Glen Phillips

In a Landscape (1948)

(Tribute To John Cage)

PLANT PERSPECTIVES 1/1 - 2024: 228–229

doi: 10.3197/whppp.63845494909718

Open Access CC BY 4.0 © The Author

capital letter D with leaf decorationryandra country, where each parrot bush

fires up, proud as lunar rocket countdowns,

you see its be-whiskered pale cream blooms:

florets that will never make it to the moon.

In the measured program of your youth

your days may well ascend like slow notes

played on an absent toy piano in rooms

darkened. This is real numbat country,

Where leaf-litter and fallen wandoo bark

mask the scurrying tiny feet of the fleet.

Even the western greys will bound

more quietly, reverently here, I think.

Walk on past mallet and powder bark,

past wilga ochre pit, abandoned rail

line, but salt has risen in the streams,

nearby towns are dying on their feet.

In this landscape of farms and roads

of gravel, the great granite domes

are rural aureoles of weathered stone;

and curlews call in a darkening sky.

December 2022

watercolour image of bushland


Watercolour of Western Australian bush by the author


Parrot bush – local name for the dryandra plant (Banksia-dryandra acuminata)

Numbat – small marsupial and animal symbol for Western Australia

Wandoo, mallet, powder bark – WA trees

Western Greys – WA species of kangaroo

Wilga – red ochre.’

Professor Glen Phillips BEd (hons), MEd, PhD, is a WA poet and painter, born 1936 in Southern Cross, outback Western Australia. As a career academic, he is Director of the Centre for Landscape and Language at Edith Cowan University, Perth and has served in Humanities and Arts at the university and its predecessors since 1962. He was a guest poet of the 2019 WA Writers Week for a public release of In the Hollow of the Land, his Collected Poems, 1968-2018. He has now published more than sixty books of poems in Australia, China, the USA, Italy, UK and Thailand and two books of short stories. Twice President of Fellowship of Australian Writers, he served twenty years on its WA executive. Glen co-edited the FAW and Katharine Susannah Prichard Writers Centres anthologies and many others. A prize-winning poet, he was a founding Director of the WA poetry reading group, ‘Poetry in Motion’ and performed in Europe, USA, Asia and on the ABC TV, ABC Radio ‘Poetica’ series and SBS and community television stations. He is a life member of three Writers Centres in WA and current Patron of the K.S. Prichard Foundation. His poems have been translated into Chinese, Italian, Spanish, French and many more of the world’s languages. As a landscape painter, his most recent exhibition of landscapes was in Shanghai, November 2023.