Stuart Barnes



Now, I fly over my country,
teeth brighter than the stars

while two screeching bats fight
through the veins of leaves.

Buddha, Lao Tzu, acupuncture.
They sit with their backs to the mountains.

Knowing her fate,
the moon loads the open plains with white-blue light.

The train’s horn blows again, it’s heading for
            tongue-and-groove junction

the herds of hurts
of the future.



crying, reduced from goddess

I withdrew to childhood training: stay out
the one law: this sea will claim it all—
who comes first, who quarrels, who stays?

That mule of my childhood
is everything, locked as it is

it rides the rain sideways and up,
with refusal or guilt, which loves




Almost certainly it exists:

man’s hidden part, blunt id,
moving through soft lunar dust,
    cunningly programmed to tempt
and as antiquated as the dinosaur

Chirpier than a new four-wheel drive
I hear the molten river rising, sculpting
           the blue-water-rooting trees
              of the world’s basement —

all grass to him, a feeding scythe —



Stuart Barnes’s Glasshouses (UQP, 2016) won the 2015 Arts Queensland Thomas Shapcott Poetry Prize, was commended for the 2016 FAW Anne Elder Award, and was shortlisted for the 2017 ASAL Mary Gilmore Award. Stuart is learning Catalan and translating Imma Tubella’s Un secret de l’Empordà into English. He is poetry editor for Tincture Journal and tweets @StuartABarnes.

Note on ‘Nocturne’: a cento from Irene Wilkie’s ‘Touching Down’, Duncan Richardson’s ‘The Smiling Cosmologist’, Rosanna Licari’s ‘All Hallows’ Eve’, Vanessa Kirkpatrick’s ‘Awakening’, David Gilbey’s ‘Fourth suicide this year’, Allyn Takahashi’s ‘Kobuchihama’, Les Wicks’s ‘Atlantis’, Barbara de Franceschi’s ‘Choice of Place’, Jill Jones’s ‘Ideas of the Real’, Rob Walker’s ‘speaking in tongues’, Matt Hetherington’s ‘No Thought Though You Ought To’, and John Grey’s ‘It’s your view…and yet’.

Note on ‘Cleopatra’: a cento from Cleopatra Mathis’s ‘Demeter the Pilgrim’, ‘Dead Fox’, ‘The Sea Chews Things Up’, ‘In Lent’, ‘Cane’, ‘Living Here’, ‘Magnificence 4AM’, and ‘Soul’.

Note on ‘Centrosaurus’: a cento from Peter Goldsworthy’s ‘Gecko’, Jan Owen’s ‘More on the Dinosaur’, Chris Wallace-Crabbe’s ‘Opera With Phantoms’, Jamie Grant’s ‘Sisyphus at the Supermarket’, Philip Hodgins’s ‘A Kick of the Footy’, Adam Aitken’s ‘Terra Nullius’, John Kinsella’s ‘Canto Cracking Open’, Judith Rodriguez’s ‘An Odd Voyage’, Caroline Caddy’s ‘Vestfold Hills’, and Eric Beach’s ‘dinosaur’.