Almanac Poetry: ‘Air and Blood’ – Tommy Mallet



Air and Blood


The air’s always dark up here,

everything damp and moss.


One of the giant gums is dead.

There’s a lot of rotting wood to step over

but if I fell it right

the crown will land near the track.


Clearing undergrowth, I look up its trunk for camber,

the weight of branches, wind,

then go back to the ute for the wedges;

heavy metal, that feels right in my hand –

unbreakable, uncomplicated singular objects,

perfect in their weight.


The best things I’ve ever owned.


Then everything

becomes simple, hard work.


I cut the face, then back-cut 2/3rds through,

and put the wedges to use.

The tree drops where it should,

but while cutting rings

the saw nicks a branch and kicks back.

I’m quick enough on the safety, but the spiked bumper

catches my hand.


The blood starts as I work,

running the handle,

smudging with each shift of grip,

dripping onto the bush floor.


Neither cut is big.

I plug them with moss,

tied down with a few small lengths of

torn shirt.


When the rings are done I go at the closest few

with the blockbuster,

before taking a small break,

watching the back of my hand –

its scars, big and small,

busted knuckles,

dislocations that never healed right.


They remind me of my father’s hands

when I was a child,

his and the laborer’s,?who helped stump-up a shed

on the bush block;

weathered and strong.


Two black cockies are crawing

somewhere overhead.

Every animal here looks beautiful

until you get close,

and see their scars.

How they’ve been hunted, or fended off,

or fought.


The air shifts above the canopy,

becoming darker still.

Soon, the blood’s stopped,

and I’m back at work,

trying to beat the rain.



Tommy Mallet



More poetry from Almanac Poetry can be read HERE


If you would like to receive the Almanac Music and Poetry newsletter we will add you to the list. Please email us: [email protected]



To return to the  home page click HERE


Our writers are independent contributors. The opinions expressed in their articles are their own. They are not the views, nor do they reflect the views, of Malarkey Publications.


Do you enjoy the Almanac concept?
And want to ensure it continues in its current form, and better? To help keep things ticking over please consider making your own contribution.


Become an Almanac (annual) member – CLICK HERE
One-off financial contribution – CLICK HERE
Regular financial contribution (monthly EFT) – CLICK HERE





Leave a Comment