Sunday, March 18, 2012

Tuesday Poem - The Toppled Head by Les Murray

The Toppled Head

The big bald head is asleep
like Lenin on a pavement.
Tipping backward, it starts
a great mouth-breathing snore
throttling as stormwater.
loud as a hangar door
      running on rails
but his companion gently
reshapes his pillow, till his
postion's once more foetal,
breathing towards his feet.
His timbre goes silent, and
the glottal dies in a gulp.

This poem is from Les Murray's book Taller When Prone published by Black Inc. I went off to Adelaide Writer's Week this year to have some fun on the excuse that my book Barefoot had been short listed for the John Bray Award, and I promised myself that I would ask the winner if I could have a poem for my blog. I knew it couldn't be me because they tell you if you have won. But not if you have lost. You just have to infer that. And Les won. He is a mate and a fine poet so I was well pleased. It is a strong shortlist, perhaps because it has been, up until now, awarded every second year, so it draws on two years of poetry. But that changes from now on in, it will be a yearly thing.

John Bray poetry award
Jennifer Compton, Barefoot (Picaro Press)
Diane Fahey, The Wing Collection: New & Selected Poems (Puncher & Wattmann Poetry)
Les Murray, Taller When Prone (Black Inc.)
David Musgrave, Phantom Limb (John Leonard Press)
Tracy Ryan, The Argument (Fremantle Press)
Petra White, The Simplified World (John Leonard Press)


  1. Great poem! I can totally see the 'big bald head'. And congratulations for being shortlisted.

  2. Congratulations on your shortlisting.

    Les Murray is a great poet. He manages that difficult thing of making the mundane become fresh and alive. The last two lines really seal the deal.