for the 60 people who suicide in Australia each week, 45 of whom are men*.


the rope ought to have frayed and unspun into a cloud of seed-threads

the branch, been split by sudden, grievous lightning

the tree, imploded in an outburst of splinters

            black hole in an ordinary backyard


you wanted the suffering to end but instead it was dispersed, redistributed

            to family, friends, neighbours, the first responders


when it happened, the fence between our houses

            could have shot up and obscured the sight

we might have gone for a longer walk, a meandering drive down a scenic road,

            or simply stayed inside all day, curtains drawn, oblivious

but you let go, dropped into air between us, became immense and disappeared,

            landing in our chests


                        what right do I have to speak of you?

                        to turn this experience – a knife with no handle, all blade – into a poem?

                        what right do I have to be silent?


a million confessions, tangled questions, ought to spill out of the mouths of a thousand men

            where has the cave in my chest

            come from? what happened to

            the sky? who will hold me?


employers might be more generous with sick leave, confusion leave, alienation leave

doctors, researchers, bureaucrats, social workers, friends, all of us

might know better how to respond to chronic pain, to rootless grief, that feeling

            of being a body locked out of the living world


the ambulance might have moved on to the next house and the next and the next and the rest until the town was smothered with sirens, a fire-blanket of rageful compassion, an army of patient listening


                        but there is only this quietness – the sharp edges

                        of question-marks tucked deep into the postures

                        of friends and strangers –

                        your gift         



The content of this poem may potentially trigger some readers. If you require mental health support or assistance, a list of free confidential 24/7 support lines can be found here. You are not alone in your journey.