolation?

Casting stones at light-collecting surfaces, or comfortable

in the choices you are able to make?


Who will scribe the ruins of investment?

Who will mimeograph when spare parts fail?

Who will illustrate the cold(ness) clichés of space

making the keepers so hot under their collars?

Who will scry the contradictions for their own silences?

Who will sign the documents of renunciation?

Who will give up what they have extracted

no matter how much they damn that extraction?


Aren’t these issues of writing? Of the shaping or malformation of script?

Aren’t these turnings of notation? How to write ‘without prejudice’,

without weighting the tones? Atonal pitchforks  descaling the walls

of centralised power. We hope to accumulate our loves and gather

love safely? Remember the unimpressive view on the busier

side of a hill, heading down to the stunning but oil-polluted bay.


Remember the chromatics of migrant birds affording your(self)

the luxury of seeing where they left and where they’ve arrived,

doing so much more work than you. Cells. How many can we lose

to the phrase? Rural land zoning as malleable as extraction — animal

husbandry, ‘forestry’ and ‘natural resource management’. Notice the drills

reaching deep under the paddocks: zoning will cope with greenwash

that will gush out like power from lithium batteries.


We document from remnant vegetation: eye to the knothole,

galah watching on from the loveheart-shaped opening

to its annual nesting hollow, knowing ‘temporary’ is a mining company’s

demi-secret password. Knowing ‘diversity’ is a definition of a workforce,

a demographical lexicon without breadth for exchange, for challenges

to its authority. Who is in this travelogue? What is noted in decorative

acts, the collecting and collating across hemispheres?


Farewells conditional on leisuretime. The culturally

unfamiliar adorning new pages of self-affirmation,


shared visionless, hackers with bells on


polarised, or senses





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

John Kinsella

John Kinsella’s new work includes the story collection Pushing Back (Transit Lounge, 2021), Saussure's Kaleidoscope Graphology Drawing-Poems (Five Islands Press/Apothecary Archive, 2021) and The Ascension of Sheep: Collected Poems Volume 1 (UWAP, 2022).

Overland is a not-for-profit magazine with a proud history of supporting writers, and publishing ideas and voices often excluded from other places.

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  1. Since when is a short story filled with obscure metaphors and broken into into lines of approximately equal lengths classed as “poetry”?

    Isn’t time we began making poetry attractive, meaningful and relevant to everyday Australians?

    1. Not all poems are attractive, meaningful and relevant to everyday Australians like a cheap chablis might be. Some poems are ugly, meaning-full and relevant to what Australia already is. And who even are “everyday Australians”? Are you a politician?

  2. There seems to me to be a great divide in the world of contemporary poetry between the “Instapoets” who connect emotively in simple language with a wide array of people, and the “literary elite” who most people find incomprehensible and unrelatable. Times are changing. It is a poetic version of The Beatles v Beethoven. Don’t dismiss the impact of the instapoets, they are reinvigorating poetry for the masses. Isn’t that a good thing? Isn’t it good that people are liking and sharing poetry? Perhaps it is time for literary publications to evolve beyond simply embracing the elite.

  3. Times are always changing and of course it can only be a good thing for poetry should people like and share different stuff. You have a number of binaries and loose comparisons intended to do some heavy lifting on these matters. Just who comprise ‘the masses’ and who are the elite? By naming you become political, because poetic differences are discussed and debated, and that’s how change comes about through sharing.

  4. As long as poetry remains diverse, inventive, and experimental, it will continue to be vital and relevant.

    There will be always be different attitudes to poetic forms and approaches, and I appreciate this poem because it is fresh and contemporary, although it’s true many of its references may become too obscure to a future reader or one from a different time and place. Despite that, it is important as a snapshot of the state of things as it is, like a vicarious journal entry that will (hopefully) awaken consciousness and lead to positive changes.

    As for the Instapoetry so much in vogue, well… that could be a theme for another poem… The age of social media is one of instant gratification – the “me” culture of selfies and likes and emojis – and no doubt some lines may gain immortality (for the best of the genre do resonate with pathos and vitality), but alas most will fade into obscurity as mere sentimental drivel. Instapoetry is very much centred on “feeling”, whereas the poetry of more serious(?) writers (academics? intellectuals?) tend to focus on “thinking”. But ultimately the best art combines the two in a way that the whole transcends the sum of its parts.

  5. Personally I really enjoy the story-poem and often cut pieces of my own prose up into longer form poems.

    Take lines like this –
    “What is the point of coming inside if you don’t salute the pollen,

    the loose leaves, swirling of sand, the carapace of a dead beetle curling.”

    I find that evocative, poetic, meaningful… what more do you want? If you don’t like it, read another poet, there are plenty out there.

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