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2018 Free Verse

Highly Commended

Highly Commended

Turning by Degrees
Jenny Pollak

Mackerel Beach, NSW

Even without seeing the dark chambers
oozing their sweets you have the idea
(watching the bees thrusting their heads
into the specific rose)
they serve a master
greater than you can ever believe.

To keep on moving. This is what matter wants
most of all.
And what the obedient plants keep saying.
All their cellulose
lifted up in one alphabet of lust;
the various bees, and all the winged and willing
servants, complicit in this.

Matter doesn't rest.
Excessive pollen spills from its cups.
More than enough
for such a manifesto of love.


What kind of light is it falls from this distance
precise as a blade and illuminates
a single white potato flower in a field
of dull hills? What kind of music,

as you traipse through clods
of the earth – the ground shifting, and your feet
stumbling in the raised dirt,
and the dust on your cheeks?

The diminished hills are wringing
the colour from the clouds, which are drawn back
like curtains
playing their bit part as they bow and scrape
the edge of the dumb stage.

Here. In the plain field
among the pink eyes and pontiacs, king Edwards
and dutch creams.
Which rest in their hillocks.

A single flower in the light.

As if someone had reached down a hand
and commanded this exact scene.


This is what I come down for,
dragging the skin of my sleep. Communing
with the slick wings and the candelabra
plants. All of us
dipping our wicks in the new light.
Bees poke their sticky heads into the glorious

It's enough the sun has risen and clouds
have parted. That one bird in particular
sounds ecstatic
and the shower in the night still glistens
on the leaves – a thousand delicate sips
a bird might have. That insects everywhere
are beginning to rise.

We could do worse than follow
the curve of a rib
knowing how close to the heart it always was.

Night after night, spinning our webs
between the stuck stars. Every one of us
turning by degrees,
until all that's visible are the bones of our lives
shining under the repetitive moon.



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