2015 Winner, Steve Armstrong

We are pleased to announce Steve Armstrong as the 2015 Bruce Dawe Prize winner. See a recital of Steve's winning poem, watch an interview with him and read his blog 'The art of losing to win.' for more inspiration. 

A Cracked  and Weathered Prayer

Stretched canvas, a backwater 
                enamel black in the half-light. Blacker still, the swans. 
        Every morning I get out early;

it's the hour before dawn, 
                the middle of my life and I've moved back with my parents. 
        Domestic entrails lie where they

fall, white goods dumped 
                around this brackish lagoon. The surface of still water: pour 
        myself upon it; heightened

by all that's commonplace 
                here. Bitou bush, lies like a veil over sand hills flattened 
        by miners, who sucked the fat

from the belly, from the face, 
                from beneath the crested forelock of this titanium littered 
        coast. Everywhere, disowned

things splinter and crack. 
                They bear the weather's salty notations, manifold 
        patterns of memory's decay. 

a narrow path through deep 
                banks of melaleuca; a crumbling line of WW2 tank barriers 
        wait. The Japanese will come

from the north. Alone, among 
                abandoned cars with toothy grins, it's possible to imagine 
        the comfort of a woman;

to make my innocent plea. 
                A bream leaps. Nothing else moves. A pale wash of light falls 
        as though the sky were walled

with paper screens. Soon 
                the sun will light the spare tops of casuarinas; for now, they're 
        women at the water's edge.