A few of Cameron's winning and commended poems

Whispers in The Language of Touch

Winner of The Fellowship of Australian Writer’s Queensland poetry competition 2014.

I love the conversation of our bodies

the everyday chit-chat
of shoulder touches
and hand glances

the serious dialogue
of moving furniture
and swapping shopping bags

the warm-worded casual chatting
of couch-cuddling and bed-snuggling

I love it all
the physical repartee
the confabulations of our flesh
it keeps us
in synch
in tune
in awe
in love

and sometimes
the only words that really make sense
are in the skin-to-skin pidgin
of which you and I
are the only speakers

and the only words that really
move me
are the whispers
of your touch

Thylacine Silence

by Cameron Semmens, www.webcameron.com
WINNER of The Woorilla Poetry Prize 2015

I stand on the edge of a lake.
I stall
on the edge
of myself.

Nestled
within ancient muted hills –
a lake,
liquid silence,
pooled over thousands of years.

I camp right on the rocky shore,
its hush
laps at the nailed tips of my soul.

After a day
my screaming city self
develops a slow leak.

In a week
enough silence gathers
in my rock-bottomed depths
to give just enough surface area
for true reflection.

Only then
I am joined on the shoreline
by a thylacine.

She nudges my shin
with her long muzzle.
Her whimpers
and soft swallowed bark
tease me
with a sense of meaning.

And as I run my hand along
her barcode of stripes
I know she is forever lost
to modern man.

Then she lets out a growl
that flows from her body
into the earth
and shakes every snap and snarl of her species
into this little valley.

And suddenly,
everywhere,
the ever-eyes of her ancestors
sparkle like the first stars at twilight.

My heart
is flooded with space;
my mouth empties
of words.

Fragile – Handle with Care

(Timor-Leste, 2014)

Long-listed for The Waterbrook Literary Prize,
as part of The Lane Cove Literary Award, 2014.

From a cloud of anxiety
the aircraft descends
into the warmth of Dili.
On the horizon
a coffee-stained moon
smiles at me.
In my chest a
– thump –
we land.
But my thin-air dreams,
even now, haven’t hit the ground.
I’m still in my head;
every fear being fleshed,
every thought being
– thunk –
the conveyor belt starts up.
My bag is first out.
I’m still having second thoughts.
Before I swing my hiking pack
onto my back
I do a final check on the
– zip –
a mozzie dive-bombs my ear.
Malaria appears –
a little devil on my left shoulder;
Aerogard on the other.
I protect my bare ankles
with a stamp
my passport is cleared.
When I pay my twenty US dollars
I can enter this land freely.
I will leave my fears
in the bin
provided
I’m looked after
by a driver
who waves me over
and holds my name in his hands.
On my pack is a sticker.
I peel it off and slap it on shirt:
Fragile – handle with care.

I’m on my way.

I Saw a Man Die

Long-listed for The Joanne Burns Prose Poem Award, 2013.

I saw a man die. Road rage. One punch. The old man toppled like a matchstick. His skull hit the road, his legs didn’t move. From where I sat, eating pizza, I didn’t see his head hit, but I heard it. It was a slap… of sorts. You’d think it would be a crunch, or a crack, but it wasn’t. I cried out something in that moment, but I don’t remember what I said. The guy who threw the punch just drove off. I got his number plate. I wrote it on the back of my hand.

“It’s evidence” the cops said when they took a photo of the scrawled numbers on my sweaty skin. They also took a photo of the table I was sitting at, with me, sitting there. I accidently smiled. The pizza I’d eaten was throwing itself around my stomach like it wanted to escape. The press were hawking, cameras were on me. It started to rain. An excuse to run, and run I did! A reporter chased me down the road. But I had no words for him, just a sound: a slap, a weird slap… with a very long echo.

Tea Cup in a Storm

Commendation in the Mornington Peninsula Poetry Prize, 2009.

I sit in the kitchen
with my second cup of tea.

Outside
the trees are fitting,
the windows drool
and the whole epileptic earth
is flailing helplessly
‘dangerous conditions’ the radio tells me.

That butterfly in Brazil
has flapped its wings again.

Imminent peak-hour traffic
has already slowed my thoughts to a crawl.

Across from me – my wife.
I see nausea
weighing down the edges of her smile.
She has a baby in her belly,
I have a butterfly in mine.

Ever since the second blue line
kept appearing test after test
this butterfly has been fluttering about my belly,
feeding on nerves,
frenzied with anticipation,
flapping up a storm.

I don’t want to go,
leave her like this.
But what can I do,
it’s my job to bring home the bacon
though she can’t stand the smell.

Storms outside, storms inside,
high pressures, low pressures,
butterflies and babies.
I flick the switch on the kettle
for one more cup of tea.