Poetry by Brett Dionysius

Brett & family

Brett Dionysius and his family in the Judith Wright Centre, Brisbane

BRETT DIONYSUS of Ipswich is our club Poet assigned to us from the Red Room, Sydney

For Louie


It is a dirty old story.

Of a boom & bust cycle

Beyond the scale of anything.

Earth, an over-oxygenated fish

Tank burst with nutrient growth.

The original hothouse skyscrapers;

Carboniferous gods that thrust

Themselves like a giant’s beanstalk

Up through the world’s wet roof.

Giant ferns unwound like contrary

Clock springs, the cogs of their spores

Spun over the forest’s damp floor

As green fibrous assassins choked

The life out of titans, millennial wise.


Time, the eternal miner

Chipped patiently away

At the world forest’s rich

Vein. Spent eons loading

New atoms into the trunks

Of lifeless trees as though

Presents were being stuffed

Into a Christmas stocking.

It was a Frankenstein morph

In reverse, a transformation

Of the living into the dead.

There was a smell of methane

As the Earth’s fist squeezed

& the black putrefaction began.


It was searched for

Like a cardiac surgeon

Sniffing out a heartbeat.

At first ungainly, where

The flicker of a pulse

Registered at the surface

Of the Earth’s thick skin

Like an Adam’s apple’s bob.

It was witnessed protruding

Through creek banks like a weft

Of femur erupting from a shattered

Leg. Then, the vivisection began.

Black marrow sucked out of the bone

Like breath out of a lung.


Then the desire was to go deeper,

As if pumping one body full of chemicals

Would cure the disease that appeared

In everyone else. So they went at it; a gold

Rush hysteria as needles pin-cushioned

The earth’s dark suit. A voodoo curse

Bringing pain to the body’s deep flesh.

They brushed aside relatives who moped

Around the old fence line & dug for their

Lives as though they were children, mining

Crab tunnels with a wild irreverent glee.

Never minding where the vortex of sand

Flew, which locals were upset or whose eyes

Watered, as grains bit into a delicate few.


It is like cutting the fin

Off a blue shark’s body

& throwing the bleeding

Trunk back into the water;

To die by sluggish drowning.

A useless thing choking on its

Own being. It is trawling by

Impossible numbers or cutting

Off an iceberg’s tip, to harvest

Slush for a short-lived cocktail

Party. A drunken yield for refined

Tastes, that loses sight of the ocean.

It is clearing an entire forest in order

To build a temporary airstrip.


It is the mistaken language of a child

An innocent’s trick, mouthing ‘beeble’

For bird; the meaning crystal clear

As a water table left untapped, but

Its annunciation polluted when the time

Comes to extract. This is a body without

The need to resuscitate, a set of lungs

Without the desire to inflate.

It is the breaking of a hundred million

Year old pact, the thieving of a fairytale

Giant’s coal sack. A boom & bust cycle

Beyond the scale of anything.

It is cutting off a dirty old story before

The narrator reaches the punch line.

Eastern Bristlebird

Dasyornis brachypterus
Fire cleanses more than memory; a bad

Season will clear out tussock grass without

A backckward glance. The charred ‘calling logs’

Where males wrought sound waves into fine

Invisible jewellery to hang their desire from

A females’ soft ear, will stain the forest black

Like Hiroshima buildings, dormant in their

Centuries’ long grief. In the fire’s post-coital

Bliss these things will happen; a new city of

Denseness will grow swamping the old lives

Of refugees, shaken to their core by the blazon

Plan. & their bristles will melt like flagpoles

At ground zero, their plucky hearts reduced to

Slag, some off-cut in the mind’s hot furnace.


Judith Wright

Judith Wright is one of Australia’s best-know poets, was one of thefounders of the Wildlife Preservation Society of Qld (of which we are a

branch), and lived in the Scenic Rim for about 30 years, writing many

of her poems during this time.

Brett has been doing research on Judith’s life, and here is one of his

poems, about Judith herself.


Red Shift

For Judith Wrigh

Gravity is rolling her particles into a child’s spit ball.

Like a student chewing paper in the classroom’s dark,

There is something unlawful about our decline & fall.

In her honour, eucalypts shed their clothes, drop bark.
She has already touched the universe’s filigreed edge.

The red shift galaxies shine singularly as flame trees

In a distant quarry; their blooms are a well-kept hedge

That borders our knowledge; doubt swarms like bees.
She had long been a part of it; her hand me down cells

She returned to the sun’s up-market store. A dying star’s

Decaying gift signalled the blow of her heart’s iron bell;

As her last breath vanished like the atmosphere on Mars.
She is monumental now; as though there was a Marathon

Mound of ancient Greek heroes piled up inside her head.

She was the flint of eco-consciousness that was fiery born,

When she struck at the builders who cleared out the dead.
Still, the Earth sucks in its belt-line & gyrates its middle age

Spread. Forests recede like hairlines thinning out, as the hand

Of progress combs through them. All that’s left is hollow rage,

As small groups of creatures turn & make their final stand.
Judith. Her poems are etched on the trunks of scribbly gum.

Insect mouths chew through the grain of her poetic field.

As they kill, borers translate her words into a universal tongue,

& hollow trunks of eucalypts drum; never yield, never yield.
Brett Dionysus


Strangler Fig

The light years of their birth & death. The immeasurable

Expansion & collapse of eras, like a husband’s stretched

Snort of breath at his wife’s nippy questions. A snail’s oozy

Diminutive progress in slow motion or a gradual weave on

Time’s parasitic loom, threads inflating like a clown’s trick

Balloon, the poodle twisting into place. Their millennial

Embrace, as finally green fingers encircle & clasp, caught

In mid-strangulation, a psychotic Daphne transformed into

An aerial-killer or Bluebeard wrapping his cloak around

His bride’s bare shoulders. A Tin Soldier of sub-tropical

Rainforest, the two hearts meld into one, then inexorably

Decay sets in. The long marriage never lasts, as drizzle

& borers carve out memory’s core. Until, an open-air,

Walk-in cathedral is all that remains of cellular union.

Spotted Tailed Quoll (Southern subspecies)

Dasyurus maculatus maculatus
To some we’re the polka-dotted red menace;

We are feared for our beliefs, blood sacrifice

Being so out of vogue nowadays, unless you’re

Licensed. We invade chicken coops because they

Are there. You went to the moon once, so you

Know how it feels, to long for the inexplicable.

Our western empire collapsed & we were forced

Into the hills & valleys like a lost tribe retreating

From a glacier’s swollen tongue. We are cuddly

Nosferatus drinking up fear’s salty brew; children

Marvelling at a fresh wound. Our drive is an old

One. To sink our teeth into everything; to spread

Feathers out like tarot cards on night’s dark table.

Who else will upset your order; mess up the room.

Regent Honeyeater

Xanthomyza phrygia
A power as diluted as the monarch’s they were named for;

Their colonial reach across the border, tempered by more

Indigenous agitators, the great unwashed mass of noisy miners

That carp at class barriers as though paparazzi DNA cavorted

In their bloodstreams. Their black & lemon royally streaked

Robes, no match for the plain grey dullness of the common

Folk. The higher echelons of society; eucalypt canopy offers

No refuge for the persecuted; the bland workers unite &

Expel the divinely instigated elite. There is something

To be missed though; a pomp & ceremony of the ages,

The slender, curved beak like a tiny scimitar slicing into

An ironbark flower’s heart. A headdress of pollen sticking

To the Regent’s cheek like a kiss from a defeated people,

The subtle dignity of slaves that nothing high-born can resist.

Albert’s Lyrebird

Menura alberti


He whistled to her & like an inquisitive dog

The bowl of her head angled, a satellite dish

To receive the new music. She was muttering

Away in some mimic’s foreign language when

He stumbled upon her; a woodland Pokémon

That evolved the power of water & then slaked

Some deeper desire in him. The brown, rusted

Stovepipe of her tail feathers swung back &

Forth, as each great scratch of her garden fork

Claws ripped the humus open like rotten cloth.

As he fell, he noticed the bathtub-sized granite

Boulders were covered in grey lichen squares,

Cool & treacherous as damp flannels on a tiled

Floor. Momentum snared, he heard her scream.


A Trojan War had passed since he last saw one.

Oracle elusive, it had tracked him like a prophecy

Or some shadowy ninja as he hiked at Lamington.

Then it had melted into the forest floor like a fat

Witchetty grub, a curled white question mark of

Memory he could only find again if he dug deeply.

He picked himself up, mud stigmata slashed across

His palms as he retook the track, his partner shaking

Her head at the plunge of birdmen. Or that his cry

Had become a lyrebird’s sound effect. Recorded for

Posterity like he was the endangered animal, a loss of

Pride’s habitat. Their black ship of extinction hauled

Up on nature’s beachhead, time caulking their voice’s

Hull; faint echoes of crackling bushfire & corroboree.