Louise Nicholas

Louise Nicholas is a Junior Primary teacher and early-morning poet currently living in Adelaide. A collection of her poetry, ‘The Red Shoes‘, was published by Friendly Street and the Wakefield Press in 1997. ‘The Smear Test’ and ‘Haven’t you had it yet?’, two small collections of ‘rhyming and rude’ poetry mainly for women, were self-published in 1997 and 1999 respectively. She has also had some 30-40 poems published in anthologies and magazines.
During the course of a debate at the Canberra Spring Poetry Festival in October 2002, she helped convince a previously sceptical audience that poetry is better than sex. (The adjudicator actually called it a draw but since many people said they were going home ‘for a quick poem’, she was left in no doubt as to who really won.)

Louise’s collection, The Red Shoes, may be purchased from the Wakefield Press website.


If, from the back of the crowded Henley line,
My book neglected, closed upon my knee,
Amongst the boarding passengers I should see
You – the ice-floe eyes, the serpentine
Curl of lip, your body a muscled shrine
Where I, not the least of your nubile devotees
Once worshipped till you, O abject appellee,
Fell horribly foul of my new-found feminist line,
I’d wait till you reached my seat, then turn my head,
Calmly appraise that body, those lips, that face,
Then smiling benignly and feeling quite relaxed,
With barely a thought for the tangled romp of your bed,
I’d open my book, flick through it to find my place…
Wish I’d lost weight, curled my hair, waxed.

From Friendly Street No. 22

The Boy

Now that he’s a man (not quite 15)
with a voice that rolls in
from a railway siding

deep within a forest,
he sees the door slide open,
the fated lives within

and the boy, face upturned
for one last glimpse
of the moon.

And he reaches out
and with the fine-muscled
strength of the father,

scoops up the boy,
settles him on the saddle
and they ride away.

And the boy leans into him
as into the bosom
of the mother

till he has become the boy
and the boy is he.
And the moon bleeds

indifference into the sky
till its light rings
true and clear

as a pistol crack
echoing from a railway siding
deep within a forest.

From Friendly Street No. 23

The Photograph

Just beyond the deferential dip of his head,
the first floundering on the thin ice of her eyes,
just out of sight, around the corner, to the left, to the right,
of the blur that is her hand reaching out to his,
a gene pool is waiting to gather.

And if you hold your breath long enough,
if you become the salted wound
between one cry of a gull’s heart and the next,
if you hold a magnifying glass between the sun,
as symbol of millennia past and future
and this involuntary blink of an eye before you now,
there’ll be in this image,
in the pinpoint of light before the flame,
the slow process of our becoming:

my mother, myself, my daughter, her daughter, her daughter’s
All of us and more,
teetering on the starboard of the Manly Ferry
at the precise moment of their meeting.

From Friendly Street No. 26