Margaret Bradstock

Margaret Bradstock has five published books of poetry. The most recent are The Pomelo Tree (which won the Wesley Michel Wright Prize), Coast (2005) and How Like the Past (2009). Other prizes include Henry Lawson and Banjo Paterson awards. She was Honorary Visiting Fellow at UNSW from 2000-2010, Asialink writer-in-residence at Peking University in 2003 and co-editor of Five Bells for the Poets Union from 2001-2010. Margaret has edited 11 books of poetry and prose since 1983, including Antipodes, the first anthology of Aboriginal and white responses to “settlement” (forthcoming, Phoenix, 2011). Margaret reads with the performance groups Harbour City Poets and DiVerse, and will be reading at the 2011 Sydney Writers’ Festival.


The Malley tree

‘without Ern Malley there wouldn’t have been any Ned Kelly
– Sidney Nolan

Malley as bushranger, perhaps,
                        in quilted armour
hijacking poetry,
hoaxing a green landscape.
Verb like bird perches

in the heart of a tree,
the sole Arabian tree,
and lovers stroke the ecstasy
of words
          trembling into metaphors
before the shadowed rocks.

Nouns like windmills
                flagellate the dusk,
water-tanks are armoured
bushrangers storming the horizon,
Darth Vader breathers,
           their blacked-out faces

poets, doomed dreamers, fabrications.


Poet without words

“It is incompleteness that haunts us.”
                        – Shirley Hazzard, The Great Fire.

Lyric is not a category
but a dimension of pain,
a dog barking to the high notes.

Garbage trucks awake you
                 from pre-dawn nightmare,
long-ago music of garbage-tin lids
mutated through plastic. Three bins,
no music, choose your week carefully,
your cycle of fragmentation.

You dream tidal waves,
                the seas control you
emptying one into another.
Working to balance the board, the words,
             you end up arse-over.
Same wave, same water,
             the wind a perfect north.

Poetry is out there,
news from another front
leaking across the divide,
weeping under doorways,
            glaciers once grinding
their way into the valleys.

On the bald hillside,
stripped vertebrae of a Halifax bomber
like an ark or ribbed galleon,
the bodies interred further down
          under a cairn of stones,
we trade our lives.