William Rush (Bill)

Bill Rush lives in Melbourne. He wrote his first poem at the age of seven. The author of two previous books of poetry, his work has been published in Australia and overseas. Poems in this collection have appeared in Island, Perihelion, London Poetry Review, Orbis and many other magazines.

Reflecting on the human condition and its habitat, his subject matter is eclectic, ranging from the classical to the contemporary, from the natural world to the deeply personal. Like Thoreau, he sees poetry as ‘healthy speech’, inviting both clarity and response; also as an attempt to show with economy of words that which the Australian poet Joyce Lee once described as ‘the mystery at the centre of things’.

A retired pharmacist with a theology degree, Bill enjoys people, tennis, travel, art and classical music.


Airport Check

Heraklion. Crete.

Why choose me
from all these others? Perhaps
with five o’clock shadow and
half-closed eyes
my passport life now reads like a story
too good to be true.
Probing my cabin bag it seems
is not enough. Someone waves
a wand over my torso,
back and front, asks me to raise
my arms like wings.
So I comply,
unflappable Icarus, ready
once more to soar
towards the sun.

Morning Becomes Nuclear

good start to the day
sun zipping through glass
perfect September
a cloud of hyped-up silvereyes
shakes the old prunus
petals rain on grass
indoors the smell of toast
Arvo Pärt’s hypnotic Fratres
chant-like on the radio
putting on a good face
the spunky sun
carries on as usual
six million degrees
searing a reactor heart

Penelope after Dinner

Are you sure you didn’t dream this?
Cyclops too dumb to know
what you were up to?
It seems all the witnesses
drowned on the way home.
The guests, thrilled by the horse
trick, now weep for Calypso.
And your tale about the sirens,
they love that one! While I spin,
you embroider.
As for beautiful Circe
being all over you: look in the mirror.
No doubt she gladly pushed you
out to sea. Or, as your version has it,
Odysseus escapes again.


Our lives’ debris in this quarried wound,
layers of waste and need.
Another generation will scratch, sieve,
interpret a compacted present. Kneeling
on sward, they’ll fossick for what’s left:
chicken bone, Coke bottle, rusty fork, maybe
something riggish that will make them blush
if blushing’s still in fashion.
Gulls, here for daily pickings,
swirl over chaos like erratic stars, then wing
south to shore where a darkening strait
washes defiled feet.

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