Gillian Swain – Birthday Notes

Profile Swain LEP&W ANZ May 2021

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Live Encounters Poetry & Writing May 2021
Special edition featuring poets from Australia & New Zealand.

Gillian Swain is from Lake Macquarie, living in East Maitland NSW. Gillian’s first poetry collection is “My Skin its own Sky” (Flying Islands Press 2019) following the chap-book “Sang Up” (Picaro Press, 2001). She has poems published in various anthologies and journals, most recently ‘Burrow’ (Old Water Rat Publishing, v1&2) and shared first place with Magdalena Ball in the MacLean’s Booksellers Award (Grieve Project 2019). She was, prior to Covid 19, the poet in residence at a local café and holds poetry workshops for primary and high school students at Linuwel Steiner School. Gillian helps run Newcastle Poetry at the Pub and recently performed in three sell-out shows at the Newcastle Fringe. She is the Poetry Curator for the Indie Writers Festival ‘IF Maitland’. Gillian’s most favourite things are her four children, her husband and Mum, their two dogs, poetry and coffee, not necessarily in that order.

Birthday Notes 

Like yesterday the sun spills morning
across expectation as heat rises
burning off a fog that promises a hot one

All the while time tumbles over
long days

Another now
and you’re supposed to notice
something new
again you wonder what’s different

Maybe this one will surprise you
remember when the cake was still hot in the middle
with candle wax long and lava like
on the surface
of sweet escape

This time there’s a bigger smile
too many candles
each a beacon to little triumphs,
big surrender

Crumbs and coffee
amulets on lips
the mouth of another year

In the yard you notice it’s all green
the fires have left their mark and cooled
now the brindle trunks are dressed in reassurance
time signature peels and
leaf-gem metronomes

One year on summer has the scent of secrets


Chem-trail embroidery on blue

Magic rainbows on water
Oil slick taint

Getting lost in the song
of a butcher bird

Strongest red
is blood
Beautiful cut

Good leather shoes
The hide of them

Silk pyjamas
Boil to not break thread

Curl of cigarette smoke
making art of air

Misty morning Rorschach

Today the squalls seem volatile
creeping across voids with an uncertain plan

Like wings the wind takes in colour and we find
ourselves amid the violet

Old is what the time frame says
its lines blur in husks of memory

Beneath a sky crowded lay
the ebbing mirrors of spillage

How early morning could throw such veils
keeps us watching

A wait unnoticed as light climbs through us
the midline an edge between image and echo

© Gillian Swain