The Artistry of the Amputee Dancer (Lawrence Shapiro)

Posted on May 18, 2018 by in Disrupt, Heightened Talk

Two women dancing in wheelchairs

Two women dancing in wheelchairs

Darting eyes flicker back and forth across a barren stage
The gazelle prance in rapid motion
One lower extremity present
One lower extremity absent
Shock waves at the barren amputee
The barren amputee
My scarred stump rubs each face
Back and forth
Flesh against flesh
The pulsating rhythm of a Tom Waits marimba
Sets my sole foot in motion while eight limbs on stage
And a multitude of limbs before me succumb to the barren amputee
The barren amputee
A million eyes gaze at cut flesh
Fuck that stump
My body falls and rises—no knobbly flesh
A single sole pounds the floor
Swooping the gravity
Out, out you two-legged mother fuckers
I claim that marimba as my own
My marimba



This clip shows Lawrence Shapiro dancing in a sketch called ‘Everything goes to hell’, from his show Discovering: A Series of Choreographic Sketches, recorded live at the Aki Studio Theatre, Toronto, Canada, June 27, 2016.

Video Description for Blind Readers 

The stage is dark with the spotlight on a man with reddish-blonde hair sitting on a chair centre stage. He faces the audience. He is wearing a white singlet, long khaki trousers and white socks. A man with black hair and a beard approaches him from downstage right, walking at an angle. The man is wearing a sleeveless light-khaki t-shirt and light-khaki tracksuit pants rolled up to the knee. He is barefoot. A woman with long black hair approaches from stage left walking at a similar angle. She is wearing a light-khaki jumper and ankle-length khaki pants. She is also barefoot.

The two approaching dancers grab the man on the chair by the arms and pull him to standing position. The male dancer with black hair grabs the chair and throws it to the side. He kneels and unbuckles the belt of the man wearing the white singlet. The female dancer pulls up the man’s white singlet so his stomach and chest are exposed. She holds the top of his arm. He is still standing. She then bends and pulls his khaki trousers down revealing dark khaki underpants and bare legs. His left leg is a full-leg prosthesis. The male dancer kneels on his right knee holding the man with the singlet as he sits on his left thigh. The female and male dancer then lift the man with the singlet into a standing position and unstrap his prosthetic leg. The woman kicks it left of stage. They support the man with the singlet under both arms and, facing the audience, they walk quickly, carrying him stage left. They turn, put the man on their shoulders and carry him centre stage. Their faces are serious. They rock the man back and forth from one side to the other. The man with the black hair grabs him and turns quickly, the woman runs off stage left then comes back to take his hand as he hops timidly. They place their hands under his chest as they lift and carry him almost above their heads upstage, where they put him down and stand a few steps away. He swivels his foot, moving slightly, seemingly unsteadily, from one side to the other. He flings his arms forward as if to create momentum, then starts hopping towards the audience. His prosthetic leg is in the foreground. The other dancers are no longer in shot. He hops around the stage, pirouetting boldly, then hops off stage right as the lights dim to darkness.


A portrait of Lawrence ShapiroLawrence Shapiro is an amputee dancer and has been performing in Canada for over a decade as well as having been trained in the UK. His 2016 show Discovering was the first dance work in Canada to profile an above-knee amputee in a leading role. He has performed at the Vienna International Dance Festival as well as having given presentations about dance and limb loss at disability arts conferences across Great Britain. Lawrence is currently in rehearsal with Amici Dance Theatre in preparation for a disability dance piece to be included with the Hammersmith and Fullham Arts Festival in London, UK this summer and subsequent performances at Hammersmith Town Hall this autumn.

The Tea Ceremony (Indigo Perry)

Posted on May 15, 2018 by in Clozapine Clinic — The Frater Project, Heightened Talk, Lies To Live By

Once, after he’d confessed to another indiscretion, she got up and ran from the riverbank. When she reached the highway, she slowed down and walked, heartbeat steady by the time she entered the hardware shop, and, in a voice she made clearly rung, asked the man at the counter where to find replacement blades for utility knives. He led her up an aisle and advised her on the best quality blades. Few blades kicking around in drawers at home were sharp enough. Freshly broken glass and shards of fine crockery

could work. But these new, tensile blades were good. Propping herself against a pillow on the red-brick floor in the tiny house with the tall, steepled roof, she scored the first lines along each arm, wrist to elbow, on the turned-in tenderness of the undersides. Where the flesh was younger and purer. She started on her legs, just above the knees, up to the groin, again finding the softer flesh, in the little pools above the very tops of the thighs. It was quick work, so quick that she thought she was making scratches. Only scratches,

similar to a cat’s. But all at once the scratches opened like narrow vulvas and bled. She was all openings. All weeping eyes. Spilling mouths. Her limbs red. All red. He came, late at night. He brought a teapot and a canister of chamomile tea, and a folded length of soft muslin. A heavy pair of sharp scissors. Even through the pain of the cuts, she marvelled that he possessed this particular set of accoutrements and that he knew just what to do. The sound of the kettle boiling comforted. He’d made a fire. Always capable with

fire. She was wrapped in one of his old wool blankets. Warm, next to his percussively snapping and cracking fire. He started with her left arm, unwrapping it from across her heart. Moving her sleeve away, gently, slowly, unsticking the fabric from the dried blood, meeting her gaze, then looking at the lines crossing over her. She could smell the florals in the tea he was steeping in the pot, and she watched him make a crisp snip in the muslin and then tear it into a long, straight strip. He took the lid from the pot, put

the strip inside and soaked it. And he drew it out and squeezed out the excess and then he cleaned the blood from her arm, not dabbing, not wiping, just putting the hot fabric over the wounds and laying his hands over the top. Then he moved it away. He kept going, making new, clean strips, soaking them, cleaning her and soothing the hurt. Her skin shone dark orange in the firelight. He did the other arm. Moved on to her thighs, where the bleeding had been thicker and the pain deeper. The sight of these long, wide lips and all

the blood painted between made him pause a moment and blink. He continued. The tea. The muslin. Steeping. Soaking. Cleaning. Soothing. The old blanket fell from her shoulders and she was naked and still warm. When the wounds were clean, he rubbed a cool, antiseptic ointment all over them. He wrapped the blanket back around her and then wrapped his arms around her. After a while, he packed up all the accoutrements and put them away. He brewed new tea. English Breakfast. Brought it to her to sip from a cup missing its saucer.


photograph ©Kate Baker

Indigo Perry
lives in the Yarra Valley, outside Melbourne. She teaches creative writing in the School of Communication & Creative Arts at Deakin University. Her book, Midnight Water: A Memoir, was shortlisted for the National Biography Award.

The Come Down (Kerri Shying)

Posted on May 11, 2018 by in Heightened Talk


Earring swishing   fell from favour
when the big fake ear vaginas  started to get stretched

in all good ears round town   a whole damn generation missing
the sensation    of throwing long strands

of   hair   around  like air–styles
the light pull felt across your skull skin

our real earrings    quiet talismans
the way we would take them off   when the time came

when night wore down   and the   hard core remained
stoned drunk   drug-fucked   and

as quiet as my breath
in the space below your nose

I’d place them    so gently in the palm of the chosen
sex object  you  would close that fist   and

smugly  everyone would


The come down

completely reveling in sloth  the Sunday
nummy num nums   all that’s on  your mind

nothing complicated  hanging like a string
from last night’s hem   it all went off

a treat   the band the glam the     we are
family   that never fails to bring down a house

the anthems  binding us like eggs or now in the
globo-vego  I guess the pumpkin slurry substitute

that slips in all the crevices and keeps us all
moist    that and the forty years of hormones

face cream  botox when you can get it   plus the
diet of a milk-fed veal calf if they lived on coffee-flavoured milk

and for tea  oh it is soup for sure  it is so important
to hydrate   I’m plumping up the cells    at 55

I can buy an arse
to match the face


Conglomerated Sorrow

I found the bags left over   from when you still dealt drugs   hidden up the back
of our old shed   it’s  been there for all our wars    just behind  the little Queen cat
her sat up like an ornament  inside the thick gloss paint   of the 1950’s cabinetry
fat with the black fine dust  our suburb tries to hide  in the up and coming
world of houses we hold all our sins in sheds   impacted as back teeth

                love silted in conglomerated sorrow   what never came to pass

our life as a dung heap   I had the windows fixed  I had the men come in     to sort
to drag us   into light  I found your Lithium    each one told me stories   I had not
heard   you whistle   and I come      back up the days  on disc  on film
on fire     is where it needs to be   the nothing    something    nowhere files
of all the worlds you were with me


and  bulbul means heart

songbirds  woke me
this morning   absent  the alarm

no wonder I forget things
I look down

into a clothes morass
see my brain pill

nestling there
a small synaptic fowl

doing    not much good
to torn pyjama pants

all of us who take them

why  make a pill so small   to treat
the loss of feeling    in your hands

sometimes the skull
is a bone cup

holding words
on paper slips

my big dumb hands go diving

in Awabakal
bulbul  means heart


Kerri Shying is a poet and sculptor of Chinese and Wiradjuri family. Her book of poems sing out when you want me was published in 2018 by Cerberus Press (Flying Island Books—ASM) as a bilingual Pocketbook (delighting her family). She is currently at work on a chapbook for Puncher and Wattmann’s Slow Loris imprint.

Kerri has been published in Cordite, Snap Journal, and shortlisted in the Helen Anne Bell Prize and the Noel Rowe Prize in 2017 for the manuscript Know Your Country. She was grateful for the support of the NSW Writers Centre in 2017 while writing these poems, and the mentoring of Kit Kelen. She is disabled by a degenerative disease and lives in Newcastle, where she facilitates a group for other writers with disability, and tends garden with her famous dog Max.

Spirit Maps: Cycles of Renewal (Juno Gemes & Robert Adamson)

Posted on May 8, 2018 by in Arrests of Attention, Heightened Talk

Juno Gemes:

I searched for a printer in photogravure for over twenty years before finding master printer Lothar Ostenberg. The photogravure process, which sees photographs etched into copper and printed traditionally with ink, has a long history stretching back to the early nineteenth century. Lothar still uses the Talbot-Klíc Dust Grain Photogravure Process, dating back to 1879.

COUNTRYMEN: Lawmen from Mornington Island and Aurukun greeting each other before Ceremony. Mornington Island,1978, silver gelatin print

I sent Lothar two of my most iconic  photographic images — ‘Countrymen’ and ‘One with the Land’ — created during Ceremony when I worked with Woomera-Mornington Island Culture Collective on Mornington Island, Queensland (1978-1979). These images have deep, enduring cultural resonances. Silver gelatin prints of both are held in the The National Gallery of Australia and The National Portrait Gallery.

ONE WITH THE LAND: Where the sacred fish the Dunya & Wanra come in. Mornington Island, 1978, silver gelatin print

When we met, Lothar had a collection of handmade papers in his flat-liner drawer which had been waiting for years for a special project. Using these, he prepared two dust grain copper plate negatives from my digital files  this, he assured me, was a most difficult process.

I went through my collection of papers — samples of rare  Gampi and Kozo I had on hand for proofing and unique, old handmade papers that had been waiting in my flat-files for years for a deserving project. In Juno Gemes’ prints they found their perfect destiny. (Lothar Ostenburg)

We reached across the waters to one another — from Brooklyn in NSW to Brooklyn, New York City — to give these two images new expressions as photogravures which I call Spirit Maps.

COUNTRYMEN: Lawmen from Mornington Island and Aurukun greeting each other before Ceremony. Mornington Island,1978, copperplate negative with etched image

Meshing Bends in the Light
(Robert Adamson)

Just under the surface
mullet roll in the current;
their pale bellies catch
the sunken light, the skin
of the river erupts
above purling. The sky
hangs over the boat a wall
of shuddering light
smudging the wings
of a whistling-kite,
mudflats glow
in the developing chemicals,
black crabs hold their
claws up into the light
of the enlarger, yabbies
ping in the drain. A westerly
howls through the
darkroom. The tide
is always working
at the base of the brain.
The turning moon is
up-ended, setting on the silver
gelatin page: a hook
stopped spinning in space.
Owls shuffle their silent wings
and dissolve in the fixer.
Shape words over what you see.
The river flows from your
eyes into the sink, bulrushes
hum with mosquitoes
that speckle the print.
The last riverboat mail-run
scatters letters across
the surface, the ink
runs into the brackish tide.

ONE WITH THE LAND: Where the sacred fish the Dunya & Wanra come in. Mornington Island, 1978 Photogravure, 12/U

I had asked the Lardil Elders on Mornington Island in 1978, ‘What images should I make — what  do you want your fellow Australians to see?’ Their instruction to me was: ‘Show them that we are still here, we been here all along. Show them that our culture is still strong. Show them that my girl’.

COUNTRYMEN: Lawmen from Mornington Island and Aurukun greeting each other before Ceremony. Mornington Island,1978, Photogravure 3/U

Canticle For The Bicentennial Dead
(Robert Adamson)

They are talking, in their cedar-benched rooms
on French-polished chairs, and they talk
in reasonable tones, in the great stone buildings
they are talking firmly, in the half-light
and they mention at times the drinking of alcohol,
the sweet blood-coloured wine the young drink,
the beer they share in the riverless river-beds
and the back-streets, and in the main street—
in government-coloured parks, drinking
the sweet blood in recreation patches, campsites.
They talk, the clean-handed ones, as they gather
strange facts; and as they talk
collecting words, they sweat under nylon wigs.
Men in blue uniforms are finding the bodies,
the uniforms are finding the dead: young hunters
who have lost their hunting, singers who
would sing of fish are now found hung—
crumpled in night-rags in the public’s corners;
discovered there broken, lit by stripes
of regulated sunlight beneath the whispering
rolling cell window bars. Their bodies
found in postures of human-shaped effigies,
hunched in the dank sour urinated atmosphere
near the bed-board, beside cracked lavatory bowls,
slumped on the thousand grooved, fingernailed walls
of your local Police Station’s cell—
bodies of the street’s larrikin koories
suspended above concrete in the phenyl-thick air.
Meanwhile outside, the count continues: on radio,
on TV, the news—like Vietnam again, the faces
of mothers torn across the screens—
and the poets write no elegies, our artists
cannot describe their grief, though
the clean-handed ones paginate dossiers
and court reporters’ hands move over the papers.

ONE WITH THE LAND: Where the sacred fish the Dunya & Wanra come in. Mornington Island, 1978 Photogravure, 11/U

During Ceremony, I watched the same dance movements repeated again and again, the dancers feet making ever deeper grooves in the soft earth, illuminated by firelight. The women danced all through the night to make the young men strong for the demands of the Ceremony ahead of them. Repeating and remembering, making strong…These images are etched into my memory for a lifetime.

ONE WITH THE LAND: Where the sacred fish the Dunya & Wanra come in. Mornington Island, 1978 Photogravure, 8/U

Reflecting on these experiences, Lothar and I decided to make each photogravure print both a repetition and a unique work, repeating the two images with diverse ‘chine collé’ for each, utilizing a mounting technique in which japanese paper (washi) is glued onto backing papers, adding different tonings to each image. Thus, we were echoing one ancient cycle with another, one ancient process with another…

COUNTRYMEN: Lawmen from Mornington Island and Aurukun greeting each other before Ceremony. Mornington Island,1978, Photogravure 5/U

Working as one – remembering and repeating, as in the process of Ceremony – each unique photogravure is an act of making culture strong.

COUNTRYMEN: Lawmen from Mornington Island and Aurukun greeting each other before Ceremony. Mornington Island, 1978 Photogravure, 2/U

Over the years, my work has been a continuous act of advocacy and reciprocity to the Elder’s instructions. I feel honoured and blessed to be entrusted to take this important story of truth, endurance and cultural survival forward. Even during these challenging times for our nation.

(Robert Adamson)

It came into being from the splintered limbs
swam out and flowered into being

from chopped saplings and wood-chips
its pages glowing and telling their numbers

this a numbat’s fragile skeleton
this the imprint of the last chalk-moth

Members of court in the old languages
mumbled as wings of ground parrots flicke

At night we discovered new seeds
in an old gum’s stump as shoals of insect memory

floated out from a bee-eater’s nest
then the rasping call of an adder

We looked into the white-rimmed eyes of the elders
and wanted to turn away

until pages began stroking air
that carried back doves from the black bamboo

Australia the goshawk circled a lake
we croaked amphibian prayers to reflected skies

then stumbled off through the spinifex
Mornings threaded the whale bones with flame

as poetry baked like a rock
on the final page of dense black marble

of slate-thought that shone
until the eyes of a hunstman took us

into morning’s spokes a white trap-work
where caught finches hung their hearts drumming

Australia we sobbed through the paperbarks’ songs
to birds and the gentle animals

and to the soft-stepping people of its river-banks

Lyndsey Spider, Roughsey Lawman with his family and clan on the Bora Ground. Mornington Island, 1978, silver gelatin print

Robert Adamson’s poems have been reprinted from The Golden Bird, New and Selected Poems (Black Inc., 2008) with kind permission of the author.

Juno Gemes photographs are currently showing in Diversity, a celebration of cultural diversity by renowned Australian photographers (also featuring Pat Brassington, Blak Douglas, Nasim Nasr & William Yang). The exhibition opens tonight, Tuesday 8 May, 7.00 – 9.00 pm at Art Atrium. The artists will also be in conversation with Sandy Edwards on Thursday 10 May, 6.00 – 8.00 pm. For details visit Art Atrium.


Juno Gemes is one of Australia’s renowned social justice photographers. In images and words she has dedicated forty years of her photographic work to advocating for justice and change in the social and political landscape of Australia, in particular creating understanding and respect for the lives and struggles of Aboriginal Australians, a process that culminated in her being one of the ten photographers invited to document the National Apology in The Federal Parliament in 2008. Her landmark exhibition, Proof — Portraits from the Movement 1978-2003, was exhibited at The National Portrait Gallery in 2003 before touring Australian Museums for five years. Gemes has exhibited regularly in London, Paris and Budapest, and has had twenty solo shows and contributed to many significant group exhibitions in Australia. She has been a partner to the renowned Australian poet Robert Adamson for 30 years.

Born in 1943, Robert Adamson grew up in Neutral Bay, Australia, a harbourside suburb of Sydney. As a juvenile delinquent, he often sought refuge on the Hawkesbury River at the home of his paternal grandfather, who fished its waters for over four decades. He found his way to poetry, and over the past five decades he has produced twenty books of poetry and three books of prose. From 1970 to 1985 he was the driving force behind New Poetry, Australia’s cutting-edge poetry magazine, and in 1987, with his partner Juno Gemes, he established Paper Bark Press. He has won all the major Australian poetry awards, including the Christopher Brennan Prize for lifetime achievement, the Patrick White Award, and the Age Book of the Year Award for The Goldfinches of Baghdad (Flood Editions, 2006). His most recent book is Net Needle (Flood Editions, 2015). He currently holds the Chair in Poetry at the University of Technology, Sydney, and lives with Gemes on the Hawkesbury River.

Deadspeak (Jennifer Liston)

Posted on April 24, 2018 by in Heightened Talk



It’s that time of the month again:
time to open the lowest drawer
of the dustiest dresser. Sit awhile.
Gaze at gauze enfolding precious.
Peel it back, fingers trembling.
There it waits.
                           My pelt of wolf.

I lift it out. The weight of it.
Grey and thick and fibrous fur,
smell of a thousand ancient forests,
odour of caribou’d Arctic tundra:
I faint in lupine overwhelm.

I step into the rear legs first
body quivers at the contact
boundaries that separate me from
Canis lupus liquefy.
Front legs, head, and lastly, shoulders;
metamorphosis complete.

That month-old scent of blood and flesh of deer.
I’m ravenous, salivating. Need to eat.
This is alien territory. Prowl
around the room, out and down the stairs.
Claws click-clacking on the parquet floor.
Scentual overpower. Big bad clock
hammers human moments. Caught the cat
just there last time. Kitty disappeared.
Rifle kitchen bin. Scanty leftovers.

Out back door. Head for easy picking
chickens. Minor uproar, fur and feathers
flying. Tasty morsel. Need me more
substantial prey. Hear the howls, dash
over fields to join my pack, my mate,
my pups.
                  Oh how they’ve grown.
                                                             How grown.
How want to stay.
                                  How this.
                                                     How home.
How like before.
                               How human mate won’t miss me.


Jennifer Liston
is originally from Galway, Ireland, and now lives in Adelaide, South Australia. She has published three poetry collections and her poems have appeared in journals and anthologies such as Jacket2, The Canberra Times, The Found Poetry Review, Cordite Poetry Review, Transnational Literature and Best Australian Poems. She has a Bachelor of Electronic Engineering from the University of Limerick, Ireland and an MA and a PhD in Creative Writing from the University of Adelaide. You can read her work and about her rescued poetry at and

The Dilemma of Job, or Hope into the Wilderness (henry 7 reneau, jr)

Posted on April 13, 2018 by in Discoursing Diaspora, Heightened Talk

A close up of an African man wearing a hat

A close up of an African man wearing a hatThe Great Migration is the parable of dispossession pursuing a Northern star. Leaving rock-salted sorrow to come to terms with dignity deferred. Leaving hate, too long in place, that had tread over Jim Crow crippled bodies, that had taken without asking, & mayhem-ed. Leaving, with no pot to piss in.

They filed from rural patches of sharecrop-spent dirt & Parchman work farms, from cotton-field holla’ to electrified Chicago blues, from segregation to ‘I Am A Man’ & Detroit assembly-line dreams of reinvention. From minstrels to uptown cabarets to Broadway. From jump the broom to rent parties: a citified brand of jook joint in up-north ghetto gatherings. From So. Baptist shake, rattle & roll to ‘Thank God almighty, I’m free at last,’ fantasizing a ‘formula’ to the Mountaintop.

They brought catfish, greens & cornbread, blood-bucket daddy Blues & mama Gospel.

They carried battered hope in bundled cardboard boxes & rope-tied satchels, in dreams that convinced them to hallelujah-amen! the risen Son, even as the legitimacy of their pain struggled helplessly at the seams of the Veil. Darkness seeking light living darkness, every kind of sorrow in every voice they heard, & rarely judged by what their hands could do, but rather, by how they looked or spoke.

They came, with stories that spoke the generational hum of persistence, the endeavor to persevere, despite the ‘outside gaze’ that measured beauty in increments of silk or sackcloth. They came, a threadbare, black reflection of white entitlement: the upturned, razor-blade nose & racist cop.

They came, in Pullman carriage, in hope-and-a-shoestring beat-up cars, in get-there-soon, North Star-true—one foot, then the other, like runaway slaves: the O.G. triathletes on the Underground Railroad.

They came, like wandering Jews, drawn to the discriminating flame that seduced by combustion, that warmed desire & distilled a ghost of a chance from the segregated liquor of trial & tribulation—flashes of silvered hope, darting through & around a gale force wind, howling back into the heart of the question: are we there yet?


A photo of Henry Reneau

Photo by Mercedes Herrera

henry 7. reneau, jr.
writes words in conflagration to awaken the world ablaze, free verse that breaks a rule every day, illuminated by his affinity for disobedience: a phoenix-flux of red & gold immolation that blazes from his heart, like a chambered bullet exploded through change, come to implement the fire. He is the author of the poetry collection, freedomland blues (Transcendent Zero Press) and the e-chapbook, physiography of the fittest (Kind of a Hurricane Press), now available from their respective publishers. Additionally, he has self-published a chapbook entitled 13hirteen Levels of Resistance, and his work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize.

Portrait of a Departed Lady
(Amanda Anastasi)

Posted on April 10, 2018 by in Heightened Talk

Funeral plans: a wall crypt underneath
her mother’s; pink roses on the pew ends.

A house-size increase upon the exodus
of children, husband, friends, dissention.

Her disdain for the coverings of foreigners,
unusual hairstyles, childless women.

The mismatched furniture, each piece
never appearing to belong in the room.

The cupboards filled to the flimsy doors
with unused containers and forgotten dolls.

Her terror of the freeway; ringed fingers
clutching the steering wheel, a precipice.

Today, my auntie’s sixtieth. She fidgets
and mumbles en route, wishing to be home.

I suggest revolt and a turning of the car.
She looks at me wide, an uncertain child.

Turning her head to avoid my repugnant
eye, she squeezes the wheel and continues.

Her lipstick: two red lines, ever-increasingly
not matching the shape of her mouth.

Her attendance at the funerals and parties
of strangers because they are family.


Amanda Anastasi
has been published as locally as Windsor’s Artists’ Lane walls to The Massachusetts Review in the US. Her debut poetry collection was 2012 and other poems and she recently co-authored The Silences with Robbie Coburn (Eaglemont Press, 2016). Amanda is the recipient of the 2017 Words in Winter Trentham Contemporary Poetry Prize, and a two-time winner of the Williamstown Literary Festival’s Ada Cambridge Poetry Prize.

Oh Lucky Me (Jill Jones)

Posted on March 27, 2018 by in Heightened Talk

Inside me is stuff I’m not sure anyone can explain.
Each day another statistic dances
as a testament to clickbait and big Pharma.
So what are all my chemicals doing
my karma cancer, my noodling nodules,
my sex dreams and gigantic spools of lymphatic anguish?
Who has ever measured anguish?
Who has another theory of black bile?
Is my static any flashier than yours when I brush against
the steel knobs of machines or portals?
Will there be anything left
for vampires after work or zombie picnics?
Or lice, nits, jitters, even thoughts?
Are thoughts worth a candle?
If you put a candle to my ear, would you see the other side of me?
If you left me out in the rain would I melt? Maybe.
And here, where the world picks at itself
continually trips up or dribbles
because it’s inside and out from hang-nail to otolith.
Oh lucky me, I’m alive everywhere I look
as I spit myself along ground and wheeze up air
almost as if I belonged, in another system, another explanation
something that curves as it drops
and laughs as it rises.


Photo by Annette Willis

Jill Jones’ most recent book is Brink (Five Islands Press, 2017). Her two previous books are The Beautiful Anxiety (Puncher & Wattmann, 2014) which won the Victorian Premier’s Prize for Poetry in 2015, and Breaking the Days (Whitmore Press, 2015) which won the Whitmore Press Manuscript Prize 2014 and was shortlisted for the 2017 NSW Premier’s Literary Awards. A new book, Viva the Real, is due from UQP in 2018. Her work is represented in a number of major anthologies including the Macquarie PEN Anthology of Australian Literature, Contemporary Australian Poetry and The Penguin Anthology of Australian Poetry. In 2014 she was poet-in-residence at Stockholm University.

Sarah T (Liam Ferney)

Posted on March 16, 2018 by in Heightened Talk

image: a man and woman kissing

I bring you back Cathay.
That’s what Cathy says
off the plane from Denpasar.
A bottle of Piper on my bed
waiting for you while you
outwait an Operations Manager’s
reallocation of resources,
hot & busy as HKG cargo.

This is how Saturday establishes itself
in the midst of an Instagram conceit
stretching the breadth
of a private school sports season.
& when Cathy clears customs
with Moses’ unbeaten strides
we cut the pleasantries,
get down to brass tacks.


image: portrait of Liam Ferney
Liam Ferney
‘s most recent collection, Content, was shortlisted for the Prime Minister’s Literary Award and the Judith Wright Calanthe Award. His previous collections include Boom (Grande Parade Poets), Career (Vagabond Press) and Popular Mechanics (Interactive Press). He is a media manager, holder of the all-time games record for the New Farm Traktor Collective and convenor of the Saturday Readings in Brisbane.

Measure (Eileen Chong)

Posted on March 2, 2018 by in Heightened Talk

image: a candle, writing book and penEverything we write
will be used against us
or against those we love.

North American Time’, Adrienne Rich

The innocence of cornflowers —
a dimpled, wheel-thrown cup.

Glazed on the inside. My hand
takes its pleasure from the rough.

Words: fallen soldiers on a page.
They come and they go. Memory

as surprising as a laden donkey
picking its way towards the church

at the top of a hill. On this island
even the cats sleep with one eye open.

The dark: the wind, the sea. These
cold hours measured by candlelight.


image: portrait of Eileen Chong

image: Charlene Winfred Photography

Eileen Chong is a poet who lives and works in Sydney, Australia. Her publications include Burning Rice (Australian Poetry, 2012), Peony (Pitt Street Poetry, 2014), Painting Red Orchids (Pitt Street Poetry, 2016), Another Language (George Braziller, 2017), The Uncommon Feast (Recent Work Press, 2018), and Rainforest (Pitt Street Poetry, forthcoming 2018). Her books have shortlisted for the Anne Elder Award, the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award, and twice for the Prime Minister’s Literary Award.