by Jane Downing
The brain is not something to save
It’s hooked out through the nose
So why listen to it whispering
why would he lie to you
believe him do
The guts, now there’s another thing
Eviscerate and scoop and jar
And put on a shelf for the ever-afterlife
Balance the jackal head on the stomach
Stopper up the gut’s shout
it’s all wrong
don’t believe him
Stick the beaky falcon on the jar with the intestines
let them turn alone in queasy pain
Lungs that cannot breathe when they hear the lies
stick them in an alabaster jar
make a fat-bellied baboon of them
Cut out that organ and give it a human face
lidded with serene green-glazed eyes
Let this civil war end
Because the heart, the heart
is left in the body even after death
There is no canopic jar to hold it
There is no hook to extrude the bloody mess
It is left in the chest
It is left gasping
love, love, love
Jane Downing lives and writes on Wiradjuri land. Her poetry has appeared in journals around Australia including Meanjin, Cordite, Rabbit, Canberra Times, Bluepepper, Not Very Quiet, Social Alternatives, and Best Australian Poems (2004 & 2015). Her first collection, ‘When Figs Fly’ (Close-Up Books) was published in 2019. She can be found at janedowning.wordpress.com
by April Bradford
I inhale the sticky air.
A kookaburra laughs at me.
Memories rattle, erasing
the good. Backhanded
words weave cobwebs
of honeydew resin
around my ribs,
cinched with dew drops.
no shelter nestled
beneath skeletal limbs.
Sink into nature’s comfort
until the undergrowth bites.
Ingest sunlight, sweat and green
lemon crawls on my tongue.
I wake to laughter.
April Bradford (she/her) is a UQ Creative Writing graduate. She works as an intern editor at Hunter Publishing and freelances on the side. Her writing currently features in the Toronto zine, Sapphic. Her irregularly updated Instagram is @april_elisabet.
by Megan Cartwright
Do you ever catch a half-formed image
fluttering at the edge of sight or sleep?
A fragile thing that you might have imagined
if not for the metallic dust left on your skin.
My grandmother's handwriting.
I recall arthritic Cs - but they are from later.
In this memory I am only twenty and
she is nimbly formed cursive.
She breaks macadamia shells open with a rock.
Her bare hands are not made of tissue paper and
she is laughing and feasting.
We spend an afternoon in sunshine and retire for sandwiches.
Later, she makes cocoa on the stovetop,
even though it’s summer and too hot for comfort.
We pull husks from beneath our fingernails
and marvel at the simplicity of the day.
Megan Cartwright (she/her) is an Australian writer and teacher. Her poetry has been published in October Hill Magazine, Authora Australis, and Oddball Magazine. Recently, Megan was awarded a highly commended accolade by the Independent Writers Group of NSW for her entry in the Pop-Up Art Space competition ‘Haiku – Capturing a Moment’.
by Claire Fitzpatrick
CW: alcoholism, trauma, family violence
My mother had a broken
force field. When she drank
it would collapse
and her sadness would erupt
like spilt sugar –
not a few specs here and there
but enough to cover a whole table.
As a child, I thought it was normal
to cry and shout and break things
so I would cover my head with my pillow
and tell my younger sister to ignore
it as best she could.
I still think motherhood is spilt sugar.
Claire Fitzpatrick is an award-winning author of speculative fiction, non-fiction, and poetry. She is the 2020 recipient of the Rocky Wood Memorial scholarship fund for her non-fiction anthology ‘A Vindication Of Monsters – essays on Mary Shelley and Mary Wollstonecraft.' In her 'real-life' she works in a wholesale nursery and doesn't use her degree.
by Zoe Parsons
That’s how it goes:
tentacles spread and tendrils latch.
It ebbs and flows.
Chemical emotion but it’s all
from within, poison hatches.
Frills and spots, adornments of every kind.
Facades and warning signs etched
into evolution. Our amazing
animal minds glide
through an underwater galaxy.
I find peace in the metaphor
and sit here for a beat.
Imagine having more sense:
the world emanates, kaleidoscopic vision
ecstatic, muffled sound and explosions
of touch. Nerves, receptors, cells explain away
dips and curves,
the boiling bubbling
Coral Wind Chimes
Broken coral wind
as they wash ashore
function served: crumbling
or beach. The walking
hurts, bare feet
bristle against earth
when calcite pierces
skin, nails drag
along the blackboard.
Our teacher writes
lessons but we don’t
listen. Claws scratch
at an urgent itch.
coral is high
pitched. Wind whispers,
and chimes clink,
on the blackboard.
Zoe (she/her) studies literature, philosophy, ecology and climate science in Naarm/Melbourne. She scrawls poetry on bits of paper and lives for adventures in nature. Zoe has been published by We Are Explorers, Lots Wife, Anaerkillik and Kos Magazine, as well as on her personal blog. Her Instagram is zoe.parsons.
by Vanessa Rose
The pumpkin looms above the clivia
up and over our fence, rooted in soil
that has bloomed a thousand bongs.
I should push it back, gather up
its desiccating leaves, its winding vine,
and bundle it along the top of the palings
as evidence of the neighbour’s transgression.
But then I might miss the moment -
the inevitable gravity of gourd.
It falls without me seeing it, thudding
at night into the ground
irrigated by federation houses.
Months later, I find it under the glossy straps
of the clivia, at the tail-end of a dog
rooting out a blue tongue.
Pumpkin, grey-worn and wilted,
what dreams did you seed in your last
days, hidden from the sun?
Vanessa Rose writes poetry whenever she can. She is a member of Writing NSW and is currently undertaking a poetry feedback course in Sydney Australia. When not writing, Vanessa is a researcher at a not-for-profit social purpose centre based in Australia, Singapore and the UK.
by Joanne Fong
Start with the runt, his shrill
shrieks sweep out over a cruel
land, where a midnight sun
never sets on entrails, stains
the ice luminous red
Slice into the heat of his belly
—a fish, ready
to be gutted.
Hack at limbs til you reach
bone, soon you will have ragged cuts
of meat, poor imitations of sliced
sections hanging from hooks
in butcher’s windows back home.
Flinch when someone nicks
the bowels, putrid fumes leak
out like a tyre puncture.
Once you burn those hunks
of flesh til taste turns sour, season
with stale salt from gritty palms.
Almost forget nights spent
under the endless sun, his pulse
lulling you to sleep, fingers woven
deep in shaggy comforts of fur.
Joanne Fong is an emerging writer, creator and functional human. She is a journalist at KOS Magazine and is based in Melbourne. Find her on Instagram @joannefwrites
by Linda Albertson
Her smile reaches me before I hear her footsteps -
I pull her on like a dressing gown, keep
her smile in the pocket. Smiley-face yellow
is her favourite colour.
When she is sad, the skin on her face glows
blonde like a full moon behind cloud. The imprint
of her three-year-old body still lies
warm on my mattress. The wonder is this –
what I love about her
I don’t recognise in myself.
Linda Albertson lives and writes on Yuin Country. Her poems have been published in Ginninderra Press anthologies. Her chapbook, Overdue, was published in 2016. @sip_a_poem
by Ren Kato
I reside in this room
tap dance around me
It feels like
my soul is a carcass
and my mind is the vulture
Longing to listen to your music
I can’t recall
the day I started to decay
I have even forgotten
what country I’m in
Perhaps it’s been too long
since I’ve seen the sky
Ren Kato is from Brisbane. He recently published his first poetry collection Reflected Fractures. Instagram: ren_kato_poetry
by Rory Hawkins
It coughs, spits, flumes
light in all directions.
Audio cracks, the screen
blooms hot white.
Dial it all down and blink
like mad till the retinal imprint
fades. How do I stay in focus?
Eyes and lense adjust
to find an answer: open rum
bottle in favoured hand, left
forms a red ball of light.
Billowing smoke, blushing
sand—pink as lips, cheeks,
fingers, and toes. You hold
the flare like everything else:
at arm’s length. Tiny
crabs sprinkle at your feet,
chasing tiny shadows.
Rory Hawkins is a Meanjin/Brisbane-based writer. Find more of his prose in ScratchThat magazine issues 4 & 5, the upcoming issue of Inkblot and through his Instagram @rory_writes_sometimes
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