The performance poem I wrote for the exhibition, Solastalgia, at Fabrik, in Lobethal. More details about this series of exhibitions, here.

The drawing is mine, drawn with charcoal from my burnt home. It ended up being about 13 metres long on the beautiful wall of this gallery. It is as ephemeral as my home apparently was, and will be washed off that wall eventually. But all kudos to Melinda Rankin (director of Fabrik) for facilitating it.

Also kudos to all of the people involved in the exhibition, especially Jo Wilmot (creator of Solastalgia, The Exhibition) and Evette Sunset who said I mentored her when it was the other way around. We all learn from each other anyway, so who needs labels.

Thanks to my good friend David Salomon of Simply Splendid Productions for recording and creating this movie.

Charcoal Drawing With No Name (detail)

paint, country, poems


grasses shushing the voices of ancestors

spinifex dot painting country

intricate memory of blood splatter lichen

* * * * *

how can one walk the earth of Australia and not think
of the people who have gone before

the crags sing of them
the water wells salty with tears
the earth is red as the blood that was shed upon it

* * * * *

  • Country: In Aboriginal English, a person’s land, sea, sky, rivers, sites, seasons, plants and animals; place of heritage, belonging and spirituality; is called ‘Country’. (Source: Glossary of Indigenous Australian Terms, Australian Museum, Link.

More of my writing on aboriginal issues here. More of my haiku on this blog under categories here and on my old blog here. Feel free to have a browse.

‘spinifex dot painting country’ was first published in Journeys, an anthology published by Haiku Bindii, a local Adelaide Japanese poetry group. I don’t think they have any more copies but I have a few. If you are interested contact me here, and I can get one into the mail for you.

Any Minute Now

When I was a child, my mother pointed to the sadness
in the eyes of aborigines. I had only just learned that the girl,
with whom I shared my lunch, had a different coloured skin.

Meanwhile, in Geography, I learnt how laws had banned child labour.
No more children would go blind knotting carpets for the rich.
Never again would a child cough coal dust into his sheets.

By the time I was of age, the sexual revolution, pill, and women’s rights,
had given me freedom and autonomy. Any minute now
there would be true worldwide gender equality.

1975 and one white man poured sand into the hand
of one black man and, any minute now,
the sadness would disappear from their eyes

There was the international year for human rights,
the year for education, the year for the rights the child,
for women, the disabled, for peace, for indigenous peoples.

It was the age of Aquarius and, any minute now,
world leaders would truly begin to care for the least fortunate,
any minute now, any minute now.


gardener’s hand

Belinda Broughton: gardeners-handspring last year. snails and caterpillars, baby magpies (driving their parents mad), my resident rabbit (now at least two rabbits), millipedes (millions), silly beet going to seed. there is even the big red kangaroo that hags around here a bit, and some fantasy chooks (I don’t have any chooks).



It feels like I’m being tied in knots
by my extreme desire for order
but I’m not sure if I checked the locks.

I know the time but I watch the clocks
because minutes seem longer and shorter.
It feels like I’m being tied in knots.

I know this is a world of hard knocks
and harm could come from any quarter
and so I’m going to check the locks.

I try to dispel my psychic blocks
and not pass them on to my daughter
but it feels like I’m being tied in knots.

There’s so much dirt and fungus and rot
I wash yet again in soap water
but I must go now and check the locks.

Knowing what’s wrong has not made it stop –
obsessive-compulsive disorder.
It feels like I’m being tied in knots
but I have to check that I checked the locks.



My one and only villanelle. Not autobiographical, by the way, though I have been known to drive home because I am not sure if I turned off the iron.

I was inspired to post it after viewing a sestina, Love lost you across a bloody ocean by johnnycrabcakes. Take a look!



living as if death doesn’t matter or as if it matters a lot as if each moment each breath is the only thing we can have we can hold this piece of paper in the gutter this tickle of laughter from an unknown child this brushing of elbows this stroke of your face this beer with its sharp taste this thrum of voices this sparrow this pavement this dirt oh lay me down in it let me die to it let me dissolve into this moment of moments this moment of moments this moment this moment this …



heats up

he heats up
his old aches
blooming onion weed


Something I just posted on NaHaiWriMo for the prompt ‘heats up’.

btw: Though rather old-school, ‘blooming’ is a mild swear word here, and this poem is about an ex who always accused me of introducing various weeds into his garden, when, in fact, the only thing I introduced that subsequently became a weed (lol) is forget-me-nots!

more death poems — Basho and me

Untittled, acrylic and mixed media on canvas, © Belinda Broughton
untitled, acrylic and mixed media on canvas, © Belinda Broughton

Sick on a journey,
my dreams wander
the withered fields

© Basho (tr. Robert Hass)

‘Journey’ as a metaphor for life, would be considered a cliché today, but Basho did a lot of travelling. His life really was a series of journeys that he turned into art. He said he wanted to die travelling and he did. This is his death poem. Because he had fallen very badly ill, his students suggested that perhaps he should write a death poem and he refused, saying, ‘Any of my poems could be my death poem.’ But four days before he died, he called his students around him and wrote this last poem.

. . . . .

A number of poets wrote death poems while they were still healthy, saying that, given it is one of the main poems people remember, it had better be good. However when these (rather egotistical?) poets were close to death, they almost always wrote a true death poem and, as is the case with so much poetry, those written in the truth of the moment ring with it, have a poignancy, immediacy, and heart that is not present in the preempted poems.

But now I will present some of these desk-death-ku, to coin a phrase.

Here is one I could have written at age 17 (if I wrote haiku then) when I very nearly died of peritonitis from a burst appendix. I was in the old Townsville Hospital with a view across the water to Magnetic Island.

sea and sky
all of the space
that is blue

Or, should I die tonight, perhaps I am about to write my last poem. (And that, I suppose, is what Basho meant when he said, ‘Any of my poems could be my death poem.’)

rain again
my essence begins to seep
into the earth

. . . . .

Note: This post is inspired by Carpe Diem Haiku Kai. I chose Hass’s translation though, because I have been attached to it for years.

More translations here on page 7.