InDaily InDaily

Support InReview journalism Donate Subscribe
Support independent journalism

Books & Poetry

Poems: Of love and loss

Books & Poetry

The lyric power of love and bereavement are shown in this week’s Poet’s Corner contributions from John Bartlett.

Print article


An early morning call
too early for normal announcements.
But then what is more normal than death?

How can this be
when life-signs are everywhere?

A heron on the rocks
beak poised for fishing.
Everything in its place,
except for you.

So while I was noticing herons
and my back was turned,
you slipped away
and herons kept fishing.

The Wedding Dress

We spread your wedding dress
beside you in your coffin
‘a gown of ivory satin, the skirt
flared from the waist, merging into a train.’

You lie in your favourite floral pink
best walking shoes on sturdy ankles
handbag with half a packet of soft jubes
to chew along the way

We cannot believe
that you have gone
and will walk with us
no more in these gardens

We are the ones who are lost now
while you walk on
under the shade of Moreton Bay figs
without your walking frame.

Surprised by Love

We scurry down-faced,
burdened by bin-bulk,
screen-glazed eyes intent,
bent to task,
til you, beloved,
lurking out of reach,
burst like fireworks,
scattering trivial pursuits.
You ignite body-shock,
star-burst in souls, light-switch flick,
in a dark room,
match-scratch to kindling
flaming, then devouring.

Do not fear
You are loved.

John Bartlett was born in the Clare Valley and grew up in Murray Bridge, South Australia. He moved interstate to study and now lives in Victoria. He is the author of the collection of short stories ‘All Mortal Flesh’, published in 2009, and a collection of his published essays and non-fiction released as an e-book in 2017. He is also the author of three novels, ‘Estuary’ in 2013, the semi-autobiographical ‘Towards a Distant Sea’ in 2005, and its sequel ‘Jack Ferryman: Reluctant Private Investigator’, this year. (Paul ‘Jack’ Ferryman has left the priesthood, the church and the Philippines behind him and now lives in Venice Beach near Los Angeles and works part-time as an investigative journalist – read more). John also blogs regularly at Beyond the Estuary, and his previous appearances in InDaily Poet’s Corner can be found here and here, and more of John’s story here.

Readers’ original and unpublished poems of up to 40 lines can be emailed, with postal address, to Submissions should be in the body of the email, not as attachments. A poetry book will be awarded to each accepted contributor.
Make a comment View comment guidelines

Support local arts journalism

InReview is a ground-breaking publication providing local and professional coverage of the arts in South Australia. Your tax-deductible donation will go directly to support this independent, not-for-profit, arts journalism and critique.

Donate Here

More Books & Poetry stories

Loading next article