Contemporary Australian Poetry.

Jazz Club by Meg Caddy

Newlywed by Nathanael O'Reilly

Metal Fume Fever

by Rose Hartley


She can feel the frame beneath his shirt

the movement of muscle

firm as buckskin

and a quick pulse.

she lifts the thin cotton to find bones and white skin

and twinned above his nipple the tattoo of a hammer

and on the opposing breast a sickle.

she traces the lines with her forefinger.

I didn’t know what it meant when I got it, he says.

I was seventeen, dumb bastard.

So you’re not a Red, she says.

The reds wouldn’t have me,

I don’t work hard enough.


His eyelids, wrought in purple veinlets

the pink rivers of the Murray.

the lumps on his wrists,

round bone ends pressing up from inside

his skin like the head of an infant

pushing its way to the surface.

and on the floor,

the remnants of black steel coat his blue shirt

ash fine coal on his philtrum.


In the kitchen she hears Denise, Denise

and he’s talking

about phosphine coated steel

like she would know what that meant.

she washes the stains from navy sheets.


Late morning’s comma in the suburbs

when the quiet rumble of a car punctures

the silence, while her husband is at work

and what else is there but this? fragile nudity, faint motion

two silent watchers, pinwheeling

to the sound of tinny pop music, until

her body is thatched and clean.

she walks him to the door

and once again comes the whine of the angle grinder

but no human voice.

Rose Hartley is a writer and poet from the Adelaide Hills and the winner of the Axel Clark Memorial Prize for Poetry. In 2014 she was Emerging Writer in Residence at the SA Writers Centre, Poet in Residence at Manning Clark House in Canberra, and completed a residency at Varuna, The Writers’ House as part of Varuna’s Publisher Introduction Program for her first novel. Her short fiction has been published in Poetic Justice: Contemporary Australian Voices On Equality And Human Rights, and in 2013 she was runner up in Australian Poetry’s 457 Poetry Prize. She tweets as @theRosamond.