Graham Nunn

Paddling in Beauty

Approaching the River


It was good to wake this morning, knowing nothing except
there was a river, lacquered blue, streaked with light, shallow
over sand flats where flathead slouch and whiting shiver in schools
where jetties stretch in morning mist, pylons scabbed with oysters
and waves lick at the thighs of wide-eyed fishermen, hungry to be
flesh, consuming themselves, like the excitement consumes us.


We arrive just as the river
rolls up its sleeves

crane and oyster catcher, lunch
on their own reflection

two boys turn backwards
somersaults from the end of the pier

and the sky, like a great parachute
rips open.

The Wind Came Knocking

The night I left, you said the wind
jumped the horizon, tore overland
pummelled mountains, stole their dark sleep
snatched at trees and left them gasping

and then sped to our house
to where you lay alone. You heard it
arrive at the window: it rapped on the pane
demanded to be let in. You did not move

glad of your bed on such a night
wishing that I were there
to pull you close, calm your strange unrest
whisper: it’s only the wind.

It hit again, grew wild, began to wail
knowing that you were shut within
and would not surrender. It threatened:
you lay still. What if it was somebody

but who at 1am? Man or beast or spirit
you would not go alone to see. You rolled
over: told yourself nothing or no-one. It sighed
and slipped away, quiet as any man.

Tonight I return. Wait
at the door, real and whimpering
as any wind. Listen: outside your
horizon is breathing.

Brisbane Skyline

the sky is on fire
full of accidents and wishes

a train shakes an ageing bridge
and wheezes into Southbank Station

high-powered ferries claw a river
that will never reflect them as swans

as Saturday night arrives
with its remedy of stars

noise and neon help us select
an underground shrine of drink and conversation

while cats slink across rooftops to watch
the full moon stroke its belly

A Study of the River

At dusk, the river, blacker
than a cormorant’s wing, is still.
It bargains with the seawall

for one final blue hour. From
marshy ditch to frothing mouth
fishermen thread their hooks

with all manner of bait, while
rusted buoys cork the channel
and migrant birds open the sky

wings opalescent. Locals inhabit
the shore, take their lesson from
the mullet muscling upstream

to its source. While the billion stars
tumble onto the surface, the river, binds
us. Our shallow edges, open to salt.

Graham Nunn is a Brisbane based writer, co-founder of Small Change Press and a founding member of Brisbane’s longest running poetry event, SpeedPoets. He blogs fiercely at Another Lost Shark, and is the current QLD editor of Blue Dog: Australian Poetry Journal and is Secretary of the Australian Haiku Society. He has published 4 collections of poetry, his most recent, Ruined Man, published by Small Change Press in 2007 and has recently released his first spoken word CD, The Stillest Hour, in collaboration with local musician, Sheish Money. His fifth collection, Ocean Hearted, will be released mid-2010.