Death Poems

by M F McAuliffe




The house is wrapped in the webs of noon.

The yellow grass falls away with the hillside.


In the beating noon

the hawk forgets the mouse,

the purple flower droops.


The sun slides in its grooves

and makes a silence.


The silence enters the room.





What does sleep accomplish?

What does breath accomplish?

Under your grey skin

the cells are multiplying, multiplying.





Your arms want to lie by themselves.

Your toes are a loose federation.

Your hair keeps straying off.

You are only your heart.





The window waits.

The bed is on loan from the next moriand.

Its soul stands at the door.





This hard spring rain

is driving you further into the earth

further and further –


The distance aches.





across the windowsill

in their hustling

millions of leaves

discs of metal

lean out from the trunks

into the ash-fall

into the death of light.


my mother is dead.


along the coast

wind-crazed tea-tree

weather-silvered planks

pines with torn arms

cypress and tamarisk

diagonal with yearning


black with early dusk


and the great laying out of the sea

the great sheeting away of the sea.






M. F. McAuliffe was born in South Australa and educated in Adelaide and Melbourne.


Her short fiction has appeared in Overland, siglo, Australian Short StoriesThe Adelaide Review, The Clarion Awards, Tema (Zagreb). Her poetry has appeared in Cordite Poetry Review, Poezija (Zagreb), and Prairie Schooner; she is the co-author (with Judith Steele) of Fighting Monsters (Vaughan Willoughby, Melbourne, 1998) and in 2000 her  long poem “Orpheus” was staged by the experimental La Mama Courthouse Theatre in MelbourneHer essays have been published in Overland and on the blog at Red Lemonade.


In 2002 McAuliffe co-founded the multilingual magazine Gobshite Quarterly with her husband, R. V. Branhamand she continues there as contributing editor. In 2011 she co-wrote and co-published the artist’s book Golems Waiting Redux (GobQ / Publication Studio, Portland).

poetry by mf mccauliffe_Photograph Humberto Suaste  detail from OJO DE PAJARO

Photograph: Humberto Suaste –  detail from OJO DE PAJARO


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