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too many fine birds

in your head

cage of ivory, cage of bone

let one out to be a poem

to flutter, utter

Julian O’Dea



This Canberra sky is blue with cold
A three-quarter moon hangs
half-way up
Single notes from an unseen bird
hang liquid in the air
Trees and shrubbed cliffs
crowd around below

There are supposed to be koalas
in this reserve
hunched over and sleeping
in the recesses of winter
Hunched in a coat I feel a
Koala Dreaming

Julian O’Dea



Now winter begins

like a long argument

you cannot win

Wrangling with the wind

and scolding cold

taking a dim view

Walking past parks

and cold-lit grounds

with departed sounds.

Julian O’Dea



Fearful the moaning

of the wind,

far worse when it begins

to speak

however low and


of what you suspect

but dare not think,

rising and falling

like a conversation

in another room,

soft then loud

like bad news arriving.

Julian O’Dea


putting her hands
behind her back
to unhook her bra
a gentle struggle
a hint of bondage
supplicant hands
with red nails
turned to heaven

Julian O’Dea

Irish Referendum 2018

“The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned”: Yeats


I saw Ireland hanging naked in the rain
dead to her faith
a miscarriage of justice
scrawled upon her skin,
death by referendum.

Why use long-fought freedom
to ape the English sin?
When “the centre
cannot hold” what is to be done?
A woman with an empty womb
hangs in a muddy sky.
The old country is not a home.

Julian O’Dea

“Cats and Boxes”; “Playground”

Cats and Boxes

Muezza, favoured cat
of the Prophet,
ended her tale thus
on the one thousand
and second night:
“O cats who came from
the Libyan Desert
and conquered Egypt
and the known
world with fur and claw,
heed then this tale
of the flying box
which like the carpet
is carried by djinn
directly to Mecca;
I enjoin you to try all boxes
and sit within.”

Julian O’Dea



The children go inside
vacate the playground
and leave the light
to play alone
glancing and beaming
as a truant wind scrapes
a dry leaf along the ground
like a small boy grazing
his knee.

Julian O’Dea

Love and Dogs


we could conjure

a hearth and

you let your hair

down like a pour

of molten gold

from a jeweller’s

trembling hand

Julian O’Dea


Flopping on the bed

our friendly white Samoyed

happily blows phlegm

into the air

like a tiny Moby Dick

disgorging precious


Julian O’Dea

Nadège du Bospertus, leaving the stage sidesaddle

Garden Whites

Garden Whites

pallid Pierid butterflies
like shards of light
alight on
the bush heaving with scent
wings singed fringed
like scraps of a burned
book carried in warm air
moving fretfully to
settle and crack the code
of pollination
to turn scattered matter
into seed

Julian O’Dea