Friday, December 26, 2008

Aubade (morning song, seven months)

ABC radio is on playing choral music; it is just after 6 am and I am already bath-clean and smelling slightly of lavender.

I play finger-splash music in the bath, which has stirred up the baby. He’s feeling lazy like me though- just turning slow morning tidal rolls that are oddly pleasant.

It’s a good time to be up: obligatory birdsong, cats weaving through the tomato plants in the yard pretending to be great white hunters, and no human noise yet from my street.

My world is well. So well it seems almost naïve to feel this lovely lull when there is storm and chaos all around. But I think pregnancy does have its own purpose, one of drawing in to integral internal rhythms of physical needs, but also of drawing in to an optimistic quietude and peacefulness. Judith Wright said it well with ‘oh node and focus of the world’


Perhaps I need to feel that my world will be a warm and safe place for my baby or I wouldn’t give birth, just stay pregnant all my life, baby wrapped and gently rocking in the safe hammock of my self.


I used to think pregnant women seemed dreamy at best, and dumb at worst.

I think now I am the same. A bit dreamy, definitely dumb at times, but clearly battening down the hatches and preparing my rusty old ship for the onslaught ahead.

The ship is calm, or more perhaps becalmed- that time of floating still in the eye of a storm where the world is silvered and semi-real and we are held motionless by big weather unseen


Little waves lap at the hull; the crew carve wooden dolls and wait.





Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Things about pregnancy I did not know…

-It makes all food my food.

I can have just eaten my regular weekly mountain of ‘pub-grub’ at one of the many local hotels but if a plate of someone else’s food gets carried past I could happily eat that too. Pub-staff have been so convinced by my longing glance that they instinctively veer toward me with said plate.  Chris has to tell them to ‘move it along now, nothing to see here…”

-At work I am more effective in meetings (cause I don’t really care if or when I’ll get my say which makes me a better 'active listener') but a real dunder-head about language.  I said to Adrian the other day “I’m glad you’re here cause I have to ask Adrian to do a meal relief”. He said, “Well here I am then”.

-That nasal congestion just keeps getting worse.  I feel that if I press on my face snot might shoot out of my eye-sockets. Lovely image huh?

-That there is a muscle that Pilates-freaks probably know about just above the pubis that acts as a pretty major ‘big belly bra’ for the expanding womb.  I know about it now cause I’ve wrenched the fucking thing every which way when running full speed down a ramp for a train this morning. I can tell little ‘Marmaduke’ is OK cause he’s been kicking away all happy in the bliss-bubble of amniotic fluid and his own wee-wees (yes- they are very self sufficient and able to make all kinds of fun in there!).  But when I go to sit or stand I feel like some previously taut and supporting secret muscle is now flubbering around loosely down there.  No pre-natal yoga tonight.

-Telling people (particularly parents and in-laws) that you’ve decided to call the unborn son ‘Marmaduke Action Sager’ is a really good way of shutting them up about their favourite names. We figure anything else we decide on will inspire nothing but unutterable relief in all curious parties.

-Marmaduke doing somersaults makes me laugh my head off. Now. I may not forgive him for it after a few more weeks’ growth.

-Sleep is but a distant dream, and infomercials are surprisingly tempting when you are wakeful and hugging cats on the couch at 3am.  If I had a credit card I’d now be the proud owner of a Winsor Pilates machine, some Wen (not shampoo!) hair cleanser, some Principal Secret skincare and some Bare Essentials mineral powder foundation.  I have even wished for acne again so I could legitimately purchase ‘Proactiv’.

-Chanel 31 is the only alternative at this time, showing old black and white melodramas. I think my cat Damage cried with me the other night when Liza died without ever telling her Viennese lover that he’d fathered her boy-child. As he read the love-letter she’d written to him from the madhouse I looked at my fluffy feline friend and saw that he too had a tear in his eye…


22 weeks and counting down.

Big Lil’




Thursday, November 13, 2008

Chris's advice to his unborn son

Be a kid.

Money is not success.

Don’t put anything inside someone unless they say its ok.

Don’t buy another round of drinks until everyone has finished.

Poo is not paint.

Country music is not cool.  Ever.

Foreskins are not meant to stretch that far.

It doesn’t matter how hot she looks, someone else is sick of her shit. 

People are cool, unless they prove otherwise.

Girls are smarter than you, and they have more words at their disposal to prove the point with.

When mum and dad lock you in the ‘naughty cupboard’ it’s cause they love you.

want to offer our unborn boy some words of wisdom?    leave your comment

Friday, September 19, 2008


There’s a little flipper growing inside me, a tadpole/glow-worm, baby in its womb-room.
At just over thirteen weeks Skipper Chris and Sailor Lil can let the world know that we’re happily breeding a little sprog!

It’s been rough water and weather and times to get to this point, now its all adventures ahead. Already I can see the skipper’s stamp in the little pixel-face shown in an ultrasound pic.
There, the forehead’s bump of music, there the little tucked in chin and there the Negroid full-mouth.
You’d have to see it to believe it. Look right!

Sprog responds well to chics singing- particularly Scout Niblett. Sprog likes it when I drum along and lets me know with a warm hormonal glow. Sprog likes strawberries with ice-cream, dry ginger ale, olives, and cheese with chutney on rivitas.

In the morning, I get a rush of love I cal the ‘benigns’. Because they happen before 9am we now call them the B9’s.
Skipper can feel the B9s kind of fogging up the air around me. He gets closer so he can have his fix of the hormone cloud.

Skip thought he might have to learn nursery rhymes, but I said his versions of Nick Cave will do just fine. He has a deep voice and sings ‘the ship song’ and ‘the weeping song’ really well.

Sailor Lil likes to sing good old cautionary deep south blues and gospel. Sprog will learn about rambling men, and dice, and houses of ill repute!

This is fun. This is my time, our time, after so much grief and loss to get here.This is where my crew of two sees the first pale glimmer of dawn on the horizon.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Jacko gets his drink (short fiction, Kinchella 1998)

Jacko was feeling fine before the blokes from the front bar started up with the megaphone. Sure his feet were wet, not a good sign for the sheds beneath his home, and he was out of beer, but he’d been worse off in his time. He looked across the water to the pub in Twintown. He could hear noise and see lots of cars pulling in. A cold beer would be nice. He’d just finished his last stubby twenty minutes ago, drank it quick cause he was in a lather after the work with the cows.
Looking over at Wal’s place, he thought he was better off. What was yesterday a pretty colonial-style house on stilts perched well above the river and backed by acres of cattle was now an island. No one, not even Jacko or Wal, had banked on the water coming round from behind. So they watched the river rise and spun yarns about the floods of 63 or 49, and felt sure that the water would do what they’d do as farmers, taking paths it had cut before. No one thought it might bust its banks higher up where all the creeks webbed the land.
When Wal’s paddocks started going under the sound of distressed cows mooing got Jacko into the motorboat and over there to give a hand. Cows are stupid and stubborn animals. They thought they had high ground and didn’t want to move from it. As they ummed and moo’d and shitted in their panic, the grass beneath them went slowly but steadily under water. Finally the two men got a dozen of them herded up onto the only truly high and dry ground left. Once the best cows were on the veranda Jacko hopped back in his boat and waved bye to Wally. He wasn’t going to stay for the offered beer, not with Wal’s wife bitching about the cow-dung on her newly painted ‘patio’. Heritage colours too.
So he got home, sat on his veranda and rested. His balls were itchy with sweat so he scratched. He was thirsty so he had his last stubby. He stretched and watched as the sun went down and water started lapping at the veranda’s edge. Bugger, that meant everything underneath was wrecked. He just hoped he’d pulled up one of the kegs he’d bought the other day. He had a tap set into the kitchen bench for them and knew that when he’d gone in earlier to make cheese on toast he hadn’t seen one beneath the tap. He was glad to have something warm in his belly though, the power had been cutting all day and he’d caught it on just long enough for tea and toast. It was off again now but he had his battery lantern on. Actually he had everything he’d need right here with him. Lantern, kero stove, battery wireless, gumboots for wading, and his old outboard motor tied up to a support beam. There was enough juice still in her to get him across the river if he needed to. Didn’t those little smartasses from the SES realize that old farts like him knew how to look after themselves?
Jacko had been a grown man in the ‘49 flood and a family man running his own dairy cattle when they came again in ’63. He knew that if the water started coming in he’d just have to sweep it out, until he or the water won. His house was high on stilts above the hundred-year floodline and at least he didn’t have to worry about stock anymore. Wally had bought that and most of the land ten years back, when Jacko’s wife died and his knee gave out for good a month later. If the water won this time so be it, he was an old man and he’d won the last few rounds. Water and fire had both threatened to knock him out, but here he was still punching.
He could do with a beer though. He went into the kitchen to see what he could find.


‘Oh Jesus his boats come loose!’ came the excited cry from outside the pub across the river. People had been running out with binoculars every hour to file their ‘Jacko report’. ‘ Ha, he’ll have to come over now’, said a slumped-over-the-bar-Willow. There was a flurry of voices as the two ‘bookies’ scratched the new odds up onto the billiards blackboard.
The pub was bored. Everyone in there had been evacuated over previous days, told by the SES to leave homes and go to the community hall in town to doss down. Everone just read hall as pub, so here they were, locked in by rising floodwaters, a bubble of good cheer floating on a river of beer. Outside, across the water, they could all see that the town crier had it right. Jacko was not in his usual sentry–post, lit up by a lantern on his veranda, and they couldn’t see his boat at all, no surprise given the speed of the river. All around people were calling for schooners and placing their bets. Just when would Jacko evacuate?
The SES had insisted to Jacko and Wally, the last two people left on the banks of Twintown, that they should get out of their homes. At 3 o’clock and again at 5 o’clock they’d ridden across the river wearing beacon-bright coveralls and tried to coax the old men away. Jacko had nearly cuffed one of them around the ears when the silly kid tried the ‘you’ll be more comfortable’ routine. It ended with Jacko pushing the boy back in his boat yelling ‘when I want to be comfortable I’ll lay meself down in my own bloody coffin and Wally here’ll hammer in the nails; now get off my fookin’PROPERTY!’ The sheepish boy was now off-duty and having his first of many beers at the bar, muttering under his breath about that ‘mad old bastard across the way’.
That was when the betting, which had started between just a few blokes, became the sport for the night. Every so often someone would go out with binoculars and come back with a report on what Jacko was doing. When he and Wal took the cows up to the verandah most folks thought they’d pack it in then. Then the water got higher up the stilts that cupped their houses, nearly up to the verandah on Jacko’s, so people who’d put money on the seventh hour got confident, then were out of the running when Jacko stayed put.
But his boat being gone changed things. As long as he’d had his boat the evacuation. time was up to him. Now that he was reliant on the SES it could all be rigged. Willow unbent from the bar long enough to start explaining this to all, there were shouts of ‘Ah bullshit’, and ‘ave another beer Willow’.
‘Wadda you doing with that John?’ Hoggy called. The kitty held maybe a hundred bucks now, people hadn’t been betting with big money, just a lot of noise. John the publican took all the money and dumped it in the fire helmet bolted to the bar. The fire helmet had lettering on it, which read, ‘support your State Emergency Service and Twintown Fire Brigade’.
‘Yeah, yeah, shut your whinging, next round’s on us.’ Much muttering then cheering as John started filling jugs. Then Browny leant over and asked in an evil tone ‘can I pull down that megaphone John?’ The megaphone hung on the wall amidst an assortment of oars, trophies, and rifles. Ha. Ha. The men in the bar’s best corner started laughing.


Jacko returned from the kitchen, righteously pissed off about the keg he figured to be downstairs in the water, just maybe. It was probably floating down-river by now and would land on some lucky bastard’s front lawn. He’d seen enough stuff on his own patch yesterday, when it was still visible. Green plastic from the new hay, a wheelie bin, fence posts.
He sat back in his old chair. The river hadn’t risen fully onto the veranda, just little dribbles lapping up between some cracks to wet his boots. If anything it looked steady. It was dark and the mozzies were going wild, thankfully drawn to the lamp instead of him. The rain had stopped for a while. If it didn’t rain tonight he might escape of this with a dry home.
He was really quite content on his chair in the dark listening to the river move, apart from the lack of a cold one. He sat back and sighed.
Jacko nearly shat himself, the voice was so loud. He jumped up from the chair and stood at the edge. Couldn’t see a thing apart from the pub lights and a streetlamp, but he knew that voice. Browny, the little prick. Browny and the old police megaphone from the wall above the bar across the river.
‘YA UP FOR A SWIM, EH ,JACKO?’ Boomed the voice.
What was this swimming crap, he had a boat and a dry deck up here.
That’s when Jacko saw he no longer had a boat. ‘Shit’, he swore. He couldn’t see it anywhere. Those boys over at the pub had probably watched as it went adrift. He checked the rope that had moored it to a verandah support. Soggy, frayed, and going nowhere.
Jesus, he wished he had his own megaphone. He’d give that little shit what for. But there might be something he could do just as well. The phones were still working.
Jacko went back inside and called Browns’ farm. When Trina answered he started talking quickly.
‘Eh Trina love, its Jacko here…
--Di’ Browny make it home ok?
--Nah, don’t worry. I’ve heard the road’s still well above…
--Nah; that went out a few hours ago, I’ve got radio national on the old battery-wireless.
--Yeah sure; I saw him over at Hoggy’s place- aw, an hour, two hours ago; said they were heading off to the Pub for a few…
--Allright darl- you too. Bye.’


‘Is Browny about?’, asked John across the bar. He had his hand over the mouthpiece and said in a low voice “She sounds pretty pissed at ya mate, have you left yet?”
Browny shook his head frantically as he gulped beer. He held out all ten fingers and shook them twice at John.
“Nah Trina? He apparently left for home about twenty minutes ago. Here? Just the one …heard he got roped into helping Hoggy move his Mums’ things upstairs.”
“Alright… yup, nah your road’s still fine, another bloke’s just come through.
Yeah; gotta go… you too mate. Bye.”
John put down the phone and smirked. Farmer Brown quickly drained his glass, put his hat on and left the pub. His mates in the best corner giggled at him from behind their beards and beers.

‘There you go you little shit’, thought Jacko happily as he watched Browny’s old Ford peel away from the pub.
None of the other blokes in the best corner of the bar picked up the megaphone, perhaps sensing the righteous hand of a wrathful Jacko in the call from Browny’s wife.
‘He’s not gonna get a shag in months’, said Hoggy. The men just looked into their glasses, sadly. None of them had wives, or even shags…
The SES guys came in, calling across the bar for soft drinks. Everyone rushed at them, asking about roads out and properties under. Some old blokes in the corner raised their voices as they discussed ‘what planks those SES blokes are, never heard more bullshit, too many men trying to be boss’, blah blah.
Closer to the bar a young couple who’d been ridden in on the SES boat earlier offered the men in orange a round of beers.
‘Nah thanks guys, still on duty’.
Johnno grabbed a bucket full of soft-drink cans and started heading out.
‘Might take you up on it later though’, he called back. ‘Change of shift… right lads, you can all piss off home’.
He turned to the only other middle-age bloke in the group. ‘You up for this last one Steve?’
‘Eh’, said Steve. The group dispersed, and soon was heard the rumble of the outboard motor chugging away. As quickly as it started it seemed to stop. ‘Shit!’ said a few of the men. They ran outside fearing the worst: that the boat had tangled into one of the trees under the water. They stood on the road and looked across the river.

Jacko was really thirsting by the time the SES made their last attempt to get him out. They tied up to his veranda post then stood in their boat swaying as the fast water rocked them.
‘Come on Jacko, time to pack it in’, coaxed the voice from the boat.
‘We’ll get you over to the pub, there’re rooms free upstairs; bit drier than this, eh?’
Jacko stood up from his chair, opposite and a little above them. For a man in his eighties he was still big, when he unfolded from the chair he stood fully six-foot tall. The lantern glowed behind him like a halo and he stood squarely in the gleaming dark water, arms crossed over his big chest. Steve hadn’t been to church since he was a kid, but he thought the old man looked like the God of the Old Testament, big and angry and cussing from behind his beard.
‘That you Steve?’ asked Jacko.
‘ Allright, allright here’s what we’ll do. I’ll hop in your boat-
‘Good on ya mate’, Steve interrupted quickly. ‘Otherwise we’ve just gotta worry about you all night, less blokes working later too’.
‘-And you can take me over There for a few’, finished Jacko, nodding across the water.
‘ Few what?’
‘ Beers you idiot! I bin sitting here without one for ages’.
‘Oh for Christ’s sake Jacko! Why don’t you just come over, have your beers and go to bed in the pub for the night?’
‘ Cause my bed here’s fine’, growled the old man.
‘Fine, I’m not carting you over there and back though, waste of bloody of time’, muttered Steve.
There was a lengthy silence cut only by the buzz of mosquitoes.
‘That’s a allright boy’. Jacko suddenly smiled at the younger man.
‘How’re your crops doing Steve?’
Steve grew lucerne.
‘Not gonna know for a while yet mate. Back paddocks are under near Turner’s Point Creek… the wife and house’s high and dry though so that’s a relief’.
‘And your other crop?’ asked the old man.
‘The other crop, that lovely fragrant green crop in the lower east paddock?’
Steve knew then that Jacko was God and knew everything about everyone.
‘All right Jacko, hop in’, said Steve.
‘And you’ll bring an old man back home to his bed?’ asked Jacko in a querulous little voice.
‘Hop in’, growled half of the two-man rescue team.


The men on the road ran back into the pub. ‘Boats ok!’ they yelled to all. ‘Think they’ve finally got Jacko into it, can see a tall bloke at the back.’ People checked their watches and started arguing about who’d won the bet, even though the kitty was now in the charity hat. Jacko blustered in, pushing the double doors hard and shaking spray from his shock of white hair. He strode up to the bar and the younger ones scrambled to make way.
‘Finally decide to give it up, eh Jacko?’ yelled a brave soul from the best corner.
‘Let a man have a beer in peace, wouldya Baby’. Jacko downed his schooner in a minute then ordered another. Steve and Johnno rolled fags and puffed on them contentedly. Jacko ordered his second schooner. Steve caught his eye. ‘Ten more minutes’, he said. Jacko nodded into his glass.
Baby couldn’t help asking. ‘Ten minutes what?’ Jacko ignored him, pulled out an old leather pouch and started to roll. Steve and Johnno finished their smokes and went outside before more people offered them a beer they couldn’t have. Steve yelled over his shoulder towards Jacko, ‘Near the monkey bars’.
Jacko quietly enjoyed his smoke with the dregs of his drink.
He handed John a fifty and asked for a slab.
‘Wadda ya need a slab for?’ asked Baby. ‘You gonna go upstairs and drink all by yourself?’
Jacko heaved his slab under one arm, strolled out, and made for the monkey bars that barely rose above the new waterline. A few people followed him out, including Baby and Hoggy and the boys from the best corner.
They watched him get into the boat, and then just a few moments later they could see his silhouette up on his veranda. Backlit by the lantern his shadow-self looked like Moses holding the tablet of the Ten Commandments; he put the slab down and they could all see his silhouette settle into the chair.
Baby looked at Hoggy. ‘Mad old bastard’, he said. The men went back to the best corner they inherited from men like Jacko and Wally. They all felt a bit sheepish and called for another round of beers.

Jacko pulled his lantern up onto the slab; the water was still seeping up through the veranda boards and he didn’t want to lose his light whilst he still had some drinking to do. He put his feet up on the railing and enjoyed the happy little pop and hiss of a cold can opening beneath his hands.
Looking out across the water he could see the string of coloured lights at the pub and could hear the faint hum and clatter from within. He could imagine Willow, now fully curved over the streaming bar, and Baby and the boys sitting tight in the best spot, where you could see the Wives driving up either road and duck beneath the windowsills.

He took a long swig from the can.
‘Mad bastards’, he said fondly.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

The House that Jack built (excerpt from chapter three)

Contemplating love with duster in hand:

Lisa looked after her grandpa when he was sick. He was terrified of being put in a home.
Why did she do it? She thinks it helped her make a ritual of becoming an adult. Drinking in pubs with girlfriends wasn’t doing it. Finishing school hadn’t done it. A few fumbled goes at sex hadn’t.
The dusty flat. Eating semi-thawed dim sims at the too-big table. His hideous, startling night cough. His drinking scotches then donning the kilt. The pub over the back fence and the arguments she heard in her single bed with a faded blue chenille spread. A small framed picture of a ballet scene from Swan Lake.
Her feeling that she was she was paving her way to love. That she was steeped in love, that in these small domestic acts of love she was making memories of the closure of a life. She had a presentiment of her own future nostalgia in contemplating her pa’s death.
And grandpa talked.

He talked about his sister -in- law Eunice, known to Lisa all her life as ‘Mad great aunty Eunice’.
Eunice had disappeared suddenly one night, rumoured to have gone up north by a female colleague who received a single postcard from Kempsey. She left her husband and was never heard from again- the stuff of childhood myth and fantasy, a symbol of adventure and freedom and travel. Lisa always secretly admired mad aunty Eunice, and had been told she looked like her, having the same ‘beer-coloured’ hair.
Lisa pictures her, as she always has, in her forties, though now she’d have to be in her seventies.
But there she is, a radiant and unlined forty three, sitting on a verandah overlooking the scrubby beauty of Hat Head Bay, wearing a Jenny Kee Waratah print dress and contemplating, over a gin and tonic, her delicious, sinful life. Her mad life.

Lisa is somnambulant around the house; listless and locked, she can’t be bothered doing all the little fix jobs she’s listed and considered over and again. She’s thinking about how much Pa talked about Eunice at the end.
People say that when you’re close to dying it’s the old memories, the ones that really count, that keep surfacing. Eunice the young and lovely, vibrant woman; the factory worker with a taste for gin-tonics. The funny, dancing life of the party Eunice who despite her red hair had a soft temperament, was known to be lovely with children and animals. How people gossiped about her going out with girlfriends when her husband pulled long hours at the furniture warehouse.
“What they didn’t know Lisa, was that it wasn’t work that kept him there. I knew he was drinking, he’d always drunk and was pretty good at hiding it in public. I didn’t know how bad it had gotten at home though until Eunice pulled up outside one night and stumbled out of the car to my door. She couldn’t drive, not really, had just bunny hopped her way round the few backstreets between us. She was in her nightie with an overcoat and boots on, and her right eye was red raw and starting to bruise. I knew the pain of Tom’s swift right hook; I’d suffered it myself as his brother. She pushed past me -she was angry more than scared, muttering “I can’t, I can’t. You have to – you’re his brother, get him off it even if you have to punch him out and lock him up. That bastard”.
She finally cried then.
“He hit me, that stupid bastard”

“She stayed that night and at about 3am my brother came to my door looking for a fight. Someone must have seen his car parked outside my place and let him know, bloody gossips. I’m ashamed to say he got his fight. I laid him out cold with a punch to the nose then put him on the couch. Eunice stayed in the back bedroom the whole time; I wouldn’t be surprised if she’d wedged the chair under the door-handle. The next few days my two older brothers banded together and told Tom’s boys at the warehouse we’d kill anyone who opened a bottle with him after work. We talked to him about his responsibilities as a man and as a husband. I think over time he slowed down, or maybe got even better at hiding it, but it didn’t matter to Eunice. He’d hit her and she was gone a week later.”
That Pa had loved Eunice was clear to Lisa. In that week, before she did the infamous ‘runner’ did something happen with that love? Where did she stay, who gave her money? Was it the factory girlfriends as everyone had thought?

Alone in each day in this old house she is caught in this story as if in a web, dazed by it and hopeless to it as she imagines their possible ‘middles’, for she knows the end. Pa married Dora and they had a son, her Dad Nicholas. Dora died of a stroke at only 49 and Pa, many years later, died alone in hospital. No one ever heard again from Eunice- did they? For all anyone knows Eunice’s ashes lay in a pot under a rosebush in some cemetery that borders a dirt-country road.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

'The house that Jack built'

this is the introduction to a 'novel in progress' (dreadful term) of which an earlier blog ('Capacity for crulety') is a crucial moment. So I'm fucking with your head by popping these in out of synch, but hey, ships traverse strange currents and sudden wind-shifts, so just ride the waves if you will...

'The house that Jack built'
Chapter 1.

They stand, diminutive, before the giant house.

It looks unowned; its obvious wood-rot, need for re-pointing and sagging tin roof glow in the autumnal light with a strangely blessed and benign neglect. It was Peter’s Dads home and the young man for whom honour is a living word kept it on after his Dad died five years ago. It was too big for Peter and his young brother Simon anyway; so various renters have maintained, or not, its sprawling garden. Whilst Peter played Dad to his younger brother, a decade of local autoparts workers, farmers then a teacher and his family variously battled, lived with or caused this decay of wood, this blurring of once clear lines, this home or house.

The house; has it been waiting? Though the light is not bright Lisa shades her eyes to better see it. She has not come here before, all is new yet old, strange yet familiar. Before her, almost all around her so big is it, sprawls a sagging red brick federation with cream concrete pillars supporting the return verandah. Within, beyond the door that is locked, lies a long and dark central hall, its gloom and grimy paint interrupted by archways and pendant lights of shallow upturned frosted-pink bowls. Two small rectangles of bedroom come off at either side. These are cool pea-green and a shadowy teal-blue, baby-pink and old-lady-lilac. They are old country rooms, made for two boys, two girls, a guest and the parental bed. Single long windows are close-lidded by blinds with frayed and braided pull-hoops. There are posters of rainforests, or in one room, famous trains. Behind the front door lie beautiful things now dusty, a pleasing decay that whilst inert of itself creates swift imaginings of things held soft to the heart in a clutch of lavender. Ceiling fans. White lace drapes. Dust motes that hang in space.

Peter and Lisa will traverse all of this soon, and call it theirs. They will read in a mammoth lounge and dining room where a wall knocked out leads to the old kitchen. Peter will grow muscles along his spine from chopping wood to feed the combustion stove and Lisa will learn to make stirfries in a wok on a single ring of gas supplied by a bottle out the back. The house will be cold; the ceilings go up to 18ft and off the kitchen a wraparound rear verandah houses a 1980s peach bathroom that is perpetually mouldy. They will learn to keep rugs on their laps in the evening, and Lisa will work with the mouldy bathroom by planting a small rainforest of ferns in it. As she bends over the stove old boxes in the attic overhead will hold tight to their secrets. And as she gazes out of the kitchen window chook sheds will make her smile and plan.

But now they stand quietly as Peter fishes in his pockets for the keys.

Lisa sees herself busy gently fixing here. The house will whisper to her what it needs done and she will set about it. The house has an air of both incredible stillness and expectancy. Nothing moves, all is silent waiting. She sees herself restful here, but busy with the work of her hands.

“I love it” see says turning to Peter.
He sighs, “me too”.

Don’t you think it feels like its waiting?
For us?
Maybe just for something to happen.
Like us, he says.

(No, she thinks. Not like us.)


In bed.

As I turn away I feel his sleep. He sleeps. I had been so milk-washed and warm too. Then the house shook and shimmied. Wind picked it up and squeezed its arthritic old bones. Warm wind of autumnal rot and wet squeezed with its cold fist. The house gasped and flinched then stilled.
He stirs, I go still. He has to sleep, one of us has to sleep.
I roll to face the grey window square. We are in the lilac room which faces out to the property’s front. A tallboy looms in the corner, keeping sentinel over us as it has for so many previous sleepers in the old oak bed. The wind suspends itself in dawn stillness. It is at this time, always this time that it happens. My lungs slow their movement.
I hear it. Quiet at first then closer- the voice that calls. I listen. The voice calls my name.
The voice calls my name into the day. It is my own voice. If it is my own voice, then where am I?


She gets up and moves through a house all a twitch, all a flutter. Early morning light refractions and a silence as vast as a yawn. It makes her feel stretched, this quiet, bigger and more open to the vast wastes of land beyond their drive. There is porridge soaked to cook for breakfast and ripe oranges to squeeze. The birds gossip, the toilet flushes and the stove gets fed a log. Outside a cat closes in for the kill. In the time that its mouth stretches monstrous around a starling a radio spurts dj talk, the porridge is burned in the pot- let their jitterbug day begin.
Later they stand at the edge of their block. She looks sadly at their new house, which is an old house in an area being newly developed. Around them acre lots are pegged out with string. The driveway curves in a slow arc up to the garage, the path makes its line to the front door, just as it should. Yet despite the huge expanse of gnarled old gum trees that hover aver it the house looks undressed and vulnerable, old and alone against the huge expanse of sky and dirt, dirt and sky. Windows like lidless eyes look back at her. She’ll get finished washing the lace drapes today. The garden will have to wait until they can afford to hire help to do something about it; it’s so overgrown it seems to dwarf the house beneath it, huge branches arced over a small child, in protection or threat she doesn’t know.He turns to her and smiles. ‘Here we are then’ he says.

Monday, June 23, 2008


fucking blogspot swapped over my email -to one on Gmail I'd set up yonks ago, without even telling me. Much vexation as my login attempts kept failing...
will write a blog soon, just glad to have found the source of the problem...

Monday, May 26, 2008

'captain Dad' is here and fixing!

sad to say that this sailor girl's big ole boat of a house is under seige.
Day two of the holidays and the Captain (my pa) is out in the rain, aged 70, pulling rotting old timbers pasted with builders bog out of my creaking 'ships' window frames.
I can't believe the half-assed job prior owners have performed in lieu of 'maintenance'.

so as the timbers are peeled back like onion skin and the ants nest are discovered the rain keeps coming down and the list of ongoing work gets longer. I hope for clear skies tomorrow to keep on trying to make this old duck in the water seaworthy and tight as a tick in a drunken whores mattress...

no hammock time for me my friends, storms are a coming and the crew is busy on deck!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

For all the Mothers, but moreso for all the Sisters.

As Mother’s day approaches I’m deeply mindful of my own Mum’s wonderfulness, failings, sacrifices, foibles and love.
I recall little magical things: the times home sick when I’d be tucked into a bed so tight I had to fall asleep because movement was impossible. So sleep I would, until around 10am, then it was a chicken-noodle cuppa soup and a white-bread cheese sandwich and a promise that if I stayed in bed until 1 pm I could get up in my jammies and watch ‘The Young and the Restless” then ‘Day’s of our Lives’.
She’d be ironing and the lounge would smell of warm fabric; I’d be hooking my rug or working on the latest craft tapestry.

Or the time she made her first chilli-con-carne using real chillies and got over excited and used sooo much that even my Dad (a business traveller accustomed to the hottest of curries) was gagging and beet-red.

She has her strife (hell she’s Scorpio!) and her lack of sensibility at times- but she’s mine. I get to say that about her, it’s the nature of parenting I guess that for a kid the parent is simply ‘theirs’…

Yet as the advertising sweeps in celebrating this one aspect of Womanhood I’m also mindful of my sisters who aren’t mothers and will not or may never be.
I have friends who have chosen the clear path of not having kids. I salute them for this bravery in a time where ‘family’ still means just one thing in the mainstream.

These smart and beautiful single woman around me who hear the dreaded ticking clock and hope then don't and find ways to somehow push through with open hearts and yet deep introspection.

My lesbian friends who are so strong together and caring and kind but for whom physical motherhood means so much 'assistance' they've chosen to write it off.

My friends and all women who have tried and struggled and tried again and been constantly accosted by the images of babies in most advertising media. It used to be nude gals and sexualization of women I hated in ads, now it’s the notion of the super-mother and super-father with their perfectly clean and cuddly offspring.

I too have tried and tried and struggled and been made little by the medical profession who though they do want to help must have hides of leather to keep themselves sane. I don’t hate them.

But I love my sisters who know the grief, or the choice, or the existential crisis of not being part of this huge club. We stand outside the circle and make our own clubs where the sheer rudeness of strangers and their assumptions, or the sheer arrogance of a culture that celebrates only one form of mothering, are offset by a deep understanding of our times of loneliness and our times of mad and liberal joy.

This mother’s day I ask you to thank any woman you know who has ‘mothered’ you with her care, her cooking, her straight talk or her tough love.

For Jenny, Tracey, Sharnee + Tan. For Aaron and Shona. For Alanna and Sharon and Shellie and Emilie:
My love, respect and abiding fondness for our own 'parenting' cirlce.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

The Capacity for Cruelty (draft chapter)

Simon arrives. He is like a raven to her. Black clad, liquorice whip thin, dusty in bike boots; he is incendiary, smoky smelling, his hair wiry-black, bristling like feathers, his eyes the green-black of petrol. His eyes are slanted; astigmatism makes even his most candid glance seem slanted. His fingers are tobacco stained, he reeks of cigarette smoke and hot fumes. His voice when they talk is full of ire and fire- a year’s travels to scorched places, strange dreams dreamt under tin roofs during the shear. He emits sun and dust and sparks and reminds her of the grass fires she as a child saw sweep across the suburban paddocks near her home. Over the next week she learns he’ll pull his weight. His new medication makes him hyped up, manic at times but he burns it up in hacking at the garden with saw, hoe, spade and bare hands. He needs family and home until the next job, until the medication starts doing its level best. One day she finds him squatting under the shadowing ghost-gum examining a single stem of the wild and scrubby garden. He looks slowly from the plant up at her with eyes both flat and brilliant. “Correa Reflexa” is all he says, so that she feels stupid with her mouth full of small hostessy words, and must walk quickly way. She watches him. Her nostrils quiver at his passing odour- hot dust and an acrid tang of sweat. She is appalled by how sharp her lust is, feels the tight pink whirls and coils of her cunt and labia become slick and plumped with blood. She is a creature, an animal, feels every scorching inch of skin, and feels her nipples chafe inside their soft white cup of cotton. She watches from the kitchen window; she wants, and in this rasping state of breathlessness thinks of a match dropped to arid grasslands, contemplates the power and cruelty of fire, of fucking, of this irrevocable thing that she knows must happen.

That night the three of them sit on the veranda drinking beer and wine. Simon rolls cigarette after cigarette from a pouch of Champion Ruby as he and Peter talk of the house, of their boyhood, of Simon’s future.
His voice crackles in the dark against the more soothing hum of Peter’s. Lisa doesn’t talk much, downs the cheap the chardonnay quickly and lies back on an overstuffed and leaking armchair letting Simon’s matches fall at her feet, his voice twine around her like ropes. He is grandiose, drunk, but not as she’s been left to assume, particularly mad. His meds are to help him stop counting and finding numeric solutions to simple acts; the small tablet carefully halved each day allows him to loosen a control he describes as having been so rigid it was bowing his back tight, forcing him to smoke huge quantities of the good grass always available in rural towns. He speaks of people he has known, dogs he has loved. She imagines many women he has loved too, or that have loved him with his petrol eyes and calloused hands. About them the air is heavy and sullen, leeching the dusk sky of all colour save a metallic, toxic silver green. Simon reaches in to the esky for another beer, as the ice tinkles she becomes aware of a faint stirring, of atoms trembling on the brink of some coming shift. As the leaves of the ghost gum dryly flutter on the sudden hot gusts of north wind she realizes she has been holding her breath and lets it our in a sweeping sigh.
She is drunk, twitchy, and sticky with her own sap. She rises. “ I have to go and cool off, too much wine. G’night.”
Peter grabs her hand as she brushes by and kisses it. He is soft and lovely with beer and new company. “I’ll come and scrub your back”
“Don’t, she laughs. “Stay here with Simon or he’ll think we’re a boring old married couple”

Simon looks at her face intently, for what seems an age.
“I don’t think you’re boring” He leans up briefly to kiss her on the cheek, misses and his lips catch the tender skin under he jaw. In an instant her skin communicates this thing to him, flushes against him and she knows he knows.

She runs a bath; sometimes a bath is all that will do. When she was a girl if a storm came and the house beneath the hills screamed and shimmied with the wind she would cry and thrash about all electric until her mother dumped her in a bath full of bubbles. Mum would bring in the radio and play ABC oh so soft, sometimes radio-talk would tell a spy story or a torrid romance and the eloquent Shakespearian voices would seem sensible and lulling.
Now she sinks. Into the water to expand like a sponge as the ripples loosen her shoulders and belly. The wind struggles against the violeted window glass and the house creaks and bumps. It is an old house, it breathes in air much the same way she does. If she reclines until her head floats semi submerged she can hear her own heartbeat and water slowly seeping through the plug. She lies like this for minutes, the steady drip of water in her ears like a ticking clock, dulcet, soothing.
When she opens her eyes she sees the dark shadow of him is standing in the slit of open doorway.
She brings her hand up to her ribcage, her elbow making silken eddies in the now cool water. As she touches two fingers to her puckered areola the door softly closes. be continued

copyright Amanda Wilson, 2008

Monday, March 24, 2008


Selene had dreamed of red the night before she found the lip rouge. In the dream she stood before a smeary mirror in the office tearoom and stared into the image of a face, which rippled as on water. She was taller and leaner and wearing fabrics she struggled against, fabrics she associated with pornography. The lace against her breasts was shiny and rubbed with wear. The silk skirt left her deliberately exposed and nude.
In her left hand, long and coolly pale, she held a delicate black pot stenciled in curlicues of gold gone to brass with the rubbings of time. Poised in her right hand like a cigarette filter dangled a slender brush. She dipped the brush into the pot, still transfixed by her cool other-image, and swirled it so that it emerged coated in redness. Thick vermilion that glistened as brilliant and wet as Chinese lacquer.
With a studied voluptuousness she raised the brush to her mouth and coated over and again the swollen lips. Over and again prod the brush into the pot, rim her mouth deeper and deeper into the red until her lips are sealed and invulnerable, as glossed and impenetrable as cherrywood.
She is asleep behind her mouth and yet in dreaming eases the brush again over the curving swell of her lower lip. It is warm wax. It seals and protects her.

She wakes up to the bass-heavy rattling kump-KA, kump-KA of a hot and rotting autumn wind pushing at the old panes. She makes coffee in the dark and draughty kitchen. No make-up to work today, yet still she is conscious of her mouth, the shapes it makes as she murmurs in the quiet office or sips a half cold coffee from the machine. She keys in data and lets its mindlessness wash over her. The red lip-rouge and all its potency glimmer in her mind, blood-heart of vividness in a room of grey walls, green terminals and shadow. She knows the pot of rouge to be hiding in a drawer; the last of its color caked like shoe polish, smelling of old roses.
That night Selene finds some of her Nana’s old things in a seed pearl purse. She also finds herself frightened by the accuracy of the dream image. She’s not usually prone to deep dreaming, or even to everyday vanities like lipstick. She knows she is colorless and wears her pale peach hair in a ponytail. Her skin is chalky-white and though she’s tried to wear make-up in the past, it always looks garish under the fluorescence at work. Now she moves into the bathroom and flicks her grey-eyed glance across the shelves, looking for the right oil. This is Selene’s private indulgence, fragrant oils for bathing. She loves to bathe, loves to lie in the tub in the darkened bathroom letting her ears drop just below the surface water until she can hear her own heartbeat. She takes a small bottle of macadamia oil, its fragrance already warmly exposed. At the dresser she carefully drizzles oil into the caked pot, watching it moisten and glow brightly red. As she watches this brightening, this process of glimmer and shine, Selene recalls again the dream and how she sucked in her breath as she looked at her final self. She begins to touch her face, and then she opens a bottle and is touching her face with circles of creamy foundation smoothed over her pallor. She puffs talc around her sharp jaw and sees it immediately soften, then with a long pencil rims her eyes in a hint of smudged grey kohl. They are enormous eyes, pools of silver in a blank face. She is a blank canvas that cries out for the red heart/mouth at its center, the color that will twist gazes to her; twist herself into someone new and dangerous. She paints, the color glimmers from the pot, glows on her lips like passion and tastes like old perfume. Selene dresses in a suit the color of milk-touched coffee. She slides pale silk stockings over her smooth legs. The fur collar she found in the old suitcase of her nana’s fits over the jacket and fluffs in a soft amber glow against her throat. Her shoes are oxblood leather. A look in the mirror from heels to head tells her that she is new. She is new and marvelous and shivering with possibility.

She goes perhaps to a darkened jazz club, listens to the sultry music as she sips at short blacks. The saxophonist is tall with long legs and slim hips. She watches and sips, he senses her stare and returns it. Selene feels as though she holds him in place with an invisible thrumming wire of energy that connects their gazes. On the break before the bands’ third set she finds herself being led insistently from the bar, past cables and amps and drum cases and into the half-lit industrial kitchen. His lips are searingly hot as they push aside the fur collar to lick and nuzzle her arched neck. Selene feels his hands between her shoulder blades undoing some hooks, her bra is pulled down leaving her breasts cool and exposed to the air, then his hot mouth finds her nipples, laps and sucks at the tightening pink skin. She is both out of her body with disbelief and immersed deeply in her own flesh as her skirt is hitched up and her knickers eased down. He is sliding incredibly long cool fingers along her thighs and the sink under her arse is icy cold and the sensation of being emotionally detached even as she pushes her breast into his mouth, of burning through her belly even as she shivers against slick metal overwhelms her. Selene pulls at the belt of his jeans then slides the clingy rayon shirt up his smooth torso. He doesn’t say anything to her. His fingers flick against her clitoris sending shimmering heat up her spine, they tangle in her pubic hair as he strokes the skin in low slow rhythms that leave her slack and sprawled and open. She slides her hands into his shorts, delights in the feel of the hard contracting muscles under the hot skin of his arse, then moves her hands round slowly to touch the thick velvety penis that strains towards her fingers.
He bites her throat, her ear; growls ‘God your mouth’ as he pulls her to the edge of the sink and kneels between her wide-flung thighs. His tongues is inside her then lapping and swirling around the whirls of her labia and clit until she collapses, panting, against the tiles, so glad she chose the sax player over the drummer that she laughs aloud…

But maybe Selene doesn’t dig jazz. Perhaps she goes to a gothic club then hides in the toilet fearing her new face in this crowd of strange faces, these ‘petals on a wet black bough’. A woman, tall with a beautiful pale décolletage offset by stiff black ruffles will watch her, then ask her to dance. They go the bar and Violet buys her shots of tequila. Selene drinks and her pink cat-tongue flicks out to lick the salt. They stare at each other and suck on the wedges of lemon. Selene’s mouth is ruby-smeared and tingling as she holds a slice of lemon between her teeth and leans into Violet’s perfumed neck, plum-hued mouth. Violet nips at the lemon, then growls low as she as she twines Selene’s hair into a rope and pulls her inexorably in for the kiss that is soft yet casts a handsome burn. Their knees draw closer together; they finger each other’s hair and napes as their lips slant harder in this kiss. Red lipstick smears with purple so that when they draw apart, panting, their lips looks bruised.

Maybe though Selene tires. Maybe the cat is hungry and wants to play; maybe the flat is warm and safe. Maybe she stays at home, undresses again slowly removing all but the red lipstick at the heart of her face. She reads a few chapters from an erotic anthology with a beautifully photographed black and white nude on its cover. Then, sprawled naked on her old couch she begins to caress herself. She will sigh as her hands glide down her arms against the inner flesh that is white, vulnerable and supple. She muses then that she is glad for this preciousness of skin housing self, for its youthfulness, it’s feeling. She must not waste this skin-communicated thing she has, that people have together. The book drops to the floor as she runs her fingers (so new seeming!) in delicate whirls over her breasts and belly. Her breathing deepens, she feels its heavy ebb and return eddy in the thickly radiant heat of the furnace. She drifts in currents of warm-water pleasure and her cat slinks out an open window.
Here is her form on the old couch: her lips glow softly carmine, her body rises and falls like pale tidal spume; rises, retreats then sinks into the deeps of sleep.

She dreams that she sits in a very hard-backed chair in a row of other people sitting in various poses: upright, stiff, sprawled or coyly cross-footed. In this formation they seem to be flying and so begged on by great gust of wind she stretches out her arms as wings. The one sitting before her does the same, then soon the one behind, and like this, like children in a school game, they turn great arcs against the sky, wheel and dive like birds over a tourmaline-green sea.

Thursday, March 20, 2008


Somewhere between this now
black and white pixilation
in a picture,
And then when she
strolled gently through the air
(little stirrings everywhere)
was the moment-
all wavered, shivered, stopped-
of her capture
in the ether
in the other
in the second of the shot.

Where air sucked in and held,
a pause of motion, atoms tremble
and water fixed to sand.
An umbrella caught,
caught in flight
flutters on the brink.

Captured in the knowing eye
swift finger, held breath
- indolent click.


The window is a lake she’d like to swim
Arrow through the mirror dark of water
Flicking feet like ghost-white fins

She knows she could breathe in and then
Go deep enough that breathing doesn’t matter
The window is a black lake she’d like to swim

Turn out the light, the sound, and him
Then through the surface break and shatter
Flicking feet like ghost-white fins

The night beyond the pane is beckoning
Soft now is the voice of her Mother’s Daughter
Beyond the window, a black lake she’d like to swim

To know the sun in water drops on skin,
To curl her toes in current and then
Flick her feet, like ghost-white fins

And in the room the TV men are proclaiming
Danger! A boy-child killed his mother.
The window is a black lake she’d like to swim,
Flicking feet like ghost-white fins