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James Walton – Cockroach Meditation

Profile James Walton LE Mag September 2019

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Cockroach Meditation, poems by James Walton

James Walton is published in many anthologies, magazines, and newspapers. He was a librarian, a farm labourer, and mostly a public sector union official. He resigned from an elected position in 2014 to write. His books include ‘The Leviathan’s Apprentice’ 2015, ‘Walking Through Fences’ 2018, and ‘Unstill Mosaics’ 2019. He has been previously shortlisted for the ACU National Literature Prize, The MPU International Poetry Prize, The James Tate Prize, Jupiter Artland, The William Wantling Prize, and is a winner of the Raw Art Review Chapbook Prize for “Abandoned Soliloquies’ to be published shortly, but as a full-length collection. He lives in Wonthaggi, Victoria, Australia, in a Federation house which was once a maternity ward.


Cockroach Meditation

Two spindly things
you once ran
always to the sun

We watch the smaller dot
a circumference of all imaginings

You scratched the iris of rain forest
beat against the tinnitus
of your making

Saw tumbleweeds become the norm

Here in the damp
termites sing to their cousins of silk

Your memories arc in fragments
ours leapt the largest footprints

now hold fast before the hurricane

Steel into river red gum
you cannot learn to be
we remain still in a micro wave

Your generations talk of humanity
We remember Cain

Sunday 2009, any day a Sunday

By the time the town hall meeting
is called, they have stopped the fire
at the third green. The wind change
waved in presence back to the lake.

The new town is a suburb returned
to earth, a clay pot of dry river bed
in the gully. Ravens and magpies
compete for air to sing in prolapse.

Seb the Sri Lankan counsellor sits
beside me, his gum boots covered
in cold ash. Back at his property
only some steel veranda posts stand.

He’s sobbing as he takes my half
used tatty handkerchief, not from
any sorrow this time. Because his
house cow trotted out of the cinders.

Squirting her demands there as he
sat between geography. His family
is safe and there are no casualties,
this time we are boats for salvage.


Cootamundra Wattle

You’re too daggy now
once so ubiquitous
along with hydrangeas
the pairing almost a haiku

every second child fell out
of that shivering font of annunciation
all Alice through hay fever
the broken skin your other variety

Jason’s crew cleaned their bodies
with oil from a familiar orchard
your head tossed its fleece
over the weight of so many plantings.

You’re confined these days
to grandparents’ gardens
in forgotten suburbs of lustrous hubris
gummy excretions from pruning

not fitting the clean lines of Rubik cube domesticity

shepherded back to the great plains
an origin where like the elephants
wandering in grand eloquent possessives
as seedling shields howl out resistance

mimosa florets precious as saffron
lay over the trails to graveyards
the leaves finely cut venetian blinds
all frayed by the incisions of golden offspring.


© James Walton