By Gemma White

Transpacific Correspondence

Across the pond our letters flew
yours on fluoro yellow, lined, margined fool scrap
mine on cartoon cat-themed writing paper
that I’d somehow kept since I was 12.

We’d used all methods of correspondence.
Chatting over the net, email and recently
that surreal international phone call 
so unexpected after 5 years.

I was so nervous all I could talk about
was changing my home phone provider
there was so much I could have said
that I couldn’t even start and now the final written notice:

I’m asking that we stay out of contact
it’s not fair to her or anyone
I hope you understand.

Today You Send Your Messages from a Sound Proofed Room

After Martin Harrison

The silence completes you.

Your voice is not the only answer
To the equation in question – 
But you don’t care.

It is a gratifying, 
Satisfying kind of omission – 
The kind that lets you stay
Sleeping in a dark room.

(But I can still see you).

Your Women Are Vampires

For Edvard Munch

Starving the dominance from your fragile masculinity
sunlight dripping into seas from menstrual expanses of sky
wrapped around figures like a blanket, like a noose.

Love has become gross, the antidote to life;
repulsive and pulling you under. No one thinks of this 
when they fall, until the dark tide catches them.

Some of your women, Edvard, know this
walking in slender solitude, circling the rising coastline.
if they were to turn and seek you, something in their eyes.

You, Me, Meaning

The sky is bright with sun 
and you have just left me.
I waft around the house 
a ghost with no-one to haunt.
It’s not that I don’t have a life 
or things of my own to do. I do.
Just the hours spent 
with you are so sweet 
everything else seems like 
some dull torture.
But I know in my bones 
that a living must be made
friends telephoned 
an independent existence maintained.
Otherwise my life will disappear.
And with or without you 
there would still be 
this central lack of meaning
which I try to conquer 
with date and time, activity,
a latte at the café 
down the road 
when I’m feeling empty
if there’s no-one to talk to 
I can always write
fill white noise with words
let feeling take shape and
create, create, create.

You Are Not Alone

How can one thing mean so much at one time,
so little at another? I remember when everything
mattered; life, art, writing, everything. And then
one grows up and the illusion is shattered, all is not
as it should be. You become a disappointment to
yourself and others. I don’t know how to get away
from this unsteady truth and I feel I have nothing to
offer as a compensatory gesture to the reader. Maybe
the only gift I bear is to write what is, for you to know
that if you have felt this too, you are not alone.

While Sleeping

In the warmth of your arms
I had a dream
my father, mother and I
were all on this pier,
I was relocating a fishing line
that didn’t belong to me,
then a huge wave swept
over the pier,
totally washed away my mother.
My father desperately tried
to take my hand
but it was hard to grasp
the torrent was so strong
he could not hold me
I woke up crying.

While I Dwell on the Negative and Frustrating

He is hugging me 
in Dixon’s Recycled Records
he is kissing the back of my neck in public.

He is buying me apricot roses and 
Billecart-Salmon Brut Réserve
on Valentine’s Day.

He is taking me to Wattle Park,
lying with me on the grass under an Oak tree
staring into the summer sky.


I showed you the unflattering photos
of us found in the drawer
from two years ago?
Was that when?
Or was it when I had depression
and couldn’t get off the couch?
Was it when our love life
even more disappointing?
Was that when?
Or was it when I put on all that weight?
When was it? Maybe you can pinpoint it for me.
Exactly when you decided you’d had enough?
I was never going to give up 
on you, you know.
But you gave up on me first.
Oh, how a discarded heart 
can see.

Travelling Light

I used to dream about
living out of a suitcase. 
I thought it would be a relief. 

Everything else dropping away.
And all those schemes for control?
Pointless. Against the will of God.
I tried and tried, oh the effort,
oh the complaints, the overthinking
and underdoing, all that reading!

But my theories just became knotted.
Our insights misleading beacons 
showing us paths further from love.

And that mouth of yours, so wide
and its cute way of explaining to me
how broken I was. So charming.

I wanted so many things, wanted
you to stay, for example.
But today I travel light.

And where you used to stand there 
is no other man, just me accepting 
my own hand for this dance.

For now, I travel light and 
with your so many things
you couldn’t catch me if you tried.

Things Kept Hidden

I keep my butterflies in a box
So they don’t escape into the blue
When one beats their soft wings
Against the carved sides
It sounds like an ant’s handshake.

One day I will open the lid to free them
A water-climb of orange 
An optical illusion
How could one box hold so many pairs of wings?
Look! Look! They haven’t forgotten how to fly!

Gemma has had two poetry books published by Interactive Publications – Furniture is Disappearing and, more recently, Oh My Rapture. She is also grateful to have been published in the following journals, magazines and anthologies: The Age, The Attitude of Cups (MPU), Award Winning Australian Writing (Melbourne Books, 2011), Best Australian Poems (Black Inc., 2013), foam:e, The Green Fuse (Picaro Press), page seventeen, Regime Magazine, Unusual Work, Verity La, Visible Ink and Voiceworks. Contact Gemma via


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