EWB Winning Poems


First Place

Yucatan -  Damen O'Brien

Yucatan Peninsula,

punched in the eye and we all missed it!

Most beautiful bruise ever.

How are you doing lately?

Nobody gets you – you’re more than

I walked into a door.

You’ve done nothing wrong.

Yucatan Peninsula,

hiding your light.

A great gouge.  A hot bomb rivet.

But all we ever saw was the sharp

lines of your cheekbone

sweeping along the sea,

and we called you beautiful.

Are you still waiting for the other shoe?

The other penny?

The day we found the fracture

remodelled and moulded in your cheek

must have been like any Saturday night

after Pay Day, down at the emergency ward,

the Doctor slapping x-rays

up on the projector

and naming your situation.

But Yucatan Peninsula,

like all battered women long after the blow,

you understand

it’s not the one you’re wearing that will kill you.


*Yucatan Peninsula is believed to have been formed by an asteroid strike which may have caused the extinction of the dinosaurs.


Second Place

Flying W. A.  -              Elanna Herbert


the Indian ocean brings the

abrupt line                   aquamarine fades

cut with pale calico dark riparian

tendrils snake mangrove green

across my palette red

copper burnt sienna                 just


            now blush pink            signifiers

of shade and hue limit my ability

to describe watercolour washed

over country still crowded with

Indigenous knowledge.


You never really understand

until you live it

conceptualising distance is

more corporeal than cerebral.


This is not home.        No blue mountain

crevices’ strong valleys plateau edged

by my past                   only colour

remains familiar against the

disconcerting lack of fence lines


below the QANTAS FIFO shuffle

a dead ocean scoured clean by

geological time sores cross-sectioned

with straight cut lines graded by

company men of and

from the past               yesterday’s


exploration transect flails an

enduring scar.             Landscape


no longer heals. Either way nothing

changes linear paths turn left

or right become events of west and

east under the aeroplane wing

they disappear



reappear           scrape an open-cut’s

cyanic lake deep azure copper green

floods the next beside the tailings dam faded

orange bleeds a contrast.


You can’t see corporate wealth

from a FIFO shuffle.               Chinese ownership

or family injunctions distil form

residual patterns          folding palette pools

into false pigment waiting for the dip

and drip of a fine point brush.

Lost baseline               geology of the West.


Third Place

Post Truth-  Damen O'Brien


The truth falls to the ground in ashy snow.

Pile on brittle pile of falsehood fallen.

Lies lying battered, drifting to the roof.

Lies stacked high enough become the truth.

If truth falls in a desert does anybody know?

The truth falls to the ground like ashy snow.


Pile on brittle pile of falsehood fallen.

Say a thing enough and it must be so.

Someone’s grandfather blinded by a bomb

where no bomb was dropped, and no one

to burn, no glassy dune, no irradiated pollen.

Pile on brittle pile of falsehood fallen.


Say a thing enough and it must be so.

Press conference for an anniversary of a thing

that did not happen.  Belief is a failure of facts

and truth is just the evidence of acts.

For Maralinga, compensation is not owed.

Say a thing enough, it must be so.