The Australian Gothic, poetry written by Michael J Leach at

The Australian Gothic

The Australian Gothic

written by:  Michael J Leach



I was born on Halloween
Eve in an old city of gold
amidst the exotic Land of Oz –
this nation ruled by the Australian
Labour Party of the ’80s.

In the hot light of day,
a stone Gothic Revival
cathedral cast pointy shadows
over this bone dry landscape
that I came to call home.

At age five,
my favourite fantasy
film was Return to Oz.
In that dystopian land of
wicked witches, wacky wheelers

and wizened nomes,
a pumpkin-headed figure
was the good guy
I liked most.
My parents carved me

jack-o’-lanterns perennially.
My birthday parties were often
fused with Halloween celebrations.
I wore shades of inky black
both in and out of costume.

I still vividly recall that chilly
autumn day after high school
when I first saw and heard flying foxes
circling and chittering over
the statue of Queen Victoria

like an invading army of vampire bats
or perhaps winged monkeys.

It was then that it finally
dawned on me:
this place I call home
is a microcosm
of the Australian Gothic.

Michael J Leach

Michael J Leach

Michael J. Leach is an Australian academic, writer, and poet. He is based at the Monash University School of Rural Health, Bendigo, where he undertakes research, teaches demographic methods and evidence-based practice, and runs poetry workshops for medical students. Michael’s poems reside in Spillwords, Cordite, Rabbit, Meniscus, Consilience, Plumwood Mountain, The Blue Nib, Blue Bottle Journal, the Medical Journal of Australia, the Antarctic Poetry Exhibition, and elsewhere. Michael’s debut poetry collection is the chapbook 'Chronicity' (Melbourne Poets Union, 2020). He lives on unceded Dja Dja Wurrung Country and acknowledges the traditional custodians of the land.
Michael J Leach

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