Man with Snickers on top of a Tree Stump

Cobber ‘Stumpy’ Malley


Cobber ‘Stumpy’ Malley claims an undefined genealogical connection to Ern Malley. He imagines himself as a man from the bush but in fact has rarely left suburbia, a fact that his constant wearing of an Akubra hat and boots cannot hide. Biographical details are sketchy but he may not be who he says he is.

What’s In a Stump

A record in whorl and gnarl,

a catalogue of losses, of absences,

the reach for sky, the shadow,


memories of bud and bloom,

of shade, of shelter,

of a hundred states of grace,


of drought, a relentless, burning sun,

smoke’s wispy menace,

crackle and snap of fire,


singe and singe of floating ash,

arboreal lungs breathing the world’s breath,

solidity, stability, uprightness,


knots, veined spread of roots,

trunk, bough, branches, light filter,

peal of bark, tickle of insects,


home, haven, sanctuary, arguments

with wind, leaves unfurling, dancing

in air, fluttering to ground,


endless conversations with clouds,

drifts of cirrus in blue,

communion with water, rain,


the rustle and twitter of birds,

soft gauze of moonlight,

camp fires, gatherings,


dreams, song lines, murmured voices,

the thrum, the sticky blood of sap,

cut-out shape of canoe,


harbour of silence,

guardian of patience, a seat, a table,

the very air, the turning world.