Poetry | 2 rat poems by joanne burns




the courtyard rat squatting

on an empire of pizza boxes

rainsoaked piles of stewing

cardboard     flattened packaging

from long covid’s eager merchandise

anything to transcend an unimagined

plague     rat traps line the walls like

doctors’ obsolete portmanteaux from

a much earlier decade     just what is

happening here the green parrot quizzes

perched high on an empty branch of a terminal

tree waiting for the developer’s paunch to crush

its trunk    a cold slab of fermented porridge rises

over the neighbourhood like a putinesque moon


what rabid declensions

resurrect under this

demography of tongues

the chocolate of the world







after the rain a boring

feeling comes   dampness

flattens the view like a

page of mediocre poetry –

the harbour has lost its

aureole    grey grey i

hate you grey    danked

buildings shrunk against

a shoddy sky     down in the

drains rats chew through

the postcodes


joanne burns

joanne burns is a Sydney poet. She is currently assembling a new manuscript of recent works: rummage.

More by joanne burns ›

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