Roberta Lowing

Roberta Lowing’s poems have appeared in MeanjinBlue Dog and Overland. Her first novel, Notorious, a contemporary Gothic thriller, is published by Allen & Unwin. From 2006 to 2010, she organized and hosted the monthly PoetryUnLimitedPress (PULP) Poetry Readings & Open Microphone Competition in Glebe, Sydney. In 2007, PULP published the Ilumina Journal, a collection of poems and essays from Guest Poets such as Peter Boyle, Judith Beveridge, Stuart Rees and selected Open Mic poets. From 1986 to 2009, Roberta was film reviewer for Fairfax Media’s The Sun-Herald and for much of that time, a contributor to The Sunday Age. In 2006, Fairfax Books published a collection of her reviews. Roberta completed her Master of Letters at the University of Sydney; she co-founded Sydney University’s Writers Society and was co-editor of the Society’s first Phoenix Journal. She also spent four years in community television, producing and directing 80 episodes of the environmental television show Green Seen for Sydney’s Channel 31.


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Recruitment Form

Down from the black-wedged hills of Virginia
under its bowl of dull quartz
down from land the colour of lung and old cars eating earth
down from the coal pits on the stubby peaks
down from banners of rain and bleached flags on sagging porches
down from fires burning in gasoline drums and ponds of oil
down from graves marked with rusted hub caps
down the dirt roads the classrooms in trailers
the women crying in backrooms
down from old men spitting tobacco juice
through gums not yet forty
down from green water in the wells
bobcats chained in tiny cages
dogs with yellow eyes
down from children the colour of dirt playing with dirt
down from nothing-to-do Friday nights
and being-too-drunk Saturdays
down from shootin’ possums under daddy’s shouts
both hands trying to hold the barrel to pump action .22s
peppering road signs going woo
hoo we on a express elevator to hell john-boy feel
that wiiiind cut the skin
between my fingers hearts leeeapiiinnnggg
to bounding light round and round the ground rushin’
to meet us smears stampin’ down my breath
sky’s on top
grit in my eye john-boy john
boy can’t

down from the dust rising off the dawn hills
down from my momma’s eyes holding caverns of old light
down from a bus ride through the cold night
down to this

a chipped wooden desk in the barber’s shop in Louisville
the dull glint of braid on blue
the guys all there
Josh snapping gum hawking spit balls
pushing me forward
sayin’ walk in the park my man
a few salutes easy money
there’s Bradley sweatin’ through ten pounds of gut lard
his granddaddy’s medals pinned to his flannel shirt
even the skinny Milltown kid no more’n sixteen
who threw fits all through junior school
every ghost of Old Dominion says Let’s roll!
as we copy our names off our fake IDs
on to the recruitment form.

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