Sean West


Sean West is a Meanjin-based poet and workshop facilitator. He’s been shortlisted for the Thomas Shapcott Poetry Prize in 2020 and 2019. His work recently appears or is forthcoming in Antithesis Journal, Bareknuckle Poet, and TEXT Journal. He is the founding editor of Blue Bottle Journal. Find him at www.callmemariah.com

Skin Diving

Chandler Swimming Pool

We were never natural born

swimmers. At best, we’d try

sink all the way to bottom


of the diving pool, divine

some dizzy pleasure from

pressure on our temples


We’d call it a competition:

who could hold their breath

longest, crawl down deepest?


We measured it out with

pruned hands, never reached all

the way to onyx-tongued floors


Our lungs would deploy

like emergency buoys, return

us to surface before everything


went dark. Then we’d break for

arvo tea, eat sweet chili-sour cream

wedges, grin at our mums, digest


what we’d just done. We never

learned how to dive deep enough

to actually cause ourselves harm


But those brief trips underwater

taught me this: don’t go digging

up the dead, dive instead.