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My grandfather kept his 22

in the boot of his classic green Ford.

She had fins and fat tyres and those


ornamental seatbelts. I clung

to the doors, full of fearful joy. 

Behind the whitewashed screen door


of my grandfather’s house, murder in the

dark.  All over red rover, arm your

selves for cowboys and Indians, these


are the games that children play.

Gardens are simple and their wars

require no skins, no maps or mirrors.  


Battlelines were drawn against

the slugs who slid amongst the

sweet peas and the snails who loved all


the plump pumpkins in a row. 

Skirmishes with sparrows and flags

waving, as the scarecrow unfurled his


banners.  My grandfather’s fleshy

feathered chickens roosted in

the straw, behind their heart shaped wire.


And always the canaries sang;

it's true, my grandfather said,

that the male has the sweeter song.


I think that the garden and

that 22 must have been a comfort;

they were silent, thoughtless and dumb. 


My grandfather would pull that old

green Ford into the carpeted

garage, through the red bottlebrush flowers.

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About the author:

Rhiannon Burner

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Rhiannon Burner has a first-class honours degree in Gender Studies from University of Adelaide, is a former political staffer, and now works in the public service. Her excessive consumption of pop culture seriously gets in the way of the of the volume of poetry she has been writing for far too long.

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A Man Of His Word

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His guts churn something shocking, so he reaches for the pills and washes down a couple with a good clump of spit. The knot loosens, relief flushes. The kitchen sink is clean. Did the dishes last night. Do the dishes and wake up to a clean caravan. New man, new decisions. Sign of things to come. 

The sun chases him over the mattress until one more roll will see him face plant the floor. Been a while since it’s had a mop. Plus, imagine yelling out to the other long termers and asking to help lift him up: all six-four inches and a hundred odd kilos.