Liam Ferney

The Ballad of Duncan Armstrong


     He’s pretty much a dolphin.

Keeping the last birthday card
Nanny wrote me makes sense.

So does the elaborate maze
from an 8 yo’s dress up do

stuffed into a basement’s plastic tub.
There is a different place

for Greg Louganis, Edwin Moses, Debbie
Flintoff-King, Johnson’s dictionary files

stanazol under s, Kirsten Otto bidden
to ignite the last days of cold war.

Only Hermes could go with Flo Jo,
her strides bridge air like

a scientist splitting the apple
& in the final lap Duncan the Dolphin

eats Biondi. Laurie Lawrence bellows:
“How do you think I feel?”

Twenty-five years later & I visit FM radio
studios, loiter in regional foyers, snag that

Dolphin tripping on talking points
                                         (redundancy’s most unexpected outcome).

Not swayed by the possibilities
I don’t reap the ab-rocker’s harvest.

stay inside on Saturdays to write these poems instead





Publicity (Georgia 1930/31)

Honestly, there are things I could take from you if our friendship ever soured. Don’t worry. It is no big deal. I probably wont.

Are you convinced yet?
Did you get
everything you wanted?

There is a set of steps
at the pier
that are never really dry.

Become green sea.

Go there. Go there now and wait for instructions. 

Sits (Dorothy 1930)

Why tell when we can just appropriate?
Because it’s appropriate.
The shark weighs the tell.

Are you looking at the artist
or at something else?

That must
be the way
it happens,
she thinks.

You pretend.
She pretends.

Are you surprised
that hat’s back?

Friend-zoned in the age
of mechanical reproduction.

Tea (Dorothy 1930/31)

After coffee
a stevedore’s wooly hat,
chevroned stole.

A stare we have all owned.

Was I surprised,
or was I just trying
to deny my instinct
the whole time?

It seems like everything
the Twitteratti
are dying to know. 

Probably (Dorothy 1931)

Your stole
steals the same scene.

It’s hard to tell.

I think we used to throw
away less stuff.

One iPhone
is more or less
the same as another.

Dualities (Edward Alden Jewell, “Steigletz in Retrospect, The New York Times. 16 December 1934. Section 2, 9.)

Now and then
Steigletz experiments
with double exposure,

as in the
‘Dualities’ of 1932.

Flowering Easter (Dorothy 1937)

You look your best
when you leave
for the last time.             

The curators can prove it.

Anyway I can’t reap the harvest
that would make you stay.

Don’t wave. Gestures vanish.





Liam Ferney’s most recent collection Content (Hunter Publishing) was shortlisted for the Queensland Poetry Prize. His previous collection, Boom (Grand Parade Poets), was shortlisted for the NSW Premier’s Poetry Prize and the Queensland Poetry Prize. He is a media manager, poet and aspiring left back living in Brisbane, Australia.