Joy Reid


Marriage Parable

Sometimes you trudge through a ploughed field
stand hip handed before a down bearing tractor
wave seizure arms and still you won’t be seen.
For the man in the cabin stares resolutely backwards
ensuring that heaved soil falls neatly in rolled lines.
So you mutter and curse, stomp to meet the man
haul yourself upwards onto grater footsteps
and shout.
Giddy with frustration, you rollercoast your message
to the man smugly waiting, who then slyly answers
‘Yes, I know,’ with deliberate, mind blinding slowness
while all the time you know in your heart that he
a bloody


Despair has many colours.

I see sear blue
a flame so fierce
metal screams apart.

I see white
stones like teeth
gnashing sky.

I see a capsule -
one side cat’s eye sardonic
the other a snake, belly up.

gourd rattle
seeds poppy fine.

One small tug
and the universe
comes apart.

Damage Control

Sometimes you monumentally fuck up
and there’s nothing to do
but sit and cry.
There’s no way to unscramble eggs.

Don’t worry about it
you tell yourself
but the old lie sits sour as stale beer.


Beyond your careful poses
of quaint Nepalese
and forty five cent views
lies what
long to see.

That hand for instance
the one that
flopped in
as the shutters of your
Minolta snapped.

Whose hand is that?
plump as a toad
yellow as curd
ringless, yet possessing
the shoulder of that girl.

And see there
that waning face
pale as fingernails
no cheek no chin
one lone eye killer whale
What black hole
formed that frightening depth?

Show me
no more!
Your flat snippets of curiosity
have no smell
no taste.
Like tombstones
they record life
but not
its meaning.


Bull siphons defiance
till excitement cuts short
his show of contempt.
He’s ready for the knacker’s
though I don’t suppose
he knows it
would snort sticky mucus
and nodding dog his head
if only he could read his fate
in the frowning childhood squiggle
drawn across my face.

Hooves curl like exotic slippers.
Filled with pus
they mutate
for Maestro can no longer stride
but shambles
like the old man riddled
with osteoporosis
who cannot reach the door
the motorbike speeds away.

Poor old bull
he resides in the corner
among craters of frustration
and his own heaped shit
nose pointed windward
where his girls
in the next paddock
wind in last season’s hay
like devoted fishermen.
He knows his quarry lies very near
but unlike a setter
it is not discipline
that turns him to statue
but the indignity of an electric fence.

The Accused

Two girls stand before me.

One seems genuine.


Her fluttering hands

are punctuated with

breathy assurances.


The other stands mute,

relying on an oily aura to


Her insincere sincerity,

martyred poise,

obscene closeness,



Two girls stand


One is

featureless as an egg.

The other

stands smug,

an asphyxiated Kewpie


Perhaps... one

tells the truth.


But the other,

the other

is lying.



Splay-footed mud stumbling,

lopsided belly rolling,

then collapse.


Bloody slit oozing,

sausage casing clinging,

stretched flesh screaming.


Two hooves, too large, turned wrong,



Stroking her, I murmured meaningless encouragement

While she replied with shuddering groans.


Finally, I squatted,

Grasped the thrust out limbs

And pulled.


They slithered through my hands like greased eels.


I thought of ropes.

I thought of winches.

I thought of neighbours.


A moan, horribly human, decided me.


Cursing the cow too exhausted to push,

Willing the uncooperative calf into the open,

Ignoring the straining, panting stranger that was me,

I leaned back heavily.


And the calf came


Halfway -

A girl, white-bellied;

Four teats like tiny fingertips.


'You're a fool,' I chided myself. 'You've

Wrenched your arms and killed the calf and now her mother may not live.

Why couldn't you call for help?


But the calf was alive and kicked to remind me of my task,

So I grasped its slipperiness once again,

And pulled


And the calf came in a slimy rush.


I found the strength to heave it up

To massage its body

To clear the way for air


And the calf stood, weak and tottering, wet and shaking

Filling me with unnamable joy.


Depilated Venuses


I don't like your nudes with

pin cushion genitals,

smoothed, sexless skin.


The bodies you depict -

languid and breathless,

passive and purposeless -

should stride across the canvas

breasts swinging,

armpits bristling.

Not wilt in sensual delirium with lips wet and teeth impossibly Lilliputian

peeping through.

You place a ripe breast here,

a sumptuous buttock there,

flesh captured from every angle in your

torrid, peep-hole compositions.


Give us women

with a riot of hair,

not depilated Venuses,

castrated of humanity.







surrounds me

a dirty yellow


that smothers


It drags its blotched and

bloated carcass

in ever




I can smell

its hot and meaty breath.

Would I had





a knife might bring



different pain

might distract.

But then would come

inevitable questions

and shame



horror of pity

are greater






Night Sky

Dark fingers of foliage reach out

To fiery points of light above

Awed as a child drawn by a flame.


Should they ever conjoin

Will their tips be scorched

Or electrified?


The stars tug at my consciousness

A kaleidoscope of winking constellations

Signalling messages obscure to me. Who can interpret their meaning?


A dewy web stretches across the sky

Each celestial orb is transient.

A good shake and all would tumble.


Where is the skulking spider

The creator of the web

The destroyer of the universe?


Let her not come in my time.


Siren Sea

Siren sea,

whose susurrant strains entice,

lisp your unholy longings.


Innocent as Venus,

widow wise,

with claws mantis sharp

grapple the lover, shriekless in submission.


Paramours are plenty.


Octopus sly,

tentacles grind traces

sinuous in sand,

particles jewel-smooth.





such is your nature,



Poems by Joy Reid


Flame thrower bursts neon the sky;

tongued fire stabbing polar blue.

Sun slips down a lava bubble burst;

poached egg runny it oozes out of view.

Pine tops cluster, a scurrying black;

mandibles clawing the moon.

Cow silhouettes graze huffed steam;

hooves holes in doughnut clouds.

Pale moths rise in dust mote dance;

a snow storm delivered in reverse.


A freshly married man

left one morning

small dab of tissue

boring one cheek.

He pressed grey lips

to the sky of his wife's forehead

gathered up courage

in squeaky black leather

His wife lay back

on waterfall hair

eyes horizon distant

slow drowning.

She stroked her body

its silk awrithe with dragons

exploring promise.

The misdemeanours of sin

Thoughts maelstrom whirl sleep away.

A look

a word

a gesture


How close means yes?

What words spell acceptance?

How wide till a smile turns

to guarantee?

You changed your hair

for me?

for whim?

You stayed to chat


I know my motives

my machinations

I know what calculated risks I take.

But what do you know

of the misdemeanours of sin?

Flick Knife Friend

Your small smile

a flick knife flourish.

Your confident summary

of how things will be.

Your curt assessment: nothing more to say.

Arms tightly folded

I stare at your shoe

fastidious holes in nebula swirls

punched precisely.

You've thought it all out

a direct thrust

then a slow unseaming, you'll leave me


salvaging entrails.

Nightly Fix

Why do I watch it, night after night?

I don't get it, what's the attraction?

That over-rated comic with his rodent nose

pinched, sexless body

and runners large as loaves.

The co-star with her Cyborg chin

obsessive permissiveness

and Medusa hair.

The next door neighbour

who ice skates in

throws epileptic responses and paranoid lines

seaweed hair electrically afloat

and the shouting man, the short angry friend

who refuses to work

and is petty with his cash.

Why do I watch it? it just doesn't make sense!

It's petty

it's obsessive

but it somehow twisters you in.


Joy Reid is 35 and lives on a property in Gippsland, Australia, that borders on the Mullungdung state forest. She's been writing seriously for around a year and in that time has experienced a wide range of success including publication in over fifty international e-zines as well as a handful of print magazines. Her aim is to promote Australian literature as widely as possible. Her work has appeared in the U.S.A, Canada, England, Croatia, Israel, Sweden, New Zealand and Germany.

Last Updated December 1st, 1999
For more information contact: Joy Reid