It was stupid of me to say I would have to go away.
And to say it to you.
Because there is no more or less here than where you are.
The past is no more, no less.
It is only further.
I often wonder if something in your chest went cold.
But you needed only to look into my eyes.
‘You'd find it there”, you said.
As if you knew there was something in me worthy of it.
Farewell to time
In the feeble golden city we walked the silent streets.
We were quiet
But I know by the way you look at the ground and grin that you are ready to speak.
I stare at my feet.
The green grass beneath flickers under a sun shadow sheath.
It covers your face. I catch glimpses brief
Of you on your side, ground to your cheek.
Looking to the foliage deep from where the sky seeps,
I can’t see you looking at me.
Like we’re restlessly asleep we move our arms, legs, feet,
Sit up, fall down meek
As you tell me of your week.
Moving in a circle, ever closer to each
Until in the centre we meet
And the side of my head can reach
The bottom of your neck.
I can feel you breathe.
Amongst yours my fingers weave and fall apart again.
They rest on your knee.
Then we stop moving.
We don’t have to speak.
You’re face down with your hands under your cheek
And my cheek beneath your soft smelling hair like wheat
That spreads from my eye to my teeth.
And I wonder if this is bliss,
Or just peace.
The church bells don’t sound like they did before.
All that can be heard is stiff metal clanging.
There is no echo or ringing.
Maybe the walls have grown over their pores, or the stone no longer wants to listen.
Or perhaps it is the bells, their insides rounded down and covered in soft scars.
Maybe someone has stolen the clapper and replaced it with a small spoon.
The throbbing bronze orb is nowhere to be seen.
My angel voice won't fill the space, when once I only had to whisper.
When I try to raise the holy ghost with semitones, the chant falls dead.
It is like I am singing my requiem in a plain of long grass, where there are no walls to sing it back to me.
I had not sung until today, and I had forgotten some of the words.
But today I sung in the plain. It is nicer.
There, the last note does not linger in the vaults.
The clapper was later found nestled in the grass, not far from where I was standing.
It had turned to glass. Someday soon I will put it back in the bell.
...I’ve stared into deep black waters at night,
seeing and remembering everything that once was,
everything that felt beautiful and exhilarating and unique to this world,
moments which looking back upon brings momentary nostalgia, warm,
filled with muted pain and soft sighs which will never be heard.
I stay above the waters edge.
I go home to my bed, tired and wide awake,
and dream of you.
Published in Honi Soit (find it here).
Bundaberg is the place I grew up.
It’s a small city—regional Queensland. People like to think anywhere outside of Brisbane is a one-street ice epidemic. But Bundaberg is a nice place.
The city is surrounded by cane fields on all sides. When crushing season comes, a sweet, yet sulphurous steam from the mill pours into the afternoon air. When they burn the fields, delicate strands of ash rain over the whole town. They turn to dust in your hands if you try to catch them.
The sun shines almost every day. Going outside is a game of finding shade, or else having your mother remark how burnt you are at the dinner table that evening.
I come from two old families. My mother’s father’s parents settled there in the 20s and opened a cafe. They were Greek. My dad’s family were school teachers and cattle auctioneers. They’re Irish and English, and they’ve been there since the early days.
Our house is over a hundred years old, in the Queenslander style. It’s made of timber—cooling in the summer—and has a long verandah. It’s always full of sun and air. When I was a baby my mum painted the house light blue, with yellow walls inside. There are gardens all around, and a backyard that any child would dream of. You could always find shade there.
One of my first memories is of a winter morning in that house, when I walked with my grandmother over the wooden hallway floor into our kitchen. She was living with us at the time. The sight of her hand holding mine frightened me: there were blood spots, and thick violet veins protruding from her delicate skin.
I can remember the feeling of lying on her lap. She was tender and loving, in a way that has always made me want to cry when I think or speak of her. She died shortly after that cool morning in the hallway.
Every Sunday in the summer, my mum would take my two brothers and me to the beach. We’d pull up in the carpark and run across the burning bitumen to the flour-like sand. My auntie Pauline would already be sitting in her fold-out chair. “Jesus, where’ve you been?” she’d ask me as I threw my towel down next to her. She always phoned in advance to see what time we’d get there. Auntie Pauline was my godmother, and she made me laugh. Her hair was tinted black as the night, and she wore thick gold bangles on both wrists.
My grandad’s chair would be next to hers, empty. He would be off strolling up and down the beach, talking to all the regulars. You’d spot him with his walking stick, slowly making his way back. It was as if you could see his deep tan getting darker as he walked. He came to the beach every day. It was where he belonged. My mother says that the ocean is in our blood, from him.
We would migrate between the water and the warm sand, where we’d eat and chat. I loved hearing my grandad talking to his two daughters. “Did you hear old Mrs Briggs died?” someone would say. “Yeah, saw it in the paper. Shame, she was a lovely woman.”
When the sun got too strong, we would go home.
After his heart attack, grandad wouldn’t come to the beach anymore. I think he lost a part of himself because of it. He died when I was in Year 12.
Now that I live in Sydney, sometimes it hurts my mother to think that I don’t miss home. But everywhere I go, I look for it; in the shade of a tree, on cool mornings, when submerged in the ocean and in the words I speak and hear. It is the feeling of being loved.
I have his hands
I used to gaze at them, deep and strong
Broadening at the knuckles.
Thick fingers extend like trunks.
Bronze of pigment.
Mine, soft and transparent,
Their bones are his.
The last time I saw them
Gold faded to green
I made sure of it.
It is not enough to know that we are gazing at the same night stars.
Each day that I cannot search your eyes our distance grows more austere.
I see what before I did not.
The way the lights on the hills shimmer.
The way this city has become my own.
The ducts prepare tears
for an ache thought forgotten.
They stay behind eyes.
Something I wrote stopped me.
I couldn't think or write any more.
'It was the way I felt when we were together,
and then when we weren't.'
I like walking at night. This project documents an inner city landscape after dark, a series of vignettes which, while appealing to the eye, are fleeting and trivial, like many of the thoughts and feelings that enter and escape the mind.
skin shimmers, as light make its way through the stirring foliage.
my world is green, gold and soft blue.
under my arms, around my waist the thin air meanders, sensual and transient.
my frantic mind is subdued.
a longing soul surrenders.
Yesterday, while emptying an old sim card which I hoped to reuse, I came across some old footage which I had taken on my little silver digital camera when I was around the age of 11. None of it was particularly enthralling, mostly capturing inane scenes of day to day life or images my friends and family. But I find it beautiful captures the excitement and purity of a childhood on the cusp of the digital age. The subjects are innocent and undeliberate, fascinated by the camera, whether in front of or behind it. After filming, we would all gather around the tiny screen to watch the shaky, hand-held image we'd created, often ending up in fits of laughter.We would film anything and everything.
With the way in which technology and digital photography has become so widespread, it makes me wonder whether we've lost some of the childlike authenticity in the way we interact with the visual world, in our gaze.
In Eastern Christian belief, the icon is not merely a depiction of a holy figure; it transmits the light of God, captivating and otherworldly.
I have always been drawn to Christian religious imagery. I remember from a young age being taken by depictions of martyrdom and divinity, rendered in deep, striking hues, illuminated and golden; crimson blood on pale bodies, soft, angelic faces, scenes of chaos lit by a single beam, the gentle gaze of Virgin nursing the child Christ, her gentle tears with the dead body of her son in her arms. I was baptised and grew up around religion, and for a long time tried to reconcile the powerful reaction I felt to representations with a genuine need for faith in my life, or belief in a higher power. But that need just never came. I've realised that I don't believe in God; I believe in the strength and compassion of the people around me.
I'm still not sure exactly what I feel when I see these images, whether it be sympathy, artistic admiration or simply aesthetic satisfaction. But now I'm sure it's not the light of God.
Returning home to Queensland after my first semester of university in Sydney has in some ways been a surreal experience. Going from complete independence in a completely new and unfamiliar environment back to the place that I grew up in, back to family life, has been eye-opening but also comforting. I've realised the ways that I've changed and the ways that I haven't, and the advantages and limitations of both of my new and old homes. Stepping into the bedroom of my childhood was the the moment when I realised that I've moved into a new phase of life. The place where I would feel safety and intimacy, the hub of my adolescent development.
Everything was exactly as it had been left. Sitting on my old bed under the amber glow of my lamp, while having a changed perspective, I still felt the warmth of being home. It will always be there.
and the places they've taken me.
hot wednesday night
march, ten fifty
station empty, filled
by the air of the city
cigarettes and concrete
carbon dioxide, cooking meat
history dying beautfully,
from circular quay station
A dollar eighteen
all with eyes to a screen
with an opal
am free as a wave
that wears at the ancient headland
that the queen to us once gave
these tunnels are the portals
between class, lives and times
equal in our silence we ride
all heading somewhere
to each other, unknown
yet this small space we share
for 13 minutes, like a home
we listen in on each other's conversations
rent, problematic children
and romantic depreciations
we never dare ask of the other's world
we sit, we gaze, but never unfurl
the ball of fermenting tales of the days events
or the anguish inside, which we so yearn to vent
but once did i see
this film of inner city alienation
fractured by an infectious joy
on the night of gay celebrations
an elated young woman, immune to train rider muteness
burst into song, and then a thing of beauty
blossomed as the carriage of commuters
lay down their pride
and joined her in a chorus
but there are times when some talk
when deeply unwanted
those who are cold,
to humanity absconded
with new found strength from the oblivious tunnel
their tongue as a fist
the weak they pummel
for the the clothes that they wear or the race of their mother
for their ancestral faith, for being an other
those of good heart speak up and defend
a recording to sunrise a bystander will send
On we ride
under cool white lights
under streets silent
subdued by the night
an announcing voice calls
a familiar name
you pull yourself up
you step off the train
you are yourself again
in your world of your own
lips are unsealed,
you stand, you are home
the anonymous journey,
the people you saw,
the lives you witnessed,
the stories you bore
are lost to the tunnel,
the black of the night
consumed by the city
and turned into light