[Poetry] a royal vizier in ladytown


Image credit: The Mash: Andersonville, Chicago

under blankets, untold stories fill the screen
we’re cuddled close to velveteen
(she smells faintly of onions)
implausible contortions of an old familiar tale

Ladytown looks nice this time of day

we didn’t have to go this way
up and down a street filled with salons and antiques
some cushy veggie eats
fluffy clothing stores less dear than home

Ladytown has parapets
a patio too many –
one patio is too many for castles such as these

we will live here, you and i + our little son
calcifer! lord of fire!
king of sinks

friendly dyed-hair waiter brings the drinks

sweet Ladytown brings friends and big v i b r a t i o n s
a tiptoe past a tulip station
full of soft pink phalluses

a song is just a dick dressed in sheep’s clothing

[Personal fiction] Tracheal burn



Image credit: Fuck You by Kathe Burkhart (1984)

The jagged looks get stuck in your throat after a while. It’s the passive degradation as you’re walking down the street, keeping your head high and trying to hang on to the warm feelings you earned in the mirror that morning. Four different outfits and a thirty minute debate between two indistinguishable sweaters until finally you could see yourself and smile.

It’s not even about ‘passing’ anymore, that nebulous, fucked-up dream-mare of people looking at you and ticking enough gender checkboxes that they’re at least confused rather than outraged about you. Forget about hiding that strong jawline they love praising when you’re in your man-mode, the bland grey disguise you use to ward off judgement for a day, become just another invisible denim ghost wandering the street and fading into the background.

Wow! You’re telling me I can get this button-up shirt in three different shades of dark blue? I’m overwhelmed with the choice. Please, this is too much for my rational man-mind, leave the risque fashion choices to the women. It’s all too hard for me. Remember to avert your eyes as you pass the lingerie shop in case people catch you looking and draw the wrong or right conclusions. What kind of pervert are you?

You’ve got to capture what self-confidence you can, because it drains away constantly, like water through the old ratty rubber plug in your bath. Constant attrition on the street, from your social media feeds, from the voices echoing in your head when you’re at your lowest. Throw your sliding scale out the window – there’s good days and bad days, divided not by a drifting moon but insensitive comments that follow no discernible pattern. You are always vulnerable: you are only safe cuddled up with your best friend in their little upstairs living room, taking refuge from a world outside that’s voted against your identity.

The jagged looks get stuck in your throat, and they hurt. They rip you up, but inside, where nobody can see it and your smile can stay on your face. It’s tracheal burn of the worst variety, like choking on an olive pit. You are too big for yourself, and you bulge at the seams.

[Fiction] Lord of the Liferings: All Aboard the Fellowship


Image credit Jamie Smith – inksnow.blogspot.com

All characters property of J.R.R. Tolkien.

“The world has changed. I feel it in the water. I feel it in the sand. I smell it in the salty air. Much that once was is now lost, for none now sail who remember it.

“It began with the forging of the great liferings. Three were given to the elves, immortal, wisest, and most buoyant of all beings. Seven to the Dwarf Lords, great miners who wouldn’t know the ocean from their aunt Nimli’s bathtub. And nine, nine rings were given to the race of men, who above all can’t swim without an instructor and years of intensive training. For within these liferings were bound…”

“Cut! Cut!” screamed Gríma Wormtongue, forgetting that the bullhorn he held magically amplified his voice many times. The resultant blast of sound had everybody clutching at their ears. One grip, a young orc named Bolg, was so startled he knocked the lighting rig he was adjusting into the ocean with a soft splash, where it promptly fizzed itself into oblivion.

Wormtongue winced, trying to calm the ringing in his own ears. “Sorry, sorry, everybody,” he said, more softly. “Stop the scene. And take better care of that equipment!” he barked at Bolg – half-heartedly, since he knew he was at fault. Moving the bullhorn aside, he shouted up at the lighthouse which loomed large above them all, in a far more deferential and nervous tone than before.

“What is it, my lord?” In response, a blinding beam of light shone down from the lighthouse, centering on Cate Blanchett, who lowered her script and shielded her eyes with a cloth-draped forearm. “Galadriel, lord?” The beam gestured angrily, jerking insistently and repeatedly to the left of where Cate stood, towards the waterline.

“Cate, go stand to the left a bit! That’s right, where the Dark Lord is pointing,” Wormtongue said. “Gorgol, how we doing on that lighting?”

Continue reading

[Poetry] velveteen


Image credit thomahawk1234 on Deviant Art

there’s an eye up in that lighthouse
baleful and blistering
insisting on surveillance of our
most petty ephemera

what’s your aesthetic?
nailed to the wall in shifting existential crises
this trip holds no surprises
for those cynical creatives
jaded by the rhetoric oozing down the wall

SPOOPY spelled in lacquered chunks

what’s your aesthetic?
invalidation and assault
don’t stop until we MAGA and force those suckers out
pussy grabbed and paid for
by our forefathers
wouldn’t they be proud to see our country standing tall?

SPOOPY drips and spatters on the wall

what’s my aesthetic?
same as anybody’s, anger
sharp shoulders, straightened back
gender abnormative disconformative liberal left-wing quack

I spread love irresponsibly
loom big above the bigots
embrace the 2am texts from a sexting supermoon

my aesthetic?
velveteen rabbit
wet fur clogging up the sink
and SPOOPY lettered out in goopy green

[Review] Romeo + Juliet (Sydney Shakespeare Company)


PACT Theatre, Erskineville
Until 9th October

The bard’s tale of star-crossed lovers, Romeo & Juliet, is not a new one. It’s old in the sense that you’ve read it before in high school English class, seen at least one amateur stage production of it, and the play itself was written some few hundred years ago. Yes, it’s a classic – but probably one you’ve filed away in the “cultured but stale” drawer to pull out at opportune moments.

It’s promising then that the Sydney Shakespeare Company’s production of Romeo & Juliet keeps the audience’s interest throughout. No, these aren’t the glitzy gun-toting Montagues and Capulets of Baz Luhrmann’s 1996 film of the same name, just an honest, no-frills production of the original, faithful to the core. The stage is simple but pleasing, and the characters sport the familiar half-capes and stockings characteristic of Shakespeare’s works set in medieval Italy.

Where the production shines through is in the honesty and humour of the characters. It’s clear the actors are having the fun Shakespeare intended when Steven Hopley parades around as the irredeemable pun-dropping Mercutio, or Jack Mitchell’s clueless yet sassy Peter. The Montague and Capulet parents are regal and commanding – though their behaviour really brings home certain facts about the horrible medieval treatment of women that still persists, in many ways, today. Emily Weare does an outstanding job as the slightly irresponsible and long-suffering nurse, dominating the stage whenever she appears.

But cliched as it may feel, it’s the interaction between Romeo and Juliet that bring this production to life. Benjamin Winckle portrays the confused, love-smitten Romeo well, but it’s Emilia Stubb-Grigoriou’s Juliet that sweeps it away. Gone are the wistful, sighing, middle-distance-gazing mannerisms of many classic Shakespeare performances, to be replaced with pouts, carefree enthusiasm and the manic distractedness of a twelve-year-old. Emilia reminds us with her absurdly expressive face that Juliet is nothing more than an early teenager, helping bring perspective a great deal of reality into the old classic.

If you’re not beyond the power of the bard’s words to recall, the Sydney Shakespeare Company’s Romeo & Juliet is an excellent reacquaintance with the cleverness and power of his work.

[Review] The Red Turtle

Fusion x64 TIFF File

Characters are the essence of a story, and The Red Turtle understands that. This latest offering made in partnership with wonderful Japanese animators Studio Ghibli – creators of Totoro, Spirited Away, and any number of emotional animated classics – understands this so well, in fact, that it decided to dispense with the dialogue and adhere to the principle that actions speak louder than words.

That’s right: The Red Turtle features no dialogue at all. There are no touching, heartfelt conversations; no fierce repudiations of a sneering villain’s nefarious machinations; no heated arguments or meandering spoken-aloud thought trains. Nor is there any narration. Save for the rare scattered “hey” or voiceless cry, this is a story told wholly without words.

Unsurprisingly, this places The Red Turtle into a very special category with only a few, select neighbors. Oh, sure, we’ve seen our fair share of Pixar shorts using purely physical interaction and whimsical soundtracks to weave a narrative, but those are what their name implies – short. How well can this possibly be sustained for the 80 minute running time of The Red Turtle?

Continue reading

[Fiction] The Patri-Ark

south-park-warcraftThe ceiling fan creaks as its turgid blades spin half-heartedly. Gravity pulls close the stifling air, stretching it heavily across the sweat-ridden figure laid out upon the sofa like a corpse.

    “Grooover…” it moans, scrabbling feebly at pinstriped fabric. “How did it come to this?”

    The figure collapses again, spent, and silence settles once more upon the room. Save for the humble squeaking of the ceiling fan, all is still. It is curious, then, that the figure should have gone to such lengths to address an empty room; but who can know what thought flits through the head of that richly-dressed and languid form? Let us leave it to its ruminative huddling for the moment.

    The room which it inhabits is expensively appointed, outfitted with the sort of furnishings designed to impress rather than satisfy. The dark purple carpet is impractically soft; the leather armchairs so deep one could sink in and be lost forever; and along the wall beside medieval paintings stand proud oak bookcases lined with dusty tomes unread in this life or any other. There is wealth in this room, and taste – but the sort of taste arrived at by well-funded trial and error. Here is intimidation by furniture, status carved from stately trees. One does not visit this room – one is suffered to be entertained.

    “Grover…” comes the moan. “What happened to it all?”

    This time, the figure’s plea does not go unanswered. The tall oak door swings inwards noiselessly, allowing through a short, bald man clad all in black. A true gentleman’s gentleman, he does not so much enter the room as insinuate himself into it gently, treading upon the impossibly soft carpet bearing a silver tray. Upon the tray is perched a frothing stein and a plain white card, steepled carefully in the middle.

    “Master,” Grover says, “they have arrived.” Like the Red Sea before Moses, the fingers of the hand flung dramatically across the master’s face part slowly, and his rheumy eyes focus on the white card held before him. Then, the ancient orbs light up, glinting as they haven’t done for a year and more. The huddled figure struggles, bone-white soul patch wobbling on a weak, unsteady chin.

    “Well, don’t just stand there, Grover! Send them in! But help me up first.” Pillows propped; frothing tonic administered, the master reclines upright as Grover ushers in the three awaited men, who approach the settee with measured steps and respectfully bowed heads. Luxuriously maintained beards sprout forth in bushy abundance from their three unshaven necks.

Continue reading