James Laidler

James Laidler is an emerging writer, poet and spoken word performer from country Victoria. In 2009, James made the Victorian State finals of the Australian Poetry Slam Competition. James' work has been featured on Writer's Radio, ABC Radio National and Melbourne's RRR. Selections of his writings have also been published in the literary journals: Going Down Swinging, Cordite, Poetica Christi, Poetry Matters and Peril. In 2010, James' poetry monologue, "Before the Fall", was sponsored by The Australian Poetry Centre and performed on stage at the Melbourne Writer's Festival. In terms of literary success, James has won the TNT Mail Scholarships Award in both 2001 & 2002, placed second in the 2009 FAW Shoalhaven Literary Awards, was been highly commended in the 2009 CJ Dennis Literary and Poetica Christi Awards, and was shortlisted for 2009 Olvar Woods Fellowship Award. James lives in Warrnambool, Victoria, where he divides his time between writing his second novel, teaching and being a loving father to his two beautiful boys.




Listen to the title track from the CD


A tar-coated roof,
an apartment block,
Lennox Street.
I tug at the bank-issued tie
around my neck,
take off my Blundstone boots,
my faded navy socks,
and step out
towards the edge.
Folding my toes
over a corner of concrete
I balance myself,
careful not to drop my gaze
to the dizzying world
stretched out
22 stories below.

The drone of traffic
radiates up
like summer heat,
trapped for too long,
in too much concrete.

And breathe.

Far below
a river of headlights
flickers and flows
under the old railway bridge,
and along
the tapestry
of Richmond’s streets.

Breathe deep,
hold it,

I close my eyes,
stretch out my arms
and lean that little bit closer
to the brink,
closer to the margin,
closer to the rush that sometimes,
brings relief.

Breathe in
deep and strong this time,
hold it.

My eyes reopen
to a smoggy night sky
and a symphony of stars
plays for me
my own private song
and I listen.
I listen

as the week’s memories
and the nameless faces
viewed through the syrupy
plastic window
of Teller 6
slowly fade away.

Breathe out,
long and true.

I think of Dad
living somewhere on a farm
near Colac
and pour my thoughts
into the big saucepan’s starlit frame
to simmer and steam.

Then to the east,
from behind a wispy cloud,
five stars appear
in perfect formation.

I take my heart
—filled with the image of my Mum,
collapsed on our brown
vinyl couch,
eight floors below,
next to her overflowing ashtray—
and nail it
to the Southern Cross.

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