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





NSW Writers' Centre

Poets Union

Artransit Poems

Les Wicks' page





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

hollywood pools


                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







Summer Ends, Tamarama



The seagulls

Flew south



Of the ear




Little finger

And nose

Sink deeper


The sand


No Dogs Allowed


Forlorn trumpets

Bruised hibiscus

Lonely hands sift

By unlovely rocks

The sun




But next year

More tan

Less poetry

Another beach

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.


                -Lyn Reeves




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

breaking wave

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

        at sea

a whale leaps

and leaps again.


                                                Shaun Watson






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



                                                Elaine Morel





The hot light clarifies...


What's bitumen?

A grey plume

fluttering like an eyelid

to the horizon:


white line,

anvil of silver -

who cares?


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,

recall syllables,

breathe deep at the edge

of singing along...


-        Kerry Leves




Developments at Bondi


Beyond the rotunda

nubile she stood

a slender figurehead

looking out to sea

flimsy draperies

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

while standing


on a rock

by the sea.


Ann Davis

Ann’s latest book is Moths & Camels (kellyryan press, 2001)





oxford st.
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…
shelton lea






Omo-white frills welcome

Jersey-cream sand-seam

asphalt bound at outer edge


cosseting spray the finest filling

upon which to quilt

sea and sky together


eggshell-highlighted clouds

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


sunrise casts

a long Koori shadow

Mckenzie's Point


Bondi Beach

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

the dolphin


Eastgate Mall

an old man parked

on each bench


Waverley dawn

two dolphins hang

in a grey wave



my tinnitus drowns

in breaking waves


dawn monochrome:


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


southerly buster

wind shows its shape

in lace curtains


john bird






Clustered together

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.


Mike Ladd







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.


Prue Mackay






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.


Quendryth Young





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.



richard hillman

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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