Laura Jan Shore – What the World Dreams

Profile Shore LEP&W ANZ May 2021

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

Born in the UK, raised in the US and now living in Australia, Laura Jan Shore’s poetry collections include Breathworks (Dangerously Poetic Press, 2002), Water over Stone (Interactive Press, 2011), Afterglow (Interactive Press, 2020). She’s also the author of YA novel, The Sacred Moon Tree, (Bradbury Press,1986), nominated for the Washington Irving Children’s Book Award. Her work has been published in anthologies and literary journals on four continents including Magma and The Best Australian Poems 2013.  In 2019, she received her MFA in Poetry from Pacific University.

What the World Dreams

The world dreams she’s a menopausal woman
with too many brawling brats in a housing commission flat.

If she could afford a bus ticket, she’d be gone

Her kids know her flaw
is her fondness for them and exploit it.

Don’t annoy her too much, even she
has her breaking point.

The world burns, then floods.
The world dreams of a cottage by the sea.

Spills tears into the ash
of all she has lost.

In her reveries, she recalls being worshipped,
now called, pagan, said with disdain.

The world’s not too shy to storm and growl.
In the world’s dream, her children grow

humble and reverent or at least remember
to tidy up and deal with their trash.


Lightening ruptures the sky. Rain sutures
the soil. Windows distort runnels of wet
into prisms of dull light.
On the veranda, a half-drowned magpie
eyes me with an indignant ruffle of feathers.
Our road is a river now. Two pelicans glide by.
Banked at the verge, a tangle of branches.
Wading in, water laps my knees,
all swirl and swill.
Wind slithers
beneath my collar, billows my jacket.
I breathe the sea’s dark breath,
salt crusting my tongue until
head flung back, face to the spitting sky,
I mimic the curlew’s cry.

Don’t give me shelter, tear open the roof
of my skull. Flood all my plans.
Toss me like flotsam
on the waves. I thrive in the tumult.

Storms remind me—
even alone, I’m not alone.

Our Task

But our task is to die… Antonio Machado

I yield the heft of my bones, sniff
the gauze of darkness and sink.
This is my practice.

I imagine oblivion as turmeric yellow.
It tastes like blood.

Outside, the flutter of bat wings, an unhinged
gate, frogs moaning

like deranged cows, all blur
into a nameless din. A soporific bliss.

Sheltering inside my skull, I peer
at the poem inscribed there.
The line I can’t quite read.

From the corner of lax lips, sorrow crusts.
I want to know the blank face
of my absence.

Untethered to the slump of clay, I want
to rise up

to where things happen,
but there’s no time.

In the space between—am I
liquid as a chrysalis

Or gaseous—
each pore an aperture
streaming sun.

© Laura Jan Shore