Poetry

Five Poems ~ David Stavanger

that dream you keep havingDavid-Stavanger

shower drips but there’s no water.
in the bath’s deep end, faces floating on your face.
eyes hung like light bulbs, front door cleaved open.
blinking neon sign on the roof:
THIS IS THE KILLING FLOOR
the boneless ones suck at your toes
harvesting hair from armpits and sinks.
the wolf within the wall devours its own mouth.
and that girl from down the road
who took too many lovers
finally dies in your bed.
her funeral the same as the last except for the flowers.
waking facedown to the colour red.

but it is when the teeth start
eating other teeth by your side
then the voice starts, raspy and underneath
We don’t care if you’re vegetarian. The House will have its meat.

First published in The Special (UQP)

straws

nobody knows who invented straws
they keep our mouths at bay
stop the lip of glass meeting lips
maintain everything at a distance
fearing the intimacy of liquid
the throb of ice on tongue
feeling better if something is between:
clothes, surnames, bodies of water

one day we will undo ourselves
drink straight from the wrong cup

First published in The Special (UQP)

nobody whistles in the dark

lights out and try to remember where you came from. visiting hours are between five and ten. park out front, near the row of palms designed to stop the mobile tower across the road from stealing thoughts. you enter. the nurses at the front desk are nice except for the tight blonde one – she’s a Nazi, lips grip her face but she never smiles, doesn’t let anyone out for a quick smoke or to chase the blue cars. the smell tells you that people have shit themselves here as if they have something to fear. underneath that smell another – rusted metal, maybe aluminum, the steel plate screwed into somebody’s skull. in the muffle of the courtyard there is a flat soccer ball, a strip of grass and a painted tree. sometimes sky. the first to approach is a Chinese man with a back pack. he crouches next to you, reaches in producing religious pamphlets and yellow finger paintings. I like people you don’t have to fight to get close to he whispers in your ear. he has been mistaken for a death ceiling, he’s way too gone to stay here long. the guy across the way is counting his cigarettes then his fingers and then his cigarettes. the mathematics of hope. Katie is in the corner. she crawls under the table when everyone’s looking. her hair is matted and somewhere in there is what has been taken. the nurses regard all family with suspicion, everyone is paranoid including you. a storm is predicted for tomorrow and the bed wetters will all get up first. the loss of agency, the seroquel mandala, the thoughts that walk. her brother is here to guide you. you’ve met a lot of people but never for the first time in the shower. This is where I get naked he says pointing at the shower head. in his room he strips, shows you the map of his strong back and the anchor tattooed on his neck. he tells you that you get it and you do, it could be you dancing on the jetty with your eyes out. there are many rooms here but few exits, bulbs dim in the bedrooms before dark. The gentle ones are harder to hide, they will be moved on, they never last long. he is wiser than your tarot cards and every expert on television. moving down the hall, the names change and texta marks run, on every door a new child. there are no corners here nor edges. breakfast is served at seven, constipation is more than a condition, everything is stuck. the faster you move round here the faster they come. in the ward no new words are welcomed, you can talk like a salad but you can’t ask for water. even if you sing Patsy Cline, no-one will listen. doctors pass themselves off as cleaners, pills in the lining of pants, sex in a cupboard. another uniform, another vision. the other day the intern psych with the rimmed glasses said Tell them what they want to hear but they all have textbooks for ears. as you get up to go her brother says Only dogs get this frequency, they have the right range. he is getting ready to go too but they don’t green light you unless you can’t walk in your sleep. heading back out to the car park he follows, six foot two, asks passersby if they have seen the low flying bats in formation or heard the silent satellite. you’re not sure which is closer to heaven, no God has authority in this dominion. you get into the car and turn on the ignition – as he disappears in the rear-view mirror, he is not smaller than he appears.

First published in The Special (UQP)

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Poetry

Five Poems by María C. Domínguez

Infamous famousMaria

just another day in this moulding city
sitting between aseptic blue
row on row of the naked tube tattooed infamous for the day headlines say
naked me they could see but I dreamed my limbs dressed and pure
robed in gold sturdy my chest embraced my dignity best
Warrior-old famous down to the soul I waged a regal war
free to do as I ruled among metal city where my feet are dignified with dirt
and heroes shit

Out

Last summer
he left at siesta time
when the air puffs clouds of steam
the city floats and
dead flowers dream
astonished insects bang around and
no one sees nobody
sins are dormant.
His mouth full of words
he left the bed
unmade pillows, repentance ruffled, dragging a duffle bag
back leaving a grubby trail.

Thriller frills

Crumpled brown bags. Cigarette packs blown in. Street Lamp corner. Jazz monologue. White drizzled black. Heels soundtrack. Moist fog-rain. Debris swiped again. Flaked marble. Sinking grey. Doorknob. Curtain twitch. Heap pushed against a wall. Torn silver dribbling blood.


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Poetry

Yuan Changming ~ Six Poems

Greenish IronyYuan-Changming

You wish to be a Douglas fir
Tall, straight, almost immortal
But you stand like a Peking willow
Prone to cankers, full of twisted twigs

Worse still, you are not so resistant
As the authentic willow that can bend gracefully
Shake off all its unwanted leaves in autumn
When there is a wind blowing even from nowhere

No matter how much sunshine you receive
During the summer, you have nothing but scars
To show off against winter storms
The scars that you can never shake off

Visualizing

Above the water
The swan looks so elegant
Pure and noble

Beneath the surface
Its feet are paddling hard
Like an ugly duck

But invisible as they are
You can also imagine them
Like the wings of a white eagle

The wings that are flapping
Fiercely against currents
Ready to fly into the depth of season

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Literary Fiction

Lights Out by Sally Breen

If I told you to turn out the light would you do it?’Sally-Breen

‘Probably not.’ Cheryl yanks a stray thread from the hem of her boho skirt, starts twisting it round her little finger tight. So tight the bottom of her finger stays white, the tip growing purple. She pushes the purple bit back and forth like she wants it to drop off. I look away. Cheryl’s not at a lights off stage in the game. I’ve been here for longer.

We sip our tea and look out to the night through the slats hinged onto the veranda.

‘It’s a weird kind of building this.’ Cheryl says. ‘Comforting.’

I know what she means. The first level is three times the height of your average man. Not one and bit like some. There’s no easy swing up like you get in a ground floor unit. Or the bare faced walk up you get in a low set house. It’s not two times the height of a man like you might get in a townhouse or a block of flats with outside stairs. Here there’s no access point from the outside to the inside. You can’t climb up onto the ledges because of the way they’re shaped. You’d have to have legs and arms like Inspector Gadget. The slats help too because they can be moved with controls from far away – you don’t have to be standing near the windows to do it, you can have them wide open or you can have them close. Most of the new guests keep them together real tight so not even a cat or even a gecko could squeeze through. No man’s ever breached the perimeter let alone the building but when you get to pushing your steel venetians back stage that’s when you know you’re winning. All these things matter.

‘So when do I get my D Dog? I’ve heard all about them D Dogs.’

‘Depends what your case is. How long you’ve gotta wait. What happens after.’

‘Yeah.’ Cheryl pulls her legs under her skirt. ‘I heard they ate one guys face off.’

‘You hear lots of things. PR mostly.’

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Poetry

Fredric Koeppel ~ Three Poems

The Vanity of Self-LoathingFrederic-Koeppel

Exhausted by a discontent disguised as modesty,
I dream that I am Achilles, hero who thinks too much.
Confined to our anchorage of dust, we fix small pinions
to large claims and call innocence what we have lost.

Then the dream of a woman sitting in a restaurant,
naked, save for the cobwebs wreathing her shoulders
and face; appetite and terminus, she comes to tell me
that we don’t want to know the names the dead give us.

Dusk again, and night’s blank facets breeding pangs.
I dismiss the full moon’s pious obligations and offer
myself to sleep as one might be set down at a station
in a wilderness, trembling with grief like a just-flung knife.

Midnight Hour

If I could scrape the crusted salt
from the face of Lot’s wife and free
from the corner of her blue eye
the single tear that would redeem
the cities of shame, then perhaps
I could make you believe what seems
impossible to explain. Dear sleep,
spare me last night’s dream of grieving

Mary’s walking in a furnace, treading
flames. A shout from the street below
rips wattage from our hearts, and the dog
slumped at my feet lifts his hot black face
and barks three times, as if the world’s errors
required his reproof. When the crooked
have been made straight, Lord, let my anger
inherit the earth.

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Poetry

L. Ward Abel ~ Five Poems

Artifacts from the Endl.ward-abel

Having excavated the apocalypse, noting
a careful sedimentation with trowels
and toothbrushes,
I stumbled on the end.

They said it would. End. Some
of my friends had put away
so they could eat at a rapturous
banquet.

And many days I felt as if I should
listen to the horses listen to
the water to the rails
for reverb

but I always found myself
taking deep breaths and
remembering things associated
with being grounded.

Auden’s Icarus

There precarium march
with no roots to bury
seem certain of something,
seem fixed on thin air.

The smell of pine twisting,
the hill where it crossed over,
belie lines of power
whom they still believe.

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Literary Fiction Novel Extract

Men without women, or, how at my local pub I’d sit and watch an ageing whore by Mandy Beaumont

She got that tattoo for that bloke she used to mess around with.

mandy-beaumont-3Can’t remember his name. Never wore closed in shoes. Always smelt of Chinese food. Smoked the blues. He hung around the edges of corners and seemed like he was always placed and waiting for me to walk past him. I always thought he was strange. Looked like he would fuck ‘em rough and then leave the toilet door open to piss. Think his name was Phil. Not sure. I remember one afternoon him rolling a smoke out the front of the corner bar in Annerley. Had a leather pouch with the name James on it. But I reckon they called him Jim. He had this crease on his left eyebrow where the hair wouldn’t grow. Looked like a brawl scar. I’m guessing it was. Never knew the real story. Made it up to entertain myself. She hung around for a while with him. Used to sit on his lap and grind her arse into him while he looked straight at the sports television. She’d always eye me off, point her finger and tell me to talk to her. Always some vile shit coming out of her mouth. Told me she liked to fuck like a man. Liked to see the bottom of a ball sack. Liked to drive to the East Coast at any chance she got. He would sit

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Poetry

Matt Bialer ~ A Poem

SILVER GHOSTMatt-Bialer

A VISIT FROM A RELATIVE

A middle aged slender woman
And her husband
Enter Beth Israel Medical Center
First Avenue and 11th Street
Manhattan

1100 bed hospital

Saint Laurent Marmot noir fur coat
Long sleeved sequined mini-dress

Husband in a Tom Ford suit
Gray stripes
Jacquard stitching

Approach front desk

I am here
To see a patient

– Can I have the patient’s name?

Francine Powell

– Hmm, are you sure
-That is the name?

Of course I am sure
She is my relative

She is my great aunt Fannie

– There is no one registered
– By that name

– Perhaps you have
-The wrong hospital

This is the right hospital
In fact until today

I did not know
That she’s been here for twenty years

Twenty years!

Is she sick?
What’s wrong with her?

An administrator
Approaches the desk

– Why do you
– Want to see Ms. Powell?

She’s my Aunt Fannie
And none of her family

Knows that she lives here

– She does not allow visitors

It’s a hospital
Patients have visitors

– Madam does not allow visitors

Let’s go home Grace
We tried

I’m not going anywhere Daniel
Until I see my aunt

Turns to the Administrator

We need to know
That she’s ok

She’s our blood
She’s our blood

Area on third floor
Set aside

For our special patient

Concierge service
Flat screen TV

In room sleep sofas
For family members

Grace and Daniel
Knock on the door

Private night nurse Maddie
Greets them

Jamaican lady

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