Stephen Oliver is the author of six major collections of poetry. His recent collection, Night of Warehouses: Poems 1978-2000, covers five volumes of poems and spans two decades. A poetry chapbook, DEADLY POLLEN, is to be published by Word Riot Press in 2003. In addition, a CD of poems titled, KING HIT Selected Readings - written and read by Stephen Oliver to original music composed by Matt Ottley, is to be released through Public Eyesore Records (Nebraska) in June, 2003. Stephen is a transtasman poet and writer who lives in Sydney.


[A cypher for Mark Pirie]

I dream Iım up to my eyelids in concrete.

Glass vials of skyscrapers fill up with
red-gold light. It might be dusk. I could be
a medievalist come back, time-looped.

Itıs then I reach for your book, NO JOKE
to lift myself up into these coruscations.
Your poems create a lattice-work, Moorish,

a courtyard garden. I see the world pass by,
a frieze of pleasant and not so pleasant things.
Itıs then I come across the phrase tessera:

Œpast the mosque where shoes light up /
the pavement like undiscovered jewels.ı
Itıs then I say, this book is rich in pirietics -

the gangster poet at the margins of the city.
Words lit as on a digital billboard turn about,
bringing the news home to Times Square.



  Sang the wharfie
To the migrant from a foreign land,
Iıve Dutch clogs & clews by the container load
With a yearıs supply of contraband,
  By the harbour lights
  Beside the slippery sea.


  Sang the bhagi
Holding aloft the Golden Koran,
I would float up to heaven more quick I know
Booking P & O package tour plan,
  By the harbour lights
  Beside the slippery sea.


  Sang the prawnie
Out of Cooktown on the turning tide,
Iıve trawled for eel & shark & the Balmain bug
O Dockside Suzie sheıs got it fried,
  By the harbour lights
  Beside the slippery sea.


  Sang the smithy
As his hammer rang about the roof,
Iıve dry shod bays & brumbies but Iıd prefer
The waves that dance with a cloven hoof,
  By the harbour lights
  Beside the slippery sea.


  Sang the firey
From Jannali down to Lovett Bay,
Iıve battled bushfires & firestorms hours on end
Though arsonists Iıd torch one a day,
  By the harbour lights
  Beside the slippery sea.


  Sang the hippy
In Fitzroy on Brunswickıs busy street,
A mind-fuckıs my thing & women are my prey
Iım an old grey-tail who likes his meat,
  By the harbour lights
  Beside the slippery sea.


  Sang the poli
In Canberra on a winterıs night,
Native title or land claim we frame the laws
The matter is simply black & white,
  By the harbour lights
  Beside the slippery sea.


  Sang the deckie
On the container - Geiho Maru,
Iıve seen St. Elmoıs Fire frap from stem to stern
And dolphins herd fish as cowboys do,
  By the harbour lights
  Beside the slippery sea.

Stephen Oliver, 2003