Tyson was a book worm. He burrowed into books, into their worlds where, if he was allowed, he would wander for hours in their dreamy, eerie landscapes. But he would forget things. He would forget where he left his slippers, his school bag, the present he received from Aunty May [ which wasn’t a book] for his birthday. Honestly, his exasperated mother would say, you’d forget your head if it wasn’t screwed on. How silly, thought Tyson but the next morning when he went to clean his teeth, he looked up. A pair of eyes on stalks starred back at him from the mirror.

The Problem of Stephen King

Stephen King wrote a lot.

If God were as busy as Stephen King

He would not have rested on that seventh day.

Stephen King wrote as many books almost

as God put up stars

but not all of them were good.

None of them were duds

but only a few shine — you know them:

‘The Shining’, for instance, ‘Misery’,

the first third of ‘It’, the novella ‘Stand by Me’.

Maybe that’s all we can hope for —-

in a long and busy life only a few of our works

will shine.

*have I left any good ones out?

*what’s your favourite King book?

*which have you read over and over?

What’s Coming Down the Pike

You don’t know what’s coming down the pike.

No one does.

Covid-19 showed that.

Now there are rumours of something else.

It doesn’t have a face or name

but the word ‘China’ is often invoked.

But no one knows.

But something is coming.

You can see its shadow.

Hear its footsteps.

Feel it breathing down yr neck.

And I feel like the poet Mark Strand

who always saw something coming down the pike

which is why he always slept, he says,

with one eye open.

You See Things


You see polio.

You see the boy down the street locked inside

an iron lung.

kids in callipers.

You see the abducted children from your home town —

Joanne Ratcliffe and Kirsty Gordon from the Adelaide Oval

and the Beaumont children taken from Glenelg Beach

on Australia Day ’66 who are never found

& the parents who die not knowing

& you witness the epidemic of fear that keeps yr children

in lockdown

& your own daughter whose boyfriend is taken off a suburban street

and killed by an infamous child abductor

and there are more: the Truro murders and it never stops.

And Debbie Anne Leach who you taught in Year 11

murdered at Taperoo Beach after school with her dog.

And the drug deaths and the suicides

and that lovely Year 9 girl who found her inner poet

And the darkness that swept the world after 9/11

But you’ve seen nothing like this.


My Letters are Crap


that’s what I picked up in a game of scrabble.

what could you do with a rack like that?

throw it away, pick up new letters.

no, too easy.

I thought of a better way though I’m not up to it.

I thought I’d throw it open to you to see what you could do with it.

write a short story, a piece of flash fiction: horror, comedy,; a poem , a snippet.

go ahead, use this as a photo prompt, see what you come up with.

post it here.

I hope you all come out to play

They Say I Shouldn’t Read


They say I shouldn’t read anymore.

That I read between the lines.

What isn’t there.

They say I shouldn’t read anymore.

That I read the writing on the wall.

That I scare residents.

I scare visitors.

They say I shouldn’t read anymore

because I read the fine print

the little white-gilled toadstools hidden

in the mushroom fields of the text.

They say

they say

they will revoke my privileges.

That Kid in the Oven


A little kid climbs into an oven.

It is dark and sooty as a cave.

The kid turns on his torch.

The door shuts behind him.

Someone turns up the heat.


His brow perspires, his eyes begin to bulge,

His heart to race.

The kid scrambles to find an opening, bangs on the glass.

The door slowly opens.

The kid staggers out.

There, says a stern, kindly voice. How was it?

Life isn’t plain sailing. Just so you know.

Huh, who was that? The kid asks.

No one answers.


* courtesy of ‘The Drabble’ on which it has just appeared




You are a skilled carpenter. You whittle me away with your chisel voice to the shape you want, my failings, and infidelities, my rough edges, lie as so many shavings upon the ground. You pick me up and peer at me. I hope you are pleased. Now I sit upon my tiny chair like a ventriloquist doll waiting for you to jiggle my limbs and speak for me like Aunty did for Uncle Bert after he had his stroke when we were kids and sat with us stiff and vacant for afternoon tea.