Issue 8 – Summer 2005 – Liam Guilar

Liam Guilar


The three pieces here come from an ongoing project, which is an attempt to tell a story based very loosely on the first European descent of the Amazon river in 1541/2. The collection moves from Sea Shanties to Syllabics, tipping its hat on the way at a range of poets and poetic styles.



The River

The roots of trees
splay fingers
cupping silence 
over shadows

Mud caked
grey stones,
dark ringed
water lapped.

Circling flies
Stem twitching.
Water fumbling
the torn tree stump

Long-legged skimmer
on its own reflection

The river joins the dots
Encounters, moves on, 
then forgets.

On the strewn beach
men step over tenses.
Silent participants 
in downstream worlds
the river cannot see 
their hands build boats
to take them there.



The River Journey

Grey glacier melting
hurrying downhill
loaded with silt
gouging its impatience
through ice covered rocks.

The tree line,
and the endless rain
donate another burden.
Brown now, 
it plunges
mindless as sex
yearning for the plain
deposits and regathers
before annihilation in the sea.

Shaped and shaper
passing through


Ghost Fences #2

Conscripted to futility: seasonal witnesses to ownership
we stand guard for a while at the edges of the space 
the tribe claims as its own. Obedient to directions
(how can the skulls ask questions of their sanity?)
we outstare time: oblivious to absurdity.

If this landscape could be named, then call it loneliness:
a blunt reminder of your insignificance.
Three bands of colour. Above, the endless
empty blueness of the sky, bleached by the sun.
Between, the ragged stripe of forest green. 
Below, the blue-grey lake. And you are nothing
more than windblown dots across its surface.

Behind us in the dark, the platforms wrapped in pungent smoke
If we define a boundary do we keep the terror out? 
Or like the firelight create a place, familiar, near, 
where children cry, old man tell stories
and bodies writhe together in the corners of the hut?

…slack at the edges, even underneath the moon, the landscape
darkens into distance. We stare: failed antidotes to primal fear: 
That sense that everything can fade away, cannot be grasped 
or being grasped cannot be held but crumbles, flows, 
as permanent as patterns forming on the surface of the lake. 
Stake out the skulls to claim this place as yours but
it will not notice when you disappear.



Liam Guilar was born in England, but currently lives and works in Australia. He has had two print collections of poetry published in Australia, the most recent being I’ll Howl Before You Bury Me ( His poems have appeared in various Australian, English and Irish publications as well as on a range of web sites. He has spent far too many years kayaking wild rivers, and Idaho State University published his story of the first Australian Kayaking expedition to enter what was then Soviet Central Asia. ( “Ghost Fences #2” first appeared in Shearsman magazine.