A muddy river

flanked by gums wanders through town

past rope swings hanging

from high branches, rippling around

snags and sandbanks, flowing home


The bush spread to the reservoir’s

edge. Water stretched out of sight

round the peninsula. Wind-blown

waves chopped across to the distant

shore. Kids searched the waterline

for skimming stones, sent them skipping

into the distance as galahs

squawked in the gums, shat from on high.

Snakes bellied through the undergrowth,

redbacks wove webs between branches,

magpies swooped boys on passing bikes.

Flies settled in colonies, crawled

inside nostrils on sweltering

afternoons after long school days.


Atlantic wind chills

seek shelter beside stone wall

sit on grassy bank

sun obscured by clouds, grey skies

distant waves crash against cliffs

Victoria Park Lake

magpies and galahs

swoop and screech, the bush buzzes

and ticks, families

picnic beside the lake, speed-

boats tow skiers, engines whine


The stressed, grumpy old

man mixing paint in the Ace

hardware store makes me

look like the Dalai Lama,

like Sting, like Leonard Cohen

Nathanael O’Reilly is an Irish-Australian residing in Texas. His books include (Un)belonging (Recent Work Press, 2020); Preparations for Departure (UWAP, 2017), named one of the Books of the Year in Australian Book Review; Cult (Ginninderra Press, 2016); Distance (Ginninderra Press, 2015); Suburban Exile (Picaro Press, 2011); and Symptoms of Homesickness (Picaro Press, 2010). More than 200 of his poems have appeared in journals and anthologies published in twelve countries, including Antipodes, Anthropocene, Australian Love Poems, Cordite, fourW, FourXFour, Headstuff, Marathon, Mascara, Postcolonial Text, Skylight 47, Snorkel, Transnational Literature, Westerly and The Newcastle Poetry Prize Anthology 2017.