INsects (Anna Spargo-Ryan)

Posted on September 28, 2016 by in Heightened Talk


On  windy  days  she  went back to the building to find the
shreds of skin he had left there. She caught the elevator to
the  top  floor.  It  swagged  in  the  bluster, north to south
with the crosswind,  and  so did she. Sometimes the room
was  packed  with  people,  an  ant  colony  contained in  a
plastic  box , but  not  today.  She  searched  for  his  DNA,
embedded there,  picked  up  on  the  soles  of   shoes  and
deposited, later, in an empty apartment. Her  heart  filled
with  insects  and  they  clawed  at  her  sternum  and  her
coronary  plexus  and  her  left  vagus  nerve, all  legs  and
wings,  their   piercing   soprano   voices.   She  found  the
pieces in corners  and  edges  and  dropped them into her
pockets,  exited into the sunlight as a thief  and  her heart
cracked  out  across  the  lawn,  a  mosquito  zapper.   The
people ate packed  lunches and watched her go with their
jellied eyes.


Anna Spargo-Ryan
is the Melbourne-based author of The Paper House. Her short fiction has been published in Kill Your Darlings, and she also writes on parenting and mental health for the GuardianOverland and Daily Life, among other publications.



The Incandescent (Chris Lynch)

Posted on September 21, 2016 by in Heightened Talk

And you. When you saunter in, glowing

like a tomboy, blue as a blowtorch and blazing.

Made of glass you would shatter, but born of fire you

can burn, like some fierce feathered creature gently

pouring some wine. Standing this close I can feel

all your doubts. Am with you, through them. Let my loose

thumb snag on the loop at your hips, as you scorch

my throat with your hesitant nose. Let us pause,

to breathe in our breaths then… let bright covers

blow open, and spill the hot weight of your chest—

let your cage cave in to the fire, your lips

open up to your core; and I will soothe you, all

the way down to your black, curly ashes—hold

your bold, bright egg in my fingers as it hatches.



Chris Lynch
 grew up in Papua New Guinea and is now based in Melbourne. His poetry has appeared in Cordite, Tincture Journal, Apex Magazine, Blackmail Press, Islet, Peril Magazine, SpeedPoets, Stars Like Sand: Australian speculative poetry, and the Poetry & Place Anthology 2015, among others. Currently working on his first collection of poetry, he blogs occasionally at

Love Song (Sandra Renew)

Posted on September 14, 2016 by in Heightened Talk

beneath her scarf, her honour—

everything lowers to its haunches, puffs out its cheeks

vulnerable to reality even hope sinks.

I would blow my hope alive with my last breath

but what pulls us and holds us together

is neither cement, nor clay, nor consoling comfort—


when her father and brothers come knocking

even the scarf will not protect her.



Note: the first line of the poem, ‘beneath her scarf her honour’,  comes  from  p.119  of I Am The Beggar Of The World: Landays from Contemporary Afghanistan,translated by Eliza Grimwold (Farrar Straus and Giroux, New York, 2014).


photo-for-poetry-2015-1Sandra Renew’s poetry expresses her opinions on the state of the world. She wonders who sleeps at night? Who is lucky enough to live in safety and peace? Her poetry is informed by her many years working in war zones, in Indigenous communities and on the fringes of heterosexuality.

Her poetry comments on contemporary issues and questions: war, language, environment, climate and the planet’s health, translation, dislocation, migration, terrorism, border crossings, dissent, gender, protest, human rights and freedoms.

Sandra has published several books including Projected on the Wall (Ginninderra Press, Pocket Poets series, 2015); Flood, Fire and Drought, an anthology exploring the effect of weather events on the Australian Landscape (ed. by Suzanne Edgar, Kathleen Kituai, Sandra Renew and Hazel Hall, Ginninderra Press, 2015); and One Last Border: Poems for refugees by Hazel Hall, Moya Pacey and Sandra Renew (Ginninderra Press, 2015). Who sleeps at night is forthcoming with Ginninderra in December 2016.

Sandra’s tanka and tanka prose have also been published in journals internationally, and her poetry has appeared in journals such as Eureka Street, Right Now, Burley and Scum.  You can learn more about Sandra at her website, Guerilla Poet.

Mercury (Ben Hession)

Posted on September 7, 2016 by in Heightened Talk

2666809329_202457fb0aEstrangement has its latitudes,
the most hospitable to residency, here:
trembling, trying to avoid extremes —
every day you are busy celebrating
two birthdays, slowly, you can have
your medication and take it too.

The first fall occurred at sunset,
that great star of lubricity creeping away:
age threatening to freeze every dimension
adding matter to memory — to keep warm
you retreat towards holographic nostalgia:
with one tired step after another.

Dawn inspires a youthful seriousness,
until the sun overburdens, with its abrasive
return. A lassitude circumnavigates
at the steady pace of your moveable
heimat. You carry the beauty you found
to be bitter, and a sense of obligation,
whilst casting a grave shadow
of hope that serves as your mirror.



Ben Hession
is a Wollongong based writer. His poetry has been published in Eureka Street, International Chinese Language Forum, Cordite, and Can I Tell You A Secret?, the Don Bank Live Poets anthology. Ben’s poem, ‘A Song of Numbers’, was shortlisted for the 2013 Australian Poetry Science Poetry Prize. He is due to have a poem published in the upcoming issue of Mascara Literary Review. Ben is also a music journalist and a broadcaster on community radio.

O ANIMUS (Annie Blake)

Posted on August 31, 2016 by in Heightened Talk

showering_0I didn’t want anything more.
In the little aboriginal house, the shower
fell with the cup of water
that was evenly distributed.
I wanted you there. You were there.

Our mouths eating the sun
and the jungles and the monsoon rains
pouring over us. The skies
were clean. They are windows.
The leaves are green —

in the shape of human hands.
I run my fingers along the hot veins
under your skin,
the bits of earth — our soul
sitting in between your lips,

the mud in your hair.
Your eyes are on me now
and this is when I hold you —
I say, Let us wash
away our sins together.




Annie Blake is an Australian writer who has poetry forthcoming in GFT Press and Southerly. She has also been published in Vine Leaves Literary Journal, About Place Journal, Australian Poetry Journal, Cordite Poetry Review and more. Her poem ‘These Grey Streets’ has been nominated for the 2017 Pushcart Prize by Vine Leaves Literary Journal. She is excited about the process of individuation, research in psychoanalysis, philosophy and cosmology. She is a former teacher who lives in Melbourne with her husband and five kids. You can visit her on Facebook, Pinterest, Goodreads and on her blog.

Carolina (Greg McLaren)

Posted on August 24, 2016 by in Heightened Talk

pexels-photo-70402 (1)Shogun from Royal Headache,
in the clip for Carolina,
hawked and spat out

of their monochrome
practice room into colour
Petersham — Fed Era
red brick Reg Mombasa

through Sydney Long
or Sophie Steffanoni —

and he tears right across it —
dances a junk trolley past
Oxford Street, circumambulates

the water tower, its shade,
busts bag-handed from the White
Cockatoo’s bottleshop,

springs tight-coiled along
Petersham Station bridge,
scissor-kicks in the tunnel,

leaping with joy, like, I guess,
the night John Forbes first
heard The Saints,
                                    not drunk
or stoned at all, just
joyful mourning.



gerg ravens launch
Greg McLaren
is a Sydney-based poet, critic and teacher whose books include Australian ravens (Puncher & Wattmann, 2016), After Han Shan (Flying Islands, 2012), and The Kurri Kurri Book of the Dead (P&W, 2007). His work has been anthologised almost widely.














Your Writing Tastes Like Blood (Gemma Ann White)

Posted on August 20, 2016 by in Heightened Talk

razor_blade_by_unpredictableamateur(For Robbie Coburn)

Long stroke of metal across your chest.
Hot-toed animal wanting to escape.
Incriminating as the first monthly bleed.
Mind so very far from the body.
To newer places with plastic trees.
Thought gives out and the instrument takes over.
Get out of this one without any help.
But not probable I think.
A momentary lapse caused commotion.
Don’t encourage it any more.
The beginning of a crawling death.
The sound of you trying to break through.
Your writing and the blood. And the blood.



GemmabwsmlHaving cycled through a few different art forms in her life so far (visual art, writing and now music), Gemma Ann White is fascinated by the creative process. It has saved her in dark times, and salved the inevitable existential loneliness that comes with being human. Gemma has studied Creative Writing, Art History, and Visual Art, as well as Counselling and Art Therapy. From 2008 – 2015 she published a few poetry journal anthologies; Velveteen Zine, Velour and Sacred / Profane. Her own first book of poetry, Furniture is Disappearing, was published in 2014 by IP. It is available to buy here: She is currently working on a new manuscript of poems. Gemma enjoys helping other artists to birth their creative projects and is now available as a writing mentor. You can find her online here:  &


Green Dream (Joe Dolce)

Posted on August 17, 2016 by in Heightened Talk


PentobarbitalNot absinthe
or a world without global warming,
the barbiturate Nembutal
illegally imported, mail-order, in perfume boxes
from Mexico, Peru, Bangkok, Beijing,
Tijuana (destination of choice for death tourists)
available from local pet shops
Holy Grail of suicide
the peaceful pill.

Legal in Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland and Oregon.
Promoted by end-of-life organizations Exit International, Dignitas.
Green-dyed, distinctive colour, to prevent accidental use,
created to euthanize animals.

The drug-of-choice for veterinarians
at four times the rate of general population.
One took her four dogs and two cats
before herself.



Joe dolce

self-portrait, by Joe Dolce

Joe Dolce
is a singer, songwriter, composer and poet. Writer and performer of the most successful Australian song in history. His poetry appeared in Best Australian Poems 2015 & 2014. He was shortlisted for both the Newcastle Poetry Prize and Canberra Vice-Chancellor’s Poetry Prize in 2014. Winner of the 25th Launceston Poetry Cup. Published in Meanjin, Monthly, Southerly, Cordite, Canberra Times, Quadrant, Australian Poetry Journal, Overland, Contrappasso, and Antipodes (US). Recipient of the Advance Australia Award. Presently on staff at the Australian Institute of Music teaching Composition, Ensemble, and Personal Tutoring in setting lyrics and poetry to music.






Sea of Souls (James Walton)

Posted on August 10, 2016 by in Heightened Talk

-absolutely_free_photos-original_photos-portrait-of-old-man-smoking-cigar-5682x3793_52759There’s a cove. A house straggles
a sagging beach, where behind a patched blind
the Hendrix version of All Along the Watchtower
sends its summons through the wave speakers.
God opens the door, a stubby in one hand
and his left eye bleeding from a blood vessel.
You’re late he pines at me, I’m too polite to say
what I think, that’s it too early to be drinking,
but how do you chastise an omnipotence.
I was the only anarchist, let it all run free
and now it’s turned to shit, he’s telling a dirty sheet
of an angel that’s being used as a coat stand.

On a love seat. Straight out from underneath
a window, Miro sculptures are smoking cigaroes
and whistling Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony
the movement that makes the walls cry.
Do you by any chance play bass
Jimi’s last assistant went up in smoke in Cross Town Traffic.
It crosses my mind that he should know the answer,
he’s lost interest, retouching a forged Picasso.
Gave the little wanker everything and what did I get
suddenly angry, he grabs my throat beer breath in
my face, and you cut your wrists for freedom fell
into the street and a car finished you off.

The other side of the ramshackle. Sky and ocean are joined
by Siamese lightning, sacred ibis in ancient shawls gather neon
cockchafers placing them in mother of pearl wickers
rippling at the iron magnetism of each shock.
The wattage sighs as each basket comes and goes
a drop from his cornea sets the brimming protein.
I sent a boy on a man’s job once, Jesus what a debacle —
here, you’ll appreciate the irony in this
see if you can pick who’s coming or going journeyman,
for the first of the first time in all these millennia
I’m going to have a lie down, this whistling sphincter’s all yours
welcome to heaven and take care where you step.



IMGP1373James Walton lives in the Strzelecki Mountains in South Gippsland, Australia. He has been published in The Age and Sydney Morning Herald newspapers, and many journals and anthologies. He has been shortlisted twice for the ACU National Literature Prize, is a double prize winner in the MPU International Poetry Prize, and Specially Commended in The Welsh Poetry Competition.  His collection The Leviathan’s Apprentice is now available. He’s been a Librarian, bred Salers cattle, and was a public sector union official for many years.








Safety of shells (Meredith Pitt)

Posted on August 3, 2016 by in Heightened Talk


Bivalves diffuse force to their outer edges
while screw-shaped shells send the pressure to their outer rings

The soft creature is protected from the crushing reality
of a weapon in their classroom

Waves of pressure are dispersed around the periphery
of a night club under siege

The complicated ring structure of the auger snail
gives the soft-handed workers somewhere to hide
when their workplace is stormed by killers

Shell-casings lie spent as the tide of soldiers recedes,
leaving two sisters cowering under a car, one swallowing her pain
into complicated structures designed for breath



Meredith-001 (2)

Meredith Pitt lives in Sydney. Her poetry
has recently appeared in Meanjin and