Monthly Archives: October 2014

Two Hundred and Ninety.

17/10/14

Izzy circle

izzy

sketches for my sweetheart the drunk
2. The sun is creeping up on you again, it’s 26 degrees and you are swaddled in a black wool coat, clutching at your throat.

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Sarah circle

sarah

He used to park as though he was ironing –
forward back forward back
anxiously easing into the bay
worried about the mothers with prams in front of him
the little old ladies behind
the ones his driving instructor had always warned him about hitting
when he didn’t do his head checks right
so when one day he drove through tears to the IGA
with some half-formed idea of a cheap cinnamon donut
and a jumbo pack of Panadol
telling himself ‘stop fucking overthinking everything you do
you cowardly piece of shit’
and he backed in one movement into the carpark
straight into the bonnet of the car behind
the unfairness of it all took his breath away
and he sat behind the wheel, chest frozen
forgetting for just a minute how to bring air out and in
forgetting how, for a minute, and why

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Two Hundred and Eighty-Nine.

16/10/14

Izzy circle

izzy

sketches for my sweetheart the drunk
1. If you were a silhouette, you wouldn’t be the shadow. You’d be the light that defines the dark.

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Sarah circle

sarah

He always liked his cleft chin, until he found out what cleft meant, and then he felt broken, scarred by some slice to his face as he turned in his mother’s belly. He tore the crusts off cheap white bread, rolled the fluffy slices in his hands until they were thick like Playdoh, and pressed the sticky mess into his carved face until it lay flat, and he stood for hours in front of the mirror with his eyes half-shut, imagining himself whole until the bread dried out and fell off into the bathroom sink.

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Two Hundred and Eighty-Eight.

15/10/14

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izzy

The dog growls at the door as I slip my key in. The house is dark and quiet. It wraps around me like a cloak. I slink out to the back and strip down to my undies, then rummage around under the back sink and find the Sard Wonder. I run the stick over and over the skids of grass along the back of my dress until they’re whited out, obliterated. The crunch of leaves, flicker of fire and hot breath run across my back and up my spine. The scratches along my arms and legs, the grazes on my palms feel like they’re sticking out like the goosebumps covering the rest of my skin. Shivering and glowing pale in the dark, I run up to my room and dive under the covers into my own smell, my own mess.

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Sarah circle

sarah

Postcards from Indonesia:

Sometimes my concept of myself collides with the reality of myself and the results are, in short, disappointing.

Like today, when I sat on the beach for an hour and a half, trying to make myself brave enough to try parasailing. I’d done it as a child, hoisted in front of a Balinese man, and my overwhelming memory of the experience is of feeling peer-pressured into the whole thing (coming from a generally gung-ho family, with a particularly gung-ho little brother, I felt like this on most family holidays). I remember looking down at the beach and feeling a grizzly sort of terror and irritation at being made to be up there. But now? Now I was An Adult who was capable of Having Fun, even Slightly Risky Fun. Even possibly the sort of fun that involved being hurtled through the air with a parachute some distance above a lurching speedboat. I’d walked along the sand for ten days, watching tiny stick figures hold their arms above their heads, so that in silhouette they looked like cartoon rabbits, and I’d thought, to my vague surprise, ‘I might do that.’ I put it off day after day until this morning, when there weren’t any more tomorrows available. So I sat on the beach, watching predominantly tiny Asian tourists squealing and kicking their legs as they made parabolas in the air, and then pulling down on the side of the parachute strings as they arced back into the arms of seven or eight shouting men.

I didn’t do it, of course. Fun, Brave, Foolhardy me fought a halfhearted battle with Anxious, Overthinking me, the me who can’t get more than three metres up a ladder before the shakes set in, the me who decided that three minutes of possible terror was almost definitely not worth the chances of enjoying the whole thing. I trudged back to the hotel and Googled accounts of people throwing up at 800 feet and parachute ropes snapping to make myself feel better. Which worked, to an extent.

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Two Hundred and Eighty-Seven.

14/10/14

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izzy

I’m always surprised that the milk bar’s open this late. The white fluorescent light spills out onto the pavement, blurring the lines of the grass blades clinging to the dirt in the cracks. The door’s wide open, and as I go in, the buzzer blares and Mr. Nguyen looks up from his paper.
“Winfield Blues, yes?”
“Yeah, thanks. And a coke.”
I pull the bottle from the fridge, slightly warm. I can already taste the soft fizz of warm coke from a plastic bottle. Every coke container creates a different texture. Plastic bottled coke has the smallest bubbles, almost like electrical static.
“Twenny-four dollars.”
I pull my socks up and my skirt down.
“Thanks.”
I don’t actually know if he’s Mr. Nguyen, but the store’s called ‘Nguyen Convenience’ and he’s always there.

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Sarah circle

sarah

Oooh, I could just break your ears off while kissing you, I could! I could just EAT your FACE, y’know? Just, like, EAT it. Right off your skull and then lick your eye sockets clean! Just chew your lips right out of your smile and pull off your nose and munch on it because I LOVE you. You know how I love your belly button? Your little itsy bitsy belly welly button? Man, I could just get an incisor in there and just rip the whole thing open, right now! Press my face into your guts and blow a raspberry into your colon! God, I love you so much I could puke. On you. In you. I could puke you out of me and then eat you again.

I’m sorry. I’m drunk and high and I’ve got a serious case of the munchies and really, it’d be best if you just left me alone to think about what I’ve done.

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Two Hundred and Eighty-Six.

13/10/14

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izzy

Pain shoots up through my ankle, echoing in my knee. I look down at this stunted tree stump, and I want to kick it again as hard as I can but I don’t because I’ve already stubbed my toe once, and once is enough. It makes no sense to me that the human body decided that fingers and toes should have so many nerve endings, so many ways to feel pain. There’s a row of tree stumps back here, six I think, that used to be big old gum trees at the back of the oval. They cut them down after what happened to Anna K. A family of possums used to live in those big old gums, and we all used to feed them bits of our lunch and stuff but it never really seemed like a big issue. Sometimes they’d be a bit cheeky and come and steal something right out of your lap if you weren’t looking, but it hardly ever happened – they knew their place. It wasn’t til Anna K. went and put her face right up in theirs that there was a problem. She was down on her knees like a dog, waggling a bit of sandwich at one of them from her mouth, trying to get it to take it right from her lips cos she thought it would be cute I guess. The possum must have freaked out, cos it started screeching and hissing and smacked her across the face, then bit her hand when she tried to push it away. She wasn’t scratched up badly or anything, but Anna K. had a modelling contract so her Mum threatened to sue the school and I guess that relocating the possums and cutting down the trees was the compromise. Katie says it’s pretty much always people’s fault when animals do crazy things, because people have behavioural standards to rely on. I guess I kind of agree with her.

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Sarah circle

sarah

Postcards from Indonesia:

The piece of batik-painted cloth I bought is throwing gold fish across the bed. It’s not beautiful to touch, yet. It’s still slightly plasticky under my fingertips, still waiting to have its edges loved off. I am looking forward to a hot summer night some time, when it’s grown soft and old and is starting to become ghostlike. It will smell of incense and wine. It will have grown holes that I will never get around to repairing. It will have wrapped picnic utensils and hosted parades of ants. It will be full of smoke and secrets. Under a halogen night light, I’ll lay it on a patch of grass and set a lover’s head in its folds and watch the wrinkles around their eyes slide off into the fabric.

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Two Hundred and Eighty-Five.

12/10/14

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izzy

Katie wouldn’t do it anyway. I’m pushing through the bushes at the back of the oval and walking out onto the green is like coming up for air. I can feel the sting of the air floating up cold from the dewy grass and brushing over the grazes on my knees. My palms are burning. A shiver reverberates through my sternum, and my breasts bob a little as I walk fast through the goal posts. Scottie got one in last week, bouncing off the post – the kind of kick that looks like it couldn’t possibly go in. Won the game. Stupid prick.

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Sarah circle

sarah

Postcards from Indonesia:

‘Everyone is so friendly here’, my mother says, but I am too cynical to see it.
I see the smiles and the hellos and the palms pressed together, and I presume that as soon as our backs are turned, the eyes start rolling. Because that’s how I would be if I had to work for a bunch of fat Australian tourist idiots who keep wanting pointless shit all day, every day.
We drive through the mountains that look like storybooks, and ‘Bali Hai’ plays in my head.
We pass a wall with ‘BRUTAL UBUD’ graffitied on it in black, and I want to know who wrote it and why.
There are thousands and thousands of shops selling perfectly filigreed silver and beautiful wood carvings and vast stone statues and I have no idea who buys them all.
I am beginning to appreciate how overpriced ISHKA is.
Our driver stops every few kilometres, points at green sultry perfection and says ‘Stop here for photo, yes?’
We stop here for photo every time.
My mother steps into a ditch in front of a rice paddy and gets her foot all muddy, and the driver doesn’t even laugh at her. He becomes deeply concerned about our capacity to cross roads after that.
He waits for us for hours as we wander through temples and swim in holy springs and pretend to understand what all the fountains are for.
A temple guide asks if we want to make an offering, and we say no, and he says something that sounds like ‘You make me sick.’
Bartering stresses me out.
I always imagine the women at whom I am desperately saying numbers is thinking either
a) Fuck you, you entitled white bitch. You are haggling over money that is nothing to you and everything to me; or
b) You’re a fucking idiot. I am ripping you off so hard it’s not even fun any more.
Our bedroom door opened at 6 am this morning – the little click of the security card slot, then a spill of light onto the dark wall. I couldn’t see who it was, so I yelled ‘Hey!’ and the light disappeared and the door swung shut. By the time I got up and looked out, there was no-one there.

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Two Hundred and Eighty-Four.

11/10/14

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izzy

I put the recycling in the garbage bin. I’ve never done that before. So…careless. I’m distracted, mustn’t blame myself. It’s the daylight. It’s the daylight savings. The shift in time has muddled me up, I can never remember what day it is any more. I woke up and went out to feed the cat this morning, and there was already food in the bowl. Overflowing. Pouring out onto the concrete. I wonder how many times I’d gone to feed her. She was purring, wrapping around my legs distractedly, not interested in the mountain of kibble before me. I reach my arm into the garbage bin, all the way to the bottom until I am almost toppling in and my armpit is pressed hard against the thick plastic edge. I pull out each milk carton, each glass bottle, tin can and box with care and place them in the recycling bin. I pad back inside, cocoon myself. I roll over. I roll over and touch my hands to my face.

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Sarah circle

sarah

Postcards from Indonesia:

The man at the taxi desk looked at us sternly when we booked a trip to a temple, and said ‘Women can’t go in if they’re menstruating. It’s very important. It’s a holy site. You can’t enter if you’re menstruating. At all.’ And I said ‘Well, we’re not. So that’s not an issue.’

But I wish that I was. I wouldn’t go bleeding all over the floor or anything. I’d wear a tampon. And I’d just stand there, quietly defying all the men all over the world whose personal squeamishness made them put words in the mouth of their gods, calling women unclean, calling women unholy, calling women shameful and hateful and wrong.

At the front of the line to get into St Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City, the guard told me that I couldn’t enter because my shoulders weren’t covered. I stood in my singlet top outside the huge golden buildings vomited up by the greedy wealth of the church, and looked at the guard, and breathed in, and he let me in, because he could see the rage in me and felt it wasn’t worth the trouble. Because he decided that just letting it go was easier than having to deal with a woman standing there bellowing ‘Do you honestly think that of all the problems in this sick, blighted world, of all the terror and death and disease and shocking, incomprehensible horror on this planet, that your god honestly cares about my bare shoulders? How dare you let some sex-starved bishops six hundred years ago who couldn’t keep their erections down demand that I should not be able to walk under this roof? How dare you think that your almighty God gives a fuck about the tops of my arms?’ He let me in, and it was beautiful, and I hated to think that the same men who could build a vast palace of glory like that could be so small and mean as to tell their wives and mothers and sisters that their bodies were unworthy.

Perhaps there is a temple somewhere where the holiest time to visit is when you are bleeding. Where mothers come to birth their children in the centre of a floor patterned with tightening spirals, and congregations flock to give thanks for the shit and piss and afterbirth, and where the air rings with cheers when the child gives its first cry. Where women come to laugh and cry and scream and dance, and where they are told that they are whole and grand and mystic, and where men are welcomed with open arms, because nobody deserves to be told that they cannot stand before god, ever.

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Two Hundred and Eighty-Three.

10/10/14

Izzy circle

izzy

I’m trying to breathe underwater
as if I’ve always known how to, as if
I know what to ask of my teeth and my tongue

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Sarah circle

sarah

I want to take a photo of the feeling of wet grass underfoot.
I want to take a photo of my stomach falling when someone hesitates on the phone.
I want to take a photo of your laugh when it starts to get a little wheeze in it.
I want to take a photo of the pain in my back teeth when ice cubes touch them.
I want to take a photo that will stop misogyny.
I want to take a photo that will disable weaponry.
I want to take a photo that will make everyone breathe deeper in the morning.
I want to take a photo that will give you an orgasm every time you look at it.
I want to take a photo of people having sex without compromising anyone’s privacy.
I want to take a photo of people I love when they’re dead without anyone thinking that’s totally fucked up.
I want to take a photo of people exploding without anyone having to die.

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Two Hundred and Eighty-Two.

9/10/14

Izzy circle

izzy

this ceiling has no cracks
but I’m lying on my back
trying to make one appear
and even though you’re near
clutching and struggling inside me
you still can’t seem to find me
cos I am distant like a sixth moon
and I’m sick of being the little spoon

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Sarah circle

sarah

Postcards from Indonesia:

I wonder at what point this seven year old girl in the pool at my feet will realise that she is not the favourite child. Her sister, perhaps two, is in the perfect point of toddlerhood, just verbal enough to be adorable, not nearly enough to be tedious. She squeals and laughs and shrieks with delight as her parents pass her through the water, kissing her with each turn. Big Sister is annoying. Big Sister won’t shut up. Big Sister is all ‘Okay mum, here’s the rules. On the count of three, we’re going to dunk under the water at the same time.’ And ‘Dad, you have to watch me while I jump under. I’m going to jump in and then I’m going to touch the bottom and bounce off and then you can catch me, but not before.’ And ‘If you don’t come in the pool with me right now I’m going to cry.’ Big Sister has discovered rules but not empathy for parents who just want to lie in the sun and sleep, or hold Little Sister, burbling and sweet, to their shoulders as her chubby child legs kick at the velvet soft water. Big Sister is so far not resentful of Little Sister. She still thinks Little Sister is pretty much the best, even though she is frustrated that Little Sister can’t jump into the pool or go underwater without dying. But one day, I think, Big Sister is going to wake up and realise that she’s not the focus any more. That, in fact, her presence is actually inhibiting her parents’ enjoyment of the little songs that Little Sister is composing, of the little laughs she makes when they toss her in the air, of her perfect two year old porcelain skin. And Big Sister is just starting to get suspicious. Swimming quietly up to her murmuring parents, straining for a second to listen, then demanding ‘Why are you whispering?’ She’s currently circling the edge of the pool like a wary stingray, watching me watch her.

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I wake up from one of the many involuntary naps that travel induces in me to find that my mother has gone. I visually scour the pool, the banana lounges, the nearby beach and find no trace of her. Her things are still here, her glasses next to me, her towel. I wonder what it would be like if this was It, a story that began ‘One day she just vanished and I never saw her again’, and suddenly, I am Big Sister again, like I was when I was seven, jerking my head around looking for attention with rolling eyes and that particular insistent energy, that silently broadcasts a low level ‘Muuuuu-uuuuuum’ like a wifi hotspot. I am Big Sister and I am not the centre of my parents’ attention and I am remembering how to be lost and afraid.

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Two Hundred and Eighty-One.

8/10/14

Izzy circle

izzy

glassy eyes gazing to infinity
limbs entwined and stiffening
skin soft and fine like wax
melting into one another

taxidermied lovers never die

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Sarah circle

sarah

I hear the crackle and pop of your sugar snap love from three suburbs away
like fireworks, blazing and raining down promises
while kids upturn faces all smeared with the dirt of the day
there’s a reason that dogs cower in kennels on New Year’s Eve
and I am running for my life with my fingers in my ears

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