For the birthday girl

April 29, 2010

This is a poem I wrote about my daughter, who turns 7 today, written when she was kicking up a storm in utero.

Happy birthday baby, love you.

Daddy’s little girl

starts to twist and squirm in time

to Mummy’s latin heart.



April 21, 2010

Written for Mark’s website challenge, working through my delusions of poetry:

A criss-cross reality
Ordered and neat
The wall, like a mausoleum and
those blue, fucking, chairs just sitting there waiting
for you.

Doctors and trains and birthdays and cancers.
When you cut out all the waiting the highlights reel is thin.

The clack clack of the train tracks. The neon light spitting spitefully at the tiled walls. The ghosts of old commuters trailing briefcases behind them like sins.

You wonder about that wall, about the bodies within, about the smooth edges and the sterilized humanity and you guess it’s true: death is cleaner than life.

Published: ‘An Alphabetical Amulet’

April 14, 2010

Two of my pieces – a story entitled ‘The Family Tree’, and a poem entitled ‘A Man called Munny’ will be published in the forthcoming publication An Alphabetical Amulet, put out by the Peter Cowan Writers’ Centre.

The launch will be held on Sunday, 2nd May 2010 at 12:30pm on the grounds of Edith Cowan University Joondalup.

Come along! The centre’s annual 2nd hand book sale is also being held so it should be a great day!

More info here.

‘The Last Building Standing’

April 11, 2010

Written as an exercise for Mark Welker’s site:

The last building standing looked up. The sky, once his enemy, no longer rained upon him, no longer sent all manner of birds to shit on him or nest in him, no longer faded him with its glaring eye.

The last building standing looked down. There were no more steel animals in the street clambering over its legs, farting noxious gas over it, leaving tracks all over it, revving and beeping around it like parasites.

The last building standing realised that because there were no steel animals there would most likely be none of the little bags of pus which spilled from the beasts, worming their way into the building’s body, its bloodstream. He looked within and confirmed that this was the case. There was no evidence of the creatures’ food, of their defecation, of their noise.

All that the building could see was their skins; bright and multi-coloured, lazily discarded, and the faint aroma of charred flesh.

The last building standing wondered what one should do when it is the last building standing. The tethering lines that gave him strength and ears and a voice had been cut off: literally in some cases, figuratively in others. What good were ears if no one was speaking to you? What good a mouth if no one spoke your language?

The last building standing just

stood there as the angry clouds bloomed fiery petals over the sky

and he was happy

‘Red on White’

April 8, 2010

Written in response to inspiration provided by Ghylene (call for inspiration 3):

The moon light slices through the open venetian blind so that she can make out the blood, dribbling onto the white fur like gooey icing. The hand gripping the ice shard is warm and slowly melting the weapon, so that water mingles with the blood, increasing the speed at which it spills onto the plush long hair rug on the floor. The woman the hand is attached to stands back, surveying the mess she has created. The blood falls unevenly, chaotically, creeping away into two distinct smudges.

She looks down at the stained carpet, wonders what they will say when they discover it in the morning. She hears them upstairs; the telltale squeak of a wooden bed, the sighing groan. She can see him so clearly, running his hand from her throat, between her breasts, gripping her waist. His lips against her nipples.

All his moves, played out in her mind with uncanny realism.

Leaning against the rammed earth fireplace, the random splinters of wood in the mud blocks prick her bare thigh. She hears a whimper and it doesn’t come from the bedroom above her. Soft footsteps pad across the kitchen and a dog that could pass as the rug’s twin brother stops in front of the woman, looks up at her. His tongue lolls out. He sits down expectantly. Pricks his ears up.

She sighs, smiles despite herself. “Buddy,” she whispers. He gets up, rubs against her leg. She crouches down, drops the dwindling ice shard, and wraps her arms around his thick neck. She buries her face in the long, matted hair behind his left ear. He smells like hands stained from working in the garden, like children running under a sprinkler, like three day old bread that crumbled when you buttered it.

The dog whimpers again, this time in discomfort. She loosens her hold on him. He runs off and even in the dark she can see where her blood has run down his back. She looks at her wrists. The blood is bubbling now and she imagines the effervescence is her escaping soul. She thinks of her two sons, asleep at her in-laws.


They cried when she dropped them off; she had been late for her flight and had dumped them perhaps with too much haste.

On the way home from the airport the grounded plane had seemed like a blessing; the heavy snowfall a gift from the parenting gods. She would get the boys in the morning – no point waking them now – and then the four of them could go out for one of those weekend breakfasts that have very little to do with getting a nutritious start to the day, and everything to do with jam and honey and chocolate syrup.

She had sat in her car a long time; parked on the neighbours’ lawn, unwilling to begin the new life unfurling before her, heralded by the strange car in her driveway. It wasn’t strange because she didn’t recognise it; it was strange because it shouldn’t be there.

She had snapped off an ice shard from the frosted verandah and carried it inside, cautious of the sharp edge against her palm. She closed the door softly behind her and the clicking lock was the last sound her old life made.

‘Tethering the Sun’

April 6, 2010

Written in response to inspiration provided by Elisa (call for inspiration 3):

The sun was climbing. It urged, nagged at the old man like a burning fuse. The beads of sweat on his brow ran across the river system of creases that strapped his face until they fell to the ground. He reached behind him with his good hand and painstakingly unclipped his bottle from his belt and shook it. Half full, he thought, should be enough. If I’m careful. The bottle slipped from his grip and fell to the ground. He slid to the ground to retrieve it. The wet ground was cold against the thin material of his pants. He clipped the bottle to the front of his belt and got up.

Back home the old man had smirked as one by one his mates had moved into retirement villages. He had been concerned as their fishing groups whittled away one by one, as everyone decided to stay closer to their children, and the doctor’s surgery. He looked down at his limp right arm. Yes, he thought, I understand how they felt.

The panther had been following him since early morning. It was the antithesis of the sun, a core of nothingness moving through the jungle shadow. There was something frightening about a panther; this jaguar wrapped in darkness.

He was chasing the day; the night was chasing him.

The Urabamba Valley called to him beseechingly; mocked him with cries of delight; cried at his sorrow. The man didn’t care. He reached the peak and saw it. The stone work capping the natural beauty around it. The man smiled.

He was going to make it.

He began his decent. Machu Picchu waited for him. The Intihuatana stone waited for him.

The sun would not wait. The panther would not wait. He felt himself balanced between the escaping day and the looming night like a boat caught between rolling swells. He made it to the city and put his bare foot down on carved stone. He thought of his wife and the way she explored the world in bare feet, never one to keep shoes on unnecessarily; always ready to engage her “spare set of fingers”. She would have smiled now.

He heard a throaty purr and hurried into the city. He had thirty minutes.

The old man pulled himself onto a ledge with his good arm and looked around. There were no workmen here today, just as the guide had said. Still, he was surprised that no other traveler had taken advantage of the fact that the ruins were closed. To see the solstice in relative solitude.

When he found the stone he lay down on the smooth side. His legs dangled over the edge. He was thirsty. Uncapping the bottle he discovered that it had run dry, the bottle corrupted.

Everything was quiet. He breathed heavily. The sun almost directly ahead, his eyes tearing up beneath its stare. The purr of the panther vibrating in his ear until he could no longer hear the jungle. Where was it? Could he hold on long enough, keep away from it long enough, long enough to tether the sun?


April 2, 2010

Written for Mark’s latest challenge:

He died. Died. DIED!
Arms outstretched, cage door left open.
So it goes.

And birds soar above in the soot filled sky. The earth crying tears of soil into the atmosphere. The man, who was (if nothing else) a man of earth and grit and dirt and crushed shell thinks yeah, how fitting.
He wonders if this is the beginning of the trip. There is another planet out there waiting for him. He knows it. The soot pushes him upwards towards SOMETHING and seeing as how he doesn’t (never did, never will) believe in an afterlife he assumed this was still just plain old life, albeit without the flesh, or the being late for work, or even that whole gravity thing. This must be the trip, he thinks. But how am I getting there?
He can’t tell if he is one of the birds, part of the soot, or something else all together. The young girl on the shoreline waving up at him. The dog barking at the birds. The fish in the cool slime encrusted water.
He feels eyes looking down at him, and he sees reflected in the pupils the black words on the white page that he realises is him. The body made text. The dream encoded.
And sooner or later, he thinks, I’ll have to give up this charade. This pretence that a disembodied voice is telling my story. Some random, godlike voice. No. I need to take ownership. It is me, sitting here typing this, still bound by my flesh, still trying not to be late for work. That dust comforts me, the idea of swirling around forever, or settling down forever. Being consumed, regurgitated, consumed again. Multiple shots at getting the thing right.
Everything is invention (of differing degrees of acceptability). Everything is disjointed. I have written this too slowly, written without a goal.
The cage door far below, still open. Inside: a fresh, shiny world waits for me, offers to envelope me.

I die, or I am born. Fill in as appropriate.