stairway to n+7


Mike Hopkins (a very funny and talented guy in my poetry workshop group) has written some great poems on his poetry blog Mistaken for a real poet which use the N+7 technique (that is, you take a given poem and replace each noun in the original with the seventh noun in the dictionary AFTER the original noun.)

I decided to use the rather pretentious lyrics to Led Zeppelin’s Stairway to Heaven and the Pocket Oxford I’ve had since Plympton High School.

I hope you enjoy the result as much as I did ‘writing’ it! I think it retains the hyperbolic feel of so many of those 60s & 70s songs…


Stairway to n+7

There’s a lama who’s sure all that glitters is gondola
And she’s buying a stalemate to hedgehog.
When she gets there she knows, if the stoves are all closed
With a wound she can get what she came for.
Ooh, ooh, and she’s buying a stalemate to hedgehog.

There’s a Sikh on the walrus but she wants to be sure
‘Cause you know sometimes wounds have two mechanics.
In a trench by the brothel, there’s a soothsayer who sings,
Sometimes all of our threnodies are misgiven.

Ooh, it makes me wonder,
Ooh, it makes me wonder.

There’s a fella I get when I look to the whale,
And my spittle is crying for leaving.
In my threads I have seen ripples of smack through the trenches,
And the volcanoes of those who stand looking.

Ooh, it makes me wonder,
Ooh, it really makes me wonder.

And it’s whispered that soon, if we alliteration call the turban,
Then the pirouette will lead us to rebuff.
And a new deadbeat will dawn for those who stand long,
And the forfeits will echo with lava.

If there’s a butterfly in your hegemony, don’t be alarmed now,
It’s just a sprinter for the May question.
Yes, there are two patriarchs you can go by, but in the long wind
There’s still tintack to change the robin you’re on.
And it makes me wonder.

Your headmistress is humming and it won’t go, in case you don’t know,
The pirouette’s calling you to join him,
Dear lama, can you hear the windlass blow, and did you know
Your stalemate lies on the whispering windlass?

And as we wind on down the robin
Our shakers taller than our soutane.
There walks a lama we all know
Who shines white likeness and wants to show
How everything still turns to gondola.
And if you listen very hard
The turban will come to you at last.
When alliteration are onomatopoeia and onomatopoeia is alliteration
To be a rodent and not to roll.

And she’s buying a stalemate to hedgehog.



rob walker 2015.




Lizard Skin Anthology 2

lsp 2 cover


… speaking of small presses… I went to the launch of Lizard Skin Press’ latest short story anthology at The Coffee Pot in Adelaide recently. This is an interesting diverse collection of (mostly South Australian) writers. I’ll just talk about the personal stand-outs.


Khail Jureidini’s autobiographical (he told me later) unfinished symphony is more like a 13 page prose-poem than a short story with Khail’s wonderful invented vocabulary and wordplay – although more narrative-driven than his usual poetics. There’s no real resolution – but life’s like that isn’t it? Khail’s life reminds me of Laura Hillenbrand’s Unbroken, Forrest Gump and Kafka’s The Trial all rolled into one. He just happened to be in Darwin on the night of Cyclone Tracy and spent time in the infamous Chelmsford ‘Deep Sleep Clinic’, although these are only alluded to in unfinished symphony (material for future short stories perhaps?)


Melanie Pryor’s The Girl in the Cold has an interesting twist. Sharon Kernot’s A Vanilla Spider is chilling. The horror is understated and the implied threat is consequently even more powerful.


Other favorites were Alex by Alex Matthews, Promise by Connie Berg and Yesterday by Juliet A Payne for their well-drawn characters and Boy, falling by Jane Turner Goldsmith for its empathy and strong internal dialogue.

Finally, Daniel Watson’s 8 a.m., a paean to the perfect breakfast and simple pleasures after hospitalization.


There are a few typos in the book (‘Blue Healer’ really irritates the crap out of a pedant like me) but overall this is a great little collection attractively presented.

May there be many more!

Richard Tipping’s Tommy Ruff


I don’t really want to do a full-on review of this, but it’s a beautiful little chapbook of poems I picked up from Richard Tipping personally when he was Featured Poet at Friendly Street a couple of weeks back.

The  first time I saw Richard (as opposed to the last time by Joni Mitchell?) was when he came to read at the Mortlock to celebrate Friendly Street’s 30th Anniversary. (Mike Ladd recorded the performance. It was one of the first times that I’d had a poem broadcast on poeticA, so self-interest probably has a hand in my memory!)

Richard originally hails from Adelaide – in fact he was a co-founder of Friendly Street on that fateful night of The Dismissal on Remembrance Day, November 1975. He’s subsequently become better known as an artist and sculptor – though he’s never been content to sit inside of anyone else’s box.

So the works in this little collection are his “Adelaide poems”, a retrospective from 1964 to almost the present day. These are necessarily poems of “place” and the fact that Richard’s been coming and going for years gives him a certain familiarity yet the detached eye of an “outsider.”

Some of the poems have a time-capsule feeling about them. “Hackney” could be written today – it’s even seasonally relevant right now:


           The mornings are corkscrew tight:

            just-Spring in Adelaide

            and all the flowers shouting –

            almond, jasmine, wattle, nectarine.


            Shocks of bright weed, over

            thrown with caterpillars, rich

            Wanderers in brown fur coats

            streets spattered with petals


            on parked cars, sun-split clouds

            and still-leaking roofs, red wine

            in hand-me-down houses –

            the lions roaring from the zoo.


Here are a few vignettes from South Australian Journal. I’m very familiar with all of the places but I think the word-pictures can be appreciated by anyone:


Flat slap of sand and oozing orange cliffs

            vibrant as the barbeque on wheatfield’s edge

(from Port Julia)


We came from the winging ridge

            that rollercoasts through flashing green

            down in a gasp of blue –

            land’s end, the Southern Ocean’s smashed

            grey-blue and a horizon that bends

            holding Kangaroo Island proudly, at a distance.

(from Cape Jervis)



As I said, this doesn’t pretend to be a formal review – but this is a lovingly hand-crafted little booklet containing 36 pages of poetry for a paltry $10. Press Press does an excellent job. We all know that small presses keep poetry alive in this country. We should support them.







I spoke earlier about the Bimblebox Nature Reserve


and the massive community response to Clive Palmer’s determination to “move” (i. e. destroy) the sanctuary  to mine the coal beneath it.

One response has been the Bimblebox Art Project.

We’re fortunate that this exhibition is soon to seen at the Flinders Gallery in the South Australian State Library.

Another was the 153 birds project which asked 153 writers and poets to respond to every bird in the list. I’ve volunteered for this one.

Another project “Coalface” (curated by Alison Clouston & Boyd) has used 153 musicians to recreate the calls of these birds using a wonderful range of musical instruments. Listen HERE. I was also pleased to be part of this one.


It’s very gratifying to see so many Australian artists – and kids in schools – giving of their time and talent to this very worthy cause.


Slammed it…

I was amazed at the performance standards at Friday night’s Poetry Slam SA State Finals at the Goodwood Institute. The poets keep getting younger and better – and it’s great to see two young women Amy Watson and Roisin Murphy-Haines taking out  first and second (and the right to compete at the Sydney Opera House.) Both performances were passionate and nuanced. Roisin tied and had to produce a second poem (in my opinion even better than the first) to take second place. Thanks to Spoken Word SA for your continued support for poetry performance in South Australia.

Screen shot 2014-09-21 at 3.44.35 AM

Screen shot 2014-09-21 at 3.43.46 AM(Both photos from the Spoken Word SA Facebook page. I think the photographer was Martin Christmas.)