InReview InReview

Support independent journalism

Books & Poetry

Poem: Little Button Quail

Books & Poetry

In celebration of protection and preservation, this week’s Poet’s Corner is from Jake Dennis in Perth.

Print article

Little Button Quail

for Bimblebox Nature Refuge

You are not her king, Turnix velox,
straw-brown, white-streaked, but you fly
flea-swift through grass as dry
as dead leaves and twigs.

Living leaf, bark that rises
with a moth’s inelegance, this dawn
you pick worms like curled hair drawn
from earth’s scalp by last night’s storm.

Drying sand preserves the light
impression of your steps soon swept
to yesterday, forgotten. Forget
hot winds. Follow the ‘whoop whoop’.

Your polyandrous queen’s pale left eye
sees your rival to the right. Eggs need
blood’s heat. Puff your meaty chest,
expand your belly’s warmth.

She repeats her B flat boom,
her call for creators. You approach.
Her choice is quick as the cricket
you will catch alone tonight.

Wildflowers lower their heads, draped
in the woodland’s shadows. Outlive her.
Turn but return here each summer,
protected presently in this outback palace,

free from mesh and glass and walls,
far from a garden of salad and rice,
safe from steel railways and coal,
defended ‘in perpetuity’ by legislative terms:
free to regally strut and pierce worms.

Jake Dennis lives in Perth. Of Burmese-Australian heritage, he is a singer, actor and published poet. His poetry has appeared in numerous Australian publications, including, Quadrant, Westerly, Art Monthly Australia, Voiceworks, Australian Literary Review, Cordite Poetry Review and Mekong Review, as well as overseas in Singapore Unbound’s SUSPECT NY, Poetry NZ, Strutco UK, and Wales Haiku Journal. He won Red Room Poetry’s 2023 30in30 competition, Right Now’s 2014 Human Rights Poetry Prize, and the Now & Then 2011 Literature Prize. His poem today was exhibited as part of the 2015 Bimblebox 153 Birds art exhibition. Details of Jake’s musical career can be found with his Poet’s Corner contribution next week, and he is on Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter (X), and at

Readers’ original and unpublished poems of up to 40 lines can be emailed, with postal address, to Submissions should be in the body of the email, not as attachments. A poetry book will be awarded to each accepted contributor.

Support local arts journalism

Your support will help us continue the important work of InReview in publishing free professional journalism that celebrates, interrogates and amplifies arts and culture in South Australia.

Donate Here

. You are free to republish the text and graphics contained in this article online and in print, on the condition that you follow our republishing guidelines.

You must attribute the author and note prominently that the article was originally published by InReview.  You must also inlude a link to InReview. Please note that images are not generally included in this creative commons licence as in most cases we are not the copyright owner. However, if the image has an InReview photographer credit or is marked as “supplied”, you are free to republish it with the appropriate credits.

We recommend you set the canonical link of this content to to insure that your SEO is not penalised.

Copied to Clipboard

More Books & Poetry stories

Loading next article