New provocation Issue 4 + launch photos

Next issue

Check out ‘Gender performance’ – the theme of Issue 4.

Key dates for the issue:

  • Submissions will be accepted via Submittable 1–31 January 2019
  • The issue will be published in mid-March 2019

Launch

Issue 3 of Not Very Quiet was launched @ Smith’s Alternative, Canberra, Monday 29 October 2018

A very big thank you to Guest Editor Lisa Brockwell for coming to launch the Issue in person and to all the contributors who read their poems on the night and also other poems from selected overseas contributors. It was a particular joy to hear so many women reference the work of Grace Cossington Smith and Fay Zwicky in their introductions – two Australian women artists whose work deserves to be widely known and cherished.

Thank you to everyone who came along as audience and helped create a vibrant space for women’s poetry. So much talent, humour and friendliness on display.

Guest Editor Lisa Brockwell.

 

Moya Pacey, co-founding editor.

 

Outside and inside, utterly individuated

by Lisa Brockwell, Guest Editor Issue 3

Welcome to Not Very Quiet. I am proud to have been guest editor of this third issue of the journal.

For most of the history of literature, with some rare exceptions that prove the rule, women have been positioned as the object in poems (the very best we could hope for was muse status or being ‘the beloved’, both loaded, precarious and fairly one dimensional places to be). It is important to remember how recently it is that we have had the opportunity to take up our pens and create ourselves as the subject. And how many women today are not permitted, by circumstance or by decree, to take up their own subjectivity.

That subjectivity is precious; its very existence is a political act. I believe that spaces like Not Very Quiet are more important than ever in 2018.

But identity is only one starting point in the process of making art. I believe it is important to acknowledge where I see and experience the world from. I also believe it is entirely possible for imagination, art and spirit to transcend our specific experience and liberate us from the binds of that identity, but only if we are honest and clear about the power relations and politics of that situation in the first place.

Any poetry worth its salt enables us to begin in that radical place of female subjectivity, and to then explore the world and ourselves and ask all kinds of taboo questions from the specific vantage point of our individuality. Poetry allows us, and requires us, to be utterly individuated. It undermines all orthodoxy, even, and perhaps especially, the orthodoxy of identity politics. That is its strength, its living power and the one true thing it offers the world.

As Fay Zwicky put it:

Poetry has always seemed to me a source of hope, a means of speaking against any orthodoxy, be it religious, political, or social. It has offered a place for the dissenting imagination that hankers to encompass not only the truth of what is, what has been, but what might be or what might have been.

It’s been a real joy to read so many poems of individuation, submitted from all around the world. And so many poems that engage in response and dialogue, either overtly or obliquely, with the work of Fay Zwicky and Grace Cossington Smith, artists who were both engaged in the investigation of questions of individuation and belonging, spirit and intellect, light and dark, ideas of being ‘outside’ or ‘inside’ and all these terms might imply; the weight of tradition and the liberating possibilities of the imagination.

I’d like to thank the founding editors of Not Very Quiet, Moya Pacey and Sandra Renew, for their vision in founding the journal, and their care in sustaining it. A very special thank you to Production Manager Tikka Wilson, whose commitment to excellence is the engine that drives the project.

an introduction to a poet who isn’t me

let’s return to an image of the poet in red

physically capable, perhaps
but put together a little like
a towel wrapped around wet hair

one eye droops a little
you see her catching her breath
on a hybrid filter cigarette

as she draws her forehead
to her chest, surveying the area
wind blows ash into her mouth

and the movement surprises you
her blank lyric rising and stumbling
between glasses, into tables

scratching verse into the paintwork
glorified, eulogised,
takes a swig, eyes rise to meet

Claire Albrecht

Claire Albrecht is a PhD candidate at the University of Newcastle. Her current work investigates multimodal forms and the connections between poetry and photography in contemporary creative practice. Claire’s work appears in Cordite Poetry Review, Overland Literary Journal and Plumwood Mountain, among others. Her debut chapbook will be launched in October 2018.

© 2018

Exposure

i.

White marks on a black page; a photographic negative of loss. It’s the view from
the tain of a mirror; the scene staring back from inside the looking glass. She steps
around the scorched blank shapes; the final traces of humanity left on physical
spaces.

ii.

The flash of detonation has seared every nearby surface; the inverted shadows are
all that remain of the people. On the Yorozuyo Bridge, they begin to tile over the
silhouettes that still bear witness.

Cassandra Atherton

 

Cassandra Atherton is an award winning prose poet and scholar. She was a Harvard Scholar in English in 2016 and she received an Australian Council Grant to work on a book of prose poetry on the atomic bomb in 2017. She is currently co-writing a scholarly book on prose poetry for Princeton University Press.

© 2018

Muscles

After Fay Zwicky’s ‘Border Crossings’

 

you have to be living under a rock

not just any rock: igneous, of fire

silica, the earth’s crust

 

the last time she saw me, from her dark place

she was still holding onto something

I couldn’t hear, fragmented, what she needed to lose

 

I held out hope for her, like a handful of coins, my muscles

flexing, I thought it was because I was strong,

worked out every day, running up and down steps

 

I was young, and didn’t know the crack of a body in transition

the bones, the melting skin, the scales

a different kind of strength, not brute, persistent

 

a slow process, maintaining the body’s form

I can’t go anywhere trapped beneath rock, stuck

inside this uncomfortable skin

 

all that I couldn’t eat, couldn’t build, couldn’t find

remains in place and my apology

takes the form of sinew, of shade

 

Magdalena Ball

 

Magdalena Ball is a novelist, poet, reviewer and interviewer, and is the Managing Editor of Compulsive Reader. She is the author of two novels and three poetry books, the most recent of which is Unmaking Atoms (Ginninderra Press 2017).

www.magdalenaball.com

© 2018

Lameroo

We stop for coffee and cake.
Only another hour to go
but sugar is needed
so too are empty bladders.

I disappear to the ‘Ladies’
housed in spider-blown brick.
Twitching fluorescents
dance more shadow than light
over lime-green cubicles
with temperamental locks.

But there’s paper and soap
and roses
blood-red and blooming
as if somebody cares.

J V Birch

J V Birch lives in Adelaide. Her poems have appeared in anthologies, journals and magazines across Australia, the UK, Canada and the US. She has two collections – Smashed glass at midnight (Ginninderra Press 2015) and What the water & moon gave me (Ginninderra Press 2016) – and is finalising her third.

© 2018

Intermittent Fasting with Herbs

It was August when I started drinking perfume.
The blackberries had gone too far again and I saw
no Seamus in that. No furs, just jewellery and scent –
god, that scent. Like the smell of sunsalt skin, when
inhaling a check shirt flirting with the floor is not
enough and the rough wool catches your tongue.

I take tea thyme curled in a moka pot with a shot of
full cream dream. The Greek god of tiny little cups
erupts – washes down all that poetry, honeysuckles me.
I’m not ashamed to say I’ve lapped his bathwater like
a trapped cat. It’s all very well eating the enemy,
but woman cannot live by sticky willows alone.

Jane Murray Bird

 

Jane Murray Bird lives on the edge of Edinburgh and writes performance poetry for plants in return for food. Her work has been published in magazines including Magma, Mslexia, Under the Radar, Poets Republic and Freak Circus.

© 2018

The Touch of Promise

Touch-typing
a skill
honed in class
at Business College.

edc ik,
edc ik,
edc ik,

Young women of promise
map out their future
in time to music.

The rhythm of their lives
tapped into place.

Denise Burton

 

Denise Burton is a Canberra-based poet who also enjoys, sketching, painting in water colours and graphic art.

© 2018

inside Nana’s

inside Nana’s
blue glass swan
a small child
drifts away
somewhere

Robyn Cairns

 

Robyn Cairns writes many forms of poetry including; Modern English haiku, haiga, senryu, tanka and free verse. Robyn’s short form poetry has been published in Australian and overseas poetry journals. She has had two chapbooks published: In Transit (Ginninderra Press 2016) and The Drifting (Ginninderra Press 2016). Robyn also interprets her poetry through her clarinet, photography and linocut work.

© 2018

last hibiscus

An orange hibiscus flower in a small glass vase sitting a on window sill overlooking a garden.

Robyn Cairns

 

Robyn Cairns writes many forms of poetry including; Modern English haiku, haiga, senryu, tanka and free verse. Robyn’s short form poetry has been published in Australian and overseas poetry journals. She has had two chapbooks published: In Transit (Ginnindera Press 2016) and The Drifting (Ginnindera Press 2016). Robyn also interprets her poetry through her clarinet, photography and linocut work.

© 2018

When it was circular

It’s a bet he says.
I win and you give me a chance
And so their hands swift to sun
Move in sways across the brick wall
Counting misses and points
Desire drenched on a wall of
cool rain and warm sweat.
And she knows from the start
before she ever agreed
she didn’t need the game at all.

Justine F. Chan

 

Justine Chan has been writing since she was 8; teaching for 17 years, but it took 30 years to find her voice. These submissions are just a snippet. May you discover this Guyanese immigrant who can dance in her Ariats from her Kalamazoo country roots or eat pepper-sauce fries on the stoops in Far Rockaway NY. A mom of three today who teaches English Literature in Long Island to feed her real passion … words.

© 2018

Cheongsam

Costume and custom are complex.
‘Exchanging Hats’, Elizabeth Bishop

 

At the bottom of my wardrobe: eight dresses,
tailor-made for me. It was me who scoured

the fabric shops, who unwound each bolt
so flowers spilled across the floor like spring.

I was the one who picked out each set
of frog buttons, matching roses to roses,

butterflies to wing. The seamstress bound each edge
in contrast silk piping. I eschewed the traditional

fastenings, requesting instead a hidden back zip
so I could singularly dress and undress myself,

stepping in and out of my costume with sleek ease.
She had saved fabric at the seams for the inevitable

spread of womanhood that would come with marriage
and children. Slits just long enough for a girl

to take small steps; forcing her to sit, knees together,
revealing only a length of leg to the watching men.

The higher the collar, I used to think, the more elegant
the wearer
. So tight I couldn’t speak. The lady

who sewed my cheongsam died several years ago.
The woman who wore those dresses? She climbs

in shorts, she struts in trousers, she dances in skirts;
she is wholly clothed and naked in her own bright skin.

Eileen Chong

 

Eileen Chong is Sydney poet of Chinese descent who was born in Singapore. She is the author of eight books. Her latest full-length collection of poetry is Rainforest (Pitt Street Poetry). Her work has shortlisted for the Anne Elder Award, the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award, and twice for the Prime Minister’s Literary Awards.

www.eileenchong.com.au

© 2018

Days Drawing In

after Autumn by Gig Ryan

You sleep to forget, and wake having forgotten
Nutt & Muddle used to make one-armed jackpots
Screw up the news in a house you can never own
and everything else that everyone else got so wrong
He is success without tomorrow, as the French say
Then I blank so I go for a long walk with no one
or trudge away with a pen in my hand in one spot
while their daily tragedies persuade me to be cool
She leaves us to our own devices, a bad mother,
and sets up shop in an adjacent room and cries
Words scrabble and scatter into crazy alphabet
The digital numbers flash, it’s time it’s time
to be afresh, afoot, childish, slow tonalities
and even blessings are offering yesterday
Something gorgeous wraps it up completely
Outside, it is really raining, raining for real

Jennifer Compton

 

Jennifer Compton lives in Melbourne and is a poet and playwright who also writes prose.

© 2018

She’s Got Fantastic Hair

Thick. Dark. A heft,
reminiscent of
foliage and rough trunks.
The cult yet to save you,
the dead scent rising
from the Earth after a storm.
The dreamer, low-toned,
against the whorled bone
of a nonbeliever’s ear:
if only, if
only.

Abigail Kirby Conklin

 

Abigail Kirby Conklin lives in New York City, where she works in education and curriculum development. Her poetry can be found in The Lampeter Review (2017), Flumes Literary Journal (2017), and the forthcoming issues of K’in Literary Journal (2018) and Curlew Quarterly (2018). She drinks startling amounts of coffee.

© 2018

The Body Lies in Meridian

As I walk’d in silence the transparent shadowy night,
As I saw you had something to tell as you bent to me night after night

– Walt Whitman

 

I. 2009 Meridian, Mississippi

Through milk and blue glass unpolished brilliance,
I watched my grandmother’s daughters carry
the body that no longer knew its limbs,
watched them then uncover paper secrets.

II. 1939 Pachuta, Mississippi

A girl working among the timber beasts
selected, lifted, measured longleaf pine,
learned to recognize wood’s defects—discard
the boxed heart, burls, honeycomb, wane or want.

At thirteen, my grandmother lied three years
beyond her womb-leaving day—age sixteen
read the work document—plagiarized pomp,
the circumstance forced by family need.

III. 1947 Okinawa, Japan

Late November harvesting, sweetness peak,
the laborers strapped the sugarcane stalks
to their backs, behind them laid the rotten:
the shoot borer, red rot, and yellow leaf.

Older, and with her own labor, she watched
them carry, as she prepared for a son
who outlived her first marriage by sixteen
years, watched them rucking, heavy with sugar.

IV. 1956 Meridian, Mississippi

Branching tertiary from her taproot,
how easily she conceived an error.
She named her Priscilla and packed the truth
like a bare-root in sawdust and shavings.

Scarlet A-insignia held chest-close,
another marriage was born premature;
wrapped tightly in yellow chenille, silent
it grew—buried rhizome, visible leaves.

V. 1964 Pachuta, Mississippi

At Aunt Leila’s viewing, she examined
portrait albums, began to doubt her blood’s
inheritance that years ago forced fraud
upon her, obsessed over Leila’s ring—

Oh, how well the art deco heirloom fits,
old memories refined in platinum.
The crypt then sealed: haunting solitary
skid road of the bleeding throat’s lumberyard.

VI. 2009 Richmond, Virginia

My mother’s mother bends from beyond night
to reclaim what daughters have found, the birth
certificates’ signed falsehoods; death wake, her
body lies in wanting, wordless labor.

Jessica Conley

 

Jessica Conley earned her BA and MA from Virginia Commonwealth University and has returned to VCU for her MFA in Creative Writing. Her poem ‘Brinegar Family’ can be found in The Gordian Review’s most recent publication. She currently teaches Literature at The Steward School and lives in Richmond, Virginia.

© 2018

Getting in the Way and Science

GETTING IN THE WAY

Intending to chop wood he chopped the bad girl
in half. People didn’t like this but the bad girl got in
the way. She got in the way of the man and in the
way of the axe and in the way of the wood and in the
way of the job. Finally, she got in the way of
keeping warm and making soup because she didn’t
burn well. People didn’t care about any of this but
they cared a lot about punishment. They said, ‘You
are a bad man’ but they did not consider what that
might mean he would get in the way of.

 

SCIENCE

We must determine if the lovers are as they say.
We know they act like fractals. We know they feel
gravity. Would they use a horse-whip on each other
though? And is it possible to find out how they
came into being and if, in fact, they’re an invariant
set?

 

MTC Cronin

 

MTC Cronin has published more than twenty books, her most recent being the book-length poem, Causal (Spuyten Duyvil, New York, 2018). A prose poem collection, God is Waiting in the World’s Yard, is forthcoming with Puncher & Wattmann, Sydney.

© 2018

Interior with wardrobe mirror

After the painting by Grace Cossington Smith

How civilized in 1955
to have a full-length mirror
so I can turn my back
and stretch my neck around
just so, to check my stocking
seams are straight.
No self-respecting soul
would venture out
with wobbly ones, except
perhaps my paternal aunts
who wouldn’t dare go
anywhere without hats, gloves
and stockings. There they are
today in summer heat, holding
hands as they peer into shop windows
thinking all is well with the world.
How could I break their spell?
No, I cannot tell them ladders
are the order of their day
and pantyhose now holds sway.

Jan Dean

 

Jan Dean, a former visual arts teacher, lives at Lake Macquarie. Her pocketbook Paint Peels, Graffiti Sings (Flying Islands, Macau 2014) is in English and Mandarin. Four of her poems appear in Just off Message (Interactive Publications 2017). She was awarded Life Membership of Poetry at the Pub, Newcastle in 2018.

© 2018

Scar massage

a tiny section of my body
was excised, sent off for biopsy

a day or two later
somebody jokingly asked
how I thought my mole was going

I found I could not bear to think of
that small piece of me
floating in clear fluid in a plastic bottle
in a pathologist’s office

irretrievable, irrevocably
exiled

I was left with a cavity
that has sealed itself over
with the help of two continuous sutures

now that the stitches are out and a week has gone by
I massage the scar for five minutes twice a day
using, as advised, two fingers
and as much pressure as I can tolerate

to prevent the join
hardening

I am astounded by the depth of its colour

other parts of me have been lost
other scars left to harden

these are not so visible

I have stopped ignoring them nonetheless
have stopped trying to disguise them
with complaisance, competence, facts-at-the-ready

I return to them, feel for
their shapes under the surface
attest their presence
with as much pressure as I can tolerate

I speak to them

tell them
that they are no longer alone

Tricia Dearborn

 

Tricia Dearborn’s poetry has been widely published in literary journals in Australia, overseas and online, and in anthologies such as Contemporary Australian Poetry, Australian Poetry since 1788 and The Best Australian Poems. Her third full-length collection, Autobiochemistry, completed with the support of an Australia Council grant, is forthcoming from UWA Publishing.

© 2018

Eight parts love

1.
The poem
in the forest depths
the coil of koru.

2.
Low lighting, the quilt
a thousand dusks.

3.
Capturing fleeting smiles,
silverfish, you
between sheets, pages.

4.
What will it be today?
bitter grapefruit
morning/afternoon.

5.
3am rest stop, he’s day glo
lit by cigarette.

6.
Skipping to the end
(possibly dancing).

7.
In the beginning, words, light
feathers, ancient quills

8.
Divine, our names
in calligraphy
a love scene:
The poem
on a grain of rice
such a seed
(so intricate).

Anna Forsyth

 

Anna Forsyth is a writer and editor from New Zealand, currently travelling around Australia as an itinerant event producer. In 2014, she founded the feminist poetry organisation, Girls on Key, providing opportunities for women and non-gender binary poets.

© 2018

Naming

Bar Beach, late summer
waist deep in surf
I’m immersed in the colour
I don’t want to name
the apex, sea and sky
every shade, every stroke
my skin prickles with
the beauty of it.

Who named that
other feeling
assigning a colour
to gravelly laments
wailing saxophones
the thump of piano
giving voice to pain?
No!

Here
waist deep in surf
here is a different music
a pure ecstatic sky
a layer cake of sea
iced with foam

I want to lick it
this colour
inside me
is too expansive
so I nickname it
Heaven.

Anna Forsyth

 

Anna Forsyth is a writer and editor from New Zealand, currently travelling around Australia as an itinerant event producer. In 2014, she founded the feminist poetry organisation, Girls on Key, providing opportunities for women and non-gender binary poets.

© 2018

From the Attic

I thought a lot about the maze of rooftops –
the slopes and gussets and gutters.
Not everyone knew the place that way.

The groan of lilac was loud in spring –
a beauty of excess – corrugated iron
scattered with petals, roof corners piled

purple deep, the dedication of honey-
eaters I watched skim silver to their nests.
Around dusk, the floodlights at Albion Park

flickered to life, reflections pooling wet
on the low flat roof beside the trellis,
the scent of jasmine wafting up, and

I tried not to dwell on the warmth
of home – where you were – of lights
in places I couldn’t see, listened instead

as the river breathed deep to a dark
beat, to the silence of stained glass
after sun. I’d prop against the timber

casing when a leaden sky edged menacing
green, wait for the battering of rain
on glass, for water to glug through roof

canals so I’d sleep – imagine other rivers,
other storms. So being there was
softened by a kind of abstraction.

Jane Frank

 

Jane Frank’s first chapbook was titled Milky Way of Words (Ginninderra Press 2016). A collaborative work – Flotsam – is forthcoming with Flarestack, UK. Most recently, Jane’s poems have appeared in Popshot, Pressure Gauge, Takahē and The Poets’ Republic, and anthologised in Automatic Pilot (2018), The Heroines Anthology (Neo Perennial Press 2018) and Dragons of the Prime (The Emma Press 2018).

© 2018

Pointillism workshop at Gootchie, 1976

Let’s go and get drunk on light again – it has the power to console. Georges Seurat

 

Home…Tiaro…Bauple Mountain…Gootchie
We followed the dots

In the Fairmont. Artists emerged like sprites
from among the gums

You were bronze-skinned and smiled when
I said there was a frog in the loo

I had a small table next to yours, dappled cows
brown and dogs white

You retaped my paper again and again,
said I was a true artiste

We ate corned beef sandwiches wrapped in foil,
tried damper off hot coals

You stood in the shed doorway, sun surfing
corrugations in your hair

And used a fat brush (for hours it seemed)
to daub on the green mountain

You swore a bit when you weren’t sure
if it looked right and then

We drank red cordial from the esky while
that layer dried

You took a fine brush to speckle over ghost
trunks in white bands,

Their shadows dolloped indigo and pink,
sky: yellow, mauve and tan

So the mixing happened with your eyes
not on the palette

And as we drove away, I could still see the
Gootchie bush artists

Through thick dirt, splattered red, little
points of light waving

Jane Frank

 

Jane Frank’s first chapbook was titled Milky Way of Words (Ginninderra Press 2016). A collaborative work – Flotsam – is forthcoming with Flarestack, UK. Most recently, Jane’s poems have appeared in Popshot, Pressure Gauge, Takahē and The Poets’ Republic, and anthologised in Automatic Pilot (2018), The Heroines Anthology (Neo Perennial Press 2018) and Dragons of the Prime (The Emma Press 2018).

© 2018

Bottomless

Head first in the deep
I glide turquoise
didn’t know my body
could breathe clean
muscled strokes
I push deeper
suck a hose
on my lips that
gives me breath
sip oxygen
smooth
I brush through
liquid topaz
one could
consume
shimmer down
here manifest in
something blinding

Kelli Frawley

 

Kelli Frawley is a poet from Knoxville, Tennessee. She recently graduated with a BA in English Literature and Hispanic Studies. Kelli was the head poetry editor for The Phoenix Literary Magazine at the University of Tennessee for two years and has published poems and articles through the university.

© 2018

The Rink on 5th

My disco queen is all purple and glow,
hasn’t put on her skates yet, she’s laced
down. The light’s glitter falls on her.
Her rhinestone girls are skating but she
pulls me with her. Sit, baby. We can slow
now
. Her jewels aren’t jealous in the rink
where everything begs to jive, sugar.
We don’t think much, not like humans
‘cuz she’s got some sort of god in her.
Roll and roll but it won’t stop her.
She’s magic, all curls, curve and
lilac tooth. We laugh with no mouth
all body. The lights want to be on her
like everything else, we twist and
jazz ‘til the ball stops spinning.

Kelli Frawley

 

Kelli Frawley is a poet from Knoxville, Tennessee. She recently graduated with a BA in English Literature and Hispanic Studies. Kelli was the head poetry editor for The Phoenix Literary Magazine at the University of Tennessee for two years and has published poems and articles through the university.

© 2018

Beef Tea Heirloom

This Schauer Australian Cookery Book
fifteenth impression: cover torn, binding
tattered, pages misaligned, some creased,
some ripped from her hurried use.

Between the recipes for small cakes,
a blank cheque and in faint purple pencil,
her winning version of rock cakes with
extra lemon zest and sugar crust.

In the savoury section, small black&whites:
my brother, aged eight in cricket gear,
then at his wedding, and my sister just
at the door of our leaning outhouse.

According to the insert at page 558, my
mother was joint winner in the state’s
Bronze Foursomes Championship in golf.
She’d serve rich trifles in her prized crystal.

Legally blind in her final year, she asked for
beef tea. I note now from the Invalid Cookery
pages, a beaten egg yolk and white added
separately at boiling point fortifies the broth.

Inside the back cover, a yellowed cutting:
how to join the Women’s Royal Australian
Army Corps and on the reverse: Tested
recipes you will find very easy to follow
.

Kathryn Fry

 

Kathryn Fry has poems in Home is the Hunter (2016), ear to earth (2017) and the Newcastle Poetry Prize anthologies of 2014 and 2016. Her poems are also in Cordite Poetry Review (2016) and Not Very Quiet (2017, 2018). Her first collection is Green Point Bearings (Ginninderra Press 2018).

© 2018

Apartment Complex

I begin the day with my head on a stake.
Drink water for three hours and pretend to walk
around the block. Cut off all my hair and move
to Savannah with red wine and borrowed money.
Make it big. Forget to shower. Move back
to the apartment complex, where people fold laundry
and let the day spill past them like a naked gaze.
Stuff my insides with oats and honey. Pretend to
fold laundry like everyone else. Cry after calling
my parents. Cry hard enough on the hardwood floor
that my knees clink together. Push the door in the neighbors
face when he knocks and asks me to keep it down.
Think how suspicious it is that other people have nothing
to think about. Think about the ignorance of that thought.
Clean the floor. Clean the bathroom counters. Clean until
it becomes suspicious. I cannot smell like kitchen sinks
forever. Put on a record. Something light. Something live.
Tell my boyfriend he is all I think about. Hate myself for
lying to my boyfriend and telling him he is all I think about.
Ask myself where my sense of community is.
Where is the light? Why can I not find it?

Breia Gore

 

Breia Gore is an Asian-Pacific American poet living in South Carolina. She attends the University of South Carolina where she is pursuing a BA in English concentrated in Creative Writing and minor in film studies. Her work has been published or is forthcoming in Lithium Magazine, Adolescent Content, Concept Literary, and Dirty Paws Press. She strives for education reforms in the arts through Teach For America and aims to create her own literary magazine to encourage youths to stay community-engaged and politically active. When she isn’t stumbling over rough drafts or pointing out small animals on walks, she can be found drinking tea and organizing her pens.

© 2018

Venice

My cream and sugar lover
sits in the cracked orange booth
in plain jane glory. He loves like
He has a picnic basket spine.
I look at him, ask if he wants
to kick cobblestones until one
of us bleeds. To shed red
in a latte foam, lights on water,
women kissing mirrors, city.
Maybe one day, he says. When we’re
older, with enough sweaters
and languages. He stirs the
drink in front of him hard enough
to break wrists. And the future

collapses.

Breia Gore

 

Breia Gore is an Asian-Pacific American poet living in South Carolina. She attends the University of South Carolina where she is pursuing a BA in English concentrated in Creative Writing and minor in film studies. Her work has been published or is forthcoming in Lithium Magazine, Adolescent Content, Concept Literary, and Dirty Paws Press. She strives for education reforms in the arts through Teach For America and aims to create her own literary magazine to encourage youths to stay community-engaged and politically active. When she isn’t stumbling over rough drafts or pointing out small animals on walks, she can be found drinking tea and organizing her pens.

© 2018

golden

light glints on a glass filled with pale, golden wine
your teeth bared forever in a clumsy smile
in a photo now yellowing with age,
the wine was whisked away
before you’d finished it –
you told me that in a letter but I
never replied.

Maria Griffin

Inspired by: Interior with wardrobe mirror, 1955, by Grace Cossington Smith and Stravinsky’s Lunch, Drusilla Modjeska (Picador, Pan Macmillan Australia, 1999)

 

Maria Griffin’s creative non-fiction and poems have appeared most recently in L’Ephemere Review, Talking Writing, StylusLit, and Pink Cover Zine. She lives in Melbourne.

© 2018

The Waiting Day

the quiet padding
of fingers on a drum
. . . patrolling nurse

Still fatigued, I wake at first light. The television is running. Perhaps you were watching it. By my bed is an empty pallet. Did you tiptoe off to catch an auto rickshaw? Scrounge a dosai and some chai?

On my screen the day is waking, accompanied by the credits of an early morning raga. A TV camera is tracking the sun’s passage.

lotus sky
a yellow-billed babbler
sings kriti-kriti

As I float drowsily, a drone glissades into the room. Dewy buds begin to open as the alapana unfolds, sung with a vocal flexibility that I could only dream of. Each note emerges from its shadows into the waiting day. Now and then the lens pauses on a single bloom, opening into the brilliance, as if to beckon bees.

Perhaps life is a raga, with its laboured beginning and speedy finish. But I’ve been given a reprieve. Concealed in dawn’s cadence, the poet saints have been keeping watch. Each note I inhale vibrates a blessing from Guruguha, the great master of healing. The pain has drifted off. My lungs are clear. The Ganga banks are far away.

. . . and there is light
the artist’s paint pot
spills over

 

Hazel Hall

raga: an Indian melody; kriti: a South Indian classical song; alapana: unaccompanied introduction to a raga

 

Hazel Hall is a Canberra Poet. She has published haiku, tanka and free verse in a number of Australian and overseas journals and anthologies. Her latest collections are Eggshell Sky (2017). Step By Step: Haiku Meditations with Angelina Egan (2018) and Moonlight over the Siding (forthcoming 2019).

© 2018

Rhythm on the Inside

1820

Dad’s at weaving flying the shuttle

back forth back

mam’s at mopping

left right left

Teatime and the kettle sings

thick soup plop plop plops

over the fire

 

1920

Dad’s at the mill and minding looms

thump thump thump

mam and our Jen’s on spools

whirl whizz twirl

After tea they’re for trying new steps

lindy-hop to a swing band

on the wireless

 

2020

Dad’s on the computer far upstairs

clackety clack clackety

mam’s got the box on sound down

mutter mutter mutter

We’ve had our tea in the kitchen it’s just

mouse-scratch and beetle-creak

under the floor

So I’m off out

see some action

feel that beat

Joy Howard

 

Joy Howard founded Grey Hen Press in 2007, specialising in publishing the work of older women poets through a series of themed anthologies. She is widely published in anthologies, magazines and journals, and online and has three collections: Exit Moonshine (Grey Hen 2009), Refurbishment (Ward Wood 2011) and Foraging (Arachne Press 2017).

© 2018

Spot the Difference Had Gadya

After Fay Zwicky

One little Azazel Goat.
one little Azazel goat.
That mother bought
for two pots of chicken soup.
One little Azazel Goat.

Along came the barnacle goose
who nipped Anna’s big toe
who followed the crimson thread
to the messianic banquet, who freed
the Ziz, who laughed with Behemoth,
who stroked the dove, that shat
on Beast Nebuchadnezzar who could only
eat vegetables, who swapped
shoes with the serpent who took tea
with chipped Spode, who slugged
old wine with the rooster and pearly
Great fish, who sung with the ram
and played her grandfather’s fife,
leading the ostriches through the streets
of Tzfat, who carried Shamir in a basket
of barleycorn. One little Azazel goat.
One little Azazel goat.

Anna Jacobson

 

Anna Jacobson is a Brisbane-based poet and artist. Her poetry has been published in literary journals including ABR’s States of PoetryCordite, Meanjin, and Verity La. Anna’s poetry chapbook The Last Postman (Vagabond Press 2018) is part of the deciBels series 3.

www.annajacobson.com.au

© 2018

Just Violets

Of all the objects in this room
violets capture my gaze

not the cat curled into a fur hat
on top of the computer

not the clock
stocktaking time

just violets in a blue bottle
the size of my thumb

stems tangled into tree roots
in an underwater scene

Any minute now fish
will swim between them.

 

Kathy Kituai

 

Kathy Kituai is a Poet, Diarist and founder of Limestone Tanka Poets. She has received two Canberra Critic’s Awards and published eight collections of poetry. Deep in the Valley of Tea Bowls won the 2017 ACT Writing and Publishing Award and gained second place in the 2018 Sanford Goldstein International Tanka competition. She has facilitated creative writing courses for 26 years.

© 2018

Flora Cloth

Your dress looks like candied wheat.

Small tulips drip from your ears.

I can’t praise your ears enough. Freckled and soft,

containing a solar system of hearing me.

You seem like the weekend.

You seem like gleaming grain.

I adjust my face to reflect you better.

To hold your mastery of involvement.

The oats are caramel, are spreading. The table

of new, hot pancakes and blueberry syrup.

We lay low in this young room. I’m acting

casual, making it difficult for anyone

to have me. I’ve seen you

turning. The will’s in the harvest.

The strawberry air goes sour in its own excitement.

Kimberly Lambright

 

Kimberly Lambright’s debut full-length poetry collection ULTRA-CABINwas selected by David Dodd Lee as the winner of the 42 Miles Press Poetry Award and published in 2016. Kimberly is a MacDowell Colony fellow, Cleveland State University Poetry Center Open Book Award finalist, Nightboat Poetry Award semifinalist, Devil’s Lake Driftless Prize in Poetry finalist, and Lexi Rudnitsky Book Prize finalist. Her work has appeared in Columbia Poetry Review, ZYZZYVASink Review, Bone Bouquet, The BoilerWicked Alice, Big Bridge, Little Patuxent Review, the 2019 Texas Poetry Calendar, and The Burnside Review. She holds an MFA from Eastern Washington University and an MA in experimental humanities from New York University. ​She currently lives in Austin, TX.

© 2018

My Nanna and Vincent van Gogh

Vincent van Gogh envisioned making
death’s acquaintance before he did.
With a self-inflicted gunshot wound
to the chest, he told his brother
‘la tristesse durera toujours’
(the sadness [would] last forever)
if he survived.

During her final months, my Nanna
knew what he meant.

For Vincent, it was a rejection of the mind,
of the unstable and fluctuating nature of mental illness,
of a revolving door relationship with creativity,
of a brain overworked,
of a brain unbalanced.

For my Nanna, it was a rejection of the body,
of 82-year-old bones grown weary,
of a tongue devoid of able taste buds,
of a heart leaking passion,
of a heart leaking zest.

They looked to death for peace.

Now,
his mind is quiet.

Now,
her body is still.

On the other side, my Nanna passes a
market, buys a painting from a man
with a severed left ear and hangs it
in her dining room.

When my Grandpa gets home,
she gestures towards the painting, asks
‘How does it make you feel?’
He examines it for a moment, then replies,
‘Like the songs birds sing in the morning,
like a boat sailing on a gentle sea’.

Cassie Lewis

 

Cassie Lewis is a Bachelor of Arts graduate from Adelaide, South Australia. Her go-to coffee order is a mocha and she is a frequent reader of horoscopes. You can find her poems ‘Sweet Talker’ and ‘The same city’ in Germ Magazine (2017).

© 2018

Crossing

It felt as if she had crossed a line
but not really a step more like an inching:
A universe of time to herself.
The chaos of routine-less days
in pyjamas until noon.
A slow creep towards the unregulated.

Order frames the day
like the view of the garden from a window,
but the bathroom mirror reflects
no makeup
no jewellery
or combed hair.

What if they found her dead?
She was sure they’d think
she’d let herself go in such a short time.

But in truth she was going nowhere.
Content with seclusion
and the yoga of eating tuna out of cans
with her fingers,
the open-mouthed chew,
meditation on the three-day-old dishes
fermenting on the sink.

Unfettered
until the inevitable return
to civilisation:
the office, management indecision
and the reams of paperwork
loading down her desk.

The gossip duplicated in the photocopying section.
What did you do in your break?
And her token smile
stapled to a Nothing much.

Rosanna Licari

 

Rosanna Licari is an Australian writer and poet. She is the poetry editor of StylusLit.

© 2018

Buenos Dias Nina

17 stops.
Palmetto Station to Douglas Road.
30 minutes of music that seem to cloud
My thoughts with summer plans.

The city is hot and humid.
Today more than ever before.

I sit down next to large handbags
Cheap Flats
And Petite Women.

They remind me of an alternate universe.
My life
And my mother’s life.

They stand here as early as 6:15am.
Conversation after conversation.
Bus after bus taking them to Hialeah.
Taking them home.

A new brown skinned woman approaches
the bench every 15 minutes.
Besos, names, and preguntas about how their families is doing
Are the normal intros exchanged.

I sat there and listened to their conversations.
Forgetting their laundry upon reaching Hialeah.
Working in a new house in Coral Gables.

But it hit me.
To the point that I began to taste
The salty drops of my subtle tears.

They were the maids.
Las que take care of
Your children.
Las que spend hours cleaning
The homes they wish to own one day.

My mother was one, a time before I appeared.
A life we would have continued if opportunity was not earned.

But,
My destiny was different.

I sat on that bus stop to take
The next route to a future mis papas
Dreamed for me.

Lo que soñaron para us.

Those women remind me of a culture and people
I refuse to forget.
Respecting what they do
Their sacrifice and ganas
Goes noticed.

I hope mis sueños go noticed too.

Kelsey Samantha Milian Lopez

 

Kelsey Samantha Milian Lopez was raised in Miami, Florida, with a strong sense of cultural identity. She has been able to connect and trace her family heritage to Mexican, Guatemalan, Aztec, Zapotec, K’iche Maya, French, German, Spanish, and Japanese roots. She is currently majoring in Sociology and Educational Studies at the Liberal Arts Institution, Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina.

‘Buenos Días Niña’ appeared in an exhibition zine, Womxn Warriors (Mujeres De Maia 2017).

© 2018

Milliner’s Late Night

Her millinery shop had windows bright
With fascinators for madame whose face
Needs artificial lace to help erase
Ten years and homburgs for suburbanites
Disguised as understated socialites.
She scanned the sawdust-trampled street in case
Her customer was late or had misplaced
The payment for this bretonne veiled in white.

Winds cold as fingers of an old cashier
Blew scraps through the boutique as beggars took
Their place. The organ grinder’s monkey held
His fez when coins appeared as sunset neared.
A lady, cloaked, knocked with a frantic look
As, in the distance, wedding steeples belled.

LindaAnn LoSchiavo

 

LindaAnn LoSchiavo has had her stage plays produced in the USA and Adelaide, Australia. Her journalism has appeared Down Under in The Australian Women’s Weekly, Cleo, etc. She dotes on fiction and formal verse.

© 2018

Absolute Zero on the 6 o’clock News

Where the bee sucks…

You often watch me as I go to the wild place
where beetles roll the sun
across the sky and away

I am snipping wing-tips of pin-cushion hakea
What you don’t see is
black-striped bees coming for me

Some are disappearing
through a secret door into the belly
of the bluestone plinth

/ In her Minoan tomb a high priestess
is chewing a laurel leaf

Drones tickle gaura, others rappel down
the crimson throats of kangaroo paw/

But my head is thrumming
with news of the boy

wedged between honeycomb wall
and limestone

A subterranean chill
mingles with his calcium

as the woman excavates
an extra space to plant a bay

finding instead her DNA
petrified in the twisted frame

of her lost son draped in blue
and white striped summer cotton

Bees rise from the body as tears
filling his mother’s empty hives

Julie Maclean

 

Julie Maclean has published four chapbooks and one collection. Her poetry, fiction, reviews and short fiction have appeared in The Age, Cordite, Island, Overland, Poetry (Chicago), Southerly and international journals.

juliemacleanwriter.com

© 2018

Winged and killing after Catullus

Some birds are hard to love
the blue heron
currawongs
wodjaloks with crimson wattles
growling from my balcony

like dogs

I’ve seen one machete the soft neck
of a female in spring
then poke flimsy throats
of virgin grevillea
in a rhapsody of blood and foreplay

The driven
drop nerve agents on children
hurl acid in a woman’s face

on a Sydney Street

and that three year-old washed up

on the beach

his tucked-in shirt lifted
ever so gently by the ripple of an incoming tide
so he looked for a moment

full of breath

utterly alive

Julie Maclean

 

Julie Maclean has published four chapbooks and one collection. Her poetry, fiction, reviews and short fiction have appeared in The Age, Cordite, Island, Overland, Poetry (Chicago), Southerly and international journals.

juliemacleanwriter.com

© 2018

Early

Chopped strips of dilute light slip through

the blinds. Not Venice. Streetlight shine

intrudes, frost filtered. Not city

flashing neon, hard-boiled crime show

detective dive. Suburban line.

Edgelands gap-toothed bite. A car stirs,

birds call the sun, know it’s coming.

Before it does, the stripes soften,

blur. Light puddles, albumen-clear

and raw beside graffiti wall

of cockatoo noise, then thickens,

congeals white. It is not yet time

for the days with a golden yolk.

Jacqui Malins

 

Jacqui Malins is a performance poet and artist. A 2015 Australian Poetry Slam finalist, she has featured at events including the National Folk Festival. She recently released her first book of poetry Cavorting with Time (Recent Work Press 2018). Jacqui co-founded and facilitates Mother Tongue Multilingual Poetry in Canberra.

© 2018

The Proposal

It wasn’t in one of our fancy restaurants, over plates
of raw lamb, deer hearts and discs
of foie gras melting into woodblock
chocolate. You did it at home,
me in my old pink sweatpants
from the last exotic petting zoo, you smelling
of salt and the hours buried
in the lab. It was February, two weeks before
we returned from India, two weeks after
your father’s disappointment, your mother’s
smile, battered as yours. Two weeks
after our nights tucked into street
pizza loaded with sweat and canned cheese. Every day
since we left,
you told me one thing about the country
you’d spend decades waiting to leave. In India,
if there are many things you want,
you have to bargain. But if there’s just one,
one thing you desire,
then you have to bribe.
This is how you asked me to marry you.
My hair, greased into a knot, acne
cream on my face, and you
in shining gym clothes. One hand
held a can of Amul cheese that had survived
the aching of 15,720 miles. In the other,
a simple loop of gold. Endless. This is your bribe,
if you let me be your husband.

Jessica Mehta

 

Jessica (Tyner) Mehta is a Cherokee poet, novelist, and storyteller. She’s the author of five collections of poetry, Constellations of My Body (forthcoming), Secret-Telling Bones, Orygun, What Makes an Always, and The Last Exotic Petting Zoo, as well as a novel The Wrong Kind of Indian. She’s been awarded the Barbara Deming Memorial Fund Prize in Poetry, and numerous poet-in-residencies posts including positions at Hosking Houses Trust and Shakespeare Birthplace Trust in Stratford-Upon-Avon, England, Paris Lit Up in France, and the Acequia Madre House in Santa Fe, NM.

www.jessicamehta.com

© 2018

The Salt Lick

Choose me
like I chose you all those years
ago, like we chose to spend that weekend
at the bottom of a lake that dried up
fourteen thousand years ago past
somewhere between Utah and Nevada, Mountain
and Pacific, temples
and brothels, God
and the ungodly. We drove since dawn
just to see the salt flats and then,
afterward,
after the Boise police searched the car
and found a fixed blade instead of weed, after
the disappointing diners and the ice cream
shaped like baked potatoes. After the porn-soaked
hotel room with mirrors on the ceiling we tucked
down into a truck stop cantina—heavy
horses with feedbags, one chile relleno
after another. I felt the heat in my throat
and the slick on my lips, but I just kept tasting
the salt of when I’d pretended I didn’t notice
you taking photo after photo on the flats. Me, barefoot,
bending and licking
the brittle white salt from some prehistoric lake.

Jessica Mehta

 

Jessica (Tyner) Mehta is a Cherokee poet, novelist, and storyteller. She’s the author of five collections of poetry, Constellations of My Body (forthcoming), Secret-Telling Bones, Orygun, What Makes an Always, and The Last Exotic Petting Zoo, as well as a novel The Wrong Kind of Indian. She’s been awarded the Barbara Deming Memorial Fund Prize in Poetry, and numerous poet-in-residencies posts including positions at Hosking Houses Trust and Shakespeare Birthplace Trust in Stratford-Upon-Avon, England, Paris Lit Up in France, and the Acequia Madre House in Santa Fe, NM.

www.jessicamehta.com

© 2018

In the Dutch tradition

when a person died, black cloth was draped
across all views to guard
the roaming soul from venturing outside.

She didn’t hold with this idea.
So she chose one large picture: Connemara

on a good day, windless, treeless, grassy, dry,
a stretch of country she had never seen.
This graced the room she sat in going blind
for over twenty years, a mild sunlit scene

above the unlit space where her old head would rest.
The seeing soul … she thought its last
initiative should be to launch and fare
forward unencumbered into salt-bright air.

Kate Miller

 

Kate Miller is an English poet with one collection to her name, The Observances (Oxford Poets 2015). Her forthcoming collection draws on the unpublished writings of Muriel Jardine, born in India in 1896, grand, great and great great-grandmother to a new generation of Australians.

© 2018

Woman of Letters

On the blotter, splotched, an envelope lies slit by sun
or taken with the old brass paper-knife,
an interruption in the gloom.
Sent or received, the letter – who, what, to whom?
I want to read her secret life.

The lid is off a heavy jar of spider leggy ink.
I’ve watched her free the spiders when she writes
her wiry black left handed script. They run amok
across the sheets.

We know the correspondence she sends out
to family, her many letters to the press,
much less about the yellow papers tied with binding tape
she locks up in the chest.

Rifling for a treasury tag or bulldog clip
I’ve tried the drawers. I’ve seen the scarlet Silvine book
complete with carbon leaves
page after tattooed page, with dates, the log
she keeps – I learn eventually – of her rejection slips.

Kate Miller

 

Kate Miller is an English poet with one collection to her name, The Observances (Oxford Poets 2015). Her forthcoming collection draws on the unpublished writings of Muriel Jardine, born in India in 1896, grand, great and great great-grandmother to a new generation of Australians.

© 2018

What Now

More icing than cake
More frame than picture
All lamp-rubbing and no genie

Standing at the sink, curtains drawn
Rain drowning the rutabaga
Waiting for inspiration – never strikes twice

Now’s the time to weave tongues together
Words of a feather, to pin into a cap;
Describe for me unseen scenes; I see

I am part of this problem
This problem is a part of me
Poetry should be more ‘O!’; less trying

Everyone dying to impress everyone else
And impress that we are not doing so
It’s a party one attends but is too insecure to enjoy

More lace than grace, more rhyme than … reason
Trotting out ideas like daughters in finishing school; we forget
To teach them how to speak past their ivory collars.

Rosalind Moran

 

Rosalind Moran is a Canberra author and co-founder of Cicerone Journal. She has spoken at the National Young Writers’ Festival and Noted Festival, and has written for various websites, journals, and anthologies.

© 2018

Why I keep a digging stick under my pillow

Some men want
to hurt us, men who have the strength
and cunning to break in, sometimes
in twos, threes, whole platoons.
And sometimes, after taking
everything, these men want
to rub it in.

Even though the point
of my digging stick could penetrate flesh
without much effort; the thick end may,
with a minimum of fuss, knock a man out,
crack a skull, shatter bone, this isn’t why
I keep a digging stick under my pillow.

The heft of memory
when I touch its polished hardwood
last thing at night, takes me back to
a chase across rough country, running with
women, a goanna going to ground, women
digging, dirt flying, the whack, burning
flesh, our greasy fingers …

Oh, the freight of dreams
rumbling up a highway north!
Swags under stars, the company
of women around fire, sparks flying …
How we realign the Milky Way,
reshape the whole bloody universe.

K A Nelson

 

K A Nelson is a Canberra poet who started writing poetry full time in 2010. Recent Work Press published her first collection, Inlandia, this year. She’s won a couple of prizes, been shortlisted for others, and has been published in the Canberra Times and elsewhere.

© 2018

Young women here

Mparntwe (Alice Springs) 2018

Young women here wear Blundstones, Redbacks, Rollies, leggings with skirts, long sleeve shirts, wide-brimmed hats with colourful bands, or beanies with feathers stitched into the crown, ininti beans sewn all around. Young women here wear their hair long & dreadlocked, tied back in ponytails, single plaits, piled up in topknots, tinted pink, streaked ginger, tipped blonde. Young women here shave their heads, keep a long forelock drooped over one eye, toss it back, leave it hanging like an unanswered question. Young women here wear Raybans and Oakleys, own dogs they name Nugget, Aunty, Lola or Charlie who come when they’re called. Young women here drive big motorcars—Toyotas, Fords, Holdens, Range Rovers—and young women here have done 4 wheel drive courses, know how to change tyres, use snap straps in sand, straddle deep gorges, negotiate spinifex, termite mounds, bulldust and floods. Young women here go camping on country or in dry river beds, sleep in swags by a fire under stars, dreams all sparklling. Young women here never worry—scorpions, ants, mosquitoes a-buzzing or dingos that come sniffing their heads while they sleep—they couldn’t care less! Young women here live in town or out bush, they do Big Shops at Woolies, Coles, North & Eastside IGAs, Piggly Wiggly’s and Hoppy’s, they pack perishables in ice-bricked eskies, box dry goods so they don’t shift in a tray. Young women here stop at Afghan Traders, buy kombucha, fresh bread, vitamin c, b & e, herbal remedies & tea, then young women here drive out of town—north east and west or south west and east—on bush tracks that lead to remote settlements. Young women here run art centres, clinics, councils and schools, work on DV issues, talk up limiting numbers of anything feral: camels, rabbits, donkeys, wild pussy cats. Young women here think mitigation: buffel grass, weeds, invading species or just sit down on country, paint en plein air, write fiction & poetry, make documentaries. Young women here learn a language—Arrernte, Warlpiri, Ammatyere, Alyawarre, or Pititjantjara for APY lands. Young women here love other young women or men who like women. They raise families no frills, raise them healthy and free, take them everywhere with them as part of a team. Young women here bleed and weep, laugh out loud, talk up to government, talk down to rednecks. Young women here live in Old Eastside houses, demountables on blocks out of town, in dongas on Ilparpa Road, rented cabins at Honeymoon Gap where they feel free to do as they please. Young women here were raised by women like us, women who grew up in the fifties and sixties and seventies, came here before them wearing Blundstones and Redbacks, women who worked on land rights and land claims, healthy lifestyle programs, ran art centres, clinics and schools using their wits when there weren’t any rules.

K A Nelson

K A Nelson is a Canberra poet who started writing poetry full time in 2010. Recent Work Press published her first collection, Inlandia, this year. She’s won a couple of prizes, been shortlisted for others, and has been published in the Canberra Time sand elsewhere.

© 2018

Surprised By Shadow

The sunken grey canopy
of a winter that long overstayed
its welcome is gone. Hedgerows burst

with new growth and blackbirds tilt
orange beaks to sing at a summer-blue sky.
Windows and doors are flung open. Left open.

Shirtsleeves are rolled back
clothes-horses folded and washing
is hung out to dry.

In the town square a small child
follows her father. He urges her to hurry.
She walks at a slant, intoeing in her pink wellies.

She’s turning her head to look behind
look ahead to keep him in sight. ‘But Daddy’
she pleads ‘I’ve got a shadow!’

Rosa O’Kane

 

Rosa O’Kane was born and grew up in Northern Ireland and now lives and works in Canberra. She describes herself as a Saturday Morning poet and has had poetry published online, in print and on a bus. Her poem ‘Hydrography of the Heart’ was published in the Hippocrates and Medicine Anthology (2014).

© 2018

Cooking with Monet

I come in from the garden
the light balanced in my hand

palette of onion spinach and chives
Monet busy beating eggs

fluoro yellow from grass fed birds
the colour is outrageous –

we discuss the pale limitations
of the cheese.

My crew of indigo crows
slide glistening pastry in the oven

then mix oil and vinegar
for giant salads of waterlily leaves

rain shakes itself free from convention
Monet hands me a parasol

a vase of poppies, a sunrise
but the pastry needs a little longer

it’s a patient wait for lunch
the quiche a collage of perfection

shining on the bench.
My impression is Monet likes this.

Christine Paice

 

Christine Paice is a poet and writer. She has published two poetry collections, Mad Oaks and Staring at the Aral Sea (Ginninderra Press), and her children’s book, The Great Rock Whale (Hachette Australia). She was winner of the Josephine Ulrick Award for poetry in 2009 with ‘The Ministry of Going In’. Her poem, ‘The Quality of Light’, was shortlisted for the Blake Poetry Prize 2013. Christine’s debut adult fiction novel, The Word Ghost was published by Allen & Unwin in 2014.

© 2018

colours of her country

I ask an Arrernte woman to name the colours of her
country. She looks at me bewildered.
We have just walked into the land of her
grandmother’s birth – a place of soft green leaf,
terracotta rock, carmine earth (the dark ruby rust of it),
snow white bark, a breath taking swipe of blue sky,
hard yellow figs waiting to darken
into deep sweet burgundy …
She shows me the birthing cave high
above a sunlit shimmer of pale gold grass
This country hugs you, it knows you,
it talks to you …

We step into wallaby tracks – feet and tails –
faintly marked in rosy dust
(our mob sit flat – bums on the dry earth,
digging sticks ready, or walk with our eyes
planted down, no use looking in the sky,
no tracks in the clouds)

I learn words for country (apmere), for
water (kwatja). I learn of them old camel
men, Afghan mob who stayed, became part
of Arrernte people, became part of the families
.
I learn of Caterpillar Dreaming and Undoolya
Eagle Dreaming. I see an old man’s face carved
on weathered stone. I hear of spirits in the caves.
So I ask her again – to name the colours of her
country … cerulean, scarlet, lemon, bronze, jade,
russet, verdigris, chocolate, cream, charcoal …
No need for them words.
Them words don’t make sense to us.
There is this dirt, these trees, this water, this sky …

Anita Patel

 

Anita Patel’s work has been published in: Cha: An Asian Literary Journal, Cordite Poetry Review, Backstory Journal, Not Very Quiet and Mascara Literary Review. Her poem ‘Women’s Talk’ won the ACT Writers Centre Poetry Prize in 2004. Her poetry was selected for Australian Book Review’s States of Poetry ACT, 2018. She was the guest editor for Issue 2 of Not Very Quiet.

© 2018

Navigating Gija Country

Gija artists map country
in incandescent, unnameable
colours – scooped out of the earth,
scoured from stone,
blended, muddled and daubed
(charcoal, rust red, burnt orange,
ochre, olive, cream, muddy mauve,
pure white, honey yellow,
pale pink, black)
Gija country
(winkled out of soft rock
in an infinite palette of grainy pigments)…
beehive hills, sandy riverbanks,
creek beds,
boabs, cycads, emu eggs,
pods, blossom, grass and
clouds, star spiked skies,
crocodile holes, Woonggool
the serpent leaving
his trail
(white dots on black),
a line of chalk water, russet dirt –
unknown spaces – hung on white walls,
for us to traverse
as we navigate our way
into dreaming …

Anita Patel

 

Thank you to the Gija Artists of Western Australia, the Warmun Art Centre and Nancy Sever Gallery for bringing this astonishing country to Canberra

Anita Patel’s work has been published in: Cha: An Asian Literary Journal, Cordite Poetry Review, Backstory Journal, Not Very Quiet and Mascara Literary Review. Her poem ‘Women’s Talk’ won the ACT Writers Centre Poetry Prize in 2004. Her poetry was selected for Australian Book Review’s States of Poetry ACT, 2018. She was the guest editor for Issue 2 of Not Very Quiet.

© 2018

Family Tree

my ancestors came out of Africa
so did yours

Hey bra, I gotta get to Bermy
You going that way, could you give me a lift?
Where’s your mob from?
I’m an Aboriginal Australian. Luke’s my name.

their sweat lubricates
cogs of the industrial machine
they inhale the stench of Manchester cotton mills
dig the dark rock from Welsh mines
coal dust tattoos cuts in their skin
they die for country in the Crimean war
sail to the south seas, marry a stargazer

each coupling a knot tied
at each node the net grows
wide enough to catch Te Ika a Maui
a crazed spider web
complex and perfectly ordered

don’t be confused by your
chaotic square of cut grass
lives and planets move in patterns and fractals
we’re ancients in an ancient world

Te Ika a Maui – the fish of Maui, the North Island of NZ

Sue Peachey

 

Sue Peachey is a New Zealander currently living in Canberra. She is a landscape designer with a strong interest in permaculture, pottery and poetry and has published previously in Not Very Quiet, Eucalypt, Haibun Today and Kokako.

© 2018

Patterns Not Yet Possible

The wind slams doors and rattles locks, heralding a gathering of family,
some uncles and children not used to eating at one table.

A boy-child who would say what he saw and saw and saw—
uses the stick to draw more hands in the dirt underfoot.

Chopping carrots, slicing onions and peeling beans
for a stew to feed the little ones still gathering firewood.

An old woman smelling of garlic and cloves sings
a lament of the trees left alone in forests, the canopy lost.

As the wind makes patterns with blossoms, bring
a talking stick to the table and hand it to the old ones first

then the children will hear what it is to describe the hurt
that is carried in bones, from grandma to bairn to patterns in the dirt.

Meredith Pitt

 

Meredith Pitt is a Blue Mountains based poet. She left school at 15 and has since wandered the backroads of study. Meredith remembers often sneaking off to read the poetry in the Childcraft books in her primary school library. Her work has been published in Meanjin, Verity La and Bluefeather.

© 2018

Death Trap: A Sestina

I read a book when I was young
about a barn raising, people
coming together to build something huge
bigger than anyone could build alone
and I wished I had friends
or people I trusted enough.

We never had a barn raising, but close enough
they came to build something for their young
to play on with picture-perfect friends
My father found people
he knew could help while I stood alone
watching them make something taller so huge

our new swingset soon reached the top of the huge
oak tree (maple? pine? I never knew enough
about trees for a desert girl) and if I sat alone
on top of the monkey bars under young
leaves, I could reach up and touch the telephone wire. ‘People
get hurt doing that!’ My dad said my friends

could not come over that day, too many friends
had already been by and it was a huge
effort for my dad to be around all those people
(no fix) and I could never make myself small enough
to convince him I wouldn’t cause trouble. Even when I was young
I could be just as happy alone.

On my swingset made of junkyard pipes I sat alone
on a pink metal trapeze bar, inventing friends
swinging and jumping so hard, I pulled the bars out of young
holes in dry ground, left huge
clouds of dirt until my dad yelled ‘ENOUGH!
WHAT WILL PEOPLE

THINK? I CAN NOT HAVE PEOPLE
OVER IF YOU RUIN THIS. LEAVE ME ALONE’
Even still, I wanted to climb it again. Get high enough
to touch the wire, maybe tell my friends
about my daring feat, or else go out in a huge
electric shock. ‘She was so young!’

Today I know this: A girl can never have enough friends.
Surrounded by people you can still feel alone.
When you’re young, every moment can seem huge.

Bella Pori

 

Bella Pori is a law student and poet in Brooklyn, New York. Her poetry can be found in HCE Review, Alternating Current, and FEELINGS, among others.

Her political writing can be found on westwingbestwing.com

© 2018

Desert Varnish

Tonight finds father and daughter on a windswept mesa
with nowhere to hide, scrub brush growing to knee height
right in the path of an oncoming storm.
She looks to the mountains in the east
long purged of their pink watermelon glow
her father hunts for petroglyphs and lighting
breaks the sky in two
then three
then four
and the two hold their breath and count until the thunder comes.

He swore he could see something in the carvings.
Something that would tell him what the people who left them behind
(the petroglyphs that is)
what they were thinking.
He says he wants to know if they were trying to leave a mark
a memory, something behind for the future to hold.
But what he really wants to know
is who will remember him once he dies.

Summer nights haven’t brought the rain
and dry lightning cracks again, rolling thunder down
from the north, no stars all the way out here.
For stars, for peace, for rain
you have to cross the mountains, go east
and until then you have to coat your throat with dust
feel the thunder shake your bones
pretend you aren’t waiting on a cleansing rain.

Sometimes the wind out on the mesas
blows so loudly you can hear
the songs people left behind.
When you sit on long dormant volcanoes
turn your face to where the sun will inevitably rise tomorrow
spread out your arms as wide as they can go
let the lighting edge closer to you, breathe the storm into your bones
and you will know –more than ever –
what they were thinking when they carved the petroglyphs.

Bella Pori

 

Bella Pori is a law student and poet in Brooklyn, New York. Her poetry can be found in HCE Review, Alternating Current, and FEELINGS, among others.

Her political writing can be found on westwingbestwing.com

© 2018

Remembering Lisa

The pebbles bruise our tender feet
as we step along Black Rocks Beach.
The chilly water of Lake Superior
heals our mistreated soles.

Kiss me beneath the waves.
She shucks off her one-piece suit with
the adroit fingers of a Plains woman
with an ear of corn. Nothing I do with her

comes without trembling. My pale skin shivers—
not from the Northern wind—and her hands
cover my breasts like a novice’s veil
as young men dive off the cliffs above us.

Janette Schafer

 

Janette Schafer is a freelance writer, nature photographer, part-time rock n roll singer, and full-time banker living in Pittsburgh, PA. She is a 2017 awardee of the Maenad Fellowship through Chatham University. Her writing and photographs have recently appeared in: Rigorous Journal; Unlikely Stories V; Nasty Women & Bad Hombres AnthologyDear America, Reflections on Race; and PublicSource.

© 2018

Wax/Wane

My mother’s hands
at half my age
look old when I am three.

Now tucking my child in bed
I whisper — two more minutes —
and she — three! — and then —
(sotto voce) or maybe never …

That would be nice, I agree.
Never; never leaving.

But as we wane
the full moon mocks
us all the way
till morning.

Michele Seminara

 

Michele Seminara is a poet and Managing Editor of online creative arts journal Verity La. Her first poetry collection, Engraft, was published by Island Press in 2016. She has published two chapbooks, Scar to Scar (with Robbie Coburn, PressPress 2016), and HUSH (Blank Rune Press 2017).

© 2018

Our moment, Mary Beth

This is our Cagney and Lacey moment.
Yours and mine.
Yes, it’s you I mean, you, reading this right now!
You!
I’m Cagney and you’re Lacey.
Possibly, you’re Cagney and I’m Lacey
I don’t want to argue
though that’s what makes us
so good together.
We’re chalk and cheese.
Unless we’re chalk and chalk
or cheese and cheese
I’ll leave that to you
but I’ll drive, okay?
Okay.

We could walk and talk
or run and gun
but why don’t I just sit tight
and write.

Ali Jane Smith

 

Ali Jane Smith is a poet and critic. alijanesmith.wordpress.com

© 2018

Brisbane Water Estuary

At lunch, we talked of matters such as providence and desire—
the fertile plains, the cul-de-sacs. And we celebrated which-
ever benign fate had brought us together so late in our lives.

It was a light-filled day— we shed our cares and floated
on a ferry between mangroves and sandy bays, snatching
at blue skies and heat-dazzle as if we’d never known their like.

From the jetty, we wandered along the water’s edge; pelicans
folded on mooring posts, ducks owning the shallows. Shore-side,
a single line of homes— few traces left of the fibro fishing-shacks

and cottages that once defined this battlers’ outpost, the end-
point of suburban sprawl. Now, smart re-builds for sea-changers
or investors. We muttered— yet weren’t we too, complicit?

As we neared our lunch-stop, someone called out Look! and there
we were, the three of us, reflected in a large glass window, laughing
and holding out phones like truant schoolgirls snapping ‘selfies’.

Behind us, an intensity of sky and water; sunlight finding
three silver heads— one bright moment, suspended— until
a single kayaker stroked into the frame and life flowed on.

Gillian Telford

 

Gillian Telford is a New South Wales poet with two published collections: Moments of Perfect Poise (Ginninderra Press 2008) and An Indrawn Breath (Picaro Press 2015). Her work is widely published in print, online journals, and anthologies. Recent credits include: Ear to Earth: An Anthology of Australian Poetry 2017 (Henry Kendall Award Anthology), Not Very Quiet (Issue 2, 2018), The Ghazal Page (2017/8), Grieve (Vol. 6, Hunter Writers Centre 2018), Wild (Ginninderra Press 2018).

© 2018

Drinking Rain

November in Sydney started with stinking rain,
minor floods and reports of cars getting stuck

having ploughed through deep water too fast.
Like me. During exams I’d sit drench-legged

and steam over the paper, my glasses fogged.
On the last night my rented room became an arena

for a waterfall as the ceiling collapsed
in an imperfect circle one bucket wide.

You wouldn’t call it a leak, more like a rend
but when the rain stopped I could see the stars

and I thought of you, out of the city
in that green leafy suburb

sipping your mother’s soup,
protected from the rain.

Alison Thompson

 

Alison Thompson lives near Berry, NSW and is a member of the Kitchen Table Poets. She has two chapbooks published: Slow Skipping (PressPress 2008) and In A Day It Changes (PressPress 2018). She won the DPP Byron Bay Writers Festival Poetry prize (2011) and the 2016 Poetry d’Amour Love Poem Contest.

© 2018

Troche or Dare

Progesterone tablets
(sub-lingual 200mg)
like words that can’t
be uttered

rants gagged
under the skin

fierce blurts best
left unsaid

slipped out fast
past the pressed-down
meat;
these lips too loose
for effacement.

You see, I didn’t mean
to have voiced
it, only thought
that hot feeling;
insistent
formication
itching for scratch.

Helen Thurloe

 

Helen Thurloe is a Sydney writer. Her poems have won national awards and appear in several anthologies. Her first novel, Promising Azra, was published by Allen & Unwin in 2016.

© 2018

They said

Some of the finer points, you don’t get to decide

like whether your first memory features
a freshly planted fuchsia, dripping beneath a hose
or the interior of a van at night

or if your childhood was the sort of place
where people could, in good conscience,
leave things unattended

or whether the dog gets to live after killing
the neighbours’ chickens

and whether the house feels like a pyramid of knucklebones
holding up your muscles or a tin hat
of cheap luncheon meat

or whether someone else’s marriage will survive once all the
decorating swatches have been cleared away

and if the steering wheel will come off in your hands
as you bomb it past the
vacuum cleaner repair shop

Catherine Trundle

 

Catherine Trundle is an anthropologist, writer, mother, and university lecturer based in Wellington, New Zealand. She enjoys writing poetry, flash fiction and experimental ethnography.

© 2018

Two girls in a boat

A coiled slack of tide, crowning

as ripened fruit, pressed from its skin

the eldest

drags a finger through foamy twigs

to make wake reverse. Thumbs her phone, secret

little grin, legs overboard, school sandal lapping up a salty stain

The youngest waits, curled in the greasy bow,

mesmerised by

the unbroken sky

the feel of leg hairs

fluttering, prick up, the cold

seeping into her skirt

as the afternoon heat sweeps

into the shadows

they are drifting

beyond the bleached reeds

a league away from guppies now

Catherine Trundle

 

Catherine Trundle is an anthropologist, writer, mother, and university lecturer based in Wellington, New Zealand. She enjoys writing poetry, flash fiction and experimental ethnography.

© 2018

Wardrobe Doors

(after Grace Cossington Smith’s Interior with wardrobe mirror 1955)

I knew you weren’t coming back by how you left the wardrobe doors open.
You always say it’s me who does that.
Today I closed them.

And undid in our careful shelf you picked,
your colour coordinating of my wild books.

Now colour in my room is a big cat sprawled in sun.
Fat yellows, surprisingly thin blues.

Anne Walsh

 

Anne Walsh is a poet and story writer. She was shortlisted for the Newcastle Poetry Prize twice and for the ACU Prize for literature. Her work is widely published in print and online, including two poetry collections: I Love Like A Drunk Does (Ginninderra Press, 2009) and Intact (Flying Island Books 2017); and a short story, ‘The Rickman Digression’ (Glimmer Train 2013).

© 2018

Alice

You are tumbling, down through the rabbit hole, grasping at air, and she is putting you to the test. She asks: what is the word for that feeling you get when your eyes blur and you see only shadows on your skin? Dread, you say, and she nods. Then: The name for white wine that tastes of limestone? Pass. Which means: fail. You could make up a word, but what would be the point? She is losing interest, checking her phone, glancing across the room. She asks, What is the word for when you are falling, and the ground is nowhere near; and all you can do is speak out the names of things you know? You don’t answer; all you know is that naming gives us nothing, not even the ground beneath our feet.

Jen Webb

 

Jen Webb works at the University of Canberra, and has been published by journals and anthologies in Australia, Canada, the USA, UK and China. She is the author of several poetry collections – most recently, Sentences from the Archive (Recent Work Press 2016) – and, with Paul Hetherington, Watching the World: Impressions of Canberra (Blemish Books 2015).

© 2018

Blue colour

ancients called it the black dog
hanging on a sheep’s rump
slavering brazen eyed
any chance it got
a humping
heeler
blue

blue
is primary
now on the wheel
howling as it turns, turns
swirling on a pin like the sky
the ocean’s trenches diving into
someplace else a pool beneath a tree

inside a painted house a hanging door
blue in daub dab on mirror frame
swinging window sky inside
digging up from under
black dog bites
bared
blue

Sarah St Vincent Welch

 

Sarah St Vincent Welch is a Canberra based writer, poet and image maker. Her chapbook Open is forthcoming (Rochford St Press 2018).

© 2018

On Farnborough Sands

For Nerida

Capricornia

A child might fill a pail with broken
shells that may appear intact,
until you hold them in your palms
and see the chips, the flaws, the cracks;
in winter, you find stingray barbs
washed up without the flesh attached,
but this morning there are few
new trophies to distract our feet.

Before us lies the boundless,
glistening vista of the sun-glazed beach,
a line of clouds uncurling from
a children’s steam train, heading east
beneath pellucid azure planes;
the languid tide still half asleep,
the moist sand intricately worked
and patterned with crabs’ bas-reliefs;
cleansed air regenerating lungs,
dim headlands bulking at our backs
as blue and gold emulsify, the shore
unbales its homespun swathe ~

The bolt of glinting, gritty cloth,
loose-loomed by time and gravity,
shifts to accommodate weight borne
by feet in childhood and in age;
gives winds permission to abrade;
weaves synergies with dunes and waves,
while half-remembered childhood
haunts the yet unwritten, unscathed page.

Jena Woodhouse

 

Jena Woodhouse’s latest publication is Green Dance: Tamborine Mountain Poems (Calanthe Press 2018).

© 2018

Women’s Work

Fingers, crochet hook and yarn
form patterns she’s internalised,
needing no instruction from the printed page.
Endless variations on the unsung
tenor of her days cohere into a honey-
comb of circles, squares and hexagons.

No two woven cells the same –
though uniform in size and frame –
the colours seem to know where they
belong, as if they self-select, conversing
on familiar themes in polychrome, in diverse
tones, varying to chime with will or whim.

Hands that have been seldom idle
have a need to prove their skill –
reiterating promises of warmth and ease
for ageing knees; fashioning bright coverlets
for infant prams; guarantees against the chill
of aching bones – the kilometres fingers
must traverse to earn their keep.

She’s unaware how similar her rugs appear
to concentric whorls and gyres of desert
women’s art, mapping cycles of their lives,
telling of their works and days in glyphs
initiates can read, whereas other eyes perceive
a cryptic maze – a private mirror for the public gaze.

Jena Woodhouse

 

Jena Woodhouse’s latest publication is Green Dance: Tamborine Mountain Poems (Calanthe Press 2018).

© 2018

Narcissus or the pond?

for 1998

1.

Swifts explode from her bun in a wild sine
flying in arrow formation, streaking
the sky with disappearing wing
some ashes and a few trinkets
fall to the ground and grow
into lines of disappearing ink
tracing Nature posing as a woman (again)
woman at the window
SHE peers through the drapes
waiting for the boat, the flood,
the sail to go up and catch
wind, any wind

2.

the main character is a back
a woman’s back
hung from shoulder hinges, the rest
falls away in sheets
it’s a small window with a small view
the sky violates HER
to the right there’s a white blur
visible through the window,
through the small blue square
which was sky, but now is water
is it the ocean, or a river?
is SHE on the shore of a grand lake?
the white blur is a sail of a boat (squinting)
the sail of a boat SHE faces
the boat, the water
her back betrays so little
of the interior

3.

Consider the theme of the window
are we betrayed by the window?
the moon is death
the trees are also immense
you can no longer see yourself
crossing the street in the distance
crossing the distance
it’s not a window
it’s a completely different kind of dispossession
Who is the author, Narcissus or the pond?

Nicole Zdeb

 

Nicole Zdeb is a writer based in Oregon, USA.

© 2018

Issue 3 will go live tomorrow – you might want to unsubscribe

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We hope you enjoy Issue 3. Our apologies for the inconvenience.

NVQ editors