Sunday, December 22, 2013


When finishing my nature poems, I was reading Ted Hughes' classic Birthday Letters, which I picked up for $1 at Campbelltown Library a few months ago. I'd never sat down with it before. My god, the man could write. Such a fierce imagination. Every time I finished reading a series of his poems I felt I should pack in the business of crafting verse. I'll never be that good. LJ, December 22

Monday, December 16, 2013


I just sent my nature poems through to my publisher. Exciting and surreal!

LJ, 17 December 2013.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013


Danny Geale came to school today to hand out sport awards at an assembly. He trains at a gym around the corner. Danny spoke about setting goals and doing what the other bloke doesn't do to achieve them. I asked him how best to put wraps on my hands. He was softly spoken, polite, seemingly humble.

LJ, 11.12.13 (get excited, Maths geeks)

Wednesday, December 4, 2013


The other night, Jennifer Byrne, on her ABC book show, described Shaun Tan's new thing Rules of Summer as a 'delightful' children's book. What rubbish! I don't think Jennifer spent much time inside the book. If she had, she'd have realised it's bizarre, non-sensical, gothic, unnerving, surreal and gorgeous. 'Delightful' doesn't do the book justice. It is a highly original volume for every age and all ages. It will challenge you. Read it this summer, without fail, otherwise you might turn into a crow or a squashed snail or the last olive on a plate or a tornado.

LJ, 5 December 2013.

Monday, December 2, 2013


Top day in Canberra last Saturday -  Electric Shadows Bookshop, National Carillon, Parliament of Australia, Canberra Centre, Australian National Botanic Gardens (where I was tripping over eastern water dragons!), Lake Burley Griffin and Wilbur's at Hackett for dinner (great veggie stacks).

Canberra polarises people. Many people think it's soulless. I've always admired our nation's capital. I try to get down there a few times a year. There's always something to check out.

LJ, December 3 2013.

Thursday, November 28, 2013


As I said a while back, I'm in the thick of writing Aussie nature poems. Writing Aussie nature poems for publication, in fact. They should emerge in the first half of 2014.

There are many challenges: writing what hasn't been written on this subject before; shaping poems that are unique and unexpected; avoiding predictable gum and wattle references; steering clear of bush poetry; playing with purposeful form and layout; avoiding sentimentality and writing too many poems that pay homage to our natural world (which is easy to do, when you're a birder and wilderness tragic). I'm trying to balance things out, compose fantastical and truthful pieces. I also want to highlight this irony: our wilderness sustains us, but doesn't give a toss about us.

Eighteen poems are done. Another two are in mind. There's fire, rain, leeches, glow worms, a bowerbird, a funnel-web, a wombat, Putin, Avatar, Hamlet, Harry Potter, family, heritage, scraps of indigenous culture...

Just as long as the reader isn't bored, as long as they want to turn the page, as long as they wish to have my poems in their life for a little while. And, that at the end of it all, the reader turns away from their life of deadlines and dead ends and gets back out into nature, soaks it up, strives to preserve it for previous generations.

Who knows whether my work will have that much impact?

LJ, November 29 2013.

Sunday, November 24, 2013


After 10 glorious days in Scandinavia earlier in 2013, I had to sink my teeth into some Scandi Crime when back home. I recently finished watching the entire series of The Eagle - A Crime Odyssey, which I found enthralling. I loved how everything ended with Halgrim (our haunted, complex, intuitive, daring, pig-headed, philandering Icelandic-Danish police hero) most content as an independent bachelor in a brightly-lit new apartment. LJ, November 25 2013.

Monday, November 18, 2013


Britpop supremo (and vegan) Johnny Marr is playing the Oxford Art Factory early in January 2014. I'm a big fan of his work with The Smiths and Electronic. His new solo album, The Messenger, rocks. His recent gigs in the UK have been getting glowing reviews.

LJ, November 19 2013.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013


How fine it was to come home yesterday (after another demanding day of teaching and HSC marking) to my contributor's copy of The Southern Highlands Poetry Anthology which Peter Lach-Newinsky (editor of the Anthology) placed on my doorstep.

Peter was the brains behind the eighty-page volume, which marries Anglo-Saxon and indigenous voices in a sustained hallelujah for everything worth preserving in the Southern Highlands. I thank him wholeheartedly for including six poems of mine, several of which have been published here at The Ultraviolet Range (sometimes in different forms). My poems leap from one thing to the other - you'll come across Don Bradman, Bowral teenagers, glow worms, fly agaric, foxes, native flowers, sooty owls, Smith St Melbourne, Adolf Hitler and the Abu Sayyaf. Peter's editorial suggestions re. my work were deeply considered and most beneficial.

It's an honour to be in a collection that meditates on many Southern Highland things including our notion of home, our shaping by history, what we owe the natural world and what we owe each other. Mark Tredinnick, Jennifer Compton (who just won the Newcastle Poetry Prize), Jennifer Rankin, Grace Perry and Peter himself are amongst the other poets in the Anthology. You can purchase copies of the book from Peter via his website and at those precious few places that still value poetry and place and humanity.

LJ, 7 November 2013.

Sunday, October 20, 2013


According to ABC News, Tony Abbott is currently assisting back-burning operations in Bilpin in The Blue Mountains, where conditions are hideous and firefighters are thinking a megafire may soon be formed. I'm no fan of Tony, as I've made clear, but today, I respect him. I wonder how many other PMs from our past would have had Tony's fortitude? LJ, 21 October 2013.


What is the definition of idiocy? A young bloke, probably in his early 20s, flicking a lit cigarette from a car window when there are fires throughout NSW.

That's what I saw Friday evening when driving in the Southern Highlands. I pulled alongside this bloke and his fellow passengers and yelled at them all. I usually don't lose my temper when on the roads, but in this case, I felt I had to. Everywhere you looked, there was smoke. Fires up the Hume Highway were still burning out of control. What sort of bloke does that? How bloody unAustralian.

After making my point to the trio (who were dumbstruck), I got on the blower to 702 and vented to the producer and Dom Knight, the presenter of Evenings. Dom advertised the number for 'dob in a tosser' - 131 555 - which is an initiative of the EPA. 

LJ, October 20 2013. 

Thursday, October 17, 2013


Yesterday, major bush fires in the Southern Highlands, centred on an area from Bargo to Yanderra, forced the closure of the Hume Highway in both directions. Consequently, I couldn't get home to Bundanoon.

Like Charley Boorman and Ewen McGregor, I took the long way around (involving a route through Campbelltown, Appin, Bulli Tops, Wollongong, Albion Park, Jamberoo and Robertson). The journey home usually takes an hour. Yesterday, it was a two and a quarter hour extravaganza. This is not a whinge. Many people were evacuated from their homes. Some lost their homes.

I'd never before seen so much smoke. When driving from Appin to Bulli Tops, I passed underneath a colossal belt of deep purple-grey smoke. It was as if a volcano had erupted. It was unnerving. I put my foot on the accelerator a bit more than usual. Funny how mortals don't cope too well in the presence of a restless god!

Driving up the Hume Highway this morning, I cut through blackened voids where trees had been reduced to skeletal, pathetic things. Roadside signs were illegible. Smoke from several still-grumbling fires had turned the sun into a surreal neon mandarin. A lifeless, burnt swamp wallaby by the carriageway struck me. As did the comforting home-and-content-on-a-winter-Highlands-night smell of smoke. Everything was sepia-infused Gothicism. Or the point where Gothicism meets horror. It was startling how close flames came to houses near the Bargo turn off.

Congrats to all the RFS, police and emergency teams who tackled things with fearlessness and tenacity yesterday. And won. No one died.

LJ, October 18 2013.

Thursday, October 10, 2013


Just back from my first ever boxing class courtesy of Sharp Fitness in Bundanoon. Knackered, shaky, upbeat and very proud of myself. LJ, October 10 2013.

Monday, September 30, 2013


Why have I been sent a text from the Enmore Theatre notifying me of Bjorn Again's upcoming ultimate ABBA revival gig? I hate ABBA with a passion. At least the text has reminded me to finally put up my post on my Sweden/Denmark trip last April. Watch this space...

LJ, October 1 2013.

Thursday, September 26, 2013


It was cool to spot an individual about my age with a mohawk, leg tattoos, shiny boots and a KMFDM (geez I loved Godlike) t-shirt the other day at World Square. You don't see many industrial-strength goth-punk dudes in Sydney these days. I haven't seen one since the mid-90s I reckon. Takes me back to my goth club days! LJ, 26 September 2013.

Friday, September 13, 2013


Headlong into penning a suite of nature poems for a particular reason... loving every minute of it... in the mix are termite mounds, mountains, grass trees, rockwarblers and... Hamlet... all will be revealed down the (swamp wallaby) track...

LJ, September 13 2013.

Sunday, September 8, 2013


Right. There needs to be a counterpoint to Abbott. Something poetic. So, here are a handful of golden Australian things just for the hell of it: Adam Bandt, Bob Brown, Mike Carlton, Old Holdens, a Melbourne-bound Qantas jet passing over home, Atomic Pale Ale, coffee from Coffee Culture in Bundanoon, vanilla slices, Top Deck chocolate, The Presets, Empire of the Sun, John Olsen's King Sun mural, Gallery Ecosse, Red Eye Records, greater gliders, hooded parrots, The Valley of the Winds, Border Ranges National Park, Cathedral Fig Tree, Newtown, Glebe, Fitzroy, Carlton, Sydney Opera House at night, mountain devils, pale pink boronia, native iris, Peter Weir, Claudia Carvan, Tim Minchin, Shane Jacobson, Shaun Tan.

LJ, September 9 2013.


Well, Tony's home. No surprise there. But man, what a right wing result nationwide. A spoilt, conservative, selfish people have decided.

I'm disappointed for The Greens. What's with the Senate being dominated by small right wing or unfocused parties next year? I can't believe people voted for a sport party concerned with making sport more 'accessible' (the party's word) to all Australians? Has sport ever been inaccessible to Australians? Has there been anyone, anywhere, who hasn't had access to a football or a football field in their little town or city suburb? Tennis courts and swimming pools would've been close by too. Sport has dominated the minds of Australians since the dawn of time. What a joke.

Hopefully, in a few years time, the tide will turn again and a more compassionate voice will be heard. Over the years, we've seen the people back Liberal, then Labour and back again. I'm not holding my breath. It'll be many years of frustration.

LJ, September 9 2013.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013


What Kevin Rudd said the other night on Q&A about gay marriage was superb. Nice to see him using eloquence, biblical knowledge and common sense to put a religious conservative bloke back in his little box. If only Kevin could win the upcoming election.  LJ, August 4 2013.

Monday, September 2, 2013


David Lynch has always fascinated me with his rusty gate drawl, Terence Stamp-on-a-bad-day hair, permanently buttoned collar, bizarre art tendencies, transcendental meditation interests, ambiguous, unnerving films and now his music. I'm loving his new album The Big Dream (Tricky meets Tom Waits and Brian Eno in a middle-American industrial town gone to waste). LJ, 3 September 2013.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013


Artist and social activist, Jacqueline Benney, a colleague of mine, is about to open her art exhibition  I Want My Mum To Come at McGlade Gallery, Australian Catholic University, Strathfield.

I recently asked Jacqueline about her art, her work at Villawood Detention Centre in Sydney and Australian politics in 2013.

Explain how working at Villawood has shaped your approach to your art and the ACU exhibition.

Prior to doing volunteer work at Villawood, I made numerous visits to families living in community detention from Auburn, Seven Hills and Toongabbie. When visiting these homes, I was accompanied by Uniting Church Minister and Humanitarian Reverend, John Jegasothy, who was a Tamil refugee more than twenty years ago. He introduced me to these people. I was welcomed into their homes, offered tea and biscuits. I had the pleasure of interacting with their children and talking with them about their experiences.

These people had spent many years in places like Villawood Detention Centre and Christmas Island. They were young married couples with young children, some born in detention centres. They had made sacrifices to get to where they were and wanted safety, shelter and food. They were Sri Lankan Tamils who had undergone severe discrimination; many had experienced torture, the death of family members and destruction of their homes.

During this twelve month period, my drawing depicted domestic environments with a focus on the everyday and the most simple pleasure of being with those you love, at home. They had a safe and modest home in Australia. My aim was to demonstrate the sameness between all of humanity, where basic needs like shelter, food and safety are sought. I felt humbled to be in the prescence of these people.

Being a volunteer at Villawood for the next twelve months intensified my experiences significantly. My content took on another form conceptually and materially. I battled with amplified emotions while teaching the children art. The children were happy to have company. They smiled and hovered around me. They were going to make art!  The individual stories of these children were extraordinary. I could not let go of them for the days between my visits. I absorbed them and pondered on how I could do them justice through my art.

My drawings took on a quality of immediacy through the use of ink and brush on Japanese rice paper, where a more liberal line replaced previous attention to detail. I began to use ink and brush in a quick and fluid way, with a focus on emotion rather than the recording of the likeness of character.

I could not take photographs inside Villawood, so I had to rely on memory and mediated imagery. My art-making became more about feeling and experience, and less about narrative. Their stories could best be told through their eyes.

In short, working at Villawood caused me to be out of control and left my drawing in the hands of emotion, memory and experience.

Why did you decide to give the exhibition the title, 'I Want My Mum To Come'?

This quotation came from an amazing Tamil man who told me his story. I asked him, 'Are you happy here?' He replied, 'Yes, very happy. It's safe. We can go to bed at night and sleep peacefully. In Sri Lanka our beds would shake as there were bombs going off all the time. We were never safe. I worked in curriculum with children. I also worked for the militia and learnt a lot about electricals. I would like to be an electrician, I would like to study, but I have to support my family'. I asked him, 'How did you get here?' He answered, 'By boat. It was hard. We were told that we would be on the boat for four days but we were on there for twenty-six. It was horrible. The boat was in poor condition. We were scared when we arrived because the military came onto the boat. In Sri Lanka, the militia would hurt and rape. They asked us where we were from and checked us. Then they took us to Christmas Island. We had food, clean clothes; they gave us thongs because we lost our shoes on the boat. We had activities. They took care of us'. I asked, 'Do you have any family here?' he answered, 'No, I have three sisters and my mum in Sri Lanka. I want my mum to come'.

What do you want to happen as a result of people seeing your exhibition?

Awareness-raising, dialogue, bridging gaps. I want people to leave knowing that our response to this asylum seeker issue needs to be humanitarian, rather than about a cheap politcal vote. We need a humane response to a human issue.

As creative acts are informed by memory, experience and cultural knowing - which infiltrates the human psyche - it is a powerful way to alter and challenge belief systems.

Audience reception is the thread which affirms and supports a universal dialogue. It is cyclical and self-perpetuating. We should approach creative acts with openness. There is insurmountable value in being aware of the affinity that exists between all humanity.

Explain your artistic process... Where do you work? How do you work? What's your preferred medium?

My making is informed by getting involved. Without this, I am unable to feel or empathise with others. I work internally for weeks, and sometimes months, before I put brush to paper. I feel, ponder, read, talk, then, when the idea surfaces, I draw. This conceptual process involves a busy melange of stuff, which eventually materialises.

I work fast and energetically. In a day, I can almost have three large works complete. I find that this is the most honest and unobstructed way for me to produce work. Over-thinking has always been a hindrance to an authentic practise.

I spend quite a bit of time cutting up large sheets, or strips of paper, and pinning them to walls. I add length to my brushes by taping them together. This gives me distance and allows me to use whole arm movements. I tend to spend more time looking and less time applying ink. Overdoing my drawing is my biggest dread.

How do you feel about Kevin Rudd's PNG solution?

Disappointed and disheartened. It's an 'out of sight, out of mind' approach which is not a solution. It simply satisfies the momentary political campaign need by Rudd - a politcal stunt putting him in the same camp as the Coalition. It is not addressing the many complex and dire needs of asylum seekers. Exisiting within PNG, it will add challenges and unrest. It's a 'passing the buck' solution.

How do you feel about living in Australia in 2013?

I have been feeling ashamed about being part of a country where both Labour and Liberal provide inhumane 'solutions'. I want all Australians to embrace our cultural diversity and welcome those in need.

What are the positive for asylum seekers?

It's quite grim for asylum seekers. The asylum seekers I have met are amazingly positive, resilient individuals. They are the embodiment of positivity - without this they would remain in troubled homelands. It's interesting to note that those people who have the strength, determination and vision to escape persecution have those same qualities which we value most in our country. They hold the positives. Relying on Australian leaders is out of the question.

Are you hopeful that Australia can become a more empathetic nation?

Absolutely, I can't help but hope for the situation to improve. As long as there are Australians who continue to question, listen and empathise, there is hope.


I Want My Mum To Come is showing through to September 7 2013.
McGlade Gallery hours: 11- 4 Monday to Saturday.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

POEM #30


Lifting from purple horizon,
                  slow wind farm turbine blades

like a swimmer's backstroke arms
          slicing through a darkening ocean pool.
LJ, August 18 2013.

Saturday, August 10, 2013


Vote Compass stats are telling us that the economy is the most important issue in voters' minds. No surprise there. Still, I'm a little concerned, there are many big issues voters should be looking at on polling day. Are most Australians great at thinking beyond their lot and seeing the big picture? Are we a self-involved mob by and large?

I reckon it'll be Tony Abbott by the length of his pastel blue tie. People don't want GST changes, mining and carbon taxes. These are huge concerns, what the election spins around. Abbott will defend big businesses worried about loss of profit. He's a conservative leader and Australians, by and large, are conservative people. Should we forget the larrikin thing, forget the adventurer/pioneering spirit thing, forget the ANZAC mateship stuff? Are many Aussies single-minded, stressed-out, competitive workaholics with no sense of humour? Are we intolerant, obsessed with money, not that interested in looking after the environment, tokenistic in our concern for refugees, happy to king hit an outsider?

History has also shown that Australians get sick of their governments after many years and crave change. So, many will feel it's time for The Coalition.

I notice Tony's been jogging through Sydney of late - a nod to John Howard's walks at Kirribilli. Tony, like John Howard, is a man of action, a man who gets things done. Get it? Can you see the connection?

And after Tony's win, I'll shuffle through the resulting darkness, covering my ears from Murdoch's echoing laughter, holding up a torch with a dull flame.

LJ, August 10 2013.

Saturday, August 3, 2013


From 1995 to 2003 I taught at mighty Oakhill College (a Catholic school run by the De la Salle Brothers) in Castle Hill, Sydney. Aussie comic and larrikin Dan Ilic was a student at Oaks when I was teaching there. Though I never taught him, I tutored him English a few times (we both lived in Beecroft) and often spoke to him in the schoolyard.

At Oakhill, he was a super-confident student, always quick with returns, gags. He loved gaming, farce, anything left-field. He was unlike 99% of the other students at the school. Around 1999, when I was live on a Hornsby-based radio show talking about Big Audio Dynamite, Dan phoned in, putting on a Cockney accent, to ask about BAD. Hilarious. Consequently, I gave him a copy of BAD's last 80s album Megatop Phoenix for his troubles (which he loved). We've kept in contact on and off over the last ten years.

At Oakhill, I thought Dan may well become the next Adam Spencer (who was on Triple J at the time). He had the same zest, intelligence, wit. Last Friday, I turned on 702 at 2:59pm to hear Dan signing off. He'd been filling in for James ( I played sax in The Models) Valentine. I smiled widely. Coincidentally, and crazily, Adam Spencer's now doing the 702 Breakfast slot. And he's leaving soon. Maybe, Dan will fill his shoes...

LJ, August 3 2013.

Sunday, July 28, 2013


A couple of mates and I watched the folk music documentary Big Easy Express last Friday night. The film, which depicts a recent train journey across America made by bands Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, Old Crow Medicine Show and Mumford & Sons, as well as concerts performed en route, is a swirling, joyous thing, packed with moments of poignancy and buoyancy. I'm not a huge fan of folk, but travelling across the States with these three dynamic bands, made me rethink things. Alex Ebert, lead singer with the Zeros, really has the messianic role play thing down - he's eccentric and captivating. I love his anthemic track Home, it's one of the great American songs of the last few years. LJ, July 29 2013.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013


This daily inundation of refugee spin is driving me mental. Neither Abbott or Rudd are offering up compassion or rationality in their approach. There's not a sliver of decency there. As long as the asylum seekers are out of sight and out of mind, all is well. As long as asylum seekers are demonised, all is well.

And this PNG deal - don't start me.

Everything's about scoring the PM position with Rudd and Abbott. Whatever. It. Takes. It's sad, bloody sad, that so many Aussies get caught up in the spin and swallow the cold-blooded rhetoric our fearless leaders feed us time and again. Many Aussies really do believe that asylum seekers are (a) jumping a queue (b) a threat to our livelihood, jobs, way of life etc (c) only interested in economic gain (d) possibly terrorists and (e) going to take over Australia (as if they're aliens in a b-grade sci-fi flick). How can their minds be changed? Will they ever change?

Australia is not taking as many asylum seekers as we could. Full stop. We have room for people. Full stop. Most asylum seekers are genuine refugees fleeing various forms of persecution. Full stop.

Interestingly, and tragically, the boat that sank off Java yesterday contained human beings fleeing Iraq and Afghanistan. Australia has played a part in the rebuilding and unraveling of those two often anarchic, stricken countries. By degrees. Surely, we owe people from these two destinations empathy, a chance at a new life. 

The Greens are a lone, sensible voice of compassion, deep thinking and strategy at this time (with the odd saint like Julian Burnside). They're about bringing the boats to us, processing here, working things out. UN principles, my god. 

And I'll be voting for them this year. As usual. 

LJ, July 25 2013. 

Monday, July 22, 2013

POEM #29


Brad plays Back in Black 
backwards: Hanging Rock's
girls come back from blackness.

LJ, July 22 2013

Tuesday, July 16, 2013


Hamish and Andy's Asian adventures are cracking me up. We need more ridiculous comedy like this on TV right now. LJ, July 16 2013.

Friday, July 12, 2013


On the 12th, I was down at Racecourse Beach to watch the sun slip from the horizon just after 7am. It was sublime. An angler, casting from a rock platform, was framed by blood orange light. A lone walker powered from one end of the beach to the other. A few Silver Gulls cruised about. My Cocker Spaniel barked repeatedly at the surf. Perhaps she was asking the ocean what exactly it is and what its purpose is. Maybe, she wanted it to stop its relentlessness.

I'm ashamed to say that I haven't seen the sun rise from the ocean since the 90s. I suppose that comes from never living by the beach. Still, I should have made more of an effort. One feels they are really ready to take on the day when they see the sunrise over the Pacific.

LJ, July 13 1013.

Thursday, July 11, 2013


A few hours wandering along Racecourse Beach today - this time in glorious sunshine - brought some sort of prion above the breakers (it's been a long time since I've seen one; pity I couldn't identify it; I'm no prion expert), 2 Hooded Plovers (endangered in NSW) feeding on a rock platform at the north of the Beach, Sooty and Pied Oystercatchers, a couple of albatrosses way out, an immature White-bellied Sea-eagle and five whales. Not sure exactly what whales they were as they were way out on the horizon. Only a handful of people and the odd dog were on the beach. Perfect. Who says a beach holiday in winter isn't the way to go? LJ, July 2011.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013


I put in 3 hrs today watching for whales a bit south of Ulladulla, at Racecourse Beach, in cool, overcast conditions. No luck. Not even a dolphin.

I may have seen, fleetingly, a Sooty Albatross, a bird I've never come across before. Unfortunately, it got swallowed up by the swell and spray and light and day and pelagic magic and I lost it and it fell back into abstraction and states of real grace. So, I can't say it was that species I dearly wished it was; Sooty Albatrosses are rarely encountered by birders.

LJ, July 10 2013.

Sunday, July 7, 2013


For three hours the other day, I worked a Makita jackhammer for the first time in my life. I was doing some home reno's. What a feeling - the chaos, the destruction, the immediate results. Incredible. For a while there I was a real man! LJ, July 7 2013.

Saturday, July 6, 2013


How tremendous it is to have Luke Davies' mesmerising 80s pamphlet Four Plots for Magnets resurrected, complete with 53 additional old poems, a foreword by Luke and an afterword from SK Kelen, courtesy of Pitt Street Poetry. In April 2012 I suggested to John Knight, head honcho of PSP, that he think about bringing the collection back to life. And here it is! My thanks to John for going with my suggestion. And thanks to Luke for dusting off all those old poems. LJ, July 7 2013.

Friday, July 5, 2013


Next month, Inkerman & Blunt, new publisher on the block, is to release Australian Love Poems 2013, edited by Mark Tredinnick.

At the Imaging Centre, a poem I penned about someone very close to me, is in the volume. It's a poem I'm proud of, a work that didn't need rewriting, rethinking; it was written in one take, in Bowral. Part of it addresses survival when faced with the curse that is breast cancer.

My sincere thanks to Mark for accepting the poem. It's an honour to be published with some major Aussie poets.

LJ, July 2013.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013


A couple of mates at work and I signed up for Dry July. I'm very happy to be having an alcohol-free month, all in the name of raising money for cancer research. LJ, July 3 2013.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013


Man, I miss London. I spent about 11 days there back in April, staying in Hammersmith. I could live in London. I've always been such a fan of British pop culture. There were so many highlights: walking to iconic Trellick Tower after seeing my first Green and Great-spotted Woodpeckers in Kensal Green Cemetery, coffee on Portobello Rd with Greg (Big Audio Dynamite/Dreadzone) Roberts, tea at The Ritz, Quatermaine's Terms feat. Rowan Atkinson, Wigmore Hall recitals, tours of The Globe and The Tower of London, buying the NME and Q, falling snow outside Buckingham Palace, watching the Oxford Cambridge Boat Race, stumbling upon the Hammersmith Morris Men in action, wandering to the London Wetland Centre on a surprisingly warm afternoon, dinner in South Kensington, the V&A (god, I love their tapestries), perusing poetry collections in Waterstone's etc. Heaven. LJ, June 25 2013.

Saturday, June 22, 2013


As usual, I'm reading a few things at once. Here's what I've absorbed in the last few weeks and what I'm currently taking in (it's mainly British poetry): George Orwell Down and Out in Paris and London, Simon Armitage Walking Home, Jo Shapcott On Mutability, James Harpur The Monk's Dream, Andrew Motion The Cinder Path, Thomas Transtromer The Deleted World & The Great Enigma and Julian Barnes Levels of Life. LJ, June 22 2013.

Friday, June 7, 2013



After Paul Gallen's assault on Nate Myles in State of Origin last week, there's been a lot of talk in the media about violence on and off the sports field. Last weekend, a 26 yr old bloke was punched in The Rocks, around 3am, by another bloke. An unprovoked attack. Surely, alcohol-fueled. The 26 yr old is very lucky to be alive. Doctors can't rule out future brain damage. Last year we had a young gentleman punched and killed in Kings Cross. It seems to never end - men out and about wanting biff. Bloody sad, isn't it?

Various people have called for closing pubs earlier, licensing restrictions etc. In Gallen's case commentators went on about sin binning him, banning him for several matches and so on. Gallen whined like a spoilt boy sent to his room, rather than admitting he'd screwed up. In my opinion, everyone's talking around the issue. We need to get to the bottom of things. Why is it so many blokes are needing to get intoxicated, needing to throw punches? Why is there so much rage in some Aussie blokes?

We need to be putting more money into counseling services, education, anti-violence campaigns etc. We need to make young men feel a hell of a lot better about themselves so they don't need to resort to violence and alcohol. We need to do this now.

LJ, June 8 2013.

Sunday, June 2, 2013


Last Saturday arvo, I was MC for a great bash at Gallery Ecosse, Exeter NSW, celebrating the life and legacy of the late, great Adam Cullen. On the panel were comedian Mikey Robins, print-making guru Michael Kempson and close mate, Andre de Borde, curator and owner of Ecosse. Adam's father, Kevin, also got up and shared humorous and poignant moments from his son's life.

Before and after the gig, I had a chat with Mikey Robins about British music (nice to see he's a Clash fan), his Triple J days, how it is to be a celeb, book ideas, the state of Australian comedy (South Australia's where it's at, apparently), Good News Week and Paul McDermott. He was a thoughtful, cheery, often humble chap, not desperate to be funnier than everyone else in the room.

LJ, June 3 2013.

Sunday, May 26, 2013


Ah, Paris. In April, I spent 9 days there. I was living in a small apartment in The Marais (so small, the bathroom door had a bit cut out of it to accommodate the washing machine door when it opened!). At the end of my street were views of Notre Dame's towers and The Pompadou Centre. An underground radio station (Radio Marais) buzzed in the bottom of my building 24/7. Stunning stuff. I was lucky to be in the driving, swelling, giddy heart of the city... I guess... Paris divided me this visit. When you get past the treasures in the Musee d'Orsay, Notre Dame, Montmartre, Sacre Coeur, La Tour Eiffel, the many wondrous shops etc, Paris is a massive, grimy, difficult, heavy city, with overpriced, dull food. The waves of Parisians and visitors got to me. The pickpockets with their pretend causes got to me. The homeless in tents near Gare de Lyon got to me. The beggars got to me. The rushed people smacking into you got to me. The smoke in the bistros and cafes got to me. The indifference and rudeness of flustered waiters got to me. The cigarette butts and dog urine everywhere on the sidewalks got to me. The army and police presence got to me. The anti-gay marriage protestors got to me. The cramped Metro carriages got to me. It almost pains me to whine, as it's been a city of such wonder before... It seems such a soulless place in many ways. But hey, who am I to judge? I should have just dealt with it. When in Rome. Saying all that, I'd go back there in a shot! LJ, 27 May 2013.


I feel for the poor guy who was attacked by three American Staffordshire Terriers in Western Sydney yesterday. He was jogging down a street in Ashcroft when he was set upon. The dogs had escaped from their property through a hole in a fence. The man had horrific injuries - apparently his heart was visible to paramedics due to the mauling. Why keep dangerous canines like these? Potentially, they are killing machines. Let's hope the owner of the dogs is fined for not securing his property. If the dogs are put down, no one will miss them. LJ, 27 May 2013.

Friday, May 24, 2013


My family and I had a glorious time abroad in England, France, Denmark and Sweden during April... longing to be back there, really... so many staggering things were seen, experienced, absorbed... photos to come... finishing a suite of poems on Sweden, a country that got under my hair, crept into my spine... beginning a poem on Paris and its down and out for ACU Literature Prize on 'everyday imminence'... MCing an event on Adam Cullen at Gallery Ecosse (Exeter, NSW) Saturday week (Mikey Robbins one of the guests)... off to debating now... go Magdalene! LJ, May 24 2013.

Friday, March 29, 2013


Right, I'm off to see Vikings, woodpeckers, wolverines, Notre Dame, Le Pont Alexandre III, Le Marais, Rowan Atkinson, The Globe, Trellick Tower and a few other things. Happy Easter!

LJ, March 29 201

Friday, March 22, 2013


Let's see how many times our fearless leaders mention 'we'll stop the boats' leading up to the election later in 2013. Sigh. Yawn. Vomit. LJ, 22 March 2013.

Monday, March 18, 2013


Late in 2012, I watched Ralph Fiennes' mesmerising Coriolanus on DVD (just after I'd purchased a Pelican Shakespeare edition of the play - from 1966 - for $5 from Exeter General Store, near home).

Fiennes was pitch-perfect throughout. He owned his role. The way he pronounced his last words in Act V (directed to Aufidius) were chilling, thrilling... particularly the way he spat, Boy? Sheer defiance, sheer pride and sheer vitriol at the point of death! And that grand justification for his 'triumphant' actions, the desire to mark his war victories as historical truth, something The Bard also gives us with The Moor's last words in Othello. Ahhhh, I loved it.

Cut me to pieces, Volsces. Men and lads,
Stain all your edges on me. Boy? False hound!
If you have writ your annals true, 'tis there
That, like an eagle in a dovecote, I
Fluttered your Volscians in Corioles.
Alone I did it. Boy?

LJ, March 18 2013.

Friday, March 15, 2013


Recent stuff from How to Destroy Angels (pictured), David Bowie, Matisyahu, The Orb, Junkie XL, OMD, Delta Spirit, PiL, Chris Coco, Johnny Marr, Nick Cave (his latest album is No. 1 in Australia) & Paul Kelly. LJ, March 15 2013.

Monday, March 11, 2013

POEM #28


I am up
before all things.
This autumn morning
hands us a take on
Antarctic completion.
In colourless sky,
a late satellite
like a lethargic meteorite
intersects a fingernail
clipping of moon.
Our beloved Southern Cross
is a lost kite falling
to a child's
reaching hand.
I drive past waking paddocks
stitched together with new fencing;
through pine windbreak,
the Ibiza strobe effect
of blood orange sunrise.
Here and there,
mist between crop bails
like unfinished bowls of cereal.
I pull over outside
Montrose Berry Farm.
Anti-rosella netting
on a dozen plum trees
creates a crowd of deformed brides,
enough ghosts to freak a truckie,
a cloud done with firmament.
A lone Belted Galloway
stares at a black-eyed farmhouse
then bellows, bellows.
Some road workers
in ice block colours
pull up in a truck -
one gets out,
stretches, yawns,
picks up a pine cone,
studies it as if Egyptian artifact.
I should text in sick,
turn off my engine,
tilt back my chair,
not wake up until dark.

LJ, March 12 2013.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013


I just sent five poems through to the judges of the Jean Cecily Drake-Brockman Prize, Geoff Page, Kathy Kituai and Mark O'Connor. All these poems have been previously published and they're pieces I'm hugely proud of. The award for this Prize is a cracker: $1000, a two week residency at Manning Clark House in Canberra and a residency at a castle in Westmeath, Ireland. I won't get my hopes up. LJ, March 6 2013.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013


I'm ashamed to live in a country where some Anglo-Saxon cops still beat up Indigenous Australians and call them coons. LJ, February 28 2013.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013


I love the cover of Karl (Underworld) Hyde's upcoming solo album. It has an evocative, minimalist ECM vibe about it. I can't wait to have the album in my hands, heart and head - Underworld mean so much to me. LJ, February 26 2013.

Sunday, February 24, 2013


The last time I was down in Sydney's Circular Quay, I noticed there's an obvious bit of empty space between The Toaster and The Sydney Opera House. This space just screamed, 'Fill me in'! Here was an opportunity for real Aussie culture to be presented to the world with pride... A big golden Ugg Boot should be erected there.  It'll be photographed more than The Opera House. An Ugg Boot says so much about Aussies. And nationalism. And culture. It should be a golden Ugg Boot. A big golden Ugg Boot with the Southern Cross on it! Good god. Genius. Genius. I think I might start up a campaign immediately, ask Gina Rinehart for a bit of cash... Watch that space... LJ, February 25 2013.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013


Here's a list of some of the birds I'm hoping to see in Britain/Europe this coming April (I've missed them on previous European trips): Black Woodpecker (pictured; what a cracking shot; thanks to whoever snapped it), Green Woodpecker, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Hawfinch, Wryneck (I'll be lucky), Long-eared Owl, Waxwing, Bluethroat, Capercaillie, Black Redstart, Dipper, Jack Snipe, Woodcock, Smew, Black Guillemot & Eider. I'll cross my fingers.

LJ, February 21 2013.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

POEM #27


In splintered afternoon light,
a humming six year old girl
leaves cut devon sandwiches
on the algid shore of Loch Ness.

LJ, February 20 2013.

Monday, February 18, 2013

POEM #26


Ikea, Tempe,
late Saturday

Swedish line fans
wander around
and around

a monolithic
black wardrobe
dubbed Pax.

LJ, February 19 2013

Friday, February 15, 2013


The country town ute is such a brash, garish, self-conscious thing. Such a statement. One thinks of expressionism, even the gothic. It's both gorgeous and hideous, oozing testosterone and Aussie patriotism.

I've seen two utes recently in the Southern Highlands that have grabbed my attention. Yes, the quintessential bull bars, stickers, aerials, spotties etc. shone, but it was the signs at the front of their bonnets that really got me. One sign said Rum 'n Raisin' the other Wombat Killer. Both tags are perplexing. With Rum 'n Raisin', is the driver advertising his favourite chocolate? If so, well done, that's a more ballsy confectionary than say, a Milky Bar or a Kinder Surprise. Did he actually mean 'Rum 'n Raisin' Hell', to give us his personal manifesto, but the sign writer ran out of space? Who knows? That's a great Australian mystery up there with the disappearance of Harold Holt. As for Wombat Killer, I gotta say I'm aghast. That's not humorous, that's pathetic and unAustralian.

I asked for the council to erect a yellow diamond-shaped wombat sigh a while back as you come into my hometown, so motorists hopefully slow down and prevent more deaths of the beasties. We need to have real pride for our Aussie animals, not the desire to run them over and have a laugh about it whilst swilling 'n spilling Bundy. I've spoken to two people of late who've run over wombats and been sickened by the experience.

LJ, February 16 2013.

Saturday, February 2, 2013


I'm no petrol head, but ever since Mississippi Burning (1988) I've been an admirer of classic American cars. This interest has revved up of late. Whilst watching the first season of Mad Men last night, I drooled over Don Draper's golden 1960 Buick Invicta. Here's a photo from the net of a Buick LeSabre from the same period. Gorgeous.

LJ, February 3 2013

Thursday, January 31, 2013


I've had time and respect for Anthony Mundine. There's no doubt he's a dazzling athlete and a beacon of hope for disadvantaged indigenous Australians. However, his bad sportsmanship post his fight with Daniel Geale the night before last has left me disillusioned. How can you be 'The Man' and a role model when you carry on like a baby when you lose? He refused to acknowledge Geale at the end of the 12th round. What is that? He's now carrying on a treat, saying he's been 'robbed'. Give it a rest, Choc.

LJ, February 1 2013.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013


I saw Les Miserables at Bowral's terrific Empire Cinema a few weeks back. After Anne Hathaway's big number at the beginning, a couple of old dears in the front row, who were weeping, burst into applause. An old fella behind me snored loudly. Hee hee. Sums Les Mis up really.

LJ, January 29th 2013.

Sunday, January 20, 2013


Here are a handful of things I'm looking forward to this year: London, Paris and my first trip to Scandinavia, Ryan Gosling in The Place Beyond the Pines, new albums by Dreadzone & Depeche Mode, Tim Minchin & Toby Schmitz in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, a new poetry collection from Anthony Lawrence, entering my poetry into the Jean Cecily Drake-Brockman Poetry Prize (one gets residencies in Canberra and Ireland as well as money if one wins), success with my HSC students and bringing my home bird list to 150 species. Bring 'em all on!

LJ, January 21 2013

Saturday, January 12, 2013

POEM #25


The last beer nut
in the bowl

is a beetle



On the porch,
our electric sun,
beer nuts,
their prayers

LJ, January 13 2013.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013


2 international studies from 2012 showed Australian kids' reading levels are lagging behind many other countries. In fact, Australia was ranked 27 out of 45 countries when it came to reading. Year 4 kids were studied. This is disturbing. Maybe, a disgrace.

In all the talk that came out of this, a lot was said about teachers and how proficient their teaching is. Teachers were expected to lift standards, indeed, save the day. Sigh. I'm sure teachers are doing a hell of a lot.

I'd like to ask if parents are really doing all they can to help, support and challenge their kids when it comes to reading. Are parents readers themselves? Are they just reading the latest Bryce Courtenay, 50 Shades of Grey, cooking books and tabloids? Are parents demonstrating to their kids that reading is crucial? Where are the role models for Year 4 kids who need assistance with reading?

Lastly, is Australia really a nation of readers or are we kidding ourselves?

LJ, January 9 2013.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013


I hope that Warren Rodwell, held in Mindanao by Abu Sayyaf, can be released this year. The Australian Government needs to prioritise his welfare. It seems this fellow has done nothing wrong. He is no threat to anyone.

About twelve years back, an old mate of mine and I contemplated visiting Mindanao. I wanted to see a Haribon, or Monkey-eating Eagle, an endangered bird from the island. We decided against it after the Australian Government issued a travel warning. From memory, an American tourist had been beheaded.

LJ, January 3 2013.

POEM #24


The male
Sydney Funnel-web
was the only thing
in the universe
that spooked
Darth Vader.

LJ, January 3 2013.