Author Archives: Claire Gaskin

About Claire Gaskin

Claire Gaskin is a Melbourne-based Poet & Creative Writing Teacher.


next obsessed

the pink truth


between Norfolk Pine branches

sprinklers meet heat
at our mozzie swarmed

widening feeling
before the gates

Originally published in the Red Room Poetry Project Sun Herald “Extra” Poems.


The stone of self worth

I thought I was spirit and didn’t matter

A fall and a view both sides
on the ridge of wiped memory

The petals blink in the rain
like a child who cannot hold her hand out for the strap

Asking for naked photos back

You may as well enjoy it
Because of you I don’t want to settle

His words crawled like snails out of his mouth into my pinned ear

I kiss the cold of seeing but not opening

Her body like a flag stuck in his skull
The rose of surgery 

Originally published in the Red Room Poetry Project Poetry Crimes.


the familiar grave grit in my eyes

a forgotten unbroken roar of ocean under skin

betrayal caught in the blades of the ceiling fan

I open the curtains to the forgiving page

the storm in a cradle

the flickering leaves aflame

the bed porous

I remake movement every morning

poured into the shape of a shelter

from shame

a cup of hands

I cannot remember without a swallow

solitude a cool glass of water

unkinking the hose

after too many coffees

watering plants bathed in light

she got too close to the dying enquiry                              

it reignited

her throat caught fire breathing the text

a cup of water poured over the drain and constricted larynx

nobody listened to the content of my mother’s complaint

I did but she didn’t see me

the rain came down with the words

From Claire Gaskin’s collection, Ismene’s Survivable Resistance.

Ismene reads her psych’s book on dissociation

the mattress holds the heat of the mind haunted
e dream-rivers reason with the tree roots to remember
the cradle flinches in the breeze fracturing
holding through the night of nights de-realized
this journey does not involve going anywhere fragmented
my mind outside my body having a body is to blame

pulling the rip cord of silk self-blame
not present feels like I am ghosting haunting
my skin alight with the pain of a refrain fragment
blood to forgiveness throbbing in my knuckles remembered
narratives run through my fingers de-realized
time calculated in the imprint of my face as the clay fractures

the stone dropped into the pool of my pelvis fracturing
I forgive you father for you have sinned and are to blame
the glass of water on the window sill reacting to the foundations de-realized
I am matter I do matter I am a spirit haunted
thrown into the sea of ancestors remembered
my feet are rubbed out as the waves fragment

the ticking of the passing bike in winking time fragments
I see the effect but not the cause fracturing
the floors worn through in a puddle of raw wood to remember
my hands mangled birds the weather blames
you cannot perceive the imperceptible through perception but meaning is a haunting
awareness is one thing action is another substituting is depersonalisation

disintegration of identity experience de-realized
how traumatised people talk in sentence fragments
a demolished base is not a safe haunt
scenes flash topic switching and my credibility fractures
the two major tasks in life are to love and to work not to be blamed
the more severe the less remembered

I fight through the curtains to get into my psych’s room to remember
the smell in the dark of my mother’s wardrobe their bedroom depersonalised
it’s harder to be autonomous when the culpable don’t take the blame
in murky water hair in waving reeds submerged trees and bone fragments
on the surface of the lake the clouds fracture
wanting it to be other than it is doesn’t stop the truth haunting

a poem is re-membering in collaged fragments
limits de-realised from forming fatigue fractures 
a child with no outline feels to blame it is an oceanic haunting

From Claire Gaskin’s collection, Ismene’s Survivable Resistance.

Ismene in a Twelve Step Programme

I can tell you about powerlessness

step one

knowing it is going to happen and being able to do nothing

Antigone chooses to die rather than survive abuse

pinned down his sweat dripping in my face

saying you may as well enjoy it

something severed it

wasn’t love and sex it was abuse from love

he didn’t love me

all my abusers before that had loved me

I dreamt I was walking through the rubble of my family home

seeking shelter there

I loved them that is what children do

consequences of knowing things I could not believe

I had sex again with him to make him feel

I could have learnt

not spent a life trying to make my abusers love me

if I’d been able to be present

my boyfriend’s parting words it’s not the same

he came back thirty-three years later

said he could have dealt with it better

believing it I knew it was not true

sitting on the steps of ourselves

cleaning my feet

constantly re-traumatising each other

I did my best not to survive it

meet and repeat the annihilation in addiction

I am here because I know about a life time of refusal

I dreamt I was painting

I wasn’t in control of my medium and I had the wrong brushes

you don’t have to believe to pray

survival is the radical act

wasn’t I reason enough for her to stay alive

what is survivable resistance

Polynices was already dead

I know the Greek Tragedy thing once it is set in motion it must play out

but I’m still here to feel the sun on my body and the water to witness my blaring heart

my abuser was giving me admission

something my family could never give me

I have to grip the arms of my chair to stay present

I use sex to avoid intimacy

did she love Polynices more than life

is that love

she made him her god

I get that she felt like he was irreplaceable

what was I

but so was she


I could bury my dead in private

she needed it to be seen by other 

is to survive it to comply

she died to what they call sanity logic law so I could live

she covered up that the first burial was mine

I couldn’t stay in the house with Creon

I took off

got as far as Sydney before I met someone

we swam drank had lots of sex moved on to the next beach whenever we wanted

a job at a magazine the editor had sent everyone out

lying on a hot rock by black water

the sound of metal bowls being placed on the ground

I am left I am what is left

my body a bargain with presence

where things move in the breeze

it was the gaze of the train

the inevitability

the lake hollows the sound of voices

From Claire Gaskin’s collection, Ismene’s Survivable Resistance.

Eurydice Speaks


I stumble on steps that flow with water

we only do this because we love you

I dreamt my boots filled with water

leaving drags afterwards

when you left I drank a bottle of scotch a day

the anaesthetist asks if I can climb a flight of steps

our story leaves a trail of bread crumbs for the birds

your flowers between me and the man opposite 

he says no to any more treatment

on a suspended staircase that waits 

I’ll pray for you, I love you, god bless you

my body weighted my mother’s valve leaks

as you drive the sun halves you

through polarities our life in pieces


through polarities our life in pieces

I stumble the stereotypes flow with wattle

we only do this because we lullaby you

I dreamt my bootlaces were film

leaving drags afterthoughts

I drank a boulder of bougainvillea when you left

the analyst asks if I can climb the flight of stalemates

to tell our story leaves a trail of breadwinners

your flowers between me and your management

a no scalds to any more treatment

a suspended stamen waits

I’ll pray for you, I’ll lug you, I’ll lullaby you

my body weighted in my mother’s vapour

drooped the sundial halves you


drooped the sundial halves you

through polarities our life in petals

you lose your footing on the sandbar

the sea rocks us together locks the sea out

to go in deeper you had to come in closer to shore

what would happen if I allowed myself to feel

your promise a stone of anxiety

the broken wrist of the beer glass the wet asphalt

I feel the rest of our timeline wet salt skin

a slippery afterbirth ribbons through my fingers

the cicadas are so loud

so the birds won’t eat them

the extremities are easy it’s in-between that’s hard

can’t see the person for the paper cut-outs of profiles


can’t see the person for the paper cut-outs of profiles

the years break like facts

the years fall like anchors

you lose your footing on the sandbar

the seabird rocks us together locks the seer out

to go in deeper you had to come in closer to shortage

what would happen if I allowed myself to feel

your proof of aphorism

the broken writer the wet aspiration

I feel the restatement of our timeline’s wet salutation

a slippery afterbirth riddles through fires

the cinders are so loud

so the births won’t eat them

the eyes are easy it’s in-between that’s hard


the eyes are easy it’s in-between that’s hard

can’t see the personality for the profundities

the years breakfast like angels

the yells fall like anecdotes

my memory is a bruised apple

the sink unblocks as the alarm goes off

the fact that we are together again proves

the inner worm as boneless as the outer world

I sew cumin seeds into the seams of your jacket

I fear sandand living life not accounting for

in your reappearance is your disappearance

his dingo breath hot in the face of you leaving

the sand from our day in my bed

a cloth over the mirrors

From Claire Gaskin’s sonnet series Eurydice Speaks.