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Silver Branch series

Stuart Rawlinson

April 2023

Stuart Rawl 1.jpg

About Stuart

Stuart Rawlinson is a Brisbane-based writer and musician, originally from the UK. Having lived most of his life overseas in countries such as China, Korea and Australia, Stuart’s writing finds inspiration in the ‘other’—other experiences, cultures, languages—and the dislocation this often brings.


Stuart is also a composer and musician. His music and poetry often compliment each other and he has released two poetry/music collections, 2015’s Encyclopaedia of Tress and 2021’s The Walled City. His music has provided the soundtrack to Black Bough Poetry’s Deep Time editions and the forthcoming Tutankhamun collection.


Stuart’s poems have appeared in various publications, such as Black Bough Poetry’s Deep Time volumes, The Storms Journal, Adelaide Literary Magazine and Wellington Street Review.


You can listen to Stuart reading his poetry on Soundcloud

The Land’s Amnesia

The land has lost its memory

links between pasture and hedgerow

and pulsing hills ploughed out

homogenised like milk

in dairy crates.


The bypass was a lane

was an ancient track

ritual layered upon ritual

henge to roundabout

old blood waters the bedding plants.



The Split Tree

It stands atop a bare hill,

Smouldering and steaming from last night’s storm.

Twigs singed and scattered

Beyond its branches’ reach.


The trunk, like two inverted legs—

A half-buried man—stands gaunt, colourless;

Made sterile by a ferocious burst.


The whip-cracked bark

Peels and feathers—its oxygen spent

In the storm-sundered sky;

Flakes of soot catch in my hair.


Twilight clouds gather for another strike—

Its roots will be next, as I watch

From a shelter of lies.



A rootless dimension

fell reflection in

an underlined sky

the yew in negative

windswept on

a crumbled wall

swallow skirts the tree line

an invisible wall

runs up through

root, trunk and branch

separating the mind from the other world

liminal and vague

the vale not deep

enough to divide

the river’s rake

drags the woods down

the season slows to a trickle

of bleak reality

words catch in cattle grates

deserted sheep pens

garrison the stone walls


penned-in dreams

written on the moor

the slope’s scars


lengthen in the late sun


At what point can one say:

               'Preservation is complete'?

Which pitted surface smoothed?

Which sand-filled tomb exhumed?


At a closed junction

               Between life and death

Man and bird wrestle

Above traffic lights. You are


No Zenobia

               No Roman house arrest

In exchange for a life's

Surrendered empire. And so


Finally you kneel,

               A final thought for

Chipped faces off sarcophagi

Your final restoration




Still attached

Another midnight song


What is it tonight? What quick-shivering memories 

will bolt through the dark door

stunning the slumbering child? Crouched bodies 

murmuring and ready to roam—

a shock of silence through the brimming hum,

coded and borrowed, hard to coalesce 

out of reach of the perihelion sun. 

A stallion drags his hooves above the vacancy sign

to the sound of ice crashing through the barrel.

And out of nothing, a melody, framed

by the blue blind lines that grill the wall

cutting and pasting phases of the moon. 

High fidelity, equalised to the high end of sleep,

compressed and forgotten under the quilt.

Without the heart


When you call,

the distant signal

reflects from a place

of remote thoughts.


Phone line vowels

stretch rhotic,


through the dense matter

of accumulated thought—

forming a fiction

between silence and speech.


Words fail.

Comprehension stops.


I picture a pillow

indented and demented—

claylike, holding

the soft warmth of your stillness.


In the summer house,

cold from the low sun,

a vestige of recognition:

an unseen eyebrow raises.


We speak like a ritual—

repetition, bare syntax,


and as he lowers you

into the bath, I still listen

through the one-sided connection;

answer each question as though

it had never been asked,

falsely, without the heart

to tell you my cruel fact.

Her Sleeping Atoms Spread

She awoke on rubble—

splinters of brick for the unborn bride.

Her corsage choked on sand,

pinned through her heart

by a jealous Father’s hand.

Doorjambs and window frames

erect amongst the ruins.

discarded dolls limp under the

demolition sign.


Graffiti of numbers,

calculated her untethered future—

moved only by the faults

of economics, away

from her ancestors.


Buried below stories,

she walked down steps into

a floorless room, where her

sleeping atoms finally spread.


On the Way to Kirkby Lonsdale


Centripetal skirts around

For-sale forests.


On the fell in

Low resolution, while



Blizzards slice

Frozen air across lanes.


The castle appears

Between two small hills, as



As ever, with perfect lego turrets and

Unarmed arrow slots.


Manor lodges’

White drapes conceal

Bare, plastered walls



Leather-bound books on

Smoking-jacket mantelpieces.



Slapped into each other

Like colliding waves,



A fleeting, rising

Wall of water, before




Brythonic rivers and mountains;


Roman cities;

Saxon villages; Viking dales.

In the time before I was



Assumptions were made –

Gently eroded like the Lune’s valley.


And now?

One image looks back

In the English mirror;


Every bend

Of the road, presses

On my chest;



Weighed down by a nagging

Graph of isobars, that



Two years ago. The plans that

Drowned in Lune’s last flood.


Where will the river lie next year?

When is the season of thoughts transmitted

            to abandoned barns, and logs

            half-rotted in inchoate ponds?


My burrs catch on language and memory.

My stones founder under Devil’s Bridge.



From The Walled City (2022):




The sorry grey walls and

newspapered windows,

stained by the shadows of agitprop,

mark and fill an arced space—


bedrocked by siege allotments

and narrow cuts in the city’s screen.

The shikumen stink is guarded

by a swollen mongrel mind

as old as the wine-red window frames.


A demolition is coming, but

levelled memories only

serve to reinforce

the girders of guilt.


For now, the connections

strung together by

alley-spanning clothes lines,

are cut and reconnected

in clean, slender towers.

I pass through a portal into

Fust and disorder—

no walls or corners to illuminate;

each layer, passed through as a ritual.


In the antechamber,

with no light for unfamiliar steps,

I feel for a bed to sleep on:

a shared room, made smaller

by its proximity to youth.


As the neighbourhood lowers

it is not my home they salvage,

but the perfect patina

of a now-tarnished dream.




an in


from simple means

to hard-fought


I search

for an in, a knife-edge

of light

a back door


a glimpse

through an open window


share with me

an anecdote to a time

misremembered and

contaminated—the scrutinised


to the mind’s



these borderless

views recalled beneath

            a dim light

form precise


buried, unseen by

modern foundations


an array

of sharpened instruments

finely-honed skills

            cannot disturb

my grip tightens

            the past

like liquid

seeps away

into the barren earth


at last

            a shadow




The walled city


From high up, the outline

of your walls traces a lost narrative—

a curated timeline, canonised and

mortared by the amorphous

heave of history.


The real limit wasn’t drawn

by your long-toppled palisades,

but a more subtle defence

of language and indefinite culture.

Two cities overlap, only


penetrated one at a time.

In the tenement turned rubble,

in a city of glass

I no longer appeal:

Bring down your walls, bring down your walls.



From Encyclopaedia of Trees (2015):




Ripples bisect the horizon.

Liquid parallax reflects

A half-hollowed house on a cliff.


Its white bricks concertinaed

Down the groaning slope, exposing

Strata that extend like bloodlines.


Erosion has exposed the box

You buried when you were born –

Remains of organic compounds


Draw their rot on the sand.


Beneath the surf a coastal shelf,

Tethered to the Moon,

Dictating equations that sketch waves.


An uneven film of inconstant

Constants. The receding tide’s

Unchanging arc askew.


From the birthing beach

The yardstick keeps its level,

Regardless of the tide.


Damn the fidelity of the stars.




Procyon, before the dog, with hidden white dwarf –

The hound’s teeth were inferred

Too late to change your one-way course.


Alsafi silhouettes the circling vultures;

Bloody lips receive the calmest sleep

On Masada’s reverse anniversary.


At 24, Mu Cassiopeiae, proud of her slow release,

Spins and slips from her centrifugal pole,

Then fumbles towards Perseus.


Gamma Pavonis tears her feathers off

Mid-flight, and scatters them across the

Vacuum – listless and homesick.


Scholz, so close, yet your trajectory

Missed my slow-motion evolution. Now,

Your parabola gets sharper and sharper.


On your 34th birthday I looked at the sky

And heard your birthing screams

Broadcast from Pollux.


Z8_GND_5296 – a distance

Older than me; older than the universe.

My constellation completes itself.

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Stuart composed the scores for the Deep Time 1 and 2 anthologies, a project in tribute to Robert MacFarlane's Underland




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