lines in reflection

Taken from The Other Flesh

the ways we have altered
as if time were shaping us
into a fully formed image of a family
indelible smoke emptying
from the weatherboard house
released into the clean air
i have used this image to rake
rocks from the driveway
to release the heavy breath
from the paddocks
below the urgency of it all
i have wished to remove all of it
to refashion your eyes
empty your bodies of the knots
building towards a fall
crossing the dams in hope of alterations
i can attempt to heal
beyond scars in the skin,
a depth without physical form
acres through Woodstock drying out
a calling up of memory
of your fathers, one five years dead
and one dying
shimmering and burning out
the lights from the house
became an endless blackness
even when calling to home
a sense of loss imagined
at the border of the property
the ancient gums cut the sky
clouds broken beneath the drive of wind
when death created inevitability
i followed your fear into it and did not return
the concrete rooftops called me to an edge
and stared down the years
then terror that allowed me to survive the height
veiled in secrecy, a slow drive
where reality was a confrontation unplanned
lit by the rooflights of the police car to a ward
with further assessments bearing my guilt
i was out of hospital
before you knew i had tempted an end
announced later after resurfacing
as i drew tears from your skin
you hated all the stages of waiting
as knowledge was a fear
i wondered how you saw weakness
and hated the very notion of suicide
the misunderstandings thinly built
by wind against the yellowing grasses
when i walked the paddocks
night after night in endless searching
a missing son love could not repair
and my apologies now
letting go of the embedded pain
accepting your arms, climbing further into you
towards a safety denied for years
that became too difficult to deem reality
regret escapes my wounds, divides amongst us
into a rebirth sounding from our property
i can now wake without withdrawing
into a state of anaemia
without freeing veins of blood from the body
handed to me from your mouths of optimism
all blood and flesh coupled, scarring
to present the skin in a new light
towards the body’s flawing
as we love in unconditional manners
we must learn to take everything
unscathed, at whatever distance.
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Robbie Coburn 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 including Poetry, Overland, Cordite and Going Down Swinging, and his poems have been anthologised. His second full-length collection of poems, The Other Flesh, is forthcoming.

He is currently poetry editor of online literary journal Verity La and lives in Melbourne.

  • Books
  • Rain Season (Picaro Press, 2013. Second edition. Ginninderra Press, 2015)
  • The Other Flesh (Hunter Publishers, forthcoming)
  • Chapbooks/Pamphlets/Limited Editions:
  • Human Batteries (Picaro Press, 2012)
  • Before Bone and Viscera (Rochford Street Press, 2013)
  • 5 Poems (Donnithorne Street Press, 2015)
  • Mad Songs (Blank Rune Press, 2015)
  • Publications
  • Bluepepper, Cordite Poetry Review, ETZ, foam:e, Going Down Swinging, Overland, Oz-Burp, Mascara Literary Review, POAM (Melbourne Poets Union Newsletter), Poetry (USA), Regime Magazine of New Writing, Unusual Work, Verity La, Voiceworks, The Wonder Book of Poetry, Writ Poetry Review.
  • Anthologies
  • Writing to the Wire. ed. Dan Disney & Kit Kelen (UWA Publishing, 2016)
  • Bend River Mountain (Regime Books, forthcoming)
  • Works Edited
  • Verity La (Poetry Editor, 2015-present)
  • Writ Poetry Review (Reviews Editor, 2015-present)
  • Exhibitions/Art Projects
  • 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)
  • Non-fiction/Criticism/Interviews
  • Aurealis, foam:e, Give It Mouth, Plumwood Mountain,  Rochford Street Review, Writ Poetry Review.


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  • Mad Songs
  • Release date 2015
  • Publisher Blank Rune Press
  • Design by Robbie Coburn & Valli Poole
  • Format Print
  • Type Chapbook
  • Buy
  • 5 Poems
  • Release date 2015
  • Publisher Donithorne Street Press
  • Design by Pete Spence
  • Format Print
  • Type Pamphlet
  • Buy
  • Before Bone and Viscera
  • Release date 2014
  • Publisher Rochford Street Press
  • Artwork by Kit Kelen
  • Format Print
  • Type Chapbook
  • Buy

“Coburn’s new book disturbs & enriches. There is a grace as it sculpts language & meaning… a flensing poignancy underlines these superb poems. This is not an easy book… its ruthless eviscerated clarity & honesty scar the eye.”

– Les Wicks

“Before Bone and Viscera lifts the voice of Australian poetry into new territory. Robbie Coburn tears away all you think you know to reveal these poems; naked in their lyrical and surreal simplicity they unearth the anatomy and geography of poetic imagination. To read these poems is to get your hands into the blood and guts of life itself.”

– Nathan Hondros

“An intense, at times disturbing, emotional journey employing a surreal, fetishist use of the human body reminiscent of the painter, Francis Bacon.”

– S.K. Kelen

  • Rain Season
  • Release date 2013
  • Publisher Picaro Press
  • Artwork by Sandy Caldow
  • Format Print
  • Type Book
  • Buy

“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.”

- π.o.

  • Human Batteries
  • Release date 2012
  • Publisher Picaro Press
  • Artwork by Sandy Caldow
  • Format Print
  • Type Chapbook
  • Buy

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