top of page

Two Poems by Stephen House

Updated: Feb 26, 2020


after lunch

my eighty nine year old mother

asks me to hold a pillow over her face

and not take it off until she is dead

even if she kicks and struggles

she says:

i’m happy

i’ve had a wonderful life

but i can barely walk

i’m tired and ready to go

please help me

i say:

i can’t do that mum

i won’t

we cry

after a few minutes we laugh

so hard

that tears come again

the next day i go to see her

she asks me to strangle her

i refuse

we laugh

and then drink coffee and talk

about all kinds of things

including old age

living and dying

and legal euthanasia

mum has not asked me to kill her lately

i’m sure it’s because she knows i won’t do it

although we have laughed about it

my mother has a terrific sense of humor

she says i do too

i think got it from her

i will never be ready for mum to go


i place a large rock on the footpath

and sit in a park to watch

a woman with a child approaches rock

child stands on rock and mother takes a photo with her phone

they walk away from rock

an elderly man with a ginger dog pass rock

man glances at rock and dog pisses on rock

they walk away from rock

dog’s piss on rock dries in the sun

two teenage boys attempt to jump rock on their skateboards

one boy does it successfully

other boy tries several times but does not make it over rock

he falls on rock and path

successful boy laughs at failure

they skate away from rock

a young woman with bare feet stops at rock

she sits on rock and lights a cigarette

takes out her phone and sends a text message

she stands and makes a phone call

starts shouting into phone and kicks rock

i think she is crying

she walks away from rock still shouting into phone

i go to rock and cover rock with flowers i picked in the park

i can smell dog’s piss and cigarette smoke

i leave rock and go back to the park

a man dressed in an orange gown passes rock

he stops and looks at rock and walks away from rock

he returns and places flowers on rock

lights a stick of incense and lays it on rock

holds his hands in prayer and walks away from rock

i go to rock and on my knees i worship rock

a rat peeps at me from under a bush near the footpath

i think he says something but i can’t be sure

rat and i stare into each other’s eyes

i cry and rat cries

we stop crying and smile at each other

i thank rock for my life

rat thanks rock for bringing me to meet him

rat can speak

rock is god


Stephen House: has had many plays commissioned and produced. He has won two Awgie Awards (Australian Writer’s Guild), an Adelaide Fringe Award, First Prize Rhonda Jancovich Poetry Award for Social Justice, The Goolwa Poetry Cup, First Prize SA Writers / Feast Short Story Prize & Second Prize Poetry at Sawmillers. He has been shortlisted / highly commended for: Overland’s Fair Australia Fiction Prize, Patrick White Playwright, and Queensland Premier Drama Awards, the Tom Collins, Robyn Mathison, Eyre writers, Mindshare, Rhonda Jankovic Poetry Awards, Di Cranston Script Award, and a Greenroom best actor Award. He has received Australia Council Canada and Ireland literature residencies, and an Asia-link India literature residency. He has seen his plays and poems published, including by Currency Press, Australian Script Centre, Australian Poetry Journal, Third Street Writers USA, Page, and Spine USA, grey border magazine Canada, The Blue Nib Ireland and many websites internationally.  His poetry collection “real and unreal” was selected for publication by ICOE Press Australia. He travels widely and continues to perform his acclaimed monologues, “Almost Face To Face” and “Appalling Behavior”. His poem “ready” was shortlisted for the 2019 Lane Cove Literary Award Poetry Prize.

Recent Posts

See All

Two poems by Mckendy Fils-Aimé

sipèstisyon If people say your child is beautiful, your child will become ugly. ok, i confess. once, i said fuck you to danny perkins on the last day of kindergarten after a miserable year of being pu

"Dead Things" by Beth Boylan

I feel compelled to pick up the baby bird that has died just outside my doorstep this morning. Place her in my hand and rub her toothpick ribs with my thumb. Gently kiss the milky-blue bulbs of her ey

Two poems by Daniel Edward Moore

Hey, Future is that you / in the moment / a Buddhist might love / enough to hyperventilate / or the day’s dizzy spin /of 24 hours / kicking joy / to the curbs / of chaos / blessed by Hallmark’s / squa


bottom of page