the o’connell street ocean


The perennial machinery must be serviced once a year,
today’s the day, and the job is mine.

I have a manual with clear instructions,
watery words on transparent paper,
and I study them closely with the tip of my nose—
when you’re done, don’t forget the disco ball,
although that might be written on the wall behind.

It’s time to consult my idea head,
neurons and neutrons orbiting on the shelf,
a capricious blend of memory and melancholy.

You must be sure, she says, about your current status—
are you in a dream, asleep,
or laughingly employed
and thoughtlessly awake?

Allow me to simplify the complex,
and complicate the simple.

In dreams, the clouds wash up on beaches,
the sky is underground,
the tides flow in O’Connell Street,
and we can be together like we used to be,
with my ideas within your mind
once more.

Is it just me, I wonder parenthetically,
or is my idea head a little petulant?
Perhaps she’s jealous of my dreaming head.

I swim the sea in O’Connell Street,
search the clouds and the municipal forest,
but find no sign of the perennial machine.
There’s nothing but deciduousness—
mulberry trees, leaves under feet, and a variety
of fruits and bats.

Tonight I’ll change my plan,
I’ll bury myself beneath the garden
and sleep untouched by flights of fish and fantasy.
When the river of the morning runs,
I’ll wash away the soil,
clean out the breathing snorkel,
and see how brightly
tomorrow’s gearwheels
spin the disco ball.


  • Lines for a Friend, 1948-1965  in Collected Poems of Michael Dransfield, University of Queensland Press, 1993.
  • a line in Tithonus (Alfred, Lord Tennyson): Man comes and tills the fields and lies beneath.
  • solar mechanics also feature in my short story Lighter than Claire at The Colored Lens and my poem Nadi and the Sun.


construction—view over Chipping Norton Lake. It looks exactly like that.

21 thoughts on “the o’connell street ocean

  1. the easy flow of this poem makes the reading of it palatable. the quotidian dialogue is very nicely handled too & i especially like the exacting asides to a surreal aspect loitering in the poets mind. i’ll be sure to give some time to previous posts.

    • Glad you enjoyed, it’s the reason I write. I’m sometimes a little concerned about what loiters in my mind, but the wood ducks tell me the world is light and shadow :).

    • I got married in Korea & two, ornate wooden ducks represent the bride & groom. Your poetry has good scansion & the incidentals merge nicely with those things that ‘loiter in your mind’. so long as no murderous though engage the mind i think you have freevreign to wander. It isn’t easy to come by good blog poets so i am pleased i stumbled upon you.

    • Wedding ducks, interesting custom. I do have the odd angry thought directed at Windows 10 or Microsoft. I find a little meditation and rebooting the computer does the trick :).

      Thanks again, I enjoyed your Halla Mountain piece and photos.

    • Actually I’m surprised that schools don’t teach these basic facts. For example, I only found out that beaches breathe by accident, one night when I was fishing off a beach after a hot day and I felt its warm breath around my legs.

      Of course some people might say that the water from each wave was sinking into the sand and expelling warm air, but really, what a boring explanation.

  2. I plan to share your post in my blog Since you have enabled sharing on your post, I am assuming that you are allowing others to share this post. However, if you have any objection to sharing your post, please let us know as soon as possible. Thank you.


  3. Absolutely wonderful poem. Great title…I like the specificity of a named street. The dreamlike images flow into one another. Too many lovely phrases to mention them all but ‘a capricious blend of memory and melancholy.’ Is one of them. Thanks Steve for another inspirational read. 😻🙏😊

    • All so very kind of you, Nikita. 🧡 I grew up on that street, and the poet Dransfield lived nearby, as well as our mutual friend who died before he finished school. That’s who his poem is about, and it affected me when I wrote this.

      This 2016 poem wasn’t meant to be republished at all. I made the post private when I was pulling down stuff relevant to the books coming out. This one wasn’t used, but when I made it public again (after many months) and clicked “update,” it was republished. It’s a WordPress bug, but they were unhelpful, and were supposed to follow up but didn’t. Anyway I’m very glad you liked it. 😸

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