written by Pam Brown


— Pam Brown

born in a de-mountable, there you are now,
fifty-something years gone by not a disaster,
in the centre of the car-lined road,
a paper bag
tucked in the crook of your arm
with two paperbacks
and a poetry pamphlet.
no longer having much idea
of earlier versions of yourself
today bewildered
by some invented crisis
apparently necessary
for a cowardly killjoy
(whom you wish, of course,
to soon forget)
to end an already-fraying friendship,
but not so sentimental
as to crank the handle
once the rust has dusted the debts.


you go on vacation
to an unmodified landscape,
towards a blackout, the cause impossible to source,
to candle and fire,
to night’s proper darkness,
you go to the bay
where sooty grey shearwaters
come down from Siberia
to bob stiff on the waves,
dead from exhaustion,
a flight from zero to infinity.

taking the news
from a smart eco liftout —
(international features
delivering “all you need to know”)
of war dunes and sand dunes
in deserts far away —
camels superseded
by four wheel drives,
date palms blown into blue yonder
and uranium-flecked scrapheaps
mapped as oases


there you are, back again,
at the printer as covert,
reading the back of the recycled paper,
cipher and sign,
vigilant under fluoro
scrutinising discarded files of dissent -
a single fist raised to the world
expressionist texta
“greetings from the resistance”
but nobody’s watching, just shadow,
nobody’s thinking
that you’re here reading reports
on indiscriminate transmissions —
avian flu, Hendra virus, lyssa virus —
insensible species’ leaps,
no clues in the notes from darkening science


no further treatment nothing to lose,
man with cancer carries his son
to lay him down in the contaminated ground.
nowhere left now,
moon ripple on the tailings dam
where he used to skip stones.

About the poet

Pam Brown

Pam Brown (born 1948) is an Australian poet. Brown was born in Seymour, Victoria, and her childhood was spent in on military bases in Toowoomba and Brisbane. Since her early twenties, she has mostly lived in Sydney. She has made her living as a silkscreen printer, musician and film-maker, has taught writing, multi-media studies and film-making and worked from 1989 - 2006 as a librarian at University of Sydney. She lives in Sydney, Australia. From 1997 to 2002 Pam Brown was the poetry editor of Overland and since 2004 has been the associate editor of Jacket magazine. She has been a guest at poetry festivals worldwide, taught at the University for Foreign Languages, Hanoi, and during 2003 had Australia Council writers residency in Rome.Pam Brown's Works...

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