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The Postcult Heart

On the eve of her wedding, a mother hands her daughter an unpublished manuscript—a collection of love poems—written by the famous writer and matriarch of the family, Booker Makepeace. Booker had bequeathed the manuscript to her own daughter three decades earlier on the eve of her wedding before she disappeared. What do they mean, these snapshots of love? Are the poems instructions? Warnings? Documentaries? Clues? Lies? Revelations? Lovesongs?

For the Makepeace women, it is all they have left to live by.

The Postcult Heart is a meditation on love written as a series of feminist epistles from fictional women. Presuming to tell the love stories of real women, this collection offers a grim yet gorgeous wisdom won through a moral intensity that is fierce, raking, but also forgiving. The poems are prayers for a fallen world, offered with astonishing insight into the human struggle where the materiality of love is treated as our most urgent subject. The domain of the confessional voice is extended here into new and electrifying territory.

ISBN 97819215231540 (PB, 108pp);
140mm x 216mm
AUD $25 USD $18 NZD $27 GBP £12 EUR €14
ISBN 97819215231557 (eBook) AUD $13 USD $10 NZD $15 GBP £6 EUR €7


These poems are a silver needle filled with the strangest sort of dope. The trip is both brutal and beautiful. The hallucinations are true. And I’m laughing over the pain. Bradley Smith has done it again.
– Charlie LeDuff, Pulitzer Prize author of Sh*tshowl, Detroit and US Guys

Susan is an electric waterfall poet, every poem is sharp and heartfelt. She writes from the knowing place of a wife and a mother. She a professor of English in Australia but her own poems are never dry or overly-academic, they are kept wet with the frank slap of a very modern female voice.
– Greta Bellamacina, Young Poet Laureate of the Year (UK)

Susan Bradley Smith

Susan Bradley Smith began her writing life as a rock journalist and cultural historian in Sydney and London. She is Professor of Poetry at John Cabot University in Rome, and teaches Creative Writing at Curtin University, Australia. An advocate for Arts and Health, she is the founder of the writing and wellbeing consultancy Milkwood Bibliotherapy.


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after James Arlington Wright’s ‘Saint Judas’

Any excuse will do, find
me a clock to wind or a
last supper to sweat through,
I’ll do anything to escape
the too-soon specialness
of you. I could perhaps run
away, banish my bolter self,
claim clam-tight innocence
or form a rock band called
‘Cinderella’s Motherfuckers’
or ‘Christmas on Steroids’ but
even then I’d no doubt ask
you to play bass, mistaking you
for a philippic poet with an
instrument when we both
know what you really are:
someone I should have met

I would hold you for nothing in my arms.

The knot I know

These are the things I
will do to you: I will hold
your hand beneath the
table (this will begin
our affair); afterwards,
not too much later, I will
make you lie upon me,
catacomb sure, on a beach
somewhere near Rome or
on Mars, who cares.

Shortly thereafter
you will drag me backwards
by my hair to my sure
drowning. Love has this
condition, or none.


Her post-baby body (encasing an
onanistic heart) was a lie built from
money. She rose from the sunlounge by
the resort pool, instructed the nanny,
and walked past the reclining mass
of the converted, a goddess who knew
more than what a seashell kept

secret. She rode the lift wiping off the grime
of those lascivious stares, trying not to
choke on what lay ahead, feeling lonely but
determined to wife properly. Sadly, her
sexual treat never made it centre stage,
for there in their suite was her husband

as though she did not exist, had never.
He finished. He looked at her compendium
of discontent, felt their doneness, but
had no strength to imagine a different
way. He worked so hard he was dead.
Naked together now, they desperately
began the calculating business of

cutting down life
to the scale of their inheritance.

On not being eaten alive: one morning at the beach

after Gwen Harwood’s ‘In the Dark’

She sat there half-watching her children
in the ocean, surfing waves on boards
that cost more than her honeymoon,
worrying about the cloudy mess of the day
and the sharkiness of the water. Earlier,
her misery had almost choked her:
she’d walked into it like a spiderweb
at dawn, an intruder in her own
garden. She brushed it off and made a
magnificent breakfast, flushing away her
pain with green juices and long-limbed
racing along the beach with her wildflower
offspring. The sheer beauty of them,
their touch on her back through
sunscreen, their branding of her as
they’d pressed hot-metalled car keys
into her hand Hurry up Mum it’s
, her bones are forever
engraved with this love. But still,
she sits, depression deepening
within her like a coastal shelf. A
sandbank collapses. A rip roars
into the sudden gape, an ungodly
rushing to fill with water what had
been solid sand an instant before.
It takes less than two minutes to
drown, but she can hold her breath
for far, far longer than most, she tells
the wind. The wind has heard this boast
before. How else to explain the weather?
Soon, her surfers will be starving. She
checks the esky, satisfied that it is full
enough with food aplenty, and pops
some ice into her mouth. It’s a beautiful,
beautiful, day. Wish you were here,
she whispers, then closes her eyes.