by Emily Bartlett
We navigate familiar rocks
as if scattered by a hatted chef
with careless, exquisite precision.
Driftwood charred and bloated,
washed up, and our silence is sliced
open by the cries of seabirds.
And other pieces of whole float stiff;
crab shell, cicada wing, twig,
cast adrift, sucked into cavernous
spaces, spat into currents laced
with torpid, yellowing foam. How long
to roam before our final resting place?
You really have to wonder.
Never before has this ocean
made me afraid, except
on such days, when churning
water blurs; seclusion hoped for
but not promised beyond the waves.
Emily ‘Emmy’ Bartlett (nee Walsh) is an Australian writer, artist and Pleiadian starseed living between Sydney and Coffs Harbour, NSW. She runs a creative agency and is writing her debut novel, Ozora. Emily is the assistant editor of Plumwood Mountain Journal and loves etymology, singing and the feeling of being underwater.
by Julian Palacios
tonight i taste like warm, wet nothing.
like an excess of self pushed into the crevasses, and
loneliness. it tastes like lemon
and looks like a boy pretending to be the girl of your dreams
staring out the window,
elbow deep in bubbles, and calling upon
some primal part of herself that waits
to do something stupid and make
one glorious, defining mistake.
apron on, children running amok
a fervent heartbeat on hardwood floors;
the idea born no sooner than it is dying.
waiting for you to come home so that she can begin again.
her animation, your imagination, me
holding my breath,
mouthing the words i want her to say but
trying to be quiet.
Julian (he/they) is a writer, cat dad, psychology student and aspiring vampire. He writes poems and gets his hands dirty with good-old fashioned glue-stick and paint making mixed-media collage - all about gender and sexuality, love, obsession and dreams. You can find his work on Instagram @patroclus.incarnate.
by Scott-Patrick Mitchell
Two Black Cats
Night does not know where her shore ends and
their fur begins. In the dark, one cat could
easily stand in for the other. Street light pours
invented sun into pavement. Bushes brim with
wing and insect purr. One cat calls to the other
as if a bird is caught in its throat: affectionate
shorthand. A nest of rubbing. Kerb crests the
edge of street as if a dune. Shard of broken
taillight, a sea rose. The other cat answers with
a long stretch: night envies feline’s starless
arch, how it will never dissolve into day. A
walker-by can feel the touch of four green
moons watching them. The cold regards
everything. Movement bells as if Christmas,
coming early. They make a playground out of
dark, chase each other until the sun colours the
Ecologies & Eulogies
Elsewhere, other ecologies are collapsing. A koala clings
to the top of a burnt blue-gum, searching for leaf and kin,
her paws pink, blistering. In the artery of the Murray-
Darling, cod and carp bloat as the current chokes for
oxygen. Across two hot days, flying foxes amass grave. In
an outcrop, a black-flanked rock wallaby gathers her
offspring near: wind whimpers scent of surveyor.
Serenade for end days: my mother’s fever rambles from
her throat. She tells me how every wrinkle across her body
is a lineage, endangered or extinct. How, as a child, she
wanted to make the world into an Ark. But the only wood
she could craft was a coffin she called a home. Afloat on
elegy, she struggles for breath. Elsewhere, other eulogies
are being carved into earth and bone.
Scott-Patrick Mitchell (SPM) is a non-binary poet who lives as a guest on Whadjuk Noongar Land. In 2019, they won MPU’s Martin Downey Urban Realist Poetry Award. SPM was recently shortlisted for the 2020 and 2021 Red Room Poetry Fellowship. SPM’s debut collection, Clean, will be released early 2022.
by Dani Netherclift
The moon hangs low
a bottom-heavy boat
gravid with ballast
slipping snail trails, lighting
for more night,
this cycle of terrible sorrows
of griefs, imagine
a susurration, dead leaves
gathered, faded things
like the left scales
at the ends of their lives
all joy leached out,
and today, today
blew in so many wrongs
that might never
be righted, and the mild-faced moon
will not care, will never dim
the silver shine of the spill –
those bodies, drifting, their eyes
wide, mouths like funnels, and
no matter how you call
and call, they will not hear,
cannot look your way.
Dani Netherclift lives surrounded by mountains in the Victoria high country. She was the 2020 winner of the AAWP/The Slow Canoe Creative Nonfiction Prize, and has recent work in Plumwood Mountain Journal, Rabbit, Stilts, Mascara and Meniscus.
by Stephanie Powell
From the sea of the backyard you emerge and look as though you’re in need of watering.
We are beneath the sky, a Filipino-swatch blue, a light paste of trout-shaped clouds.
The air is dry and the bush-figs are dropping.
In a different version of this afternoon, I’d pick you up as though you were the child and ask,
what are gardens to old men?
You would say something like, something to be tender to, something to work on. Then get back to work. It would be the answer I am expecting, though I’m not convinced that it belongs to you.
With the price of petrol, semi-retirement-
there is more time spent walking in circles with the hose, making space for paving stones. The city muted, on upturned glass-roots at the end of the street.
Breakfast is coffee, newspaper ink, two slices of toast. Magpies warbling like heavy smokers
in the trees. You grow things to the taste of bees, with your gentle, gentleman hands.
What a proud man-
to have seen him off to work in the morning, igniting the sensor lights in the driveway at the end
of the day. A few games of online solitaire played before bed. Unwinding in the already unwind
There you go again chasing the birds off the new grass seed. Your new ways of working-
hands waving, madcap under the Jacarandas.
Stephanie Powell grew up in Melbourne, Australia. She has spent the last few years living in London (with some short stints in Canada and Kenya). She writes and takes photos. Her collection Bone was published by Halas Press in July 2021. Her work has also appeared in Ambit Magazine, Ink, Sweat and Tears, The Dawntreader, Dream Catcher, Spelt Magazine and Sunday Mornings at the River.
by Jackson Machado-Nunes
sits hugged by a rope
in the waters of Mo’orea
within the pitchless hum
of the ocean
she is the largest coral
a blushing savannah brown
a colour you surely
would have worn.
we all have different ways
of keeping you alive
some of us still mourn you
some light a candle for you
around your birthday
and the anniversary
of your death
some of us
probably avoid thinking of you
attempting to move on
in a way
as swiftly as it seemed you left.
i never cried
i never attended your funeral
but my views on death
are a little alt-left
but what i did know
was that coral gives our planet
half of our oxygen
so i bought Earth a coral
named it after you
i felt it only fitting
as on many occasions
we were forced to steal extra breaths
because our language together
Jackson is a Meanjin based non-binary poet with a passion for Mother Earth, and a mission to see queer representation become commonplace in Australia. They’re currently studying a BFA at QUT, where they were a co-chairperson of the QUT Literary Salon. Find their work on Instagram @deku.eku
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.
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