Category Archives: 2014
– by Eleanor Malbon
(Image credit: martyvis. Reproduced under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License)
I picked up Dale from the side of the road
just a week before he had picked up a baby pigeon
it clings to his hood as he packs his bags and push-trolley in the back
he tells me that the government covers him for a place to sleep five days a week
but on the other two he has to sort himself out
he’s going to Weston Creek, to Coolo
his hair is cut with blunt scissors
and his beard is sparse
he’s got to be about twenty-three
he can’t work because he’s got no strength in his hands
he tells me they were crushed
he doesn’t say how
eyes roll back into his head as he tells fragments of his story
whole body a dusty blue grey
I don’t even wonder if I could have loved him
or maybe I do, I can’t sort it out in my head
he hunches forward to give the pigeon space between his head and the roof
the heat of the day has well faded now
and I tell him it’s Christmas
he tells me he forgot
politely, he asks what I did today
lunch with the family, wine and cricket in the arvo
when I stop the car he asks
and I give him all the change in my wallet
I don’t have any notes
it’s raining tonight
Eleanor Malbon: I write poetry and performance pieces, and conduct research into ecological sustainability. My work often deals with growing up in Canberra, where I still live. I currently work as a tutor and research assistant at the Australian National University.
– by Sian Campbell
(Image credit: Jonathan McIntosh. Reproduced under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 License)
‘Jee-zus fuh-king Christ,’ G says as we slowly pull into the arrivals pickup area. Gets out, shuts the car door hard. Frankie’s just leaning against the wall, waiting casual as anything, a dirty blue duffel bag at her feet. Her white blouse is sticking to her body with sweat and it’s still only the very early morning, but she looks good – even with the goddamn Santa hat she’s got on. Baby-face, Dad always calls her. The only one of us three whose hair stayed that little-girl blonde. She’s at the wrong airport.
‘You’re at the wrong fucking airport, Frankie,’ I hear G say through the windows, as she snatches the duffel and makes for the boot. Frank gets in the back with Ned and hot air fills the car like a fever breaking out in a body. He makes a move for her straight away, all tongue.
‘Gettoff, it’s too bloody hot.’ Her accent is all wrong and I wonder why I never picked it up on the phone. She pushes his wiry kelpie frame over to the other side of the car and he actually leaves off properly for once. Ned’s getting old – six, or so, now. Has to be. Brittle brown hairs flake the car seat covers all over and I tell myself that Frankie can be the one to give it a vacuum at Dad’s. Avalon. Fuck’s sake.
‘Nice hat,’ I say.
‘Cheers,’ she says.
‘Shut the door already, will you? Why the fuck did you fly to Avalon?’ I ask.
The boot slams and G gets back in the passenger seat, wrenching her feet up onto the old blue esky. I start up the engine again. Twenty or so hours in the car at least until Dad’s. Straight, if we want to get there by Christmas morning. Cloying pangs of dread threaten to suck me under already and we haven’t even got going yet.
‘Why the fuck did you fly to Avalon?’ G asks.
‘Logic dictates that as the passenger, I’m not the one at the wrong airport,’ says Frankie. ‘Maybe you wrote it down wrong.’
‘I don’t even know how you fly to Avalon from London,’ G keeps on.
‘There was a stopover.’
‘You can’t blame us, you know. For thinking you’d be flying to fucking Melbourne airport?’
‘Just cut it out,’ I say. ‘The both of you. Put some music on or something, G.’
G fiddles with the radio, and ‘Winter Wonderland’ comes on. Michael Bublé. Christ.
‘Oh my god, you can’t even believe the snow in London right now,’ Frankie says, looking out the window at the yellow grass. I blast the air-con.
‘If you’re going to be like this the whole fucking trip,’ I say to no one in particular, turning the radio back off, ‘you can damn well walk.’
It’s an easy enough drive, once you start, although I’ve never done it before myself. G has made the drive more than a handful of times – stayed with her high school boyfriend long past the relationship’s use-by date and clocked far more hours in the car than any of us felt necessary, after work sent her south and away from his sorry arse. She knows the route, she says, she knows all the good ways. Still, she’s never done it Christmas Eve before, and never without stopping for a night or two on the way.
Frankie and Ned are both asleep in the back seat, huddled awkwardly under Frankie’s giant navy coat. It’s too cold in here – the air-con’s stuffed so there’s no striking any sort of medium between roasting and glacial. When I look at them in the rear-view mirror, I can just make out Frankie’s hand snaking out limply in mid-air. She looks vulnerable suddenly, more vulnerable than ever, and for some reason a weird sort of fear feeling starts trickling up my insides, or maybe it’s just the air-con drying me up. Next to me, G’s scoffing a Sausage & Egg McMuffin from the drive-through and washing it down with a Coke the size of her face. We’ll probably have to stop soon, judging from the way her leg has started to bounce, but Ned will need to go as well and there’s no telling what the cheap coffee I’m sculling will do to my insides, so I don’t pick a fight even though I want to.
‘Frankie still snores,’ G says.
‘Yeah,’ I say.
I remember the day Frankie was born, them handing her to me. How do you like your new sister, Mum said, and I remember thinking that there wasn’t really a good answer. Eight years old, G only a year behind me, and I thought beforehand that it would be nice having a baby around, that maybe it would let me boss it around. That maybe it would be a boy. A brother, because Janet Harrison had a little brother and said he would never have learned how to tie his shoelaces if it hadn’t been for her. Or maybe it’d be another sister but it wouldn’t be one like G, it’d be one that looked just like me, with my dark hair and weird sort of big mouth. Not fierce like G, who never needed me for anything. I thought that maybe in a way I could be its mother and I would have something of my own that G could never take from me.
But then it came out, and it was just Frankie.
Our father is old. He has emphysema, and will die soon enough, the doctors say. The fact that he’s having another baby at his age is, quite frankly, the stuff nightmares are made of, but when he calls and says he and Lisa want us all to come there’s no way out of it. You can’t say no to a man who’s dying, G says on the phone. I wire Frankie most of the money from my last gig and tell myself that Ned can probably go without his yearly shots.
G pulls over at a rest stop in the middle of nowhere, somewhere in New South Wales I figure, though I stopped paying attention to the GPS hours ago.
‘I need to stretch my legs,’ she says. We both know that what she needs is a smoke. I open the door for Ned and he bounds out, getting almost all the way to the nearby scrub before he realises we’re not following him and heads back.
‘Wake Frankie,’ I tell G. She ignores me. Says, over her shoulder,
‘Going to the loo.’
I head back to the car and pull Frankie’s hair lightly. The soft blonde hair looks out of place in my hard brown hand.
‘Frank. Do you need to pee?’ I notice her hair is a bit matted from rubbing against the back of the car seat and it makes me feel good for some reason.
‘Do you need to pee? We’re at a rest stop.’
She opens her eyes and looks at me.
‘I was having a dream you were being killed,’ she says, ‘and I just had to watch. There was nothing I could do.’
‘Come into the dining room,’ Dad said last time. ‘I’ve got something to say.’
The dinner table had been covered with a bunch of Mum and Dad’s belongings, mostly clothes but also jewellery, knick-knacks and some books. Mum’s wedding dress. The weird big painted china jug that used to be in the kitchen.
Dad had been holding a pad of Post-it notes, and as we entered the room he held it up in the air like a ref handing out a yellow card at the soccer.
‘I’m dying,’ he said. ‘You all know that already, and that’s all I want to say about it. And now we’re going to be civil, and you can each pick things out one by one. I didn’t raise any goddamn animals.’ Lisa had already taken a lot of the good stuff anyway. For the baby, she said.
‘Just don’t die on my birthday,’ G told Dad. Mum had died on G’s twenty-third birthday. It came as a bit of a shock to all of us except G. (‘She always made other plans on my birthday anyway,’ said G.)
Later when he was in bed, Lisa had told us about how when Dad’s mother died his five siblings had torn the house apart.
‘Looted the place,’ she said. ‘Your Dad was the only one who lived interstate and by the time he got there the only thing left was a pile of Grandma’s brass dollhouse furniture.’
‘Don’t call her Grandma,’ G had said. ‘She never even fucking met you.’
In the end Frankie had been the one to take the wedding dress. Nobody said a word.
On the radio, they’re debating the sexual politics of ‘Baby, It’s Cold Outside’. Progressive, for a commercial station that normally stuck to the latest celebrity crises, or maybe interviews with the Prime Minister if they were feeling particularly political.
‘Does it ever bother you that all the Christmas songs are about snow?’ Frankie asks from the passenger seat. Her Australian licence had expired last year, and she never bothered to renew it. ‘And the way people here put that fake frost stuff on their windows. I don’t know. It just feels wrong, I guess. A bit weird.’
It’s getting dark now and we’ve still probably got at least another eight hours in the car.
‘What are we going to do for dinner?’ I ask.
When we were kids and driving on holiday to Grandma and Grandpa’s, before Grandma died, we’d always pull into a town in the early evening just as everyone started getting hungry, and I never knew if Mum and Dad timed it that way or if it was just one of those things.
‘Look out for those golden arches,’ Dad would say.
‘Why do you think Mum never drove?’ I ask G and Frankie now.
Outside, everything feels quieter somehow even though I know it’s not really. Like the dark has sucked something out of the air. Everything is blue but sort of orange as well and it feels like something I’d forgotten. Like Christmas. Nobody says anything.
‘Yeah,’ I say to Frankie, ‘but have you ever noticed that those songs – ‘White Christmas’ and all that – sort of feel like our Christmases here anyway? Why do you think that is – are we just used to them? Some sort of Stockholm Syndrome, like we’re being brainwashed by the Northern Hemisphere. Globalisation. But that Santa Claus movie, with Tim the Tool Man Taylor. That movie always feels like Christmas Eve to me, for some reason.’
‘I don’t know,’ says Frankie. ‘Not to me.’
‘Whatever happened to Jonathon Taylor Thomas?’ G asks.
Suddenly, the windshield is splattered with little orange lights. We’re coming into town, bang on dinner.
‘Keep a look out for those golden arches,’ says G.
‘Hey,’ I say as Brisbane city comes into view. ‘We’re here.’
G and Frankie sit up straight, try and make out where we are.
‘We’re not anywhere,’ G says, but neither of them go back to sleep. Everything looks kind of golden.
‘Oh!’ Frankie says all of a sudden. ‘I guess it’s Christmas Day now.’ We drive the rest of the way in silence.
We pull into the driveway well past four in the morning. Lisa meets us at the door – looks at Ned, pissing on her flowerbed. ‘Your Dad’s sleeping,’ she says. ‘He couldn’t wait up. You know. Merry Christmas.’
I pop the boot and we sling our bags into Frankie’s old bedroom, the only one still the way it was before. Lisa had turned mine into a sewing room the first chance she got. Prime window real estate, she said. We dig out the wrapped parcels and put them under the tree in the corner of the dining room.
‘Don’t get me anything this year,’ Dad had said. ‘Won’t need it where I’m going.’ He meant it. We’d never gotten Lisa anything in the first place.
They’re all for the baby. For her.
‘Can we see her?’ asks Frankie.
‘It’s late,’ says Lisa, but we can tell her heart isn’t in it.
We three crowd into G’s old room. The nursery, now. She’s not even sleeping, just lying there calmly like she was waiting for us. She looks up at our faces – isn’t fazed one bit.
‘Hi,’ says Frankie. There’s nothing much to say or do. It’s just a baby, staring. Nothing else in the world for it to do except drink and sleep and shit. Someone coughs from behind us.
‘Can you believe it?’ Dad says. ‘Another daughter. I’m cursed.’
She is a week old and in a few hours we’ll open her presents for her, the presents we have carried across states and oceans. She won’t understand any of it and the clothes won’t fit for months. Dad will sit in his chair with a cup of coffee.
‘Just imagine,’ he’ll say, and everyone will.
– by Finbah Neill
Finbah Neill is a Newcastle-based freelance designer, illustrator, and comic maker. He’s the designer at Grapple Publishing, he’s the visual art editor for Voiceworks, he draws weekly illustrations to accompany flash fiction at Seizure Online, and he’s completing a bachelor of Visual Communication Design at the University of Newcastle.
– by Sonya Deanna Terry
Late last year, I happened across an old theatre programme in a rarely sorted-through cupboard, and immediately designated the booklet to a file labelled ‘Shows’. The file is ragged now and plump with mementos dating back to 1988. The programme my recent clutter clearing unearthed was quite similar to the others: pages crammed with photos of performers, smiling or open-mouthed, gesticulating flamboyantly against backdrops of faux-marble staircases or painted cities. The difference was that the singers prompted a pang of familiarity, not because they were household names – the 1990 production of Funny Girl had been an amateur one held at The Canberra Theatre – but because many of them had become friends. We’d belonged to an exclusive club that focused on footwork, camaraderie, costume alterations, gruelling rehearsals and after-show cocktail events that brought out the show-off in all who showed up.
On the programme’s fourth page was a black-and-white picture of me amongst the other Ziegfeld Showgirls, a shy nineteen-year-old peering out from glittering plumage, wearing the sort of expression that’s typically worn by chorus singers of zero vocal ability, an expression that spells ‘undetected stowaway’. Flicking further through the programme, I recalled the sixties-composed tunes. In every rehearsal and show, I’d gone silent once the orchestra started up, reminding myself that even pop stars lip-synched. True, they at least mimed their own voices, but at that point in time, pretend-singing hadn’t done Milli Vanilli any harm. It would be two more years before that dastardly duo would descend into infamy.
How, you may be wondering, did I ever get into a musical if I couldn’t even sing? The audition panel gave me a dance solo because of my jazz-ballet and belly dance background and suggested I double up as a showgirl/chorus singer. They’d been looking for dancers with reasonable voices whose ‘physical presence conjured the 1920s’. Who would have thought the small mouth I resented would ever become an asset! As for a ‘reasonable voice’, well, let’s just say I have the angels to thank for the tunelessness of my ‘Happy Birthday’ rendition being politely overlooked.
My 1890s-born grandmother had despaired of her own mouth when young. ‘Too broad,’ she’d said, shaking her blue-rinsed head. I’d been amazed. ‘But big smiles are considered attractive,’ I’d told her. She’d looked down wistfully. ‘Now, perhaps. But not back then. In the twenties, we girls were expected to look like kewpie dolls. It improved once World War II came around. Suddenly all the actresses had victory rolls and enormous grins.’
Thanks to Funny Girl I revisited the era of my grandmother’s youth. Atop the magic carpet of costume, script and song, each of us were transported to the innocent optimism of 1914. In ‘Rat-Tat-Tat-Tat’ we marched backwards up a staircase, hoping our golden stilettos wouldn’t stick in the step joins.
Lyricist Bob Merrill’s patriotic lines (‘American boys are all such straight shooters!’ and ‘We’ll take care of him, Mother, when he comes home from the war,’) were designed to echo the propaganda that enticed young men to enlist, and had a discomforting effect on a lot of us. Throughout high school we’d been exposed to horrifying doomsday documentaries that both described nuclear devastation in detail and warned that this was where the Cold War might lead. Some of us had sunk into future-fearing apathy. Some had even suicided. Others had got active in fighting for nuclear disarmament, had roared unashamedly along to the spirited protest songs of that flailing-armed rock star activist whose wildest deeds in more recent years, as our previous Minister for Education, involved shooting goals for Year 3 basketball teams.
Thanks to the threat of World War III and the 1987 AIDS campaigns, pessimism seemed to seep into, and subtly taint, the youthful dreams of Generation X. Few of us could go tenpin bowling without calling up images of the Grim Reaper treating all and sundry like skittles, the theme for a commercial that brought renown to Siimon Reynolds, a 21-year-old advertising exec with a typo for a first-name. The initial hostility of his audiences, many of whom were parents of nightmare sufferers, did not impinge on Reynolds’ rising-star career. He went on to become founder of a marketing and communications company now worth at least $500 million.
The theatre programme threw up one memory after another, the ‘casual shots’ page especially. Here we were sipping Vienna coffees at Gus’, there we were cavorting through autumn leaves.
Ah, Canberra’s ruby-tinted autumn leaves! An event, six years prior to the time of the photo, faintly flitted back. Age fourteen. Trudging alongside a friend through crunchy liquid-amber leaves near the Manuka Cinema. Chattering excitedly about the movie we’d just seen: Back to the Future starring Dolly Magazine pin-up boy, Michael J. Fox, who, throughout those spellbound 116 minutes in his role of time-travelling Marty McFly, transported us into the post-war hopefulness of the 1950s. Fox then had us biting our nails when he returned to 1985 where a scary gang of gun-wielding Libyan nationalists were demanding the return of their nuclear fuel.
The first of two sequels was released in North America on the 20th of November 1989, with an Australian release soon after. Partly set in the year 2015, Back to the Future Part II featured fantastical skateboards that never touched the ground. Since anything might happen in twenty-six years’ time, we teenagers refused to dismiss the idea of hoverboards. We might even be in possession of portable shoe phones by then – like Agent 86 had in the 1960s sitcom ‘Get Smart’ – kept in our pockets though, rather than beneath the sole of one foot, and quite possibly referred to as ‘Smart’ phones. And since we were no longer under the threat of Russia or America pushing that Big Red Button, chances were we would still be alive to enjoy our advanced telecommunication devices, and skating over the clouds. That was if we didn’t all contract HIV first.
AIDS and other grim fears of Generation X were captured aptly in 1994 by the movie Reality Bites starring Winona Ryder, Ethan Hawke and a lesser-known Ben Stiller. Resonating with many Generation X-ers was one of Hawke’s lines. Ryder’s character says: ‘I just don’t understand why things just can’t go back to normal at the end of the half hour like on “The Brady Bunch” or something.’ And Hawke’s character replies: ‘Well, ’cause Mr Brady died of AIDS. Things don’t turn out like that.’ Robert Reed, the actor who had played the lovable flare-wearing dad of a sitcom favoured by many Generation X-ers throughout the seventies, had died two years earlier.
A year later, Christopher Reeve (aka Superman) would sustain a cervical spine injury that would paralyse him from the neck down. Back to the Future’s Michael J. Fox had already been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. On the screen, these actors were invincible. In real life, their humanness and their mortality had become despairingly apparent, and proved to the young and the star-struck that reality did bite at times, and that none of us were ever very far from its jaws.
I closed the theatre programme, pleased my generation’s gloomy expectations were content to remain in the past, and did a quick assessment of the future we’ve all reached. This is the list I came up with:
1 – We’re still alive – and enjoying it.
2 – Michael J. Fox is enjoying being alive, too, having recently starred in ‘The Michael J. Fox Show’, amongst other TV roles.
3 – Our nation is free of the potential perils of the Cold War and to add to this, so far has a thriving economy.
4 – We’re now only a year away from riding on hoverboards. Yee-ha!
5 – The technologies of music, television, movies and the Internet have allowed us choices: we can journey to the past like Marty McFly. Thanks to the sophistication of modern entertainment, we can zoom back to the fifties or the twenties, or to wherever else we choose, and we don’t have to rely on Libyan nuclear fuel to do so.
History is, thankfully, dead, but memory, hope and time-travel are, like us, still very much alive.
Former Canberra resident, Sonya Deanna Terry is a debut novelist, Communications student and rabid theatre-goer. Details of her soon-to-be-released two-volume series Epiphany can be accessed after the 7th of December at: www.EpiphanyTheGolding.com
– by D A Shorr
Gabe lived next door in a yellow house crowded in on all sides by sycamores. Our mamas collected their buttonballs in wicker baskets each year, insisting we’d craft with them. Once, maybe, we pressed spiky spheres into green paint then rolled them on paper, leaving prints like itch-envy stars – the buttonballs otherwise left to rot. Gabe pushed me to use them in potions when we played witches, running around the house cackling, squawking in high-pitched voices until Papa or my brother told us to play outside.
Years ago, Gabe often explained, our two properties were the same estate. Gabe’s yard had the mansion, carriage house, and gardens; mine was the graveyard. The spirits who lived in my yard, Dusty and Ghost, were bound to haunt the grass around their bodies’ beds. We could only ever coax them a quarter-way across the yard in any direction – kept us mostly to hopscotch and cards – or else had to tow them by hand, straining farther as their tethers pulled taut. Once Gabe found an old map of the property in his crawlspace. The four of us spent the day searching for treasure – turned out to be buried in my brother Marc’s room. We never found the gold, too distracted hoisting Marc’s underwear up the flagpole, climbing to untangle when it caught on sycamore fingers.
When we were eight or nine, Gabe admitted to making the estate up – the map was soaked in tea and burned at the edges – but I have a distinct memory: six years old, alone one evening in the digging-pit, uncovering first green fabric – a sweater – then a shoulder, an arm, old and stiff. I’m not sure how long I sat pouring sand lightly on the shoulder, watching it flow off the side, trying to count the few grains that slid instead through the gaps between the threads. It was a funny feeling to think just beneath was a body – a corpse, Gabe called them in death – and I think this made me cry because I didn’t notice Dusty and Ghost until they put their arms around me and hummed.
. . .
Over the 2014 Halloween weekend, we shared D A Shorr’s He was close and Nick Marland’s October 31 in their entirety. Keep an eye out for more free pieces online as their date approaches.
D A Shorr lives in New York City, teaching maths to high school students. He graduated with a degree in mathematics, creative writing, and education, which has prepared him thoroughly for feeling helpless under all the problematic tensions that teaching high school entails.
That’s right, after a good year of learning how to make an Annual for the first time, including a final few frantic weeks of finalising, proofreading and printing, we’re ready to launch The Grapple Annual No. 1! And we’re doing just that at the National Young Writers Festival, part of the annual This Is Not Art mega-festival in Newcastle.
We’ll be launching at the Launch Orgy (tonight! it’s gonna be wild), spruiking during the the Zine Fair (along with a few Canberran zine and publisher buddies) and we’ll have copies for sale throughout the whole long weekend at the festival bookstore at Staple Manor!
That’s not all! Our editor Duncan Felton is part of a few events. Our designer Finbah Neill is part of a few more. One of our contributors, Alexandra Neill, is one of the festival coordinators and another, Sian Campbell is heading up the Press Room, which you should keep an eye on, whether or not you can be at the festival. It’s a big festival, there’s a lot to see and do, so let them share the load.
We’d also recommend checking out the free workshops and signing up immediately for what interests you. Grapple Publishing may not be here if it hadn’t been for an NYWF 2012 Small Press Workshop. Get involved!
Plus there’s another Grapple contributor, Eleanor Malbon, in an excellently-named show Eucapocalypts Now at Crack Theatre Festival. And don’t forget all the other good stuff at Critical Animals. These two other festivals are the other two thirds of what make TINA excellent.
If you can’t make it along to Newcastle, don’t fret. We’ll be organising a Canberra launch for mid to late October, with the potential for another or two in other capital cities. Then there are ebooks and the opening of submissions for No. 2. It’s all happening!
We’re excited and we hope you are too.
More details after the TINA weekend. Hope to see you there.
– a poem by by Andrew Galan
As this date has passed, you’ll now have to seek out Andrew’s poem by buying a copy of The Grapple Annual No. 1. But keep an eye out (and watch our Facebook and Twitter pages) as we’ll soon have more featured works online on their given dates.
Andrew Galan’s first poetry book, That place of infested roads, is with Knives Forks and Spoons Press (2013). His poetry appears in print and online in Australia and internationally. With Hadley, Joel and Amanda, Andrew co-founded and runs Canberra’s poetry slam BAD!SLAM!NO!BISCUIT!, and he writes and performs alongside The Tragic Troubadours. This is his website: Huitzilihuitl’s Reign of Death
– a poem by Ben Adams for the 2nd of July (on this date in 1961, in the early hours of the morning, Ernest Hemingway committed suicide).
As this date has passed, you’ll now have to seek out Ben’s poem by buying a copy of The Grapple Annual No. 1. But keep an eye out (and watch our Facebook and Twitter pages) as we’ll soon have more featured works online on their given dates.
Ben Adams is a writer and political ranter from Adelaide, currently studying for his PhD on the poetry of Charles Bukowski. Ben has worked as state ambassador for Express Media’s National Young Writers’ Month, a Buzzcuts arts reviewer and coordinator, and had several poems appear in the online small press. More at backpagesblog.wordpress.com
– a poem by Monica Carroll for the 30th of June (the end of the financial year).
As this date has passed, you’ll now have to buy a copy of The Grapple Annual No. 1. But keep an eye out (and watch our Facebook and Twitter pages) as we’ll soon have more featured works online on their given dates.
Writer, Monica Carroll, is published in a variety of journals and anthologies such as Meniscus, Burley, DecomP, Cordite and Idiom. She has won many writing and poetry awards and performs, occasionally, in Canberra. In addition to writing Monica likes smooth round pebbles and morning bird-song.
– by Yolande Norris
I buy towels and tiny clothes,
feel good about the world,
under the hum of chainstore lights
Maybe that’s the first thing I notice.
That night with an aching back
I break open a pomegranate in my hands for our dinner
The flesh stains everything,
red under my nails.
I’m slow to eat
Slow to sleep
The moon is full.
affairs in order
Readying for the unknowable.
becomes rapidly irrelevant
Preparing for life
as if preparing for death
The day before the 7th of June,
A blue sky fast cloud winter’s day
through the passenger window of our little car
focussing on bare trees, on beautiful details before
everything is different.
meeting the glance of drivers alongside
going about their day with no idea
In the next lane
lives are changing.
It would be funny any other time.
Every bump and halt mocks my exhausted bones.
wanting to stand
as if as long as my feet touch earth I’ll be okay.
Second day without sleep.
Sometime that night
drugs flash cold in my veins.
My body works on.
The clock pulls slow hands through thick air till sunrise
I feel numb and stupid
But I am determined
you will be born
and not cut free
So that this has counted for something.
there you are
and bigger than I could have known
a displaced weight upon my chest.
the only one crying is me
so they hurry you away
to be done.
I remember to ask ‘what is it?’
like you’re supposed to.
It’s just me, after a time
finally, emptily, I sleep
before, empty and aching, I awake.
From June 4 to 7, we shared Yolande’s poem Four Days, in advance of the release of The Grapple Annual No. 1. You can now buy a copy online.
Yolande Norris is a writer and producer based in Canberra. She studied painting at the ANU School of Art and wrote on her canvases. Her long-suffering lecturer said ‘it’s not really painting is it?’ This year is the first time she’s told anyone about her poetry. uselesslines.wordpress.com