Sunday 5 May 2019

2 Poems by Tug Dumbly


As a kid I took a beetle apart

bit by bit

just to see what made it tick

trying to find the heart of its mystery.

I dismantled it methodically

like a mechanic a car –

wings, feelers, head …

but then forgot

how to stick it back together.

And it never did stop moving

right down to the last




By then the mystery had fled.


I am most myself

when least myself

when I give myself

when I lend myself

when I lose myself

re-lease myself

to find myself flung

by some centrifugal love

into the orbit of another

out of the blinding I

the soul-toothing Me and My

to be woven, like straw

into the consciousness         

of an othering land of

empathy, understanding …

all those nice pretty words

but not just sounds

plucked from the tongue,

gathered from the lips as

windfall to fill a basket 

with decorative sweets dead

and ornate as a wedding cake

words to be usefully juiced

and fed to another’s heart and head.

Almost selfish, this altruism

for the gift the giver it gives.

Though at its best blind

to this paradox of slippery bliss –

to forget to exist

is to most exist, most live.


Tug Dumbly is an Australian poet and satirist who has performed his poems, songs and monologues on radio and in schools, venues and festivals, both in Australia and abroad. He has released two spoken word CDs, once won the Spirit of Woodford storytelling award, at Woodford Folk Festival, twice won the Banjo Paterson Prize for comic verse, and three times won the Nimbin World Performance Poetry Cup, most recently in 2017. He was runner up in the 2015 Josephine Ulrick Poetry Prize, and recently completed a project writing 12 Christmas-themed poems, based on historical documents, for Housing NSW, which were displayed in installations around Sydney’s Rocks area in the 2017 Christmas season.

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