Owen Bullock



   biscuit tin with marbles in
   a plastic lid
   playing it like a snare drum

   (surely this was not my life –
   more than 7
   the cells have changed –
   it’s almost 40 years)

two styles of sound:
jazz & folk

flies laying in my brain

a leaf
turned to stone
but still pink
aspirations . . .

butterflies lead the way

to ladychild

a painted lady waves

mountain meadows 
full of strawflowers

the tram announcement’s 
voice like ice cream

a child gives up their seat 
to no one
to sprawl on the floor

last night, Koroibete, substituted
sat on the grass
already soaked with rain

anxious for her call . . .
I look for the cushion
of love & light



   “It’s all about repetition, endurance. Curiosity and hunger . . .” Genni Matty

Put it behind, everything you’ve achieved so far as a little monkey muscle, start again, 
wake to the challenge of the coming year, when it happens. For now, the coming day. For 
now, now.

to the rock band
to the silence


   “. . . as darkness quilts you. A gentle embrace.” Anne Caldwell

The bed seems like all you need. Love, sleep, comfort, a place to work, a home. The view of 
pittosporums and black walnut. The windy windows. Mementoes on the bedside, father’s 
trophy, the wood carving by your daughter, the medal and incense, a fabric poppy from 
Remembrance Day. The trenches of Wilfred Owen, the rapid rifles’ rattle. Light on leaves 
outside. Drawing the blinds. Let it glow in the dark, through doubled vision.


pick a eucalypt leaf
scratch the back of it

a sign says


Delusion is useful. You can kid yourself into thinking you’re working (just because 
you’re thinking about work) & have a day off.


This time it’s groovy, this time heavy, this time syncopated, folk, jazz. Songs change. 
Like poems. Today an assault, yesterday humour, tomorrow a fragment. In the wilderness. 
These 40 years. Nowhere to rest. Through fog, mist and clouds. Over burras, mountains, 
dales & cliffs, through valleys, cwms, bogs, ditches. It doesn’t go away, though I chase 
it like Frankenstein’s monster. It will end me in happy death.


I like it when men get old
& weepy


You knock on the door, wait a split second and enter. It’s a formality, you can always enter, 
each door is like that. It’s a discipline, like taking a deep breath in an awkward situation. 

Each door is open. But you assume it’s closed, you see it before you, blocking the way, a 
chimera for the office. 

(Are they an opening, or closing? Doors that open, doors that shut . . .)


When people couple in the movies, they both want to make love equally.


Replace negative mental habits with more empowering thoughts.

The one that hurts most is borrowed fear: when I act out of your fear. 

Round we go.


the house felt shut in, but . . .

Your network sees that you have credentials [in delightful Yugoslav accent]

Start wearing purple, wearing purple . . . [in chirpy Croatian accent]


In each job, I’ve had the intention to help people in some way, working in hospitals, folks 
with intellectual disabilities, teaching. I make allowances for that group of people designated 
as needing help. I’m forgiving of them, patient, tolerant. Then there’s that other group: the 
people I work with, who are also there to help; colleagues. This is where it gets tricky. I find 
it hard to extend the same tolerance – after all these people are ‘well’ and shouldn’t need me 
to prop them up or do their job for them, or remind them of something that needs doing four 
times. I have high standards, and I expect other people to have the same – in the psychological 
profile, the Four Tendencies, by Gretchen Rubin, I’m an ‘Upholder’, someone who responds equally 
to external and internal motivations, fulfilling them as if their life depended on it. I assume 
that we’re all here to do whatever we’re doing as well as we possibly can. This is not the case, 
and why should it be? An assumption, nothing more. 

Everyone’s sick, including me.


You’re sitting there trying to pronounce the Polish names, wondering if the authors of the 
article are a collective hoax – maybe it’s the editor who really wrote the piece, which seems 
like a pisstake of the full article of ours he rejected, demanding a shorter one, which he then 
published (was this so he could distort the material himself? you wonder).


Keeping up two jobs. So much online. The intoxication and dump-you of the screen. The loss of 
face-to-face. Projects stalling – I can’t go into prisons, I can’t go into hospitals, we can’t 
have military personnel coming here. Communication break-downs – you, again, Mars! Admin, 
management and technical fuck-ups ruling my house. Not knowing whether I had any job for 
the coming year. 

At the end of it, Baba O’Riley and Pinball Wizard make me weep.

What of next . . .

Capricorn Horoscope, the remedies:

It would be best to wear high quality Neelam or Blue Sapphire gemstone of the best 
quality in Panchdhatu or Ashtadhatu ring on the middle finger on Saturday.

If you want, you can also wear Opal gemstone in a silver ring on the ring finger on Friday.

It would be best to seek the blessings of little girls by touching their feet and offering 
them white sweets every Friday.

Donating blood on Tuesday and planting a Pomegranate tree away from home will protect you 
from all the problems.

On Wednesday, feed the cow with Sabut Moong Dal, which has been soaked a day before. This 
will strengthen your luck.


patterns of earth to patterns of air
                                                      movement, mobility, decentralised
timeframe of air & wind
                                        things, dispersing
things ungrounded
(not trapped) towards networks
                               (less stable)
Saturn & Jupiter in Aquarius
   increase value of social spheres
epochal – the difficulty of making shifts
re-think environments & path through them
   need to change quickly
Saturn squares Uranus   not Saturn – Pluto
 Saturn over-intensified by Pluto (corrupt)
     opposite influence – Saturn – Uranus (questions proposals)
Feb 17, June 14, Dec 24     rebellious 2020s
   civil unrest     This isn’t good enough
(optimum) – hopes? active disruptive (not passive)
(+ Jupiter – Uranus squares
Constructive moment)       Uranus (revolution & rebellion)
Saturn (order & safety)           (freedom)
(thoughtful, longterm)
Venus – passion                             (graphs by Archetypal explorer)
Cardinal – Fixed – continuing (stuck) + Mutable energy
Mercury (soft?) – Mars disagreement
rethink (agreement) these issues     Uranus –
Taurus – grounded, food & shelter
Moon – culmination
bringing to light
                            February – Aquarius
Sun – Aquarius happening
behind the sun – cycle
[bringing it all]
[poetry can’t be paraphrased, but poetry paraphrases]
[a two-minute meditation is enough – focus on the toothache, it intensifies, then reduces] Own everything
Hands-on   April innovative or rebellious
May hopeful – aggressive hugs
Jupiter (travel) (temporary?) return of travel
(light & talkative)

                                   Show me alternatives
   getting up
   to watch the sunrise
   the longest day

hurry up, sun!                                flying irises

June complicated again   + July tempestuous
                                             (especially early & late)
                                revisit early August                 
what can be done to improve?
                create connection, common ground
Venus in Libra – what is fair?
Venus &
Saturn   dignified          Virgo solves problems
Mercury/ Mars – engineering
              end of August benefit packet
   disruption of peace by September
October unease & it’s clear what it is
November   Saturn – Aquarius – Mars
             tense   agitation into fixed
signs: Scorpio/ Taurus            – 19th
            foreshadowing   2022 (eclipses)
   waves of change
              peak of destabilisation   or
                    a positive optimistic 2022
2021 making progress at best


   “It was about dancing with the sky, emptying her soul of itself, until she felt nothing but the    
   joy of giving.” Genni Matty

   “Hum me a song and I’ll find you a story of the eternal realm and tell you why, with those 
   eyes, you are a fire watcher.” Genni Matty

[grammar, sequential, linear]

Life doesn’t get easier, I just get stronger.

B minor, C major seventh, D, C, F, Fm C

   Aries – Fire
   Cancer – Water
   Libra – Air
   Capricorn – Earth

stepped & scored


looking at me

the glass until it shatters

shards unnoticed
sand obscured

peering in
gazing out

your eye
gets longer, wider

looks through the sea
at the underworld


Jupiter – philosophy & growth

poetry like rain

   when he plays drums
   for Jeff Beck
   at Ronnie Scott’s 
   he even has time
   to adjust his glasses

   “The body is a world without hierarchies.” Nell

she’s already got her haloes
placentas, river deltas

the movements of stars
the charts of our feet
through the valley
a symmetry

nests made of bank notes

What do they become?

mood intersecting
with environment

environment inter-
secting with mood

you made me
something to sit on

the highway 
broken up

Trespassers keep out –
that’s all of us

kangaroos sinuous

I feel like I’m walking forward 
     but not going anywhere

Conditionally Serviceable Pole

motorpike and side-carp

the dull ache, the throbbing, the stabbing, what’s gotten into your bones


Sections of a property, glassed, from earth to sky, I couldn’t get through, I’d been in the 
wrong house, they phoned ahead to be sure to stop me, but someone left a side door open, 
I slipped past – flying all the while.


   “I can identify all the selves I despise.” Y. S. Lee

she puts him in her pocket

hula coop
synchronised chub

she’s writing a list, Mrs Sumbudy

happy pants and dancing shoes

I did 2 weddings and a funeral

The last few days, in the mountain meadow, down the saddle of Mt Majura, on the switchback trail:

   1.          Common Brown
   2.  	Red Admiral
   3.  	One with white patches/stripes, at the right corner of the upper wing
   4.  	One with large eye spot, upper wing; 2 small eye spots, lower; mostly brown
   5.  	Speckledy brown; no eye spots
   6.  	Small orange (& brown flecks)
   7.  	Elongated wings, brown & orange
   8.  	Small blue
   9.  	White
   10.        B/white
   11.         Large: orange/yellow/brown
   12.  	Small greyblue
   13.  	Greeny wisp
   14.  	Lemon yellow

Where was the Yellow Admiral in all of this?

Can you identify, I, Naturalist?


Imagine, in a Brummie accent: “To him who is one with the formless Self, everything is formless.” Ramana Maharshi

everyone takes you

   the broken tree 
   still growing, the end of 

When we leave . . .
           but do we ever leave . . .

((turn it into art))

Every day is a chance to learn. [42 likes, 30 comments]

a birthday gift:
Calm & clear
Skin & space mist

a cake is a song, a celebration

   “self-adjusting bodies” G.M. 

Birthday outing:
Diamond Python 
Inland Taipan 
Green Tree Snake 
Boa constrictors 
Burmese Python – huge, asleep
Chappell Island Tiger Snake – like a stumpy
Mulga – largest poisonous, also stumpy
Eastern Brown & Red-Bellied Black Snake – commonest poisonous
Darwin Carpet Snake
Jungle Carpet Snake
Lace Monitors (goannas)
Snout-Nosed Turtle

Embrace every experience in 2021!

Maraca nightmares

   I don’t know what
   the Indigenous placenames 

I’m consoled that there’s a place called Mooney Mooney. But this, too, is part of my 
ignorance. Gran used to say ‘mooney mooney’ as she cleaned my face with a flannel.

a mirror behind the hibiscus

   my shadow
   on the wall
   as I meditate

   in your painting
   the desert & sky
   & scrub all blue
   birds white

You have arrived
                in every sense
                & no sense

pelicans & bridges 
     the festival cancelled

I don’t know who has the problem

Drink Coffee – do stupid things faster with more energy

Take the Pacific & WY motorway M1 into Sydney

a good time to be reading the news

decided by clay

walking indoors

   behind my mask
   she can’t see
   my smile

After the BMX crash, talking loudly on the phone to his mates about his imploded heels and 
shoulder they managed to put back in. It’ll be six months learning to walk again. Two of his 
mates are like family. He needs them.

   what’s the meaning
   of things . . . 
   two galahs fly

Yesterday, at the hospital, you thought you could die so happily, you’ve had a helluva life.

   I leave out the word


for oneself
I am is enough
for others
I skate, I run, I hide, I laugh

Baba O’Riley
they created meaning


He shows me the poem he’s written on a head of broccoli. It’s great, an original idea, 
marinated, cooked in cheese, but it still needs editing. On the first two florets, the word 
‘easiest’ is repeated. The construction ‘I am’ is overused – no one speaks like that, we use 
contractions and avoid. He doesn’t like it that I point out the need for editing.

Owen Bullock’s most recent books are, Uma rocha enorme que anda à roda (A big rock that turns around), translations of tanka into Portuguese by Francisco Carvalho (Temas Originais, 2021); Summer Haiku (Recent Work Press, 2019) and Work & Play (Recent Work Press, 2017). He teaches Creative Writing at the University of Canberra. He has a website for his research: https://poetry-in-process.com/ @OwenTrail @ProcessPoetry
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