by Rosalie Hendon
Your pale speckled body emerges
You perch weightless
on the arching leaves of the purple heart
Mantis and I, taking the air
the September morning on my porch.
The air humid,
the sun just brushing the railing.
You fascinate me
Your praying forearms
Your knobby head, almost feline
The rise and fall of your low belly
Delicate antenna, almost too thin to see
You move slowly, feeling each foothold
Forward and back, forward and back
your body shifts
As if you’re gathering momentum
I sat with you, watched your slow motion
your intentional grace
for 30 minutes,
until the phone rang
and my computer beckoned–
All those emails and meetings
to attend to
As the sun grew low, I came out
to find you on the railing,
three-quarters of a porch away.
Is that how you spent six hours?
If so, I wonder which of us
had the more productive day?
Rosalie Hendon (she/her) is an environmental planner living in Columbus, Ohio. Her work is published in Change Seven, Pollux, Willawaw, Write Launch, and Sad Girls Club, among others. Rosalie is inspired by ecology, relationships, and stories passed down through generations.
by Peter Mitchell
For sale: old dairy farm, Collins Creek Road, Kyogle.
Don & I inspect the ancient rooms & dairy.
In the sunroom, Doug & Barb sit on an old leather lounge.
Across from them, we sprawl on old club chairs.
In Collins Creek Road, an old dairy farm is for sale.
‘He’s useless, y’know.’ Don looks my way.
Across the room, we sprawl on old club chairs.
Barb & Doug glance at each other, at me.
Don shakes his head. ‘He can’t use a chain-saw’.
The storm words ache my head. Again!
Doug & Barb exchange looks, frown.
Ach, ach, ach! A crow warns, flies away.
The chain-saw’s teeth bite my shoulders.
Barb’s eyes fire-green; Doug raises his eye-brows.
Don smiles, his mouth a frozen grimace.
Outside, we walk. The dry grass cracks like broken egg-shells.
Living in Lismore on Widjabul/Wia-bul Country, Nation, Peter Mitchell (he/his), writes across all narrative forms. His writing appears in international & national print platforms. He's authored two poetry chapbooks, Conspiracy of Skin (Ginninderra Press, 2018) & The Scarlet Moment (Picaro Press, 2009). Conspiracy of Skin was Highly Commended in the 2019 Wesley Michel Wright Prize for Poetry.
by Angela Arnold
absolute tigertimes, real and total
mock shots at midday, broad daylight
a taste of blood in your porridge?
a thousand thoughtsworth of silence
in a standing wave
that, simply, your heart can't, won't,
salt on the tip of your soul?
Angela Arnold (she/her) lives in North Wales, UK, and is also an artist and a creative gardener. Her poems have appeared in print magazines, anthologies and online, in the UK and elsewhere. Her collection In|Between looks at ‘inner landscapes’ and relationships (Stairwell Books, 2023). She enjoys her synaesthesia and language/s and is currently learning Welsh.
by Nicola Frassetto
An Infinity of Fungi
White crescents at my fingertips;
button mushrooms, sliced and falling from my knife.
Firm and bald, like a baby’s scalp.
In my hand, this knob of flesh,
fruited from centuries
of quiet libido.
In teeming forest subways, close to the trunk, mycena
rise like typewriter keys, the livid orange of earwax.
Oyster mushrooms pout, shirred waists,
skirts curling in the wind.
Their cousins tilt upright
like Elizabethan standing ruffs.
But underneath fungi as delicate
as toenails, conceived in the warm fester
of someone else’s death, gods hide.
They have escorted popes to their heavens,
and against their million overlapping lives
death is fleeting.
But my hands know the knife. We are united
in the purpose of consuming our way
The mushrooms cook grey and small,
and a little parsley.
in the sky/light
I grew up knowing that once
as a gift
someone had gentled the sky into their palms
and tucked it into the ceiling of my bathroom
as if it were the plush glow of a jellyfish.
The bathroom was my grotto, and its blue walls
curled into breakers taller than I was,
meeting at the opening way above where light came
like someone had taken the lid off a bottle
but at the floor light sifted down to darker blue
where the tiles were cool,
and sighed, and sank, a shoal of sleeping clams.
Scuttling things sorted the dust in far corners,
busy making little houses for themselves,
and high on a wall one leafy tentacle dangled from a pot -
the spongy body waited beneath.
Light turned on the circle of the skylight, and fell
in currents to settle like sand on everything
below, and there was nothing that was not alive.
Yet with the doors closed,
all was still.
Nicola Frassetto (she/her) is a student at the Queensland University of Technology, writing from Turrbal and Jagera land. She is obsessed with words, myths and butter, and her work has previously been published in lip magazine, Glass and ScratchThat. Her home on Instagram is @secretbeestungjournal.
by Beth Clapton
sand bucket at my side
to extinguish sparks before dawn
smoke grit stings my eyes
and the last of the wine hisses
on the guttering flame
this time I will not drop to my knees
fan the embers to tease one more blaze
from the remains. I will not wrench
weatherboards from the house
or slats from the garden bench
I must let it die
come morning when a blackened
bewildered foot kicks
through heatless soot
remember me bewitched by white hot
and yellow tongues
dancing through the blaze.
Beth writes in fulfilment of a promise made to Mr. Cook at St Alphege Junior School in the 1970s. Beth’s poetry has won prizes in several Australian competitions and been published online and in print journals. Her love of words and trees can be found on Instagram @paperbarktales. Beth lives, works and dreams on Gadigal land.
by John Robert Grogan
I’d like to think it ends
curled up and dusty
on lifetimes of memories,
an old snake in a washbasin,
behind the crusty half-used
forgotten paint tins
and the petrified hog-
bristle brushes, overlooked
like the mildewy terracotta
herb pots, stacked and lonely
as an unplanted seed
and the redback in her corner --
who kills everything she touches
— under the threatening smile
of a bow-saw, beside the drunken
lean of a mattock with a cracked
handle, the snake in brumation,
down the back shed.
John Robert Grogan (aka: JR) (He/Him) is an Irish-Australian poet based in Sydney, Australia. Life in country Ireland and his global wanderings have cultivated a curiosity and love for the natural world, and the connectivity of all things.
by Shaine Melrose
On the streets when I walk
two shadows fall
my androgynous soul
sprouts ambivalence from the core
gender bender for sure
wherever I walk
two shadows on the floor
I hang out with junkies
drag queens and dykes
hookers and outcasts
punks in the night.
I never stay long, always on the run
from searing pain, old scars,
words jangled in the thrum.
Looking for answers, lost in the wind
searching for love, no one will give.
On the streets when I walk,
hey poofter, punk, you dyke!
we’ll catch you, we’ll cut you,
nail your soul to a wall...
into a dark pool of blood
my two shadows fall –
but I rise and I swipe my light from their hands
I yell I run and I roar.
I am what I am
Fuck you all.
Shaine Melrose is a queer poet and gardener living with chronic illness, on Kaurna country. Recently her debut short manuscript, shooting words from my soul, won a place in FSP’s anthology ‘New Poets #23’. She has been shortlisted for the 2022 Judith Wright Poetry prize and published in APJ12.1, Saltbush Review, Bramble and Cordite.
by Mike Russell
Crisp and Delicious
Fish and chips would sound like the ocean.
Like the crashing waves against the Shorncliffe pier.
It would sound like fishermen hauling up their prizes.
Like farmers digging up potatoes and peeling them.
Fish and chips would sound crisp and delicious.
Like deep-friers bubbling away at my lunch.
It would sound like the saltiest dream you'd ever had.
Like a smile curling on my face.
My favourite food would taste like freedom.
And it would taste like community.
Like being with my best friends. And they're laughing.
And it sounds like the most delicious food on earth.
My Body in Water
The water is glistening in the sun.
The boats ride it with smooth gliding motion that saves the people from falling into its depths.
In the water there is life, there is death, there is beauty of bubbling manta rays and sharks and fish
and gone are the noises of the streets, the houses, the people, the cities.
The water is a cocoon of silence when I lie beneath its surface.
The water is my cocoon of safety and security of body held tight and mind held quiet.
My body is under the surface of your wetness and cool follies.
by the peace I feel to stay forever.
My mind loves quiet.
My body loves being held in pressures of calm.
My good feelings of peace and tranquility
are held in you.
I'm going to find my body in water.
Mike Russell, poet and playwright, lives with Autism. Founding member of Brotherhood of the Wordless, he has worked with his mates to produce books, plays and performances. Mike expresses his craft by typing on a qwerty board with a facilitator. Mike has also performed at Queensland Poetry Festival, Brisbane Writers Festival, Volta, and Woodford Folk Festival. He has led workshops for Ruckusfest and Kelvin Grove College. Mike is currently editing his latest poetry collection, About a Boy.
by Anna Roscoe
the hive has relocated
i’m used to it by now
the swarming weight
near my heart
and anyway, the cloud
is still, sluggish
from the chill
no need to worry
i can just reach a hand
into that dull buzz
move it all from sight
in crawling handfuls
i keep them for the honey
but you shouldn’t
get too close
if one memory starts
then the rest will soon follow
Anna Roscoe's work appears or is forthcoming in Going Down Swinging, swim meet lit mag, and Aniko Press. Her writing often uses natural elements to explore emotions and memories. She grew up in Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung country, but now lives in Asia.
by Javier Bateman
After Milo and Ocean Vuong
You are a plate scraped clean.
a ‘come back to me later—please’ sorta guy.
He runs his thumb across your back
like it is some small thing, like it is
nothing at all.
Your mouth opens like a wound
all smooth and terrible,
‘I am Abel and my brother is Cain.’
And for a moment you can misremember
his hand in your hair,
the rock orbiting your skull,
and how the night overhead
was punctured by the white teeth of starlight.
Javier Bateman (They/He) is a queer, chronically ill, trans-nonbinary academic and poet living on unceded Whadjuk Nyungar Boodjar. Javier's poetry deals with diverse themes of grief, gender and gender identity, love, obsession and occasionally, Keanu Reeves. In his downtime, Javier is often found at home consuming media about sad cowboys.
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