- Vol. 08
- Chapter 03
“Hold your breath,” Teddy says as we drive past the old factory gate.
It’s not much to look at. Overgrown with weeds. A patchwork of wood nailed across the opening and a crown of barbed wire. But back when the factory was open, trucks chugged in and out all day. Hundreds of people toiled inside the tower, morning and night. That’s what I’ve heard, anyway.
I was just a baby the night it happened. The deafening boom. Distant flames. Dad was out of town, so Mum trudged up the hill with me in the carrier, Teddy pulling on her hand, to join the other neighbours watching. The factory burned: crimson and orange, even green and blue.
“All the colours of the rainbow,” Ted has told me. “It was beautiful.”
When we reach the bend in the road, Teddy exhales. That’s when the coughing starts: shallow at first, then deep and hacking. He wipes his hand on his jeans. I don’t have to look to know it’s red.
Dad says I’m lucky. I haven’t got the cough and I don’t get as tired as the others. It’s just the headaches. Mostly they’re mild so it’s easy to pretend I feel OK, but sometimes they’re so bad I have to lie in bed. I don’t tell Dad about the pain.
I see Mum in my dreams, not thin and pale like she was in the hospital, but bouncy and smiling like the mothers you see in toothpaste ads. I look like me but I’m also a baby again, nuzzled up against her. She leans down and cups my face and says, Thank god, thank god, you’re my miracle child.
Went for a creepy little walk. Navigating
a global pandemic, we go nowhere.
The future is shiny but who keeps it shiny.
The sun’s not a sphere, it’s a runnel
you get stuck in when you stare straight into it.
My eyes are barcodes. I have one partner,
two daughters, one dog, three debts.
The city’s an organ ablated from the world.
If you place your ear on any concrete or tarmac
under moonlight, daylight, no light,
you can hear the faint and not so joyous
strains of Nick Cave, like the city’s trying to be
Melbourne undergoing a second wave.
Winter falls over everything, even Dutton,
Frydenberg, Cormann, Morrison.
The sinkholes we cast our votes into
using truly autonomous drone-based technology
without the operational complexity and overheads.
Silver, nickel, lithium, lanthanum.
Russian rivers run red, robodebts run rampant,
cementing the position of the private sector.
The sad truth is that people think demons aren’t real.
Neodymium, praseodymium, gold.
Limbo has no start nor finish. Canaries
change colour when fed pepper. Casualisation
is corporate culture’s bread and butter.
White-bred Inner Westies travel to Western Suburb
restaurants like they’re exotic locations.
Read more >
You’re entering dangerous territory.
Ethan emails to confess he bought a medium popcorn at the movies tonight. His ticket was budgeted for, part of his fortnightly extras. The popcorn wasn’t. He’s gone over budget and he knows it.
I fire back an email calling him more worthless than a sack of rat entrails, and telling him the extras from Thursday’s pay are coming to me and I’m cutting the next week’s food budget in half.
It’s coming too easy.
If Ethan had kids, I wouldn’t do it. I state that upfront. I had one guy who lied about it, didn’t anticipate how skilled I am at prying open every aspect of my clients’ lives. He had three kids under five, living with his ex. I blocked him.
Ethan’s an adult, a paunchy, sun-reddened 47-year-old. He says he goes hungry sometimes, to skim a little more for me.
I don’t ask for that. He likes to push his limits. He pushes mine. Within the first month, I found myself calling him a shriveled toad scrotum and demanding he strip to his boxers, coat himself in peanut butter and send me full-body photos.
Ethan’s wife, I don’t know what her story is.
… dangerous …
I used to think I was headed somewhere, working towards some vague but essential future. I should have defined that future for myself. What did I actually want out of this, other than the obvious? The spa days, the holidays in Fiji, the cupboard filled – filled – with Moet & Chandon Esprit du Siecle. Read more >
Those boys are climbing through the gap in the fence again. He calls out to them to cut it out, to go home, to go somewhere else, anywhere, just stay away already. They laugh and keep slipping through, following the leader. One of them flips his middle finger Joe’s way as he swings through. There are four of them. He can see them though the fence, balancing on the edge of the jetty, heading towards the rich people’s boats.
He should get up, should chase them out. They’re clearly up to no good, but what they do when they’re out there, he has no idea. Joe is sick of it; sick of sitting in the deck chair outside the marina office for eight hours a day, staring at the boats as they bob up and down, the only break in the monotony yelling at these teenagers who think it’s funny when he tries to chuck them out. Sure, he can chase them off, but they’ll just come back tomorrow. And the next day. And the day after that. They know he’s not allowed to lay a hand on them. He’s not a cop. Not even really a security guard. The title on his payslip says he’s a caretaker, but he thinks of himself more as a watcher, because that’s what he does. He watches. Sometimes, he gives directions when people come down looking for whichever boat they’ve hired. Mostly, he thinks he’s just there as a reassuring presence. But he knows he’s a joke. Can’t even keep out a bunch of fourteen-year-olds.
Easiest thing to do would be to just patch up the hole, except he’d have to go and buy some more wire for that, and he’s not supposed to leave the office. Besides, who is going to pay for that? Not Joe. He barely makes enough to cover his bills as it is.
They’d probably just cut a new hole somewhere else anyway.Read more >
The boy considered the gap in the fence,
shaped like a rugby ball, his dad would’ve said
an almond (that was his mum)
it was a sweet shape, he concluded
it made him think of girls, and the
soft curves of girlish things,
this subtle symmetrical slit
widening, relenting to offer a space
beyond which he might be anyone
and lose his limits.
On Christmas Day he’d asked for colours
for his eyes, lips and cheeks,
like the other girls owned, girls he knew,
and some brave boys on YouTube.
He leaned over the fence, took in the view
and glimpsed his pretty future,
neither rugby ball nor almond
but soft, colourful, sweet, new
with space for him to fit through.
There it was.
The hole in the fence.
A hand, its pale skin darkened from dirt, reached for a pebble on the ground. Despite her young years, Nadia knew the truth. The Pit was nothing but smoke and mirrors meant to taunt its inhabitants.
Clothes, appearing clean each morning, were never washed. The odour stung Nadia’s nose every day.
Showers, offered in the evenings before dinner, was nothing but an illusion fed to their brains through the sensory microchip that was inserted by Admissions and synced to the brain. Nadia felt the hot water, felt and smelled the soap the lathered, but she also knew they were nothing but signals directly to their brain.
Meals, rich feasts three times a day, were the simplest of nourishment alternatives; a nutrition porridge that tasted of plaster. The skinny bodies of Nadia’s co-farmers, skinny enough to appear dead, reminded her of pictures she had seen from the concentration camps during World War II.
Beds, appearing comfortable after a hard day’s work, were a death trap. Nadia knew the pillow sent electromagnetic impulses that collaborated with the microchip in your sleep and never used it. For everyone else, every day was the first day at the farm “for an authentic experience of days past” where guests were offered a chance to help with the running of the place.
Nadia’s fingers searched the ground, her eyes looking about for drone scouts. She had made it this far thanks to Uncle Jem. He had explained it all to her when she arrived and added that it was important she did not tell anyone unless she was sure that they already suspected the truth. “Don’t breath a word unless you think it worth the risk to get caught”.
The machines came for him that night.
There.Read more >
My rolls of film from Kodak box –
how often have I half exposed,
been forced to change in open light,
turned final number, tourist site?
Then wait, developed at the lab,
find my focus obliterate,
but yet I keep it, memory,
that flash, the streak, reminiscence.
It causes stare of concentrate,
alure beyond my clippered fence,
to ask why gaps proliferate,
what is this tarmac secret find?
So did some aliens destroy
the evidence, my photo snap –
for is this launch of bedtime tale
from grandpa, who thinks Einstein new?
Perhaps a flash to blot the view,
divert from sabotage attempt,
that Dad indoors must never know?
Chromatic play on monochrome,
this chemistry returned as art,
how do we paint in common sense,
find landing space in concrete place,
our questions, lingua franca posed,
inspire, excite, empirical?
It felt like she had spent her whole life
Staring at fences,
Plotting some escape or another.
First it was the abusive babysitter
Her absentee parents,
Busy at the farm and the factory,
Hired to care for her.
She had recollections of finding
A crystal on a string in the garden
And trying to hypnotize the cows
Just beyond the fence beside the house
To become carnivorous and eat her
Who was wrapped up in soap operas
And daytime talk shows,
Who threw baloney at her
And called it lunch.
Next it was the fencerow
At the back of the projects,
Where they moved to
After her parents divorced,
Trapping her with
Her violent, alcoholic brother,
Fourteen years her senior,
In a tiny apartment.
A vessel drifts
bathed in day’s dying flame and gold
a port bids goodbye
with torchlight parades
across the sea
the sky whispers in lavender
the wandering souls smiling
before lavender surrenders
to a navy blue
and the inevitable blackness
while a vessel slinks
the butter-colored lights of a port
dim and die
The chain fence diamonds
the expanse beyond,
mirroring the horizontal
bars of nature’s material selves.
Breaching the barrier,
my gaze skims the bay,
riding a spectrum
that dyes land and sea,
drenching the liminal
landscape, darkening earth,
greening tides that burn fuchsia,
folding tangerine and orange
over the calm inlet waters,
to flood the far isthmus
in sun’s gilded rays.
Framed by wooden planks,
this side of forbidden,
this side that exiles me,
this wire and wood that blocks
all but the force of my sight,
the planet lies beneath the gilded
crown of a violet and blue sky.
Stunned by beauty, I lace
fingers in cold metal links.
Escape, at last.
I cut my way through and out
with barely the right tool, hacksaw
and cutters sharp as demand words,
not that I could see where I would go,
to what end, a haze that might be
golden sunrise or mustard gas,
either way I cut my way through
as if in-over-there must improve the status
of my hunch to get beyond what held me
in it clenches all this year, the rubble stone
of collapse and loneliness, the dust of
do-overs, the blood-see of loss.
I cannot let it start over.
Out may be as good as it gets.
Women had long been in charge. Men existed on peripheral edges like scavengers wanting titbits of leftovers. They knew this and had accepted their subservient fate. Professions were open only, and exclusively, to women. Women had lost their faith in men's capabilities and concern rose for their lack of talent, particularly amongst men of science, politics and religion. The divide, and overturn of genders in society, had been inherent for decades, but there was a reluctance to buck the status quo. That was 2020. 3001 dawned and offered a wider, more kaleidoscopic view. Indeed, a rainbow filter had been sewn to each of our retinas. State decision.
I arrived to my new post, bedecked with the title of Chief Pilot at Haddington Airfield. My role was to oversee and train new cadets, and to handover “wings” upon graduation. It was a prized and highly sought after position which I had ardently strived for, working my way seamlessly through the ranks of Air Female, having doffed the arbitrary title of Air Force One.
During my second week in charge, I patrolled the permitter of the airfield, checking that no breaches had been made. It was a patrol that was meant to be completed in pairs, however, on this particular evening, my deputy had taken to her bed feverish. So I completed the walk alone, lost in thoughts of my successful changes thus far. I had many new ideas to implement and it was with a quiet excitement that I planned ahead.
Startlingly and unexpectedly, my musing was broken by a rustle. A simple sound probably evoked by the building of a stormy wind. And yet…
Read more >
we're not in light any more
gave it up
moved someplace that looks
less like a cell
all membrane and duplicity
this country isn't safe
now i say to my sister across a screen
fibre and wire bridging and blocking
life can look like an escape
but things look different in the dark
I began as a cut hole practicing
to be free. Like a prisoner released
from her cell, captivated
by half-rainbowed refractions
whose lost sight of any landmark
leading to a place beyond these swatches
of saturated light and twisted metal.
I want to become the blue sky, quietly waiting
and watching my own hypnotic reflections
showing me, I am here in these gilded
vibrating moments of diamond pristine
clearness still trying to figure out
if my words belong to me, or not
when, I’m partly somewhere else
enslaved by the moon, making
last minute holes in the fence.
He licked the tabs, I drank the tea.
Melting onto the airspace we kicked back to interstellar ribbons wrapping spectrum light and listened with our eyes,
to the grass glowin’ blood through the vulvic split in the chain link.
Twisting to hold and control the rise and sink of our pulse, we framed our minds’
ascent to euphoric velocity.
San Francisco skies were burning
occupied by violet to green.
When it was done
we made love,
soaking into the grass to pass from one world to the next through
There’s a patch between the sky and sea, a floating magic carpet sort of place, a layer of dreams that hovers like morning mist but rainbow-coloured like a filter, photo-shopped and doctored, real only as the skim of petrol on puddles, the inside of an oyster shell, but I can taste it, touch it.
I’m a pearl, I say, and I’m going to curl in wreaths of indigo and violet by the shore where the tides slip in and out, singing like sirens, but I won’t listen.
My mother shouts there’s no such place, my father howls from the dark hole where they put him years ago, and my children tug at my hands, my clothes, crying that there is no sea and nothing shines with oyster shell-sheen anymore.
I don’t have to listen to their noise.
There’s a patch of coloured light where I lie motionless as a heron and I watch the world drifting into darkness.
it was free
to be free.
On the run
from no one.
The warmth of the sun,
on its back,
released the knot
in its neck and the clench
from its jaws. Its shoulders
It wept a sea’s worth of tears.
Inhaling fresh air,
it exhaled a smile,
for the first time—
in what felt like
became a river,
who flowed and flowered a forest,
and gave birth
to the ocean
There was a hole in the fence past the DANGER! NO DIVING sign. The three kids clambered through in their swimsuits, and walked towards the edge of the cliff. The sun was setting but there was still time for a swim. A quick one, if they didn't want their parents to find out.
"We shouldn't be here," said one.
"Shut up, Ryan," said another.
Simon and Philip looked out over the edge.
"How far is it?" asked Simon.
"About twenty feet?" said Philip, who really had no idea. Ryan stood back from them, running his fingers across his palms.
"I don't think we–"
"Philip, do you want to go first?" said Simon loudly.
"Yeah..." said Philip. He sounded nervous. "Yeah, I'll go first."
Simon stood to one side. Ryan thought of their teacher Ms. Clarke, who'd spent an afternoon once telling them why they should never go cliff diving.
She'd told them, "You'll land on a rock hidden underwater, and smash all your bones. A current will take you and pull you out to sea. Even the water will hurt you, if you land wrong."
Ryan didn't understand how – wasn't water supposed to be soft? But neither did he want to find out.
Philip started his run up, then stopped. He went back to where he was, started again, and stopped.Read more >
All colours in the spectrum unite here,
a white tower looms, a distant figure,
as we focus on our troubles and fear
the bright light grows blinding, bulging, bigger
Obvious hurts burst out of chain metal
tearing apart carefully woven links;
we can almost hear screams, quietude settles,
seven startling colours paint over chinks
Visible and invisible windows
control what we see and how it’s perceived,
absent colours still exist, knowledge flows
without a clear path being conceived
I see a torn fence beckoning a flight
I see a rainbow full of life and light
From deep sky blue to murky green, while everything between beckons.
Vivid colors mutate from red to yellow shades, taking on a shape seen in the far off path.
As I walk along the fence that separates time from eternity, I wonder, what is it? When will the silhouette reveal itself? I continue my walk.
Walking along, always going forward while looking across to another dimension, the unknown!
Suddenly, I notice an opening. A tear! I see more clearly now, without the obstacle of the linked chain that hindered my vision. I stop and peer through the gap.
Of course, it's a ship, a ship to aid our journey from here to infinity. Looking out over and above my vision of sight, it seems endless—the colors so crystal beyond beautiful. An invitation!
Alas! An invitation to shelve for the present—too busy!
Move along, I tell myself. Perhaps tomorrow!
I see the prism of the universe
from my place atop the cliff
My eyes grow wide in anticipation
as I take hold of this shining moment
when my breath is suspended,
my fear and judgment gone
I stand straight with arms to the sky
and take one final breath of air,
diving deep into the boundless,
into an all-encompassing spirit,
where the beginning meets the end
and my glory christens the sea.
There are so very
few of us left, just
Don, Elice, and the
Baker who will
not tell us his name, just
gestures with rolling
pins, never speaking, the
baker who made the cake that
we ate when we were last
together, it was a hot chocolate
matcha marble cake, we took it
on the end of our forks and
toasted the uncertain future, raising
cake high into the air, where already
the first light of the distant explosion
broke across the horizon like
a searing sawn.
Who says the hunt has begun?
Thank the Lord I stayed awake.
I thought of freedom running in the dark
with no difference of pits and graves,
when the mist of night was my only ally,
a man cannot be destroyed once and for all.
Now I feel the dawn is due to come,
right from your heart, from other side of alone.
I thought of you, how you took a deep breath
and said my name, how you exhaled the sky
from you with every letter of that name,
showing me the meaning of trust,
justification of my own existence,
there was no distance in the dark
when the fears fell away.
January 1, 2021
Peeking through the gates of time and space,
I seek escape from the place I am stuck.
I do not belong to this sentimental ecosystem of hollow chests,
With people that smile to convince their bodies that are happy.
In the place where no one cares,
I water the tree of love,
Pluck its leaves and send them away
To the ones who play the same game.
If there is a wind, there is a way.
They say that romantics make the most unreliable spies,
But this time I made it.
The whole in the fence is the path,
Not slow, but fast,
I bid goodbye to the place that sings everyday happy birthday to the death of souls.
I feel like a citizen of Hades blinded by the sun.
The heart is a small muscle with a tremendous strength,
It got me here, across the fence, back to the place where it all started.
I am an unbound soul smitten with the eternal light,
I sync with the others, across the flying leaves,
Maybe one day we’ll break the fences of all mundane places,
And save the ones that shrug and fade into the dark.
In those days,
when Time held her gaze
in the mirror of long moments,
patiently waiting for awakening;
when the fire in sun bled,
like a glowing coal, dying down to dark;
in the wide expanse of nothing
dust scattering in hazy oblivion
ashes spewing out chaos.
And the earth, holding her breath
lies frozen, in the winter’s slumber.
Then my words, like dying embers,
draw dreams from dust
And reignite the heart of the sun
from spark to flames.
An early morning in March, when
The glare still had to overtake the night sky
Tugging my arms about, I smiled at the serene sketch
It seemed some palette was undone over an empty canvas
Yet, something felt amiss, “Were the colors too bright?”
I asked myself, or could there have been more colors to it?
Negative came the answer.
My sight was caught by the patterns on the concrete below
With cautious toes, I traced the sequence slowly
The design was somehow unusual today, not the regular mesh
I looked hard and finally saw the human size hole in the wire fence!
Our eternal march
through space & time
brought us to a wire fence
this past calendar year.
It soon became apparent
that we couldn’t
simply go over or around.
Then Fiona Apple
dropped her iridescent album
‘Fetch the Bolt Cutters’
in the middle of April.
Her title was an apt metaphor
for what we needed to do
to get through
this past calendar year.
As I faced each fresh
losing freedoms due to the rona
settling into a new senior role
losing my beloved young mother
breaking up with my partner—
I kept reminding myself
that I needed to actively persevere
Read more >
We found a gap in the fence.
Someone had made it,
that gaping hole in the wire,
hoping to climb through,
hoping to head towards the light,
to leave the darkness behind,
to escape the madness here,
But now the light has become too bright.
It’s blinding us.
We can see less than in the darkness.
Our mouths open, aghast
with the horror of it all,
through the gap that leads to nowhere.
You escape through the envelope of dawn.
We witness light follow you
as you follow the Light,
that sparked glint of what is to come.
I see whales swimming through
an ancient dark blue.
I see you having this freedom,
to fly through space and time,
no walker or cane to hinder.
Suddenly, your mind has the quick ticking
of a clock,
the ability to remember
what slipped through cracks in synapses.
In this afterworld, you are perfectly whole and aware.
The ocean’s cycle now becomes your rhythm.
You move with grace.
We long to touch that technicolor door
you stepped through.
Try as we might, the handle will not turn yet.
I imagine you reaching, always reaching
with a reassuring hand,
while the other arm is welcomed
by dozens of souls all awaiting this reunion.
I shall just take a moment,
To sit here for a while,
Soak in the honey glazed lavender sunset.
Just a mionaid.
To breath in the salty air and feel the zephyr cooling the back of my neck.
The lace on my dress caresses my calves.
I slip off my shoes and sink my toes into the grass,
Letting the small lush blades tickle my feet.
I feel grounded in this momento.
The weight of the worlds problems that I and many others feel burdened by melt away just as the sun appears to melt into the horizon.
Just a wakati.
To let my mind catch its own thoughts,
Align them, prioritise them.
Decide on a path that i wish to follow, then take it step by step.
Manawa by manawa.
Do i dare crawl through the tempting fence.
Was that hole made for me?
Inhaling a big deep belly breath of sea soaked air,
Curling my toes into the ground once more, i feel the smile creep on my face as this trenutak gives me the answers i so deeply craved.
I’m going to go for it.
Deep down i knew i would,
I just needed a hetki.
A beautiful moment.
After the woman’s water broke, a rainbow
of possibilities appeared. The rupture
awakened the infant’s memory—
“Read Out Your Good Book In Verse.”
It became the child’s mantra, a mnemonic
to navigate her life, an acronym of color
and spectrum, an opening that released
the links, division, and rigidity of the past.
As if this sequence of seven
had set the tone, been grouped in a lucky
arrangement. As if an Arc de Triomphe,
one bestowed with radiant avenues
and an abundance of blessings. Though,
its entryway was a bit haywire; the bands
were displayed in a novel order:
BIVYORG— “Book In Verse Your Out
Life at our side of the exile fence is one of angst. Of not being sure.
The fence, from my childhood, seemed to be great wall. One that fenced us in, within our lot. Here, we would often come, trailing after our mud-caked football, chewing bubble gum and watch them in high boots, driving nails into the fence. Stay away, the crow warns us, cawing from the fence.
Sometimes, I wished, should I climb over? But fear, like a steel bird, hung its large wings over me. Surveillance has many eyes and those float in space.
I dream often, how is life at the other end? I see people packing their bags and leaving. Through barbed wires, jumping over the gaps. For that other side, where they say sun comes up in technicolor hues and the world is not a battered blue…. It’s a relief from destiny.
Another gap, I discovered today. I peeped through it, watching the twilight through my dark side. I wished I could get a little closer, to that bright flame of hope on the other side. The crow cawed again, and my feet fell rooted.
It’s no good, don’t even try
to corral a prismatic sky.
It’s an illusion, there are too
many holes, and the blue
is strong enough to bend
before you can try to mend
the chain link fence. The yellow
is too radiant to mellow
and the red so hot
it could meld you to the spot.
Let the rainbow be,
allow it to be free,
to coruscate and bend—
you’ll never find its end.