Ali Jane Smith

Likes and dislikes, taste and memory


Me, reading about the diaries of John Cage.
The title of this poem a quotation from his diaries.

Two women, waiting, talking.
One puts the tips of her fingers
on her own sternum, and taps.

People make anti-poetry confessions to me. They say
“The thing about poetry is I just don’t get it.”
Do I say, don’t worry?
Do I try and explain?
Do I say the only reason I encourage others to read poetry
is to increase my own prestige. I also wish I made more money from it.
I turn away and find
I am walking down a corridor lined with salespeople.
The one who warned me against a coconut fibre mattress
the one who said there was no real difference
between the cheapest and the second cheapest stove
the one who went out the back to get the colour I wanted
and the one who sold me                                  a pair of boots
too big for me.

The salespeople and I walk to the end of the corridor together.
We arrive at a stony beach.
My brother is watching a pair of sea eagles
take it in turns to fly and strike over the water.
My brother, the salespeople and I stand and watch the sea eagles
until we are sure they have caught something
and we feel we can go home.
My brother and I have talked about stones before.
He told me about the work of the anthropologist
and I told him about the collector of minerals.
For this reason, there is no need to discuss the stones on the beach.
If we see one that is notable
We hold it up.





Ali Jane Smith is the author of a chapbook, Gala, published long, long ago by the Five Islands Press New Poets Program. Her poems have been published in literary journals, including Southerly, Cordite, Not Very Quiet, Australian Poetry Journal and Overland. She enjoys working collaboratively with other artists. In 2018 Tania Maria Mastroianni adpted her poem ‘Number 65: Port Kembla to Wollongong’ ( as an animation, and in 2015 Jo Law adapted a number of poems for the video project ‘sixty second thoughts’ (  



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