Russell Coldicutt


Translators' note

We are no less in the dark than you are. 

These words are glowworms hanging from the roofs 

of our mouths, and we can never really be sure 

if they light up when our lips seal them in. 

It’s a matter of opening and closing, 

of flossing in-between teeth, 

of brushing and chewing and spitting and cussing. 

If we pay close attention, we will see 

lines of saliva 

threaded from page to page 

and, if the moment is right, the beads of moisture 

will illuminate like polished pearls. 

If in these words we can catch a glowworm, 

then the translation process 

might finally begin. 


you beat the eggs with your hands and feel trapped 

like the salt already sifted and mixed through the flour. 

you try to communicate this with another pavlova 

which you’ll leave on the table with full-cream milk 

and some strawberries for the workers 

who have been busy all afternoon picking up hay 

they would probably prefer beer 

but that would mean going out into town and that’s not 

really something you’d like to do today and besides 

you’re trapped like salt remember? you can see them 

coming in now with bits of hay poking from creases 

in their Levis and their hair and it reminds you 

of when you were a kid and you found your father slashing 

away at a scarecrow with a machete you remember waiting 

for him to calm down and once he had left 

you crept up to the scarecrow and kissed 

every cut in its checkered shirt as the workers take off their boots 

and troop into the kitchen you watch a bee 

that was sitting on the bowl of fruit 

fly out the window and away. 


sometimes when a sheep dies 

          the workers string up the corpse 

                       in the woolshed 

          and cut off its head 

they collect 

         the organs in a plastic container 

                    chuck them behind a bush 

         skin what’s left, cut it up into chunks 

                    give the meat to the dogs 

at friday night drinks 

              a rouseabout found a skull 

                          under the wool table 

he used some twine to tie it 

              to his head like a helmet 

and everyone mistook him

                                       for a god