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MacQueen’s Quinterly: Knock-your-socks-off Art and Literature
Issue 15: Sept. 2022
Poem: 126 words
(Sonku: Sonnet + Haiku)
Poet’s Note: 90 words
By Hazel Hall

Bethungra Spiral

You’ve always been a railroad man at heart. 
We’re riding on the Northbound as it winds 
up two tunnels, while its counterpart 
is moving downhill on the other line. 

	boarding time—
	your baseball cap 
	goes express 

We caught the train from Junee at the start, 
to catch this lap. I see your spirits climb 
as the Southbound rumbles to the past. 
Your smiles become a spiral, intertwined 
end to end. 

	window seat 
	we watch the mural 
	idling by 

		The sun is out at last 
to warm the future after your decline 
slip-sliding downhill till new capsules sparked 
a turnaround. The cancer’s now confined 
to monthly checkups. Having lost its grip, 
today you’re celebrating with this trip.

	how long blues—
	a hospital trolley 



Poet’s Notes:

1. “How Long, How Long Blues” was recorded in 1928 by the American blues duo Leroy Carr and Scrapper Blackwell.

2. Historically and scientifically rare, the Bethungra Rail Spiral between Junee and Cootamundra was built in the 1940s in New South Wales. It is the only 360-degree spiral in Australia and one of Australia’s most significant rail engineering feats of its time. The spiral is only experienced when travelling North.

YouTube video by Rod Williams (21 February 2014):
Bethungra Loop: Around the spiral: Australian Railways


Publisher’s Note:

Links to YouTube were retrieved on 31 August 2022:

1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PqOYncRHtO8

2. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N64u30a1VqY

Hazel Hall
Issue 15, September 2022

is a poet and musicologist who is well published in Australia and internationally. Her collections include Step By Step: Tai Chi Meditations (Picaro Poets, 2018), Moonlight over the Siding (Interactive Press, 2019), Severed Web (Picaro Poets, 2020), and a verse drama, Please Add Your Signature and Date It Here (Litoria Press, 2021). Her sonnet collection A Hint of Rosemary is forthcoming.

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