September 2021

Back to Issue 10

the land dry

By Stu Hatton

the dam may be a barren crater

but you know

the ocean is there without

ever having seen it


just as you know the day

watches you, as it should

if your hesitations are to be for 

anything more than a fence

around ten acres of dust 




the land dry with our wanting,


& at every turn, immense piles

of spurned, undying things


faded photos stashed 

in a Champion Ruby tin


relics of some other Earth




… & on the wall 
                              of the old dogleg mineshaft,

scrawled Mother’s words

                                                 only to myself, to rouse

some sunken tremor of beginning …




(     I remember     

shielding     our eyes as       

the city     slipped

& caved    whichever way

the numbers faced     )


(     a disturbance     in the milk     

like a poem      vying

to be overlooked     we 

spoke then     of the broken     )


(     & gazing code     (     once deployed

to know     the beast of the hour     )    


tracked a glib     demise     ) 




           & I seek you in rust 

     of an overturned oil-drum 

 at the paddock’s barbwire apex 

       until the light stares out 

            from everywhere




the light becomes

                 more & more impatient,



& what, in the end

                is possible:


to fall beside a fallen river




‘if you’re to love me,’ she said,

‘you must elicit my displeasure’

(& go afield with pained, all-too-subtle

remedies … ?)


                   ‘then if your luck holds,

         who knows? could you chance upon

a little-known, murmurous trail

that doesn’t lead to ruin?’