David Adès

David Adès was born in Adelaide of Egyptian Jewish parents. He is a poet and short story writer.  He has travelled widely and lived in Israel, India and Greece.  Since 2011 he has been living in Pittsburgh, U.S.A.

In 1979 a housemate took him to his first Friendly Street meeting. He attended for several years before having the nerve to read his own work. He later became a Friendly Street regular.

David’s first published poem appeared in 1988 in the No. 12 Friendly Street Poetry Reader. His poems have since appeared in many subsequent Friendly Street Readers and in numerous Australian and U.S. literary magazines and have also been published in Rumania, New Zealand and Israel.

David’s poems have been read on the Australian radio poetry program Poetica and have also featured on the U.S. radio poetry program Prosody. He is one of 9 poets featured on a CD titled “Adelaide 9”.  Since 2011 David has participated in the Hemingway’s Summer Poetry Readings in Pittsburgh.  Recordings of his readings (and that of many other poets) can be found at http://hemingwayspoetryseries.blogspot.com.

Together with Ioana Petrescu, David co-edited the Friendly Street Poetry Reader 26. In 2012 he was one of the volunteer editors of the Australian Poetry Members Anthology Metabolism.

David is a former Convenor of Friendly Street Poets. His manuscript Mapping the World was selected as the winner, by judge Rob Johnson, in the SINGLE POET publishing competition. The book was launched by Mike Ladd at Writers’ Week at the Adelaide Festival of Arts in 2008 and was later commended for the Fellowship of Australian Writers Anne Elder Award 2008.

David’s story ‘Dancing With Etti’ won the Wirra Wirra Vineyards Short Story Prize in 2005.  In 2014 David won the University of Canberra Vice-Chancellor’s International Poetry Prize and was shortlisted for the Newcastle Poetry Prize.

Music on my Tongue

My tongue, orchestral, has played unceasing
since I was young, symphonies of the lush,
the firm, the moribund, all winds and strings
in rhythmic flight. A carnival of spice,
of salty days and peppered nights, has drummed
across its skin, with desire a swooping,
rising, sonorous violin. I have
tongued the smooth and brittle surfaces, split
the skins and licked within, pale and fleshy
fruits, their succulent juice. The world has passed
across its reach, open face with parted
lips, the dripping bass of wine’s refrain, rich
rippling harpsichord of sweets, such music
manifests, my tongue craves to play again.

From Friendly Street No. 19


Nightfall, Dalat, Vietnam

Dusk slides down the gullet,

is devoured whole

by the mouth of transience,

does not exist:

the day, requited,

is clasped by ebony fingers,

surrenders smooth to waiting dark.


the shift and flicker of lanterns

hooked beneath tarpaulins,

by street stalls,

wink on, bead the market place,

configure the steps

rising to the streets above.

People eat from deep bowls.

Steam rises.

Molluscs boil in huge pots,

glow wetly.

Crowds eddy and swirl

past clusters of bicycles

and motor bikes,

around wooden benches.

Movement slips in and out of shadow.

A shape,

thick set,

disengages from milling faces,


Flick blade knife,

casual, ordinary as breath,

unsnaps in hand,

waves quicksilver in a mock lunge,


A hint of smile flashes in half light.

Seconds later

a metal tip presses against my belly,


measures the long night of its potential,

the weight of a little weight

and a flick of wrist,

that easy turn back

into shadow and crowd:



all in a few quick moments,


before surprise registers

on my face

or I have taken

one step back.


Exactly like death.

From Friendly Street No. 20



To Hazard This

To be a moth, once more, at the lamp
of a woman’s eyes; seeking that flame
in the knowledge of cinders; and the
darkness when the lamp is turned away.

To admit the darkness as necessary,
temporary; a harbour in which to moor
and sleep; repository of dreams as well
as nightmares, followed always by light.

To peel off, in the light, gloves of caution,
all the layers of motive and base instinct,
self-deceit and its mocking face,
the weight of baggage.

To open that baggage for inspection;
compartments of thorns and flowers,
bruises and lacerations, ridges of scar tissue,
spoken and unspoken language.

To wrestle the body of language;
its slippery limbs; its riddling, duplicitous
tongue all promises and lies,
all moth and butterfly.

To be a moth, once more, at the lamp
of a woman’s eyes: yes.

From Friendly Street No. 26