Kristian Radford


just had a blissful twenty minutes
listening to Tirzah’s album Devotion
paired with an unexpectedly good in-flight meal

miso shiru
“Lightly fried Summer vegetables
in jade green gelée”
“Pumpkin and raisin salad”
cold green tea
and “Tri-colored chicken and ‘Negi’
scallion rice bowl.
                               by Fuma Saki”

after Japan I worry a little
about how I can go home
and eat again


returning to the country of my birth
for the first time in over a decade
was meant to be triumphant

I got sick within 48 hours
and spent most of the week
trying to stay in my room


walking through Tokyo station
from the Keiyo line to the Yaesu Central area
like walking a few Melbourne city blocks
except more crowded
experiencing what “world’s most populous city” feels like
                               a lone blood cell swimming in a dark body
                with frantic strokes


another morning at breakfast
I felt a little earthquake
the tremors exaggerated at 21 storeys up

I was momentarily nauseated
even though most people I talked to
didn’t notice it at all


I don’t know what I expected to find
but I didn’t find it
in Chiba

I don’t think I’m the same person
who was born in Sapporo almost 30 years ago
I left him somewhere between now and then
(probably in Adelaide)
or buried him alive
under rings of new bark

maybe I’m a transplant
like the poplar trees that line the avenue
at Hokkaido University
they look basically the same as
the ones that blew over in the storm
but somehow you feel they’re awry
like they haven’t grown in the direction
you’d expect


I can picture landing in Melbourne
getting picked up by Emily
in front of the airport hotel
but I can’t imagine how I will make
the next eight hours pass
or how I will pick up the life I left behind last week
the skin I sloughed off
couldn’t possibly still fit…

my body builds new versions of itself
as I sit here
breath in and out

West of the Moon

last time I noticed it
it was a thumbnail clipping
a thin smile

half a moon later
I watch it loom over the cityscape
perching at the end of my street
like a talkshow backdrop

cow-eyed it has come
to kiss us
to show off a little
with its surprising bright
copper face illuminated
by breath from industrial lungs

I drive towards it
then turn left
I’m still driving towards it
I drive all night until
I reach its surface


like the moon
Footscray looms above Melbourne
I walked through it today
to get a haircut from Teddy
and steamed buns from To’s
biting into the soft flesh
and finding chewy twist of
wood ear mushroom
on my tongue
with grains of egg yolk
I’m taken back
to six years ago
moving to this city
learning adulthood
on these streets


today I told my students about Proust
initially horrified by his idea of plot
they then thought about their memories of
childhood in New Zealand        the Philippines
               England                 Eritrea
caught a scent of somewhere
lost in time and halfway across the world

(and I’m waxing poetical
about a suburb I moved
five minutes down the road from…)


the moon is always a surprise
I forget how good it looks from over here
in the western shadow of the city
burning over the docks, the river,
like God sucking the night in
through a cigarette

The Present Becomes the Past

there's a saying in russia —
                the past
                is unpredictable

Pam Brown

I google it and the most common reference
is to an episode of Fargo
(I heard good things but never made time for it
like most “prestige” TV—
                it took me three years
to get through the original series of Twin Peaks alone)

(worth it though)

right now the past is immensely hard for me
to predict
or even be aware of
                as the sense I get of the present
is overwhelmingly

it’s Cup Day
pouring with rain
pleasantly gloomy light creeping in
attenuated by the sheer, beigey under-curtains
whose floral embroideries
perfectly synecdochise the age of this house
(this house, my home for the last five years
that I’m leaving
                in three weeks)

I put some soft music on
heat up leftover baked beans
(avoid dropping them all over the floor
                like last time)
and read some
longer poems
poems that were made
                               for public holidays

the rain slows for a bit
and now it’s even louder
it woke me up at about 7 this morning
and I thought, loudly

the past comes back now

Clifton St, Adelaide
age 6
rain starts blanketing the little yard
my dad goes to sit at the outdoor set
under a big canvas umbrella
and watches it
(the rain)
I watch him
through the window

that’s what I see through
the window of time,
although I can’t tell
how accurate the vision is

crescendo decrescendo
like rolling drums
                a signal to stay indoors

someone told me that
the horses will only stop for lightning
but I think they will at least
slow down
or even get stuck
perhaps trip over a turf-sunk hoof
and get shot under a grey sky
(surely they don’t actually
shoot them any more)

(do they?)

Andrew & Ashiya’s picnic this afternoon
(for Ashiya’s 30th birthday)
has been officially moved indoors
if the rain eases maybe
I’ll go and buy her a nice bottle of wine

or maybe I’ll never go outside again?

past experience tells me that
it can’t continue
there are infinitely many
moments in the immediate past
in which I was
sitting here
                watching the rain
with my entire body

I look back at myself
but it’s hard to be sure of
what I see

Kristian Radford is a Melbourne-based writer whose poetry has been published in journals including Cordite Poetry Review, Marrickville Pause and Interior. He works as a high school teacher.
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