Janice Bostock

Melbourne has the stuffed hide but Wellington
has the skeleton of Phar Lap.

a break in the wind entices
us to visit Te Papa
a modern-day museum
the wonders of which seem
as endless as the summer
days of first love

when we were driven by rain
indoors to the old
Melbourne Museum
where images we had
not dreamed of stared back at us
from jars of ageing light

it was said old men
who had no home crept
in at closing time
to welcome warmth and shelter
for another night

afraid i fled from shadows
the glazed eyes of snakes
and the nakedness
of a human foetus

i paused
in front of a case
containing a large creature
with gentle eyes
and velvet hide
a farmer’s daughter
i understood
the pride of a nation
encased by love

as the automatic door
of Te Papa slides open
expelling a gust of spent
air my flesh pimples
denouncing my innocence
as i look up at
the slender bones of that great
heroic benefactor of man


i sit alone on the open deck of the Manly
ferry the wind ferocious in its intent
whips my hair and my jacket as regularly
as a gigantic oscillating fan

your genuine AA voice came to me urgently
imploring me to make this trip from my
home hundreds of  kilometres away by train
and ferry

how my mood disintegrates with the change
from land to sea a ritual of mind in which i need
to see the sky above me

you would understand
the fear of being enclosed for you had freedom
taken from you a darkness which expels
the air from lungs as surely as water does

only two other passengers huddle inside
the cabin on this off peak run (off peak) it makes
me smile the ocean peaks and peaks again as
wind is relentless in its message

i shouldn’t have come i should have turned
back on myself as the waves do
the ferry docks

there was no
one to meet me at Central Station no one
at the wharf no one anywhere as i struggle
upstairs to a small sparsely furnished flat
the promised key under the doormat is a
promise which ends there

you wake me when you come in
aggressively demanding from me that
which i cannot give

aboard the morning ferry for the return
trip the sun brightly drops through calm
water sparkling on garbage floating just
below the surface plastic bags
billowing as undulating jelly fish tinnies
jostling for some mysterious position
in the harbour as you have done in my
ordered life

all day waiting on Central Station my
anger grows i board the train early anxious
to leave this city this relationship this man
one more time


from fluffy yellow ducklings they became smooth white domestic ducks large birds beautiful and friendly

we fed them bread in the yard at the back of the house patted them picked them up and held them a while and when they became adult we relocated them to the dam

they loved the water quacking and flapping in delight happily making it their new home

we kept in contact cast bread upon the water for them chatted and patted them sometimes until that dreadful day when the largest drakes walked right into my husband’s plan enticing them home and one by one killing them for their meat

such slaughter was flagrant the stench of blood and hot wet feathers stayed in my nostrils for days the sight of their sleek white headless bodies hanging from the rotary clothes hoist haunts me still

i cooked their naked empty bodies duck dinners for the family but was unable to eat that fumet meat their adumbral wings still hover over my once peaceful agrestial land


lying awake at night i realize i could never know you as intimately as i know this place when sunlight rolls out from behind rising mist as it climbs from the valley floor early morning mist lifted from rain-soaked earth drawn up by the parching sun’s rays

outside the window sunshine flashes through leaves like christmas tree decorations seen through the eyes of a child

the magpie lark’s strident cry comes shrilly from within a thin outstretched neck on a slender body the lambent flight of a swallow touches its reflection on the clear surface of dam water and is gone in a flash barely detected an updraught produces the ebullient emotion of a tall weed singled out for attention by imperceptible wind

how angry the night wind sounds in its effort to enter through the smallest opening of a window i could never enter your world and you would not wish to share mine with me

Short Bio: I have been writing for over 30 years and have been published in many literary magazines in Australia, New Zealand, USA, UK and Japan. I am having a book of free verse published in the USA shortly.

Amongst The Graffiti, Collected haiku & senryu, with a foreword by William J. Higginson
available from PostPressed.  

Also Songs Once Sung: collected tanka new from PostPressed.

Two Thirds of Why, verse narrative by Impressed Publishing. Contact author.