Simone King | Joining Planet City
Alisha Brown | An Ontology of Morning
first, the kookaburra
giddy for another breath to laugh upon
and then his white-feathered friends
skimming like pale stones
between gum tree silhouettes
god or something equally rare
thumbs the envelope of sea and sky
with that golden seal
and between the twitching wiregrass
a soft rock hums an invitation
to a lizard’s belly
tell me where the suffering lives
for it is not here
where eyelids bloom in their baskets
and some precious part of me
is plucked alive again
only in this shade of innocence
can my ribs remember
holding older shapes
a string of weeping sap
who creeps toward a possum’s tongue
or dries her eyes on a treesnake’s coiled skin
dawn cannot know grief or loneliness –
it is too busy blushing
and the native bees are too busy making honey
it is now, then
that the beginning begins
it is now
that stars explode
just to land a single pearl of water on your fingertip
every dream I’ve ever had
was born between a birdcall and a bilby’s ear
that sweet pink thing
turned shy to the eastern shoreline
for morning’s kiss
Sophie Szew | Promps For My Next Poem
2. Write a poem about how you were just distracted by the stiffness of the calluses on your feet. It reminds you of when you used to screw the balls of your feet into the carpet until your feet were nice and crunchy and the indent on the carpet looked like it Tasted. So. Good.
3. Write a poem about how staring at this computer screen gives you a migraine, but you’ve had writer’s block for far too long to risk getting inspiration from the gel inside the Advil capsules and writing about how it’s “richer than the sky.”
4. Write a poem about how the sweatshirt you are wearing is the only one you didn’t donate when you turned 18 and decided that clothes were a social construct, and that you’d rather be Eve before God shattered her shell and all that was left of it were fingernails.
5. Write a poem about how you haven’t had long nails in over two weeks. You still have hot pink streaks of Kiss Beauty Nail Glue on your left ring finger to remind you of when youwere married to adulthood.
6. Write a poem about how you smudge pink lip liner under your waterline every day
7. around 2 pm to bring out the green in your eyes. Your mom hates it because she thinks it 8. makes you look sick. At 14 you would’ve taken that as a compliment and then flushed your vocal cords down the toilet because that meant that you didn’t look sick all this time despite having snot dripping from the cracks in the corners of your lips.
9. Write a poem about how your messy room makes the air in your chest compress into the shape of microphone feedback. You’d let it out through your mouth, but your lips are still tender
Anna Meister| Months Until I Turn 16
Ayushi Jain | He's Dead PS I'm Grieving
In the loving memory of my grandad
This world can be a gloomy place sometimes
Sometimes? I’m lying.
It doesn’t make sense when you want it to
But when it does
When I have had enough of this realm
Quite too often
Don’t let them find out
where I am,
I am at Khyati’s house
And appear in my babaji’s locked 2 bedroom apartment
It’s locked because it’s up for sale
It won’t fetch much
but there’s no use in
Letting it be vacant
I can’t imagine someone else living there.
Those white walls and that murky floor
They mean everything.
They mean nothing,
I don’t miss him
I am not fragile,
I don’t long for his
It’s the quarters where he died
I try not to focus on that part,
So I divert to the memories I have cosseted.
I don’t have any memories
I don’t even remember what he looked like
On an eroded shelf just there above
his irreplaceable cathode-ray television
Would be a wooden carton of mangoes
Or a cardboard box of cherries.
No I am not reminded of him
Every single time I sit down to eat
Bringing new stories he heard from strangers
He was a man of the world, a traveler.
Dad do you remember that
story babaji told about that ring merchant?
No I didn’t ask dad that.
Babaji’s dead, we don’t miss
Domestic and unpopular villages, abandoned libraries
Those were more his tea
Why do I still remember his morning yoga routines?
Just two cloves of adrak, no sugar
Saturate it with honey until the
fragrance of the tea leaves
is rendered null and void
Always and always shall I profess
To be emotion-less and devoid of anything that makes me human
But inside I am burned and full of soot
Ayushi Jain | Gone
In the loving memory of a lost childhood
Soft toys wrapped in a black cloth
Stashed in the attic, forgotten, lost.
Or thrown away in the bin
Or left behind at the last place we declared home.
Doltish haircuts and vacuous glasses
Wide eyed and open mouthed glances at the sky
at the sound of an airplane
And whispered cursing, giggling
And good-night kisses.
A thousand flamboyant hair clips
Two thousand plastic necklaces
Three thousand loose teeth
Four thousand pirouetting aampanna glasses
Five thousand miles away, absent.
Toy cars and montessori blocks
Nani’s fragile hands knitting woolen sweaters
in the noon of a hypothermic winter
Birthday cakes and gaugeable candles
Lurking outside after dark
Unaware of some predator’s eyes.
Forgotten blood vows
Bruised knees and bleeding ankles and cut fingers
Dead “Best friends for life”
Dead “I’ll marry you when I get a little older”
Somewhere in the stars
Long gone jubilant innocent girls and ponytails
Dead stray kittens, trampled street dogs
Rotting mangoes and cherries
Decomposing into the ground, gone.
Kim Waters | The Builder
Sometimes I hear the scaffolding strain,
his whistle through the plasterless rooms,
and I’m there again, seven-years-old,
watching his hands cradle a brick,
set it square, remove a spill
with the point of a diamond-shaped knife.
I remember his hair flecked with paint,
a nail purse belted around his waist,
a flat pencil, fold-up ruler
and a packet of Bex in his overall bib.
The way he’d hammer a nail, his gaze
a spirit level of concentration
as he zithered a wedge of wood with his saw.
How he’d jam one knee up against a horse,
shaved timber falling in curls
around his hobnailed boots.And the times
he’d lift me onto his rafted shoulders
and we’d move through the whalebone rooms of a house,
him sure-footed, walking the line
of his tight-roped years and me reaching
into the open-roofed sky.
Rob Wallis | The Priest
You take the steps down to our front door
one at a time, as if your knees
buckle under the weight of prayer.
The small bag you carry
for an overnight stay, clinks.
It doesn’t sound like pyjamas,
a change of underwear, a stringent
volume on the lives of the saints
you’ve struggled, for years, to emulate.
You greet both of us with a hug,
cling on much longer than we wanted,
a candle lit for an urgent need.
In the kitchen you open the bag,
produce two bottles of wine,
a bottle of whisky. Nothing else.
This is an act of generosity.
Or it measures the religious life,
the toll it’s taken on your sexuality.
You begin our meal with a prayer,
celebrate friendship, proud, and envious,
of us, a pair of beads on your rosary.
We are reduced to a congregation.
Your sermon, eased with the blood
of Christ, is a litany of anniversaries:
the day you first met my partner
in a church. The year that he left
the seminary. And after ordination,
the stations of your cross, a thorny journey
through promotions to smaller, and smaller
parishes, a snide excommunication.
You have devoted your life to Jesus,
now you admit you wish his name
had been Damian or Angelo or Ben.
We listen in silence to this disclosure,
not surprised, but not comfortable
in this confessional, our roles reversed.
No amount of Hail Mary’s, no blessings,
no forgiveness of sins, can compensate
for the years of sacrifice, and denial.
You leave the next morning, each step
a retreat back to seclusion, each
intake of breath a whisper withdrawn.
Jhermayne Ubalde | Mother
there are flowers in my head. they bloom between spiderweb cracks with a psychedelic sheen. honey pouring into my dreams. pollen falling onto my shoulders. you sowed weeds. little black seeds. scattered among the flowers. poison ivy. brambles. their pollen left angry red marks. they tasted like black jellybeans. like liquorice. or aniseed. you shovelled it into my throat. there was the heaving of lungs. they sprouted from my ears. they formed a noose and
whispered things. they burned my eyes so i couldn’t fall asleep. i can’t fall asleep. there were flowers in my head.
Jhermayne Ubalde| Flowers
Disha Awashti | Two Worlds
Which dimension do I fit in?
The new one or the one of my kin?
I wanted the blonde hair and white skin
Like two armies raging inside of me,
Not able to decide,
Am I Australian?
Am I Indian?
Who would I be?
My roti discarded,
Because it wasn’t what the other kids ate
My name made fun of,
Because it wasn’t something like Kate
Was there something so wrong with speaking my language?
People looked at me as if it was sacrilege
I had an Indian accent
Because I sounded different
Now, I look at myself in the mirror
And I think I can see myself a little clearer
Thongs and butter chicken
Barbeques and Bindi’s
I am Indian. I speak Hindi
I am Australian. I speak English.
I am me
Jasmin Yaxin Wu| The Princess
i want to set the record
straight about the princess.
in this story she does not
run away with the prince.
she is nine and carving initials
into the trees around the palace garden
her mother, the queen asks her
which noble prince, lord or knight
she has fallen madly in love with
and a few white lies make her so sure
it was a boy that she was thinking about
she is eleven and has begun to notice
that couples are always a pair of opposites
her mother, the queen thinks that
the princess is far too young to
understand the ways of the world
but the princess knows she is old enough to
realise why it was a girl’s face she dreamt of
she is thirteen and can say the word ally,
so she is adjacent but not part of anything
her mother, the queen believes that
the princess will soon find a gallant prince
to sweep her off her feet
however, the princess is too busy thinking
about kissing her best friend
she is fifteen and the drawbridge lowers,
as her true feelings come out
her mother, the queen considers the
rainbow to be just a phase, but surprisingly
accepts the princess’ identity all the same
the princess now understands why she
had always felt different from everyone else.
because she doesn’t want a castle
or a chest of silk gowns
she doesn’t want a kingdom
or even a golden crown
she wants to hold your hand
where everybody else can see
she wants to love without fear,
judgement or scrutiny
the word ‘gay’ begins to roll off her tongue,
and it is whispered and spoken and screamed
to make up for all those lost years
the princess doesn’t want a prince
2020 Awards Ceremony
Terms & Conditions
Competition Opens | 1st June 2022
Competition Closes | 1st September 2022
Awards Ceremony - Hybrid Event:
November 20 2022
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