We Are All In This Together

Dark Mountain: Issue 9, our brand new collection of uncivilised writing and art is now available.. Over the next few weeks, we're going to share a little of what you'll find in its pages. Today, we present four poems from Kim Goldberg and Jane Lovell with a luminous painting by Kate Williamson.
Kim is a poet, birdwatcher and speculative fiction writer, living on Vancouver Island in Canada. She has published six books of poetry and nonfiction. Jane is the Poetry Society Stanza Rep for Warwickshire. Her work is steeped in natural history, science, folklore, the ‘black’ and the bizarre.

Kim Goldberg has been contributing magical, otherworldly writing to Dark Mountain for some time now, and her work never fails to surprise and beguile. Here are two of Kim’s haibun interwoven with two of Jane Lovell‘s powerful poems about dislocation and extinction. Issue 9 is the first Dark Mountain book to feature Jane’s work, and we very much hope to read more of her poetry in the future.

Fugitive in the Date Palm

Jane Lovell

It is hard to ignore the red-billed toucan.
Solomon says his bill is chipped like an old teacup
but we see the translucence of the deglet noor,

its caramelised sunlight.

After the stripping of thorn and billowing
of pollen across the plantation,
he blew in on a salt wind through the canyons,

beak bright as paintpots,

took shelter in the branches,
peeped at us with his blue eye from the canopy
while donkeys grazed determinedly below

oblivious to his dipping and tilting.

Solomon says he’s an escapee from a sultan’s
menagerie; we feed him pomegranate, mango,
leaving them in quiet acts of worship

at the foot of his favourite palm.

We know he is lonely, thousands of miles
of desert and ocean from home.
We call to him while we hang on ladders

wrapping the khlal in muslin.

Evenings, he hops about chuntering
at shadows, then curls into a feathered ball
secured by his great beak,

to sleep.

We think he dreams deep jungle:
Costa Rican mists, the whirring of moths
and pop of frogs, another red-billed toucan

hidden, waiting, in the forest gloom.

Solomon says one day, maybe he’ll set off
like a beacon, winging over Egypt, Libya,
Nigeria, the South Atlantic.

He prays for the fruits to ripen,

sweet rutab to delay his leaving,
checks on him each morning, peering
up into the leaves, his crippled toes sinking

in the warm sand.

* * *

Opening Act

Kim Goldberg

We are sitting in a darkened theatre waiting for the play to begin. It is a full house. The entire run is sold out. The squeak of a pulley tells us the curtain has opened. But we do not see this because there are no stage lights, just blackness. Is the lighting operator asleep? Drunk? Murdered? Run off with the cashier? We hear movement, actors pacing, props being shoved around. Something falls, breaks. A vase maybe? A skull? No words are spoken, just the occasional grunt. We assume it is human but cannot be sure. This must all be part of the script, this darkness, this enigma, some avant-garde theatre experiment. We are game. We roll with it. To flee to the well-lit lobby for safety would be an act of cultural illiteracy. Patrons begin to murmur to their partners. I reach out to touch your arm but there is only sand. A gull cries. I smell brine.

sometimes a whisper
is just the sea destroying

itself on the beach

* * *


Jane Lovell

They keep coming.
He wields his stick.
There is the great sea, the blue air,
this endless tide of tweedling curiosities
hovering to land.
He is king, his whip of scalesia dislocating
vertebrae, unhinging the graceful heads.
Like angels they fall, hit the rocks, unfold

into stillness.

Around this child, this god, stretch the hulks
of wolves, black-eyed leopards sent by witches
through the vast pitch skies of Zanzibar,
a mound of seals, fur stiff as parchment
cracking in the heat, a floating mink that nobody
has registered, a fleet of sightless sea cows
filmed with salt, the final pair of twisted auks,

their fledgling curling in its oils.

Earth exhales and turns upon her shoulder
casting languid shadows through her forests,
her swelling oceans.
Under a Vertical sun, boy becomes bone,
the bones of doves and finches, sand.
Stuffed skins in glass cabinets line halls
that echo with our footsteps.
We are all in this together.

No one is watching.

* * *

Basket Weaver

Kim Goldberg

When ten per cent of the population could no longer walk, the old woman wove a large basket from willow branches that were still alive and growing. The basket was covered with narrow green leaves from the living branches. The leaves danced and shimmied in the wind. They flashed in the sun like a bright ball of herring spawning their puny brains out in the tossing surf. The leaves were swooning and copulating like only chlorophyll can – beyond the strictures of blood and bone and moist openings. The basket was the old woman’s gift to the town. She told the stricken people to enter one by one, crawling to it on their elbows and bellies since their legs no longer worked. No matter how many people entered, the basket never got full. This went on for quite some while until all the belly-crawlers were inside and the basket had been closed up tight. The people who entered were never seen again, but each night fireflies would sift out through the slits between the willow branches and light up the town.

to give birth to
new shapes, we must break

some covalent bonds


Image: Soft Rain (acrylic on canvas) by Kate Williamson. Soft Rain was inspired by the more gentle power of nature, painted intuitively to capture the energy and fleeting spontaneity of the sky and reflective pools. I live next to a large tidal bay and at each low tide the shape and size of the pools left behind are constantly changing. This painting is part of my ‘Emotional Landscapes’ series which aims to express an internal dialogue that speaks to the viewer through intuitively layered paint, and to capture human reaction past the ocular experience.

Kate Williamson is a contemporary New Zealand artist who lives on the Otago Peninsula. Renowned for her large and striking artworks, Kate uses paint to express her concerns about the enormity of climate change, and the concern she has for this gift of paradise we are part of. Her work is described as spontaneous action painting and is collected nationally and internationally. paintinglive.co.nz

You’ll find more where this came from in our latest book


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