1. Uncatalogued
Dreams and Delights

Had anyone ever seen so dark a forest,
so dense with spruce and fir?” she asked out loud.
No reply. No echo. A raven cawed overhead.

Mister Prohack

Such were the claims made in the heat of the moment,
his fortitude would be sorely tested,
her tactfulness stretched taut by inexorable scrutiny.

Weeds of Hate

She tremored.

Noble in Reason

Like magnolias after a storm,
her notepaper lay limp,
mud-stained, unrecoverable
by promise or better judgement.


The telephone continued to ring.
No-one moved.

Fire and Dawn

Whiskey,” she thought.
“The Devil may care...”
Regardless, an opportunity
to consolidate higher ground
passed, the moment mere illusion.

Freedom Farewell

So this is what it means to seek adventure
beyond any recognisable landmark,
any riverhead, any sense of familiarity.
She cried. Dogs barked, scratched aimlessly
at blind irritation.

Richards of the Forge

By nightfall, evidence of external activity had ceased.
Behind brocade curtains, well-tempered piano scales
ascended, descended, diminished.


She could only wonder at the complexity of it all.
How marvellous would it be when mystery no longer
clouded her imagination, when intrigue faded into irrelevance,
when clarity ruled the rightful order of the day.

Ballad in G Minor

He saw red.

The Rise of Henry Mercer

Amidst the confusion, a voice.
Flames licked at the ceiling.
Did anybody hear a call for help?

Four O’Clock

She hesitated, checked her aide-mémoire.
Alas, to no avail: something was missing,
something far too important to overlook.
Her heart skipped a beat.

Hippy Buchan

Here, in the Abbey, you really could believe
that daffodils were cast from gold, that stars
were jewels in the firmament, that you simply
could close both eyes, and allow earthy silence
to drape your cooling shoulders with love.

Modern Tragedy

For years, he had spent summer beside rilling streams,
fed by montaine snowmelt and distant limestone springs.
Despite his undoubted skill with fly and line, villagers
were suspicious, ill-mannered, barely, rudely tolerant.


Was this when her sobbing would cease?

Nothing to Report

A raven cawed;
he saw red;
her heart skipped a beat.

The Swan of Usk

As far as they could ascertain,
a clue, a final diary entry.
But in whose quaking hand?
Nearby, an eraser, a broken nib.

Prelude to a Certain Midnight

Once the crowd had dispersed, he filed his story,
drew his collar tight, awaited his correspondent.

People in Cages

How much more does it take?” she begged.

2. Multiple Choice

Around the lily pond, Chinese Bamboo
(a)        swarmed with mosquitoes
(b)        swished, rattled, swished
(c)        whispered small hymns of praise
(d)       held fast nests of tiny birds.              

You reached for
(a)        patterns in the undergrowth
(b)        lists, unspoken words
(c)        darkness, lit by the Milky Way
(d)       belt buckle, boot strap, locket clasp.

The last thing I remember seeing
(a)        a pair of industrial bolt cutters
(b)        three lightning flashes
(c)        writing on the back of your hand
(d)       a six-pack of trouble.

Clear cloudless air rumbling, as if
(a)        thunder
(b)        a storm, over the horizon
(c)        an imminent train-wreck
(d)       earthquakes.

When my bus finally arrives
(a)        I will let it pass
(b)        I will let it pass
(c)        I will let it pass
(d)       I will let it pass.

The message on my telephone
(a)        cries like a baby
(b)        is soaked with sour beer
(c)        stares at me, straight in the eye
(d)       lies amongst autumn leaves, beneath the soles of my feet.

Until spring, until daisies, everlastings, bloom on roadside verges
(a)        loves me
(b)        loves me not
(c)        me
(d)       not.

The pain in my chest as my
(a)        arteries collapsed
(b)        ribs opened to the sky
(c)        breath took to jittery flight
(d)        shadows fell again and again and again.

Hence, ultimately, only one
(a)        viable option
(b)        unhealed scar
(c)        possible conclusion
(d)       way out.

3. Interview (unauthorised transcript)

Which of your shoes do you lace up first?
Left before right? Right before left?

Tell us about the buttons on your shirt.

Are your handkerchiefs monogrammed, moth-holes repaired?
When did you begin using herbal shampoo?

Tell us about your ties.
Describe the patterns, the styles and knots.

Show us your cursive script:
just a few lines, a sample signature, will suffice.

Is that the ink you normally use? The American spelling?
And your birth certificate, validated record of entry, passport?

Tell us about your allergies,
your favourite wine, French cheese, organic yoghurt.

You should monitor your body mass index.
How often do you exercise?

Can you sing, play tenor saxophone, a Fender bass guitar?
Can you keep to the beat?

Tell us about last night.

Did you hear screeching tyres? A rumbling V8?
What about the silence?

Why don’t you take off your shoes, loosen your tie?
Why don’t you sing us a song?

Who owns this key? Which door will it open?
Simply hold on to it. Simply give us a name.

Tell us the time, the place, the motivation.

We know about the blood stains. We know about biochemistry.
We will do the forensics.

Tell us about that cut on your lip.


Section titles in Part 1 are from novels by Lily Adams Black (Elizabeth Louisa Moresby), Arnold Bennett, Ottwell Binns, Phyllis Bentley, Harold Bindloss, James Branch Cabell, Ethel Boileau, Mary Borden, Carola Oman, Helen Ashton and Gerald Kersh, ordered as held on a shelf in the Mortlock Chamber, State Library of South Australia, August 2011.


Ian Gibbins is a neuroscientist and Professor of Anatomy at Flinders University, Adelaide, South Australia. His poems have been widely published and his electronic music gets a public airing from time to time.