Garth Dutton

Garth Dutton learned to write poetry whilst working in Portuguese Mozambique in 1970, but gave up on return to Australia. In 1983 he attended a ‘Poetry for the Unemployed’ course, which included a visit to Friendly Street. He has been going there regularly ever since. He has produced one book of poems, A day in Melbourne, in 1995.

Backyard Dreams

I am an explorer
on the back lawn’s wide prairies,
and the sandstone escarpment
of a rockery wall.
On the plateau
  I feast on
blue plums and white peaches.
I see hens
  large as emus
by the Mountains of the Fence.

From Friendly Street No. 10

The Change

In Africa
the mopane trees
lose half their leaves
in winter dry.

the Flinders Ranges wattles
in winter wet.

I can make the change.
I’ll be alright.
But sometimes
I still hear a leopard call
in a lowveld night.

From Friendly Street No. 16


Three days ago
I was in Belgium
in heavy snow.
Now I’m in mid-summer Darwin.
The only refuge
from the heat and humidity
is an airconditioned pub…
I look out at
The grey-green wet season sea,
looking all
full of sharks and jellyfish…
the earth is red,
and the tall grass
is a pale sweetcorn-leaf green.
are the white squares
on a draught-board of sky.

From Friendly Street No. 26