Written in Sand
The project is a modest attempt to shine a light into the heart of the Municipality of Waverley, Australia. A celebration of the people, the history & the environment of one of the most vibrant parts of Sydney. A total of 16 poems were put up in public spaces like the library, Bondi Pavilion & the dozens of Waverley bus shelters over the 4 years.
ACCESS was a key feature of the selection process on two fronts - we were trying to give a chance for everyone to have a go at being included. As well, the pieces finally chosen were picked on the basis that they should appeal to a broad cross section of the community.
The final 16 were chosen after receiving hundreds of contributions from those who saw the articles in local & trade publications. Many of those chosen are substantial figures in the Australian writing community. Some are relative newcomers whose work shone out & demanded to be read.
WAVERLEY COUNCIL are to be congratulated for their support.... both monetary & in kind. They too wish to celebrate the vitality & diversity that makes the area unique.
Contemporary poetry is continually seeking new outlets, new ears. Many people get a cramped, irrelevant diet of poetry in high school & promptly lock it out of their lives. Organisations like Meuse press are devoted to changing that.
Written in Sand is catalogued in Australian literature's data base Austlit. For writers seeking contacts we can recommend you join either the Poets Union (9818 5366) or the NSW Writers' Centre (9555 9757).
We hope you enjoy these pieces.
Carol Chandler & Les Wicks
early sixties january long
hot afternoons at tib's
teenage tennis club of
north bondi where the smack
of waves down the hill
foams out of your ears
as you lunge at a sand tinted
ball thwacked into the net
- love 15, love 40 - dumped
by a slazenger surf yet
again, with the dirt grinding
dry as a desert under your feet
and coating your nostrils stinging
with heat, you sweat into your
tight tennis dress while the court's
boundary marks declare their
white rulings, like rigid seamstresses
heads of strict boarding schools.
over there A team stars are
playing pure blond games, their white
shorts frilly skirts quiver with sports car
and wimbledon dreams, they stroll into
the clubroom fresh as popcorn round
you all rest in the cool of tib's
tennis club room, coca cola streams into
your gullets from seductive glass bottles deliciously
green, the sewer works odour drifts in
from its tower on the golf links just
over the road - 'perfume bottle's full
today'- everyone explodes
- joanne burns
The tired metronome of half hearted waves plop!
can barely rise to the conspiracy being discussed
by this mob on a griddle cement platform
this six-pack of heartily beached whales.
Man and bench merge
to call themselves "Doctor Bronte".
Allegedly gathered to swim but
between swims is a time that
stretches over hours even
discussion group is a placid deception,
a form guide for the dogs or Italian politics their
great brown guts attain a grace rare elsewhere.
The Council would have to hire stand ins
if they didn't come here
like volunteer statuary....
they are the beach -
their great stomachs are institutions like
a series of tiny Ulurus from
the gentle half of white Australia's dreaming.
- Les Wicks
Of the ear
No Dogs Allowed
Lonely hands sift
By unlovely rocks
But next year
A wedding ring
- Denis Gallagher
feather, stone, bird, sand
In five concentric circles a naked man
sits at the dry sand's edge of Bronte Beach,
centred in prayer or meditation,
the photocopy of a text enclosed
in the lotus bowl of legs, at his back
a feather, on the outer circle's seaward arc
a stone; straight-backed, inner eyed, he emits
a low melodic growl. The autumn air
is cool, but a rosy pre-dawn light swims
between suspended shoals of cloud. Already
fishermen sing their lines below the sea,
silhouettes catch cartwheel waves, joggers ghost
along the promenade and the first swimmers
are emerging from the bogey-hole.
The copper mandala sun slips the rim
and centre of our world, lifts the intercessor,
arms extended, feather in his left hand,
a stone in the right, wings blur, a gull flies up,
a stone falls resolving into grains of sand,
words blow across the beach towards the sea
and high water circles circumscribed feet.
- Brook Emery
My father's brother combed the beaches
early Monday mornings, supplementing
factory wages with findings of gold
watches, silver florins, diamond rings.
Now the weekend rubble's shovelled
by machine, the sand swept clean
of cans & coke bottles, lost thongs
and empty tubes of suntan cream.
I scan the shore for other remnants:
messages printed by gull's feet,
scratched by shelly-fingered waves,
brushmarks made with tangled ropes of weed,
finding in their random patterns
fragmented songs, half forgotten,
tongued by wind fluting the beach,
interpretation out of reach.
The full moon is above Ben Buckler
in a wisp of cloud
The heat of the day has subsided
into the soft & delicate light
of early evening
Countless boards ride the long
Occasional figures clump darkly
on the cooling sand
People stand on corners
where brushed by gentle fumes
they speak significantly on mobile phones
or retreat to cafe tables to watch others
Cars rumble slowly past
Quite close by
a whale leaps
and leaps again.
Things corrode here, by the sea
Everything touched by the salt air melts
We melt together
The sea welds our bodies
I swallow salt water
Salt falls from your eyes
We watch the weather together
Our fingers in the air
We listen to the wind and squint at the sky
Under the cliff, water bubbles
Thick as lava, thick as a whisper, thick as blood
We rust together and slowly flake apart
Red brown flecks drop drily from our soldered hearts
The hot light clarifies...
A grey plume
fluttering like an eyelid
to the horizon:
anvil of silver -
In cars or on foot
we are climbing
the silken sides of a parachute of blue;
it'll never come down
while this wind holds...
Salty, murmurous, interminable -
the booming prayer of the sea:
you've forgotten the words,
I've forgotten the words,
but our bodies, meeting the water,
breathe deep at the edge
of singing along...
- Kerry Leves
Beyond the rotunda
nubile she stood
a slender figurehead
looking out to sea
clinging in the breeze.
For the photographer
late afternoon light
was just right.
For the model
the chill of early evening
induced a latent sensuality.
As a mother
I was stunned
by the beauty of this child
sailing towards womanhood
on a rock
by the sea.
Ann’s latest book is Moths & Camels (kellyryan press, 2001)
softly the sun eases warmth through the petals of my pores
and the hollow wind scores a symphony in hair.
oxford st. bristles with shadows,
buses collide with the air.
by the church, six benches against the fence wait,
primed canvas waits for a painting.
cross the road.
become the first stroke.
take out a smoke and search for a match, scratch at my ear,
then pat a tune on my knees
and wait for the nearsighted old men
with their sneezes and wheezes to gather like dust…
Omo-white frills welcome
asphalt bound at outer edge
cosseting spray the finest filling
upon which to quilt
sea and sky together
softly lining navy-grey ocean
fluctuating like Thai silk to icy aqua
appliquéd to surface
dark angular strokes
Lowry figures transported
animated to ride
crests and curls of this coverlet.
C. Ann Hobson
a haiku-senryu series
a long Koori shadow
the seagulls listen
in many languages
on reaching Bronte Beach
all the way down to the sea
the sea tugs
on her leg rope
St Thomas & Trafalgar
faces on the street
Festival of the Winds
the sea eagle soars above
a dragon kite
Sculpture by the Sea
a rogue wave undermines
an old man parked
on each bench
two dolphins hang
in a grey wave
my tinnitus drowns
in breaking waves
with raised arms
Ben Buckler sunrise
the pacific ocean curves
back around me
City to Surf
a baby's stroller swamped
in a sea of legs
wind shows its shape
in lace curtains
like black marble bathing sheds -
as if the occupants
had just gone for a dip
and would shortly be back,
their limbs cooled,
dressing themselves slowly for lunch,
still a little sand
between their toes.
He lived for the beach.
Down each morning and each afternoon
every day was framed - a beginning and an end.
He sniffed the winds and marked the tides
as the sea slopped and sucked his toes.
He never went away. Why would he want to leave this? he'd say
and off he'd go, down for a surf or a swim
to come back with sand in his hair
and the sea in his eyes.
One morning he didn't come home.
I went down where the sea humped and heaved,
restless under its shivering skin,
at the base of the hill.
We waited, the seagulls and I
footprints in wet sand, our backs to the wind.
Shadows darting out of reach
as the sea's spume lacquered my eyes.
Perhaps he paddled out so far he
caught a wave
onto the other side of the world.
Dad bought a kite for them
and on the beach
he showed them how, in turn,
the hold a string in each hand,
his hand on each of theirs,
and in control he played.
The kite swirled high in air
with strings attached;
restrained in loops
of figure eight it swooped,
dependent on the tethered end.
They, tiring of this hand-held fun,
returned to sand and spade -
unharnessed, made a castle.
He, with kite, played on.
I climbed those stairs to Immortality & flung
your ashes upon the rocks below. The wind
whipped those shades into poems, cracked
their spines, sent them sailing on salt water
dreams, a place where sharks tore them into
shreds with sonnet sized teeth, leaving left
-over lines & half-eaten letters for gathering litter
wary gulls. Then, from the headland, I watched
their wings shifting the surface of my wingless desire,
& when I fell, it was as a stone, & it carried no weight.
from Weightless in Sydney
This concludes the second & final series of Written in Sand. Over four years we’ve seen a range of work from talented local new poets to some of Australia’s best known. A range of voices & perspectives. Graphic design by Michael White. Edited by Carol Chandler & Les Wicks for Meuse Press. Sponsored by WAVERLEY COUNCIL.
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