Paul Scully

Paul Scully is an actuary by training, works in finance and has been writing poetry most of his life. He has a Masters of Creative Writing from Sydney University, where he is currently pursuing a Doctorate in Creative Arts. Much of the poetry in this volume comes from this endeavour. His first collection, An Existential Grammar, was published by Walleah Press in 2014 and was shortlisted for the Anne Elder Award. His second collection, Suture Lines, was published by Guillotine Press in 2016. His work has been commended and shortlisted in major Australian poetry prizes and has been published in print and online journals in Australia, Ireland, the UK and USA.


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Thomas Texts

Sayings from the Gospel of Thomas

The Gospel of Thomas records “secret sayings that the living Jesus spoke and that Didymos Judas Thomas recorded. And He said, ‘Whoever discovers the interpretation of these sayings will not taste death.’ ”


Uproot yourselves, give away all you own, seek, travel until sight
loses you, make each day its own Sabbath, then ask a child
about your place in the great creation and marvel at what you have lost.

You ask what I am truly like. A lion, a fish, a sage, a fool, a drunkard?
I am the one who releases the falling knife, who tensions the string
when you nock the bow, who is both flight and steadfastness.

The builders of this earth will cast me aside as misshapen stone
that does not fit the pattern, mortar that will not hold. But know this,
I am the level, the keystone, I bind both lime and silica.

They will lay down palm leaves before me, sing me hosannas, even
celebrate my donkey in verse, then they will flog me and kill me.
My death will be reborn and become a psalm for the ages.

The world gladly worships a smile, while you have chosen a path of fire
and whip. Things will be done to you in my name, so that you will
grow to hate me. Indulge this enmity. It will be the measure of your love.


The Common Sense of Bats

If you could penetrate the cleft that is shadow
and depth in the rock-face, you would find

us hanging from the roof of a goblet-shaped cavern,
in chrysalid pods, at wing-folded rest. Purblind,

you might think, whereas our insight is profound,
for it resides in our eyes and our ears. Our kind

sends calls to the world that resound on return to flaps of skin
kitted like drums on the sides of our heads. We unwind

the pitch of the waves that engulf us to explain the terrain.
We touch the face of the earth, its mien enshrined

in a forested brow, in an eye-lit lake. The stories
they tell: An inchoate swell? What sings in the land behind

this discourse? What pivots unbidden? Our thought is mating
and forage, things we can hold: for us, it is no matter, no mind.


Responsorial Psalm

Bruno burned martyrdom
would not have become
you nor would your prestige
have flamed higher for Newton
foraged in the colony of vectors
you shouldered into the Two New Sciences

You gorged on the contest
as much as the search    you railed
you lampooned    traded scalpel for rapier
when disagreement took the field
especially when your assailant hilted
his treatise in Joshua and Solomon

Women lurked in the penumbra only
a mother but not a wife to you
two tender-aged daughters you offloaded
into a cloister    deemed unworthy
of your son’s upgraded birth the Tuscan legate’s
Contessa as convent patrona    and the Virgin

In your youth a paean to Dante
his people-speak you took as your own
you as text for Urban’s verse    yet your Dialogue
spurns poetry as mere imagining    How then
these symbols    these metered lines
these comforts on our “blind journey”

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