John Malone

John is an Adelaide poet with two collections of poems – Suburban Bonsai (Friendly Street/Wakefield Press, 1995) and Makeovers (Seaview Press, 2001). He is currently experiencing considerable success with writing children’s poetry.
John has recently had his 100th children’s poem accepted for publication in just over 4 years .
John’s first collection, Suburban Bonsai, may be purchased on-line from the Wakefield Press website.


My daughter is studying Chinese
foot-binding, the thousand year
old system where, in enthrallment
to beauty, bones were corseted
like unruly waists; now, my son
is cultivating bonsais: a Chinese
Elm, Japanese Maple, the dwarf
sprawl of a Moreton Bay Fig; every
now and then he trims the roots,
prunes the branches, wires the trunk
to guide and constrain growth; there
are hundred year old trees, he
beams, no more than a foot high;
while, in the loungeroom, my other
daughter is playing her composition on
the guitar, trying to contain her
teenage angst in a song.

From Friendly Street No. 18


Showers acupuncture skin, pummel
angry muscles

into submission; like coffee they
kick-start us into action,

the quick fix, the jab for our
frenetic times but they are

ill-suited to contemplation or
insight – Archimedes

would have discovered nothing under
a shower; nor are they

conducive to knowledge: you cannot
read under showers nor

can you write unless it is wet verse;
moreover showers only cater

for one side at a time – leaving the
other blue with cold; in this

baths are more inclusive immersing us
like icebergs with only

the head above water; showers have
much to learn;

young upstarts, they tower arrogantly
above their ancient cousin –

their heads must constantly be lowered.

From Friendly Street No. 19

A Different Light

My uncle was a photographer
of children. Beneath the
tripod’s black skirt he fixed
us with the camera’s eye;
the flash popped in a blaze
of light, blinding us all;
the photographs lined the wall
– my sister’s three to
every one of mine; but what
imprinted itself most on
our minds – though revealed
years later – was when he
pressured her, not twelve years
old, to pose for him nude.
From that time on, we viewed
him in a different light.

From Friendly Street No. 21