Mal McKimmie’s first volume of poetry, Poetileptic, was published by Five Islands Press in 2005. Poems from this collection were developed into a feature program by ABC Radio National in 2006. The Brokenness Sonnets 2 was published in Take Five 08 (Shoestring Press, Nottingham, UK, 2009); other poems have appeared in Australian anthologies and journals. The following poems are from The Brokenness Sonnets & Other Poems, to be published by Five Islands Press in 2011. Mal lives and writes in Melbourne, Australia.


His and Hers Homunculi

When I knocked on your door & you opened it smiling
the beam in your eye
knocked me & my mote flying.

Assured you were a placebo & I was in the control group
I took part in this experiment.
It was all a lie — I have the symptoms to prove it.

In the morning I will tell her how a fat, buzzing, blowfly-yellow moon
flew into the car & beat its wings against the windscreen while
I drove through the night to her door.

This morning I opened my door to the conclusions of Loss:
bouquets of poems, a tideline of foam-white flowers.
I wonder when I will meet the lover who sends them to me from the future.

Be forever dead in Eurydice, Rilke advised.
Berryman thought Rilke needed to ‘get down into the arena and kick around’.
(Henry said Rilke was a jerk.)

Would I love you if Neruda did not write:
Quiero hacer contigo lo que la primavera hace con los cerezos
(I want to do with you what spring does with the cherry trees)?

Orgasm, a scopolamine moment—
briefly, as in a police line-up:
all the usual suspects.

‘You are not alone’ the Goddess sang, dancing around my grave.
And finally I heard the legend of Eurydice’s head. 

In the dream, the fact that I was dead
enabled me to write the poem
that I gave to the beautiful woman.

In the language of the deaf the sign for beautiful is beautiful,
the sign for calm is calming,
& love & happy each require both a hand & a heart to be invoked.

Shy man, 45, GSOH, NS, SD, Tourette’s syndrome,
seeks beautiful woman 18-25, GSOH, NS, SD, Echolalia.

Her: Poetry is like sex, it goes round & round; that’s why I’ll hang on with you.
Him: So I’m a good poet, but a bad lover?

Curse the prosaic who reduce the aim
from loving to living, from O! to I. (Diminishing even punctuation.)

The fourth magus was a woman.
She turned from the Bethlehem star & gave
her gift for the child to her own children.

Only if I move this glass paperweight
will the snowflakes inside it fall soft as syllables
on her skin, her upturned face, her hair.

In the hospital-fever nightmare, her father was the attending doctor
handing her not the child but the placenta
& ordering that it be raised to adulthood.

The lonely man with his ear to a drinking glass against the apartment wall;
not to hear his neighbour’s words, just to know she’s there.

Her: Aieeeearrrgh!! %$#*&^@*&^%$#@!!
Him: We’re having a baby! We’re having a baby!

The world continues because women were once children.
The world is imperilled because men were once children.

You were a 5′ 6″ upturned hourglass; we were in the kitchen;
& all the women I had ever loved passed before me one by one
while I cooked a perfect egg.


from The Church of Doubt

(whoever has ears to hear should hear)


I am telling you that you do not know Love.
You throw the word at this person, that:
—I Love him, I Love her—
You throw it even at the whole world, & at God.

But it is a ball that bounces back to you, the same
Colour, the same size:
Nothing has changed.
So you throw it again, & then again. 

Do you think that when I say the word Love
It returns to me?
It travels through the hands of all because none can grasp it,
Travels through wood, metal, earth, through infinite spaces.

At the very end of a universe that has no end
There is a child who has been orphaned by religion:
Its only desire is to play,
Though play cannot be said to be a desire.

When I utter the word Love it travels
Over weeping distances to that child,
Becomes a ball in its hands
& there it remains.



If you ask me if I believe in God,
        I shall say No.
If you ask me if I disbelieve,
        I shall say No.

I have one foot on soil, on earth,
        That is to say: in the tomb.
I have one foot in water, in ocean,
        That it to say: in the womb.

Why should I want to live but not to die?
Why should I want to die but not to live?

Before birth, I was or I was not.
After death, I will be or I will not.
Between birth & death I AM. 

The brain is of the body
        & shall die with the body: There is no Mind.
What is not of the body or the brain—is Soul.

The brain is of the body
        & shall die with the body: There is no Soul.
What is not of the body or the brain—is Mind.

Soul & Mind—One & The Same.
        & One & The Same is also something else
Which is neither Soul nor Mind.

A word in a bowl; Bowl another word:
Soul fills Mind, Mind empties from Soul.

The Christian empties his Chalice; the Buddhist
Empties his begging bowl.

Arm in arm, Thirsty and Hungry go into the tavern
To eat meat, drink wine, & sing.



For members of The Church of Doubt
The way forward at every crossroads
Shall be revealed by where, dizzy from turning, they fall.

& each time they fall they shall fall
At the feet, the jumbled bones
Of a corpse 

& two bones shall point them in a new direction:
Wish Bone & Funny Bone.

 & for a short time thereafter they shall know the way
& knowing it shall dance as a corpse dances
Just before it becomes a corpse:

As if dying of joy.