Andrew Slattery

Andrew Slattery is a Communications graduate from The University of Newcastle. His poems have appeared in literary journals, newspapers, magazines throughout Australia, Europe, North America and Asia. His awards include the Henry Kendall Poetry Award, the Roland Robinson Literary Award, and the Val Vallis Poetry Award. He lives in Berlin.


Bathey Pelagium

Having slid up and below the surface;
urged itself to reach out
and take the moon whole in its eye,
the giant squid goes to depth –
eight arms and two tentacles

swirl the slick, torpedo body
on an imagined course to the ocean floor.
Twin front finlets rudder its frame,
lining through a school of oarfish.
The deeping waters start to cool 

its runneled core. The floor
is not subject to the moon’s lug.
Tube worms and giant clams pulse,
but seem motionless in the mudded dark,
like organs under skin.

The sun is cold. There are no tides or years.
Giant squid rests its locomotor,
it’s lurked arms scan the boundary
of its mantle length for food.
The ocean floor is an undulant blank,

with an outline so faint
this whole thing could be myth.
Slow-swimming along conveyor tides,
it takes the ocean with it and keeps the earth
in its spinning. The giant squid 

spools along canyons cut from the ice age –
movements aggrandised over time,
its organ pipes roll the sea bed,
with solitary rills, hear its weight
unlying the sea.


Kalle Metro Graveyard

Someone snuck in a cemetery. A break
in the line of sandstone apartments
like a tone blip in the city plan. 

Surrounded on all three sides by the high-rise living –
the whole yard the size of a house, but thick
with blooming dark grass and the pale whites 

of tree foliage. The centre gate is locked off
and wrangles of weed truss the tall iron fence.
Inside, the gravestones are edged black

with granite moss and hold a calm slant,
they line the ground, side by side, and some
so close they seem to be one split block.

Someone’s decision to bury the coffins
vertically. They said it would triple capacity;
that it was in keeping with the skyscraping

pitch of urban planning (“Drop ’em in
feet first… it’ll save space.”) Those too ‘proper’
to be cremated; too ‘proud’ to end up

on the outskirts in the communal graveyard.
Someone snuck in a cemetery, into the heart
of a city gridded with slender cross-streets

and municipal pressures. Bodies standing up
cool in their boxes. They must’ve slid them in
like a flower stem led down a tall jar. And tall

runs of whiteweed rise up the fence, through
the black, wrought gate latched to a sole iron
pin. The grass is strewn with wraps of strange flowers,

thrown over the fence by a visiting relative, or anyone
whose heart the city has warmed with stone.
The ground holds to the cold like the joining

of bone. At night, the apartment windows flick on
from all three sides, they throw down twisted squares
of light and bring the flora junk and top stones

out of mute dark. In summer, when the green rim
of a moon arcs the night, the tall weeds lean out
from the fence and dip their tips to the warm pavement.