blackmail press 30 Bipolarisation
Nathanael O'Reilly

In Your Enigma - Ilinca Höpfner
Alone - Simon Williams
Nathanael O’Reilly was born in Warrnambool and raised in Ballarat, Brisbane and Shepparton. He resides in Texas. His poetry has been published in journals and anthologies around the world, including Antipodes, LiNQ, Blackmail Press, Harvest, Transnational Literature, Mascara Literary Review, Windmills, Postcolonial Text, Southern Ocean Review, Prosopisia, Page Seventeen, White Leaf Review, Red River Review, and Correspondances Oceaniennes. He is the author of the chapbook Symptoms of Homesickness (Picaro Press, 2010) and a recipient of an Emerging Writers Grant from the Literature Board of the Australia Council.
Near Drowning

Half an hour into an afternoon
Walk exploring the rocks,
Rock pools, flotsam and caves
To the east of Logan’s Beach

We rounded another headland
And realised that our party
Of three was one short.
My grandfather had disappeared.

We were alone with the roar
And spray of the Southern Ocean.
Running back the way we came
We rounded the headland again

Scanning the foot of the cliffs
And the roiling Antarctic water,
Unable to detect the presence
Of another human. Our shouts,

Seemingly futile, were echoed
Faintly from beyond the rock shelf.
Running to the edge, I looked
Over and down to find Pa saturated,

Shaking and pale, clinging
To the slimy jagged rocks, trying
To clamber up to safety before
The crash of another breaker.

I reached out, clasped his hand
In mine, gripped the rocks behind
Me with the other, and hauled
My ancestor up onto his land.


Once I was chased by a bull
On my grandfather’s farm.
He warned me to stay
On the tractor, but being young
And foolish I didn’t listen.
I went walking across
The paddock, and the bull,
Smelling my stupidity,
Charged me in rage.
I ran back to the tractor
As fast as my short legs
Could carry me, diving
Underneath the trailer,
Narrowly averting
An early and gory death.

Once I surfed alone in a storm,
Tempted to reckless behaviour
By the promise of wild rides.
It was winter - my feet numbed.
I caught a monster wave, rose
To my feet, but lost balance
And tumbled head-first
Into the swirling, surging foam.
When I surfaced, my board,
Caught by the offshore wind,
Smashed into my head.
I sank. I came to on the sand,
Groggy and bewildered,
Packed up and went home.