Stephen Oliver


The Heart’s Laboratory

You must read words
                  to be reminded of them.

Left alone they are rabble, argumentative, a calm
or crazy half-remembered message
                  of some forgotten incident,
or people.

                  Whatever heart you have visited,
someone passed that way before.

                  Silk road of remembrance.

How humanizing it is to half-turn and glimpse -
as if to say,
                  ‘Trust me, again’.

The small discoveries one makes of the moment
are soon forgotten – deafened

by the blood’s quiet tumult,
that roar in the ears via the heart’s laboratory.

A plane-shadow snatches a tree; Autumn.


Snow Script

A flock apart that breaks formation
                  completes the sky’s escutcheon.

An old timber church stands sketched in snow.

                  A couple of trees with branches
crossed tight as seat-belts.

Icy-pearled fishing boats in the bay.

An Icelandic movie set in the 18th century,
                  an isolated fishing community.

The lone cry of the sea-dove above the hill behind.

A villain, a severe winter, a little boy
                  and survival which is all about death.

Coldness brings out the bully in the pastor
                  gripping his pulpit like a dog sled.

The dogs out in the whiteness
expectant or bored bark at nothing much.

                  The dogs go this way and that,
bunch down in the weather.
                  A storm’s coming but that’s nothing new.

Just how bad keeps the community ruminating
over recriminations and small, warm hatreds.

The director’s notes uncovered in the ruins
indicate a chase, one escape, and a large accident.



Stephen Oliver is the author of thirteen titles of poetry, including Night of Warehouses: Poems 1978–2000, HeadworX Publishers, 2001. Three of his books, Unmanned, Night of Warehouses: Poems 1978-2000, and Deadly Pollen are freely available as e-books from Project Gutenberg, Oxford Text Archive, and Online Books Page/University of Pennsylvania. Stephen is a transtasman poet and writer who lives, precariously, in Sydney. Website: Oliver’s new collection of poetry, Either Side The Horizon, is now available from Titus Books, Auckland/Sydney (