The Lining of Your Skin

Taken from Mad Songs

“As if you were on fire from within.
The moon lives in the lining of your skin.”
― Pablo Neruda
a surge of breath falls back into the wind, your hands poised and preparing dawn,
you release light into the day, the aerial smoke's dissolve all around the body.
the still flow of grasses below the sky's ceiling follows a greying mist on charcoal paddocks.
through it no images enter my eyes but your figure readied in the pull of morning.
when I first met you, my flesh marred by decay and the turmoil you loved,
the strength of your gaze, innocent in its confusion and chaotic law
drove me forward, no emptiness allowing abandonment in a future we felt preparing.
I continued to return to you, finding your hesitation and mine in the danger 
of a consuming desire, the panicking wind breaking against your face as memory,
and a lull in a truth we felt tracing our breath.
these ambitious tides submerging in the basin of the dams, your voice
softly rolling along the earth. void of exterior forces, still present in
your wild body, standing in defiance of death;
the unspeakable ache we share, hands we both wished to fend off in our innocence, 
fanning the dark night from memory and resting in the finality of your gaze.
The drive of dark rain spirals onto the veranda at this distance, 
regret at lacerations marked into my skin.
the pain fleeing from my flesh fractures beneath your action and because of you.
I am still drawn to the glowing landscape of your dream-life, your chaos
vanquishing mine and freeing us both, at last staring across the air
and seeing a future protruding through memory.
we sleep together here, my love of you despite myself, rebirth as
your beauty eases across a scarred mind.
the sudden flight of breath, my devotion prolonged in its urgency,
a collapse of light pours from your eyes, and I want to live.
Read another


Robbie Coburn is an Australian poet. He was born in June 1994 in Melbourne and grew up on his family’s farm in the semi-rural locality of Woodstock, Victoria.

Since his first professional publication at the age of 17, his work has appeared in many Australian and overseas publications such as Poetry, Overland, Westerly, Cordite Poetry Review and Going Down Swinging, and his poems have been anthologised.

His poetry collections are Rain Season (Picaro) and The Other Flesh (Hunter), and he has also published a handful of chapbooks and pamphlets.

His work is known for its deeply personal and sometimes confronting nature, and for its often harrowing depictions of farm life in country Victoria.

Les Wicks has commented on both of these characteristics, stating that “[his] ruthless eviscerated honesty and clarity scar the eye” and calling him “the best portraitist of Australian rural life since Brendan Ryan”.

Robert Adamson has noted that his poems “are created with a muscular craft that glows with alert intelligence” and that they “create an inner life that draws in the reader” which “shimmers with light as much as it burns with ferocity.”

He currently resides in Melbourne.


  • Journals / Magazines / Newspapers / Periodicals / Websites
  • The Age (forthcoming), Bareknuckle Poet, Bluepepper, Cordite Poetry Review, ETZ, foam:e, Going Down Swinging, Mascara Literary Review, Overland Literary Journal, Oz-Burp, Mascara Literary Review, POAM (Melbourne Poets Union Newsletter), Poetry, Polartis, Project 365+1, Regime Magazine of New Writing, Uneven Floor, Unusual Work, Verity La, Voiceworks, Westerly, The Wonder Book of Poetry, Writ Poetry Review.
  • Works as editor
  • Forgetting is So Long: An Anthology of Australian Love Poetry, with valli poole (Blank Rune Press, 2016)
  • Exhibitions / Art Project / Collections
  • Sights to Be Seen: Personal Art in Public Places (Commissioned by The City of Whittlesea, curated by Sandy Caldow)
  • Eppicentric: Rereading the Signs (Commissioned by The City of Whittlesea, curated by Sandy Caldow)
  • The Cultural Collection (Work purchased by City of Whittlesea for permanent collection)
  • Non-Fiction / Essays / Research / Reviews / Criticism / Interviews
  • Aurealis, foam:e, Give It Mouth, Going Down Swinging, Mascara Literary Review, Overland “Emerging Poet Series”, Plumwood Mountain, Rochford Street Review, Writ Poetry Review.
  • Selected Festivals / Readings
  • “The Next Big Thing” series at The Wheelers Centre March 2014 - Feature writer
  • La Mama Poetica August 2015 - Feature Poet
  • Perth Poetry Festival 2016 - Guest Poet
  • Wollongong Writers Festival2016 - Guest Poet
  • Radio Appearances / Podcasts
  • 3CR Spoken Word, 6EBA FM (WA), The Australian Poetry Podcast, Poetry Says, Verity La Podcast.


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  • The Other Flesh
  • Expected Release Date
  • Publisher
    Hunter Publishers
  • Imprint
    Hunter Contemporary Australian Poets
  • Format
  • Buy
    Purchase The Other Flesh
  • “Robbie Coburn grew up in Woodstock, Victoria on his family’s farm. The Other Flesh, his second volume, contains many poems whose texture sings of being alone under the stars. It begins in stark paddocks with bleak greyhound runs, where his father has ‘blood dripping from his fingers from feeding the dogs’ and the poet responds with ‘I love all the things I hate about being here’, a line that brought Jack Spicer to mind. This poetry comes from tough experiences; yet Coburn’s ‘raw mind’ creates an inner life that draws in the reader. We pass through a post-pastoral world and are pulled into a place where ‘the self is only one version of hell’. We discover ‘There is no fixed life form’ on pages of empty skies and empty roads, empty fields of memory, with a throat full of toxin, eyes being bottled by ‘sobered hands’ and where road signs tell the poet what to do. Out of this abyss Coburn creates some beautiful lines, ‘wind cutting through the tin’ where ‘dogs of sand’ run beside him. When his grandfather dies of Parkinson’s we come across this liberating image in the final line of the elegy: ‘grasses that flow gently when all breath expires’. Coburn’s world shimmers with light as much as it burns with ferocity but these finely written poems are free from bitterness or anger. Here are two lines that sit on the lyrical scales, being weighed for balance: ‘the night sky is a blank, unbrushed canvas’ and then ‘a muteness that lies down in darkness’. When we open up Coburn’s paddocks ‘made up by the mind’, they are transparent, and yet they are created with a muscular craft that glows with alert intelligence. These poems contain deep loss and wonder, informed by the anxieties involved with a longing to unite with the soul of the beloved. Coburn writes ‘my flesh starved of paradise’ —this book is a record of his successful call to regain it.”

  • Rain Season
  • Release Date
  • Publisher
    Picaro Press
  • Artwork by
    Sandy Caldow
  • Format
  • Buy
    Purchase Rain Season
  • Reviews
    Rochford Street Review
  • “Stay tuned! Nothing prepares you for the shock of a new voice in poetry, and nothing quenches that thirst better than a good dose of poetry. A poetry of place and sensibility can light up a whole landscape, and the poetry of Robbie Coburn does just that. In these poems we see him now in the very act of etching out the details, so hold on, and read on through.”


Other Publications

Scars and Counter ScarsThe SilencesAnorexia In AutumnLines To MyselfForgetting is So LongMad Songs5 PoemsBefore Bone and VisceraHuman Batteries“Two Lies in Sequence” in Going Down Swinging“Two Lies in Sequence” in Unusual Work #12“Still Life with Suicidal Dream” in Unusual Work #16“Shock Lessons, a Paddock Scripture” in Poetry“Passover” in Writing to the Wire“Learning the Paddock Scripture” and “Reading the Paddock Scripture” in Bareknuckle Poet Annual Anthology: Volume 2



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