So you transferred all that self loathing, all those tiny cuts on your wrists and the brushes against your throat with the noose and the boozy hazes of pills and food and feral fucking into the cauldron of your heart, heavy and blackened, and you let it simmer along with a little of my love, and a little of hers, and hers too, and hers, and the love of your lonely, frightened children, and you boiled it up into a red hot rage, which you let spill over, out into the world in the hope it will release you like cumming does from the violence of all that emptiness and self-hatred and isolation. The isolation that echoes around in your head like a ping pong ball pinging round inside the walls of the empty house of your skull, like your brain-on-love concussed, dumb and bouncy like a puppy and oh-so-giddy, and when I release you first and you cum from the shock, then you die a little. La petite mort. I bring you to climax and then I leave you just like the others did. Each time you die a bit more inside and la petite mort becomes not so petty. Each time you die you have to add another patch of gummy newsprint to your papier-mâché carapace. A flimsy veneer that protects you from leaking out. It dissolves whenever you go out in the rain. You’ve died so many times now, all you are is a resurrection, a bump in the fabric of space-time, a random pin prick in a stagnant muscle, jolting awake, a spooked horse bolting, a whisper of a curl of a tendril of sulphurous gas, stinky, an inconjurable demon just out of view yet acrid to the nostrils. I see you in flashes. I see your teeth gnashing inside the TV of my blackened brain and they are sharp. Thankfully you are much too ephemeral to be able to bite me. Instead, you gnaw away at my psyche like a maggot, and hers too, and hers, and theirs, burrowing in deep so you can occupy space and bodies and reality, so you can live through your hosts and draw oxygen through possession. When they wrote about The Devil, they meant you.
Above is a poem by my Great Uncle Harry, killed in action at age 23 during World War II, in the battle of El Alamein (1942). I’m posting this today, on Anzac Day, to honour Harry and acknowledge the deep loss felt by my family at his passing. I’ve written out a transcript of the poem below. Written for his wife Beryl, it’s a poignant and tender poem, speaking of love, loss and longing during wartime.
The train is winding slowly
Through a strange and foreign land
And as far as the eye can travel
Stretches the shifting sand.
Along the dying daylight
Into the darkening light,
The turning wheels are taking me
Farther from your sight.
But though I travel farther,
Even to the end of my day,
My love shall be as your love
For ever and for aye
You can read the text of Sparrows here. You can also turn on auto-captions in the settings menu in YouTube.
This feeling of solitude and playing with petals while sitting in dirt is familiar. I feel calm alone. I am hidden alone. Nature is my friend. I breathe and I notice. Plush blue velvet on dry brown dirt. Clumps like rocks. Tiny veined yellow petals fall on my pants and get caught in the wind. The crop behind acts as a shield and keeps me warm and sheltered. The sun is diffuse through heavy cloud. The yellow is fading to green. The dirt looks pretty on my velvet pants. Rust brown powder on navy sheen. I breathe and I am here. I am safe out here.
You are of this world and you are not
I have inhabited your lands for 54 days and counting
I have been to Lapland and Helsinki and Stockholm and Bergen and over and through many a Norwegian hill (180 tunnels!) and I slid smoothly through fjords and on to Oslo and onwards further still to Copenhagen.
Scandinavia, I have nearly seen all of your lands, but only a little bit of you really for you are vast and varied and 54 days is no time at all when you’re getting to know a place.
Oh Finland —
You wouldn’t play the Northern Lights for me and I am so sad for I travelled far and it was cold and remote and it was the right time of year (or so I was told) but it seems there wasn’t really even a chance anyway. I want my money back and my disappointment erased.
But Finland I forgive you because you are home to the dish drying cupboard, a simple yet clever invention that makes one scratch one’s head and think “why aren’t these everywhere?” It’s brilliant that one can dry dishes while hiding them away behind closed doors so nobody can see them.
Oh and Finland, you make great licorice too, especially the little salty balls coated in white chocolate and then in bitter licorice powder. Yum. Why can’t I eat you forever?
And in the countryside you put on a grand show for me with snow and icy lakes and sunshine and bear paw prints and great cranes flying and calling and dancing in pairs and all your little houses are made of wood and painted red and yellow and blue and sometimes pink and I don’t know how you did it but you always looked beautiful and exactly as the countryside should so thank you for exceeding my expectations and for giving me joy. Read More
I was looking for the path the other day and I couldn’t find it. All I could see was forest: slender branches and tiny twigs in my way, snow billowing underfoot filling gaps between trees that stood so tall and so close together. Where was the path?
Not knowing anything about snow and how it behaves made it feel dangerous, even though it glinted in the sunlight and tempted me in. Would I slip? Would I sink down? What was under the surface? How deep would I fall? Everything was so new, so enticing yet impenetrable. I carefully took a few steps, marvelled at the sparkly crystals underfoot, captured the moment on camera, and turned back, equally excited and frustrated.
She wanted to play in the snow. Put on her mittens and scrape it, scoop it, taste it, mould it, throw it at her brother. She was amazed at how it packed down in between her hands, got harder and icier with each slap. Big clumsy mittens flapping around on tiny little hands. Four-year-old hands so small and smooth, encased in mittens with smiling faces on them. She would grow into them. A green plastic rain jacket with white buttons like giant peppermints. A beanie matched the mittens: red, green and white. Little leather ankle boots, tan with striped laces. The snow came unexpectedly and was gone just as fast.
With each step my foot lands and falls, lands and falls. Momentary stability gives way to the unknown then finds it again. I find the path easily. I realise that I didn’t know a path could be made of snow. Until now, in my mind, there was only one kind of path: dirt. As soon as my mind cleared I could see the path. A new path. A new way of seeing. Read More
I’m very pleased to announce that I’m a contributing writer in both of these necessary and timely anthologies, both recently published in print and e-book. Two of my poems can be found in We Will Not Be Silenced, published by Indie Blu(e), and my creative nonfiction piece Not Quite Here Yet is in You Are Not Your Rape, published by Rhythm & Bones Press.
Both anthologies give a vital voice to survivors of sexual assault and include poetry, creative nonfiction, essays and artworks. Proceeds and royalties from each anthology benefit a number of organisations that support survivors of sexual assault, abuse, harassment and trauma. Click on the links above for more information and to purchase.
One of my biggest loves and projects in recent years was a fragrance and olfaction blog, which is sadly no more, due to chronic illness and allergies stopping me from both using perfume and writing about it. During this time, I submitted a piece called Four Loves to Odou magazine, a boutique magazine about olfaction. The piece was going to be published a couple of years ago, but sadly the magazine ceased production soon after my submission was accepted. For this piece, I wrote a series of four tiny short stories, each connected with a significant love/relationship of mine, from the perspective of scent and smell and their unique characteristics in each relationship. Read More
Overheard on the tram, a young woman talking into her mobile phone, voice tainted with anxiety:
“Please don’t say that!”
…(Short pause while recipient responds inaudibly)…
“Whatever it is you’re about to say, please don’t say that.”
I christen thee Asshole
You called me a slut, when I told you there had been others
And then punished me by treating me like one
For no money or benefit, mind you