John Brydon

Winner of the Friendly Street Poets single poet competition of 2013, John was born and brought up in South London in the UK. He worked in England and Scotland as a bioengineer and university researcher for a decade or so and then moved to Australia. Initially employed as a design manager in Sydney he now works for himself as a consulting engineer in Adelaide. He is also a qualified commercial arbitrator and mediator and a part time professional photographer.

John has been writing for the last 15 years across subjects ranging from the utilitarian to the fantastic. He is particularly interested in how we choose language to precisely communicate a poem’s message to the reader and promotes the idea that poets should aim to write as many positive poems as negative ones.

His poems have appeared in Friendly Street Poets 30, 31, 36 and 37, and Friendly Street New Poets 16. ‘Summer Morning’ was published in InDaily in June 2011, ‘Young Man’s Death Revisited’ was a Friendly Street poem of the month in July 2011, ‘Kosovo’ and ‘Big Bad Wolf’ (retitled ‘Osama’) were commended in the Friendly Street Political Poetry Competition of 2011. ‘The Jazz Singer’ was published on the Jerry Jazz Musician website in April 2012 and ‘War Horse’ received the second prize in the Henry Lawson Festival Verse Competition also in 2012. ‘Olympic Spirit’ was an Australian Poetry poem of the week in August 2012 and ‘Afternoon Story’ received the 2013 Satura Prize for the best poem in the annual Friendly Street anthology.

As well as the above anthologies, John’s work has been published in ‘Friendly Street New Poets 16’ (with Mike Hopkins and Simon Hansen) and ‘Accidents with Ink’ (Friendly Street Single Poets Series).


My Sharpest Knife

My sharpest knife


in the kitchen drawer.

Constantly swimming

just below the surface.

Cruising lazily,

with predatory vision,

in search of opportunity.


Not tame like the others.

Not obedient to my culinary commands.

Sullenly servile,


for the slightest slip,

for the smallest excuse to strike.


Keenest and meanest.

On whose edge I totally rely

for my fine cut herbs,

but who always

demands payment for service.


My sharpest knife,

the top slicer

in my food chain.

The only kitchen utensil

on which I would never turn my back.


(c) 2013 John Brydon


The Embalming of Ultima Pavior

A children’s park in the Western suburbs,

down past the lights and across from the shops,

behind the fence on a grassy corner,

finishing touches to a new attraction.


Ultima Pavior,

master of the road gangs,

king of the tarmac lads,

sits, paralysed, drive-decoupled, engine-less,

degreased and sandblasted,

naked more than ever he has known,

slowly choking as the thick, bright, new paint

settles hard into his joints.


“I have seen pass generations of roadies,

rough men with big hands,

ageing quickly in the tar smoke,

slow to think and quick to fight.

The mutes and the loud men,

ready with a curse

or a joke behind the foreman’s back.


“Daily we fought

with fire and muscle and iron,

the tar, resisting first, but yielding,

always yielding in the end –

all roads once felt the justice of my tread.


“Friday came when the boys went off to their beer,

but next week Paddy had a new job.

And two years then, rusting in the puddled yard,

tractor pushed, but always further from the gate.

Hope calcining every steamless day.


“Never again to feel the cool flow of oil

past bearings hardened bright with daily work.

And, in cold mornings, hot sparks

as my fires bit deep into the damp coke.


“Better I had followed the others to the scrap,

to the quick, searing torch and oblivion.

Better than this pharonic limbo,

stripped and draped in gaudery,

mute witness to another age,

with an itch I cannot scratch

and eyes I cannot close.”


(c) 2013 John Brydon