Philip Neilsen



In the House


As my mother drifts into dementia,
she retells the stories:
driving from Townsville to Brisbane
in 1936, a revolver under the seat.
The world war, the yanks dancingon Wickham Terrace, courtship.

She reels us into her vivid days.
The buttons on an RAAF uniform in 1945,
red geraniums that ran along the porch.

Then forgets she has already offered
us a drink five times. She laughs.
As this speck of a galaxy
slides into tyrannical dark
and all the planets dance like fleas,
what plausible warmth can come
from talk and scones and tea?



School Chemistry Class


Phosphorus was my friend
sulphur my satanic journey

oh how I loved the way
you burned magnesium

explained the periodic table
of getting laid by numbers

come with me, you said,
the equations always balance

then some collection of molecules,
better connected, came to town.

Your mother still liked me though,
said there are plenty of atoms in the sea

but I knew only one had your odour, colour,
unique properties under conditions of heat.