Samuel Wagan Watson

Samuel Wagan Watson Poems

For Anthony Lawrence
A large gray jumped, what I can only imagine is a dingo fence last night and made it at least 5 feet off the ground, under a full moon a million miles away,

For once you have tasted flight you will walk the earth with your eyes turned skywards, for there you have been and there you will long to return.
 — Leonardo da Vinci

got up off the couch
and immediately the room cleared of its winged creatures
flapping in-time
to an abdominal exercise machine on the glowing box,

my Dad straightened out the crooked men
in the old laundry shed
above the fishing gear and jars of nuts and bolts
where on a rack

dropping a knife
on one's foot
is nothing like
dropping tequilla

you'd never forget the pelicans
because it was their home too
and that occasional one who'd try and swallow your baited hook
while we cast out into an endless mould of brown and blue skin

the pyromaniacs of the gods were kicking it
into that desert sunset
upon a fire pink, burner-blue horizon line
blossoms cherry red


for David Gilbey

fire-engine flash of fox pelt
and a plume of tail

I remember construction cranes like herds of frozen praying-mantis, high on the steamy Bjelke-Petersen plateau above a brown snake-coiled river. It was from this view, at the age of 4, that I learnt to read the columns of Brisbane city.

Sprinkled in the happy dark of my mind
Is early childhood and black humour
White stucco dreaming

"the journey IS the destination"
a quote from a great traveller
Brisbane is a small city, but that's OK . . . 'cause I don't need much room to move . .

My brothers once showed me the bounty that could be had in bait nets / we were able to catch garfish / bills like half-baked marlin / the rounded quill with a fluorescent orange head; pencil fish, that's what the old diggers called them,

Midnight's boxer He has become
That the ghosts from the ‘tents' of long-ago pay homage
Memories that fill a boarding-house room,
Busted knuckles soothed endlessly with goanna oil

For Rhan . . . wherever you are, Brother, I pray your path is a good one and without crossroads . . .
It was a dark and stormy night of clichés! The rain coming down, drowning the shadows, and my motley crew, well, that hotel room just couldn't hold us.

He had L O V E tattooed across his clenched right fist, followed by P O E M, etched in a vagabond's quill, across the other LOVE POEM. And with these fists coming at you in unison, you copped a taste of his, LOVE POEM. He stalked the crooked lines of this world,

It's the Lucky Country's closet; a dark interior with frontier skeletons. Whirly-winds run rampant, spawning red-sand mandalas of chaos. These frenetic twisters find easy prey on ochre-kissed Dorothys, carrying them off to Parallel Oz. In Parallel Oz,

I can't sleep here, on this Wiradjuri land; upon this hill of learning. Awake until the sun comes up and the morose voices subside; the dawn light blades whispers back into the creases of scarred country. I can't sleep here, in the writers centre;


Fire-engine flash of fox pelt
And a plume of tail
Fluffy . . . like some oil-well ablaze on a Gulf War postcard
And from the body

"The call of the strange bird is heard
on the pipe of the breathing floor;
so high will become the bushels of wheat
that man will cannibalise his fellow man . . ."

I can't speak my grandmother's tongue and I've never been on my grandfather's land,
I've travelled here and I've travelled there,
my culture replicated in government-funded laboratories;

Samuel Wagan Watson Biography

Samuel Wagan Watson was born in Brisbane in 1972, of Irish, German and Aboriginal (Bundjalung and Birri Gubba) ancestory. He has been a salesman, public relations officer, fraud investigator, graphic artist, labourer, law clerk, film industry technician and an actor. He is currently a project officer in the Strategic Policy and Research Unit of Arts Queensland. Watson’s first collection, Of muse, meandering and midnight (1999) won the David Unaipon Award for Emerging Indigenous Writers. His subsequent collections are Itinerant Blues (2001) and Hotel Bone (2001). He is also co-author of the award-winning website blackfellas, whitefellas, wetlands, commissioned by the Brisbane City Council.)

The Best Poem Of Samuel Wagan Watson

Booranga Wire Songs

For Anthony Lawrence
A large gray jumped, what I can only imagine is a dingo fence last night and made it at least 5 feet off the ground, under a full moon a million miles away, granite rocks and pine trees sealing a Cormac McCarthy evening. Wire song on cold wind musing low, tension wang and resonance, the land and ghosts play along and now and then a sheep bleets, but it hardly makes a bar onto these wire songs ...

Small spinifex spin
down from a spirit circle;
the writers cottage ... 

(A pact made above the cottage by local artisans … winds rest for the time being ... )

No ghosting to report on this tour but aplenty haunting of words, sentences prematurely entertained that have the capacity to poltergeist and a writer's biting off; too much in a spell! To only want that wire song later to floss with, when civilized nights of too much consumer discount become morose, head aching to be left alone and 
everyone thinks you need to be alone when you only want to sing aloud and be heard in the ides of a full moon over pine trees and granite boulders, simple, wire song ...  

Samuel Wagan Watson Comments

Samuel Wagan Watson 27 June 2019

Stop ruining my comment section im literally shaking and crying

13 4 Reply
Dab Dab 11 June 2018


7 7 Reply
dab dab 420 11 June 2018


4 9 Reply
Pure Unfiltered Rage 11 May 2021


7 1 Reply
Disturbed Citizen 11 May 2021

this comment section is a chronicle of schoolchildren over time.

1 0 Reply
poopiedoopie 16 May 2021

People who are forced to study this poet.

2 0
Not to be named 31 March 2021

Anyone know when Samuel Wagan Watson published the poem 'Monster'

0 0 Reply
no 03 March 2022

25 december 3651 bc

0 0
no 08 March 2021

My brina hurts from not udnerstnadting

0 0 Reply
poopiedoopie 04 March 2021

lol you guys are retarded

0 0 Reply

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