Peter Mitchell is a self-employed writer, editor and journalist. He lives in Lismore,
New South Wales, Australia and these poems are taken from his chapbook, The
Scarlet Moment
(Picaro Press, 2009).


In this life, I pick up stones wanting explanations
about their enigmas. Do stones dream? Do

mountains hallucinate their grandeur of rock?
Do poets map the stone-crazy maze of words?

Without stones, religions are blown away. Altars
deify questions about death, their solidity grounding

these conundrums. Stones are kicked down the
street repeatedly like rhymes overused in

bush-ballad yarns. Stones wait patiently for
children to pick them up, throw them into the

air and return them to the earth, becoming
falling grains of sand in another life.


The man in Bed 8 is in tag-end time.
Skin lesions mark his body, a fresco of

granite blue. Perspiration sines his
waxen face. In this earth-to-sky

tapestry, his life is a round of tag:
his eyes wheat-grass green one

second, charcoal green the next.
The crescent moon scythes a hole

the size of a man in the spinning
muddle of stars. A large clock

emerges from the hole, the second hand
revolving, Bed 8 see-sawing the still air.

Man in the Next Bed

The man in the next bed is still there.

I glance at his name tag, glance away.
His first and second names are the same
as my first and family names.

The man in the next bed is still there.
WIth epidemic-thin legs in slippers,
he shuffles along the shining linoleum
of 17 South like a death camp prisoner.

A parallel universe mocks me, his
ill-health a hologram of my future.
I return from chemotherapy. Death-
fear hands grip me with their claws.
My dead-eyes open stare at
the featureless wall across the room.

The man in the next bed is still there.
He faces me, a smile creasing his face.
He says, 'You've got to make the chemo work.'

Riches of Paper

Although loneliness quavers the equivalence
of nights, I live in the riches of paper.

A room, a bed. A pocket of light warms the
vault of darkness. Piles of must-read books
ply the bed-side table; stacks of to-be-read

books island the sea of carpet. These riches
centre my world, the same as love grounds
the galaxies between ants and Pluto.

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