Toby Fitch

Spleen 1

January, pissed off with Sydney, pours
steaming torrents on the lessees
of Camperdown cemetery and mortal dumps
on the tenants and landlords of selected suburbs.

Tiles offer scant comfort to Minky,
her failing back legs splayed out like a frog’s
for maximum chill; tiny Kafkas haunt the hot drains,
squeal as they’re turned into ghosts by Raid.

A siren grieves summer, its miasma of smoke, fire;
a mosquito hums falsetto to this end-of-day’s
catarrh. Meanwhile, some other apocalypse drops

biblical ice on Canberra, and invisible
solar coronas that eat lungs for breakfast
disinter whole centuries of fear.

33 Fleurs du Mal of Sydney

sickle wattle, wedding bush
christmas bells, pill flower
bloodroot, bloodwood
fuchsia in the gutter

snake flower, spider flower
showy copper wire daisy
bastard rosewood, strelitzia
wall of old man’s beard

loosestrife, paperbark
night-scented jasmine
sprawling bluebell, smokebush
bindweed on picket fence

spike rush, club rush
chainfruit, barbed wire grass,
dagger orchid, trigger plant
devil’s needle park

cough bush, sour bush,
kidney weed, bleeding heart
weeping spleenwort, waratah
clustered everlasting

Black Panthers Haunt the Georgics

On the outskirts of Darug and Wiradjuri 
Lying on branches of ghost gum 
Grown deep into the Blue Mountains 
On the outskirts of Darug and Wiradjuri 
Can’t help thinking that’s what I saw 
Grown deep into Blue Mountains 
Big top mascot zoo escapees 
Can’t help thinking that’s what I saw 
Elders say they’ve been here all along 
Big cats up with the trapeze 
High above the floodwater peak 
Elders say they’ve been here all along 
Now dragging cattle into tree forks 
High above the floodwater peak 
Spotted across Australia 
Dragging cattle into tree forks 
Their gold-eyed shadow economy 
Spotted across Australia 
The uproar if the State admits it 
A gold-eyed shadow economy 
Snapping the supermoon and Milky Way 
The uproar if the State admits  
Anti-work, a different ergonomics 
Snapping at the supermoon and Milky Way 
Lying on branches of ghost gum 
Anti-work, into a different ergonomics 
Black panthers haunt the georgics

Toby Fitch is poetry editor of Overland, and the author of the poetry collections Rawshock, which won the Grace Leven Prize for Poetry 2012; Jerilderies; The Bloomin’ Notions of Other & Beau; ILL LIT POP; and, most recently, Where Only the Sky had Hung Before (Vagabond Press 2019). He lives in Sydney on unceded Gadigal land.

< Louis Armand

aj carruthers >

By Toby Fitch

is poetry editor of Overland, and the author of the poetry collections Rawshock, which won the Grace Leven Prize for Poetry 2012; Jerilderies; The Bloomin’ Notions of Other & Beau; ILL LIT POP; and, most recently, Where Only the Sky had Hung Before (Vagabond Press 2019). He lives in Sydney on unceded Gadigal land.