As an extension of Arc’s Canada-Australia joint issue with Australia’s Cordite magazine, over the next several weeks, Arc will be publishing online selected pieces from Australian poets — this is in addition to the Australian poetry published in print in Arc 77. For the Arc-Cordite joint issue, each magazine handed the editorial responsibilities over to the other: so that Cordite filled Arc #77 (and these these webpages) with nothing but Australian poetry, prose and artwork; Arc did the same for Cordite (Arc’s part of this partnership will be published online at Cordite in December 2014). Our intent in this partnership is to showcase and cross-pollinate poetics between Australia and Canada and to share with a broader audience poetry that may be little known outside of home borders.
Apple-green enamel chipped
in the corner. Rust underneath.
Sweltering heat – the land of
eternal summer. Hair plastered to skull,
sour-sweat-smell rising from skin. Sand
from the playground dusts the floor tiles.
Enveloped in cool air, my fingernails scrape
frost from the freezer tray. I scoop a handful
into my mouth, swallowing before
it melts. You must never fall asleep
in the snow. Your matches have run out,
grandfather. I skip down the blazing street
and trip, coins scattering. Skinned
knees, skinned palms. The taste
of metal: I’ve bitten my tongue.
Eileen Chong is a Sydney poet who was born in Singapore. Her first book, Burning Rice, was highly commended in the Anne Elder Award 2012 and the Australian Arts in Asia Awards 2013. It was also shortlisted for the Prime Minister’s Literary Award in 2013. Her second collection, Peony, was published by Pitt Street Poetry in 2014.