from ‘The Ghost and The Machine’

Catherine Vidler’s poems have appeared in journals including Sport, Turbine, Quadrant, Blackbox Manifold, Antipodes, Takahē and Southerly. Her collection of poems ‘Furious Triangle’ was published in 2011 by Puncher & Wattmann. A chapbook, Canberra Poems, was recently published by Ginninderra Press, which will also shortly publish another chapbook of her trans-Tasman poems, The Window and the Tree. In October 2016 a chapbook of 28 visual poems made out of and in response to ‘chaingrass’, a word from Bill Manhire’s poem ‘Falseweed’, will be published in electronic form by Jazz Cigarette. Further chaingrass work, in the form of chaingrass ‘patterns’, appears or is forthcoming in The New Post-literate, Otoliths, Overland,, RENEGADE (an international anthology of visual poetry and language arts edited by Andrew Topel) and on Catherine’s website A large collection, including both chaingrass patterns and the original set of 28 visual poems from which they were made, is to be published by STALE OBJECTS dePRESS. Catherine is editor of trans-Tasman literary magazine Snorkel.

This sequence of poems first appeared in Issue 14. Please support our work and buy a copy today.

By sammydaviddog (Flickr) CC-BY-2.0

the ghost wanted more than he expected


to write a book

the exact opposite

to be acknowledged and/or released

to get married

to marry her

none of that early pressure

a birthday cake

a particular cake

to see him just once

fresh breath

to be in the group photo

to dance on stage

to share these memories

your house

a new place

true love


a halloween costume


his love to join him in the castle

to play poker

to talk to me

to play with them

my attention

to frighten me

to talk to him

her as a replacement

to repair and heal

to talk to everyone

to have a sleepover

some pie too

to be captured on film

everyone to leave

to let us know that it left us the tiny flowers

the ghost danced

along the edge of the balcony

along the creek

just out of range

bhangra with me

in 2006

to a tune in his head

in front of her

around the trees

the ghost sighed

and looked out over the railing

and continued

and began again

the ghost was afraid

of those big animals

of me

of her too

of children

of dogs

of his two generals

of us

of drowning

of the Tasmanian devil

of himself at this rate

the ghost lay half a mile beyond

the ghost lay motionless

the ghost lay in wait for her

the ghost lay on her wrist

the ghost who talks

(For ‘The Ghost Who Talks’, by Bill Manhire)

the ghost who talks to good effect

the ghost who talks a teensy bit

the ghost who talks to visitors

the ghost who talks about revenge

the ghost who talks on Friday night

the ghost who talks about its confinement

the ghost who talks to the entwined

the ghost who talks about how rhythm is everything

the ghost who talks about capitalism

the ghost who talks in Wormwood Creek

the ghost who talks to Hamlet (the second time)

the ghost who talks and walks off-stage

the ghost who talks about cake and tea

the ghost who talks about new releases

the ghost who talks about talking trash

the ghost who talks about ‘extraordinary’

the ghost who talks the night before

the ghost who talks in the usual way

the ghost who talks to itself alone

the ghost who talks about the golden age

the ghost who talks about local music and radio

the ghost who talks about its world title victory

the ghost who talks (if you were wondering)

the ghost who talks about all the tunnels

the ghost who talks about exactly the same thing