Published in Overland Issue 248 Spring 2022 · Poetry Poetry | The medical man Isabel Prior After Bruce Dawe Outside of work he enjoyed swimming and the stoic philosophers. He’d offered to help with my cover letter—Friday morning’s flurry of pre-Christmas discharges having found us feet-up in the registrar room—and I’d ribbed him for this detail from his. The panel wants to see that you’re a real person, he’d shrugged, unabashed. Besides, it worked for me. On Sunday he was cut down from the poinciana, crumpling onto needle-dry grass, the branch’s recoil dusting him with flame-red flowers. He was the talk of the wards Monday. A reprieve from the bushfires that stencilled the east coast, satellite-vast. He’d just passed his exam. He was about to pop the question. To his peers it was a snub, that one day he should just cease to beat his wings and free- fall through the strata he’d striven to ascend. How he could send prizes and publications spiralling into the huge, hungry sky while the world burned and the CityCats cruised calmly on. Look after yourselves, enjoined Workforce, with another list of shifts that needed filling over Christmas. Whispers quickened in the corridors, south-easterly, now west—the pair of wardies lamenting the waste, the nurses padding gauzy recollections with Facebook photos (Dark curls, third from the right, remember?), the surgeon in the lift (If you can’t take the heat …). There’d be a chapel service at his old school, where clammy boys in too-big blazers would read from Meditations, their futures fanned towards them like smoke. At Wednesday’s morning tea we cradled styrofoam cups, platitudes snagging in the tinsel overhead. I was weightless with exhaustion, having worked late on my CV, and for a flickering second I thought I heard the dauntless, terrified shout of a curly-haired boy bomb-diving through time, face freckled with burst capillaries. I paused, lamington aloft, but then he was gone and so was I, my pager having summoned me elsewhere. Isabel Prior Isabel Prior is a junior doctor from Brisbane who has been published in Westerly and Best Australian Poems 2021. More by Isabel Prior Overland is a not-for-profit magazine with a proud history of supporting writers, and publishing ideas and voices often excluded from other places. If you like this piece, or support Overland’s work in general, please subscribe or donate. Related articles & Essays First published in Overland Issue 228 15 May 202326 May 2023 · Poetry Poetry | Two poems by Ouyang Yu Ouyang Yu You have to do it badly. If it is poetry, even more so, because there is no because. If you write like you were the best in the world, you are the worst because you pretend too hard. Too harsh, too. Why do you want to be the best? Is that because you are a lack or there is a lack in you that you feel like filling up all the time? Even when you are named the best, does that mean anything? 1 First published in Overland Issue 228 21 April 20232 May 2023 · Poetry Poetry can already be free Ender Başkan There’s a regime of logic that we can call Australia, that we can say on many fronts is also a fiction. Any poem that meets Australia within its logic, taking it at face value, will be boring and it might be competent. If you use an AI app, it will definitely be competent AND boring materially, but conceptually it’ll be amazing, in that it met evil (management speak/the invisible hand/terra nullius) with cunning, with another kind evil—amoral, not immoral.