The Third Day of Christmas – Peter Eustace and Julie Maclean



They Said

They said so many untrue, unkind, unfair
Cruel things behind my back
And later on even to my face –
Always three or four of them,
At least, better to make their point …
Afraid, more like, on their own,
I might for once have made other use
Of my work-hard hands.

Their close-up, riled breath whisked
The sawdust from my brows
Till I was almost wooed by their threats,
Frightened and confused and still
More than a little old-fashioned
In my unskilled ways and means.
Yet when I thought again how brave
And pure she was, so fragile, defenceless,

I realised love is not so much something
We feel but all told what we give.
So I let them say whatever they cared –
For the life of them they could not begin
To understand my smiling silence –
Heeding her and the boy to be born
Whose perfect, painful innocence
Became my burden and my joy.




Peter Eustace has published two books of poems in English and Italian (Vistas, 2006, and Weathering, 2010) and an English-only pamphlet (Brink, 2009) with erbacce press, Liverpool. He has been a guest at the Valpolicella, Verona, Monte Baldo and Nogara poetry/literary festivals (Italy), as well as the Small Press Day as part of the 10th anniversary celebrations of the World Academy of Poetry based in Verona and set up with the patronage of UNESCO.





When temporal lobes

ignite like Christmas lights
down High Street

she is upright in a bentwood chair
/resin replica/

Can’t see or hear
Not a sound

Normally susceptible to suspense
/Can’t seem to shake it/

Never expecting a good thing
to come of it

the crate of her skull
a pulse of epiphanous bliss

She thinks in tongues
of a thousand angels Gabriel

Couldn’t imagine a suicide
bomber or serial killer

Knows everything about us
Some days she takes little walks

past hospital wards with white views
a clipped, aching feel about them  /to us/

carrying out her marvellous plan
over crumpled pages, musical scores

Child of the cosmos
Jesus lives!       /for five minutes/


Julie Maclean is the author of Kiss of the Viking (Poetry Salzburg) and When I saw Jimi (Indigo Dreams) and e-chapbook You Love You Leave (Kind of a Hurricane Press, US). She is published in The Best Australian Poetry (UQP) Forthcoming in Poetry. Blogging at

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