Paul Hardacre’s poetry has been published in literary journals throughout Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Japan, and the United States, including Meanjin, Westerly, Imago, Verandah, Cordite, Yomimono and Southerly. He is the editor of papertiger, Australia’s first CD-rom journal of poetry, and contributing Queensland editor for the South Australian journal of poetry and poetics, Sidewalk.

Self-Portrait with Small Monkey

september: frida kahlo
smoking a cigarette on
the beach caramel nipples
dripping sunscreen like
some surrealist timepiece
wilting polio’s crutch &

saint anthony lifting the folds
of virginal snow skirt
a mock wedding portrait
digging a hole in the sand
to bury banana skins & used
tissues her finger penetrates

an egg a crimson, u-shaped
cactus flower opening the polished
cuttlefish of her smile carried by the wind
onto rocks in one photographic plate
pamphlett dressed in obsolete hair-shirt
swims cimmerian waters of moreton bay

in another (from the first official
photographer of mexico’s cultural
patrimony) some years have passed
pamphlett is bearded of course wears
skins eats pippies for tucker with
the blacks his thylacine blood

collected by romans beneath a bridge
on a northern highway where white mercedes-benz
children eat prickly pear study post-Sumerian
graffiti vomit barley sugar into plastic ice-cream
buckets delete the sky umbilical (in charming
peasant frames of glass and tin).


for Marion Rosalie Hardacre


downstairs, behind the laundry
mother shuffles labyrinth footsteps
traces tritons and wentletraps
in four decades of dust, extends
one puffy hand opens her mouth
speaks the language of battered


a bottle find just outside Kalgoorlie
in 1972 when Gary was little
a pile the size of the kitchen
standing as tall as your shoulder
marble bottles as long as torpedoes
shattered deliberately, shakes her head
voice thick with disbelief.


inside the storeroom words
extinguish stillness whiteants
dream from cracks
of grandfather's card table
primitive waxen effigies,
seaside photos 1971.


on a shelf, in a faded green duffle bag
a battery of trumpet shells,
egg and spindle cowries
nine seasons of nervous Saturdays
the chipped blue railing
crunch of gravel carpark
and winter sun, ambitious
spilling gooseberry faces.


at four, we feed birds
the ramshackle stairs
heavy with frangipani
crawl through the catflap
sit down to bowls of
tin coal water asbestos.


later, dining on holes in air
even our smiles are postmarked
vanished into white, the blueprint
gemini rising.

The Hill of Life

drinking strong & sweet tea
listening to Mal Morgan
climb dark stairs & tell
moon stories awake to the world
he says meditate on a bed of lime.

on my mattress red barbed wire
green plastic soldiers boys hold hands &
dream of the Pyramids & the bird
a princess parrot calls to me
wrestles plastic farm animals then
falls back content to dream

of street pedlars selling Ramakien battle scenes
and children combing smouldering heaps
of refuse & living beneath cars
in starving cinereous light.

to my right the monkey-king Hanuman
levitates on a cloud struggles with demonic agents
of Ravana then like a blazing comet he flies
fast & generous speedy & bright to the hills
where luminous plants shine as cold white fire

to the hills where day is night & night is day &
holy saints retreat to icy cliffs to contemplate trees &
stones & elephants atrophied limbs & coloured
veins of ore pockets of snow & falling rivers

to the hills where cheap wine is nectar & the obituary of a poet
is headline news & the dead have no choice but to huddle on the shelves
of the black library while those they left behind stand at the shore
of the dream-sea & announce I am all this, All this Life; I am all this.