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Reader Submissions

Well-Known Corners of the People

karuna: a numbers poem

Henry Briffa


an uneasy quiet descends upon our Hawthorn home

yet every evening increasing numbers of white cockatoos

glide and dive

playing in new-found freedom


on the way to the bathroom

I look through the kitchen door

siting on the table is a rat

with the coat of a Guernsey

I try to stare him out

he looks straight through me    chewing

he eats through The Saturday Paper

devouring sport and art

suffocating markets

scratching out flights


in the paper my friend ’s letter:

I’m 59, happy to give my ventilator

to someone younger

I’m far less selfless

nearly 63

hope there’s one for me


first bankroll of the social wage

the descent of our Virgin

the purchase and storage of oil

Great Scott prays his decisions are right


since starting work on-line from home

and doing my best with D.I. Y.

I’m viewed more clearly

in her eyes

she no longer loves her image

of me     but the flawed man I am


can’t we just delete the digits owed?

will we stop to consider biodiversity?

will we now save

other forms of life?


a man stands looking towards the Yarra

taking in the view

he turns towards me and says

I’m exercising

It’s ok I respond

I won’t be making a citizen’s arrest


silent night

except for someone outside

a stranger walking in our cul de sac

whose coughing     wakes me

Kuruna:  Maltese for rosary-beads or prayer beads (but can also mean a crown) while in Greek prayer-beads and worry beads come from the same root and both involve counting.

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