Deborah McCulloch

Deborah McCulloch works as a community consultant. Feminism remains her most significant influence and she now works with Aboriginal and CALD women and men. She is trying to write a manual on Racism and has already written Creating Influence, or, How to Lobby.

Deborah also writes poetry but these days very slowly. At 64, ageing is a powerful theme as well as the earth and inter-generational relations. She edited two anthologies of poetry for schools and published her own collections Waltzing with Alice (1983) and three’s company (a joint book) (Friendly Street/Wakefield Press, 1992). She was anthologised in Tuesday Night Live (1993).

Things A Man May Do

play in a band
plant trees
look at the stars
drawing maps is a little too close
and healing should never be allowed
waiting on tables
training horses
building some things
but keep them away from words
cleaning the streets is okay
dredging channels or swimming pools
building railways is too permanent

it’s a pity
they’re so bad at serving
of course they’ve never been
properly taught
if they could take ‘Put it down there, boy,’
a little easier, there’d be no
trouble at all.

And yet entertainment is
so powerful; nature is what they’re
closest to and should be kept for,
their muscles are adapted to it,
it’s obvious. Such restless
demanding creatures,
never satisfied with what they’ve got.
There’ll be rebellion there, mark my words;
a generation is all it will take
unless we’re firm this time,

From Friendly Street No. 8 and Tuesday Night Live


The egg lies in one hand
my other covers it
I am hatching it

and the idea
in the air
just now

and the next one

lies in my hands
runs along the ley lines

of desire

tracing themselves
from my elbows
and breasts

to the bowl
of my pelvis

its trestles
firm in my thighs

my vulva

the fire.

From ‘three’s company’

Poem About Women Who Have Babies

I’m trying to tell a truth i can only whisper
having babies is like nothing else
of course it’s true
you make this life you make it
in all its imperfections
you roll the dough between your fingers
you shape the head
you dot the eyes with currants
the strip of smiling lemon peel
you pop it bun in the oven
for nine months and you have the nine years or so
the blink of an eyelid towards the fox
you teach what to feel and how to feel it
how to talk and think
you make it

in Uganda after four years
on their mothers hips
at their sides with love
they send them down the river
the pain and terror
last a lifetime

why can i only whisper it
just now
the pain and terror lasted me a lifetime
and i pass them on

having babies is like nothing else

pass it on

From ‘three’s company’