Three poems

Moonrise in a new suburb



fences edging the raw lowness.


On this street

Google maps can’t find yet


a full moon

has just been released.


Seems no one else saw it

jump the rooftops –


all the TV lights

through curtain cracks.


Over waste ground

winter green,


a moon

on parole.


The cat of Lisbon


The cat of Lisbon listens in its sleep –

the summer rustles outside

and a Marcha band

echo-locates the street.

When gulls cry from the Tagus,

the cat’s ears flick –

its ancestors went

with Cabral and Da Gama

down that estuary,

ratcatchers in Macau, Timor,

Goa and Brazil – riches

shining there like a sardine’s belly.


The cat of Lisbon is a white tabby,

a fine dark streak either side of its spine,

leopard spots like an old azulejo

from Mozambique.

A cat full of saudade,

it knows there’s an other self

on a balcony it can never reach,

even if it balanced on the washing lines

and leapt the centuries.

The fire enters Fairy Dell


White flakes fall, a breeze picks up,

the valley fogs with grey.


A forest kingfisher spotlit

by halogen-yellow sun

preys on moths escaping –


then flits as well.


The orange dancers come;

the quivertrees.


Black crescents spiral down that once

were green lance tips in the sky.


Two wattle birds still chase and squabble

though their territory’s alight.


The elemental is here.

It has a strange beauty –

heresy to call it so.


Up on Chatsworth Road,

neighbours with hose and rake

collectivise their firebreak.

A pendulum of water bomb

swings from a chopper’s underside –

a wrecking ball for flame.

Unseen, god-like, the pilot

leaves in a throbbing arc.


Up on the ridge

Fire trucks pulse carmine and blue

into dance-floor smoke

that came from crowds of eucalypts.

And now it’s fully dark.


The stumps are glowing in Fairy Dell

like lanterns on a Shinto path.

This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on April 16, 2022 as "Three poems".

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Mike Ladd is a poet and radio producer who lives on Kaurna land.

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