Hyper-reactive: first place, Judith Wright Poetry Prize

rip through traffic lights in Brunswick
to the sound of night lions
sugar strings – teeth to tongue
dust and dog hair and onion skin on the tiles
on the soles of your feet
reward yourself with a ciggie
put a pillow in the backseat
and sleep the whole drive down
wait for you to say ‘everything went gold’
stay under water with fat cheeks
herd up the sandflies in wet togs
wildlife needling tyres /
clouds like dirty cotton balls
stay in bed until it feels uncomfortable
let a leaf uncurl in the afternoon shortly before
inviting the breeze in
the duplicity of a cliff face
think about running in circles while you speak
long grass the colour of margarine
race leaves in a creek
(ticks on a snake head)
forget and almost run a hand through your hair


barrelled yeast on the morning walk
factory clamour
megaphone rows across the yarra
in Kempsey i ate molasses
and held a hailstone
the size of my face
like watching fiction
with your eyes closed
heat in the dark
traverse the mattress
climb up on the roof for a view
of the car park
hose down the bricks
so you can sleep
(orchestrate the springs)
take a trip down a
clipped up coastline
set a reminder for
the absence of straight lines
keep trying to wake up early
restless headland
maybe twenty whales


write an obituary for birthdays
remember the weight of bodies
restraint in the am
agree on a need for skin
an image of mum mincing
across the party
that house with the first dead bunny
boredom in a nail quick
kick feet together like sticks
oscillate between brainwaves
sand dirtier than imagined
get your ten buck’s worth
rain above dirt before it steeps
the smell of wet heat
tight rubber band
around your skull / lions
lions crying in Brunswick
eyes shut under sheets (basically)
he smelt distinctly of laundry powder
zigzag screen with a thumb print
one thing leads to another
until it doesn’t
active now

Melody Paloma

Melody Paloma is a poet and researcher based in Naarm. She is a MFA candidate at UNSW and the author of Some Days (SOd, 2018) and In Some Ways Dingo (Rabbit, 2017).

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