Michael J Leach – Bioluminescence

Profile Leach LEP&W ANZ May 2021

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

Michael J. Leach is an Australian academic and poet who lives on Dja Dja Wurrung country and acknowledges the traditional custodians of the land. He teaches and conducts research at the Monash University School of Rural Health, Bendigo. Michael’s poems are published or forthcoming in Plumwood Mountain, NatureVolve, Jalmurra, Rabbit, Meniscus, Cordite, Blue Bottle Journal, The Blue Nib, the Medical Journal of Australia, the Antarctic Poetry Exhibition, and elsewhere. His poetry has also been anthologised in One Surviving Poem: Forty-Two Poets Select the Poem they Most Want to Survive (In Case of Emergency Press, 2019), No News: 90 Poets Reflect on a Unique BBC Newscast (Recent Work Press, 2020), and Still You: Poems of Illness and Healing (Wolf Ridge Press, 2020). His debut poetry collection is the chapbook Chronicity (Melbourne Poets Union, 2020).


I swim out to sea
and tread choppy waters
lit by the light of our resident star.

Before a rip can pull me into oblivion,
I swim back to the comfort of our summery beach
to lay supine upon warm sands of leisure
and hold grains that glitter like distant suns.
The dry sand on my palm blows away in the blustery
wind that made the last wave crash into wet sand.

I arise to walk this rugged coastline for hours
in search of something far less grainy,
in need of something so smooth so exquisite so pure
that it’s both down-to-earth        &        transcendent.

In time, I find a pearly nautilus shell
that fills my aural canals with its eloquence.

Oceania’s voice summons me back to the deep,
to waters that grow calmer & darker
with the fading
light of a long midsummer’s day.

I swim out to sea
and tread tranquil waters
in which there’s now an eye-catching bloom

of gracefully pulsating crystal jellies
that defy the gloom with their luminescence.

The Natural State

down in Tasmania,               the air is perennially cooler
down in Tasmania  ,             platypus grow up to three times larger
down in Tasmania    ,           resident tigers remain in living memory
down in Tasmania      ,         resident devils still survive
down in Tasmania        ,       one is always close to the coast
down in Tasmania          ,     one is relatively close to Antarctica
down in Tasmania            ,   beer is still brewed from mountain waters
down in Tasmania              , orchards of apples grow in the absence of pests
down in Tasmania                 , ancient trees grow ever higher in the absence of fire

Central Victorian Summer

in Bendigo
at the dawn of summer—
scent of burnt wood

© Michael J Leach