Goodbye, Cruel


Poems from Goodbye, Cruel (Pitt St Poetry, 2017)

‘As the title suggests, the prevailing theme of this work is suicide: subject matter that might be mishandled by a maudlin or morbid writer of lesser skill. From Smith’s lines emerges a human pathos, tempered by a humane ethos, as the many voices she creates, mimics, translates, adapts-via-erasure, and adopts-via-cento take on a life (and death) of their own.. the work of a vivid, vitalic voice in Australian poetry.‘ – Alison Clifton, Stylus Lit

This collection was launched by John Foulcher at the Newcastle Writers Festival on Saturday 8th April 2017. Read the launch speech in full at the Rochford Street Review. Goodbye, Cruel is also the subject of a recent Verity La poetry podcast. And you can listen to Melinda read two poems here, as part of the Australian Book Review States of Poetry anthology.

Buy a copy from the publisher here.

Contemplating The Gap

i.m. Don Ritchie

Every story stumbles

in its own way. All so far

from here and from each other.

The funnel has a wide mouth.

But one by one they slide down it to teeter

on the lip of this one exit,

staring at the heave of the sea, breath

beaten from them by the cliff wind.

You can’t just sit there and watch

through your window. Can I

help you in some way?

A hundred and sixty times and I’ve never

lost one. Sometimes they come

for a cuppa afterwards. They

tell me things. They tell me

you feel the pull in your guts

and your giddy head, there is an urge

to laugh and an urge

to launch into the maw,

to make gravity finish all at once

the dirty dragging work it started the day

you were born. They tell me

you only feel vertigo

when you don’t want to fall.

Can I help you in some way?

Most of them come back with No.

I’m a salesman though. No

is a beginning.


Don Ritchie lived for many years near The Gap at Sydney’s South Head, a popular suicide spot due to the high cliffs overlooking the ocean. Mr Ritchie took it upon himself to start a conversation with anyone he happened to see who looked like they might be thinking about jumping.
Leaves from the Lovers’ Almanac

Day 27

hold me

up to the light


my disease

Day 28

I hover

just above

the idea of you

Day 33

your breath

then mine

no argument


Day 49

you trail your vapour

my nebula


Day 69

brush my lips

with bindii

Day 71

you have left me

a blue hourglass

to sift

my blue hours

Day 73

this tastes like the end

of something


Day 130

when you pass

you leave flames

in the strangest places

Day 139


by the struck match

I become

a dumb candle

Day 147

I never said

I would leave you


Day 148

I can still feel

the glow

in my backbone

Day 169

sight-read me

before the score


Day 190

mark me

with your dark barbs

if you dare

Day 191 

when you consume me

make all the air flower

with ruin

Day 277

here I am

broken open

to a tiny carnival

Day 281

when I look at you

I see more than one thing


Day 362

waiting for you

morning and night

the sea eats at me

‘Leaves from the Lovers’ Almanac’ is from a longer collaborative work, the #LookUP Project, with Bega region artist Rhonda Ayliffe. The #LookUP Project comprises 365 photographs of the sky taken by Rhonda (one for each day in 2015), for each of which Melinda wrote a micropoem. The entire photographic series can be viewed on Instagram here, with the micropoem for each image in the Instagram caption. Follow the link over the title of each micropoem above to see its companion image.

The project also produced a series of photograph + poem postcards, available in the SHOP.