How many any times do you think we’ve done it?

I didn’t ask because I was drunk, or sad or curious. I asked because she was taking off her jeans. She gave me a look, she gave me a look with a smile. I anticipated more. She gave just a little more. A fraction more. “3/7”.
Probably three times a week. I was nodding the whole time, thinking about the theme for a short story or poem or novel we’d come up with earlier.

It would just come down to how privileged for time we were in the coming months. A moth flickered around the room, chasing rays of light, sound like mandolins, rainbows refracting off the globes of blackness.

It just keeps getting better an better, she whispers into my ears. I hope she’s talking about my writing, but it’s probably to do with the sex. It’s all good stuff, I say out loud.

Prisoner of War – Silver Meadow.

She had an idea, one of her ‘forced ideas of fun’, which I find incredibly challenging, because they fly in the face of my momentary dullness. She’s brilliant like that. Closing my eyes, I follow her example. Using the title of a randomly selected book. Hers was ‘Prisoner of War’, mine – ‘Silver Meadow’.

“I miss your curtain babe, I miss looking up at it, where did it go?”
“Have you had a year without sex since turning 18?”
“Have you had sex with one person for a year? Not a calendar year…”
“What do you think that says about you?”

Yes, please plait my hair // face to face with a possum.

So here we go: disappearing into the treetops, see if you can find me.

I wish I hadn’t been captured. I remember what they’d said in the corps, aboard the freighters, all us diggers, most dead the rest captured I suppose. All I have in my mind is the day before. The fuse of my mind, a flash, the rain and thunder of artillery. Sand spattering, rocks dissolving into shale, leaving a hole and sometimes a scream. Alfred’s leg disappearing in a thud. A ghost and spattering of blood. No matter how good the fucking hats are, this constant bombardment is useless.

They bombed the coast the week before our fleet deployed on the beaches. Gallipoli. A sandy grave, identity lost in a mask of terror. Running commentary of bullets. A sheer rockface, a brief field; the killing ground. Each of us, the nightly skirmish, roaving spotlights, shouts and accented curses.
“thubb-thubbb-taktaktaktaktak”, machine guns and artillery.

My feet haven’t been dry since we landed, the blood, sweat and tears are a ghostly wet that soaks into me and rots me from the outside in. How I wished to be home then, laying between the legs of my sweet young love. It all seems so trivial now. She’d massage my back, run her hands through my hair – so gentle.
That was love and I can see it now, see it clearly. I was so rough back then, but she gave me everything, all of her time and attention. Careful and precious. Now I wish I was dead. The camps are an external torture that I can manage, but it’s my own mind, starvation like i’ve never known. Pushed to the limit of myself. I have become a stomach, acid that burns inside me, kills me. Tongue that drowns me, parched flesh that swells if I don’t have the daily round of breadhusk and water. I am the crust, crushing and folding in on myself with blinking eyes, unable to tear. An ingrown hair on my neck has gone from boil to balloon, it will probably infect and end it all. A wish that I hope comes true, gritting my teeth, lying to myself through the pain. A fear of death takes all the strength I have and pressing against my eyes lids. I popped the horrible welt and thought to myself if the puss that leaked from my neck may be edible. I used it as a lip balm, the lipstick of the sick. Purposeless.

The morning of my capture rose golden over the Adriatic. The Mediterranean, reminded me of the east coast where I grew up. I’d eaten a honey-oat biscuit and watched the sun lean over the horizon. My feet were numb and sodden with sweat which would fast rub blisters and infect. Fighting to my feet, I looked over the camp, small tunnels and an enclave of ditches with blanket coverings. Poor drainage and the sound of the ocean were two things nobody seamed to care much for, we were trying to win a war, there wasn’t space for any of that. I rubbed my lips with the back of my jacket and scorned the surroundings for the sand that chafed at my every bodily interaction. It was hot already. Oddly I felt at home. I looked over the lip of the trench, out and over it all. Some bodies remained, half way towards the hill. Noone had retrieved their corpses, no silver coins closed their eyes. Flies and the smell of shit were the markers that told all. Infected land, with the pointless sick. Money and land, paid for in blood. Gold of the land, red yellow sand and and bullets, bullets everywhere.

There were no attempts that day, no relief, no rest. Just the moon and clouds and the occasional distant chatter of soon-to-be-shrapnel. I looked out over the field. One of ours lay sprawled, face down, while another, maybe someone I knew, perhaps ran with briefly before clambering back behind cover, he’d mounted himself in a way where is back arched and he looked back; eyelids pinned open, gravity pulling them down. He died seeing the world upside down and now stared back at me, black eyes, hollowing with fear and flies. Looking at all of us, compatriots, idiot cowards and survivors alike. I wanted to run out and close his eyes, die drying if I had to- roll over his corpse, to look back on his destroyers. A crippling, gaze that told all. The moon glinted off each bullet in turn. I though back to every time I had change in my pocket, wished for such a time to be now, I could crawls out, taking my two coins and placing them over his empty drilled hollows. The skeleton skull, so full and morose in features, hollow and harrowing, with spiralling buzzing flies, gargantuan from feasting on the riches of the patriotic fallen. I squeezed by eyes shut, shuddering with an strange cold, fever hairs on end, parched lips. I remember the quiet and the cold, the moment before I ran out into that silver-meadow. I thought I’d make it, adrenaline seethed in my veins, iron and shouts and a clanking deep into my bones. My ears filled with a ringing and shouting that may have been my own. Heroic and waster, I fell short of my attempt to rescue us all from the look of death. One more for the ferry man, I thought collapsing. I laughed at the waste of it all. Maybe if I kicked out I’d catch his head with my toes and upset the flies. Am I dying? It was raining down on my and my eyes closed. Small rivers ran down my face and my breathing slowed. I opened my mouth and washed down my spit and blood with the unescaping spirit of patriots. Gunshots rang out all the next day, I scorched and sweated in my boots all the next and then, finally it all went silent.

It was strange to wake up, I may still be dead, but I reckon not. I’m in too much pain to be there, on the other side. its windy too, theres no wind in the afterlife. I believe – it shouldn’t be like this. I’m a prisoner now, skinned, grated down like rope burn on leather tanned hands. Rough sand clog the corners of my eyes. the shackles on my wrist, the blood that cakes for want of circulation. all of it is momentary, strange human politics black and white static shimmers up at me in the moonlight. i think of the maggots inside the skulls of those more fortunate than me. gallipoli having claimed them. the bullet holes werent enough for me to pass over, not yet. so here is my story; the prisoner of war, survivor of the silvermeadow.

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Scared

Cooked and British’s. bruised ailments, reach out , ask questions. Are you tweeting. No.

On the clock

Walking anti-clockwise, black coffee passing my lips, one hand in pocket sleeves undecidedly rolled down. What choices have I made to be here, in this mood. Lips cracked, blistered heel. The pain. Yes, I am alive, pain, yes alive, pain. I think it’s infected, good, that’s a macro, a shortcut, a cheat to let me know, I’m alive. Not perverse – good and bad are both equally rich. Pleasure & pain both good and bad. Moderation and wanting. Health and sickness all helpful for the grander points of being. Narratives collide like vomit and toilet bowl. Surprise at the accuracy of backward, missended design. No faults, just surprise. Liquid, change and a failure. Schematic of my heart, blue prints. As eyes have colour, as hearts do beat. The swollen illness precedes, proceeds and prevails. Always wanting: pleasure, pain, sickness and health. I’ll wash my face, but the sick mask sticks. Dabbing the sides. Hopeless, faithful, lost and tarnished. Sick inside and out. Tarnished shoes covered. Ill from head to foot. Blemish of pain, this silence, disconnect, withdrawal. You will get from me only shrugs and a white flat flag. Hard pressed for more, let me shake my head and tell you the economics of my love. Breeze on my ripples, rakish and ruined. Patches appear, moths contort, ragged I feel, raging an blown.

where are you

The scene was was flat. A static display of exposition. I’d turned off the screen moments ago and stared uncontent knitted brows at the black television. Light beamed into the room, reflecting off the mirror in the bedroom, through two doorways and lighting a perfect rectangular blemish of eternity in the middle right of the blank emptiness.

She used to stand in that mirror and look at herself. Clutch parts of herself, wishing to be fuller. My own ‘little narcissus’ I would call her. She’d prickle at that and react, disproving my jest. She cared about me and what I said, she did.

The sun was at a perfect angle to bounce off one surface, onto the next and blind me. It was a small joy, an uncomfortable and unique moment which I looked for whenever I was on a hill with the sun shining brightly above. I was the child that reflected sunlight into friends eyes in class on summer days. I would later put the high beams on, while driving drunk one night and cause a family accident as they came down the mountain. It was a part of the Australian identity of youth. Sportsman, larakin, hero, legend. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. Each time I would turn the high beams on, 50 meters and closing. Then switch them off completely. The roads were always wet at that altitude, I was drinking whiskey or rum with a friend because of his unrequited love. I remember his bad teeth, ‘the closest artery to the heart run by the teeth’ I was once told.

Now I know to watch out for those with bad teeth, they are the crippled and decrepet lovers that hold back feelings, flare with false emotions and intervene into the lives of others. I think he’d grabbed the wheel as a joke. We butted them enough to send them down the bank, bull-bar, dashboard, glass and a scream. We drove on, not speaking. He’s happy these days, those memories are more colour than anything pure. The wind blew the trees out the front of the house. Leave flitted across the path of the sun and the mirror tickled with darkness and then choked like it was trying to send an SOS. I broke from my trance, the screen was black again. I chewed the inside of my cheek, a tiny piece of skin had some loose and now teased by teeth to bite it, like the long ends of a sea anemone. Salt ran down my face by my mouth. The fireplace groaned and sighed with the breeze. I bit down on the tiny piece of myself that had come loose and swallowed it.

Holes

You know black holes aren’t real, right? They’re not a fake- they might “exist”, but they aren’t real. Never has one pressed down upon me or anyone I know- until it happened to me recently.

I’d bungled together dinner, mostly rice and pasta sauce, and walked, with a cautious hand out towards the back door towards the out-house. I thought to myself ‘there’s going to be a black hole in the doorway’. And there it was, a perfectly clear mirror of black. No infantesimal sucking vacuum of gravity, no crushing void, it was a lake top at midnight on a cloudy night time evening. A deep pool. I turned around quickly soon realising. I had anticipated the black whole, like a soothsayer, fortune teller clairvoyant, I anticipated- projecting into the moments from now future. Back peddling, I walked back to the kitchen and decided to doodle on my phone. I took a picture a minute later and sent it to my brother and sister through shared group chat. They didn’t respond, but I figured they were both ok after I saw that they had seen it too. I hesitated going out to the out-house. My bladder was terrible and my toes were squirming. I’ve noticed that my brain changes when I eat sugar or need to go to the bathroom or skip breakfast and have a black coffee. Psychotic. Clear in mind, seemingly, bug scrambled in action. It all competes; I walk into the laundry that links the buildings somewhat, I see the clear pool, like an opal, surprising, final and in my way. I tap my foot and rock on my heels and go back to my phone. “Black holes”, I look them up. Nothing. Only theory, nothing to work with or use. I consider climbing out the kitchen window, strange because the lounge window is lower to the ground and bigger- the front door is an obvious option which comes to me last. I walk to the door, past the lounge room, past the t.v. I stop. I back peddle and go to turn it on, the screen gently mirrors my setting if it was monochrome and covered in dust. ABC turns on, the channel it was on when I last turned it off, RAGE maybe, followed by a high pitched squealing that nobody complains about, black holes are everywhere the reporter is saying. I knew this, feeling that somehow they were always there, if you look around and feel enough they are there, staring right back at you. One in each eye, rents of uncanny peace. Hitler had one extracted from his heart after his mother died. They are made up of atoms, the same as you and me but pressed in such a way that they can never open. That’s why they most commonly appear in your eyes, your heart and the doorways between the kitchen and the out-house.

I walked out again, knowing that by the time I had explained it, taken a photo and checked on the news, that it would have moved on. The whole idea, once pointed out tends to wink from existence. Are they real? Absolutely not, that’s why I see them everywhere. Each doorway, candles (looked at from above), the handkerchief cupped in the hand of a coughing tuberculosis patient, the Chertsey Inkpot of Shakespeare and TNT. There is no explosion with dynamite, it’s a reaction between two neighbours open their doors into one-abother’s path. Parity disruptions, and boom. Hard to explain outside of comic book strips. But that’s black holes. I knew it would be gone, I explained to myself, the more I thought about it and shared how it was, the more it waned- clear as fresh laid tar. Fabric knitting in on itself, closing over on itself, wrapping and shrinking, soaking up and fading like the love child of a broken television and a dusty raisin. Wishless as the first star, and tragic as the last- gone until forgotten, only to be remembered.

Peaking of proverbs

A clap on the back was all her got as the Barman passed him on the way to the bar. Kelly’s was a beer garden, the regular haunt for the regulars of inner city Hobart. Not that it was or wasn’t a city. The locals called it town, they called the Barman ‘Barman’ even if they didn’t know that it was his last name. The Batman’s’ were a large percentage of the township just outside Cambridge. A large family with a happy father that worked as an engineering consultant at the Zinc Works. “A terrific occupation” he’d said right up until the day he passed, falling through some old grating, 72feet above one of the main smelting tanks. He’d fallen, broken his arm in the way down, bouncing off the lip of the tank comically and landing heaving like a dropped candle. Crumpling into his yellow hard hat with an ‘oof’.

The noise we all end with? Oof, or something as similar. Nonsense.

The fire went out in his eyes and that was it. The Barman family? Still there-

Tables full, kind hearted mother with a broken visage, remarried a single colleague of his she met at the funeral. Barman never forgave the corcumstance, he worked in bars now, seeing the works, “the worst of people really” he’d say.

Moments in time. All passing, free of reflection. Done and decompressed, thhht. His tired eyes, skeptics thoughts, cold called for his honest perspective on life. Communicated in eyes, hands and clicks. All vibrations: voice, glinting eyes and heat. The lightness in Barman came from his back. Strong minded, but a back ‘like a tin’ or an alloy, his fathers hands he had, his mothers lean face. The holes, the gaps of a removed child. Out on his own, cold waste, old dinners and cast iron 2nd had equipments. Friday was his night to cut loose and cause chaos. Pluming people with alcohol then mopping up. Step 1, alcohol, step 2 profit was his undiscovered motto. He was a crafty conceited apple in the eye of most. A nut, resistant to the cracking. The Craik. Even sauced, slapping, with thenneighbours going at it. He was always unassailable. Free from the plight of rude and polite. No transactions, no receipts. Scrunching moments and throwing them back, like the fruit before it’s juices. Tequila!

That’s not writing, that’s just typing. Get all the pieces, string them

Together in the longest

Line you can.

Barman! Another.

Work

My collection is not me. The pressure thought, freezes me. Don’t come in. Don’t come close. Look away- sucking my life away. Crie crie. Communicate respect integrity excellence. Uniqueness. They came in- alone again now, plus a watch and a book and a tear to each eye. Power policy, still stirs, shoes and hurt. Plans? None. Kill me I’m boring, droll drab and half dear, poor imbalance of heartless indifference. Alive or dead, a crumbling in of life. Diffuse terror, trembling eruptions of mind, bright light and spears of pain career into my every moment. Sequel to nothing. Fighting the beat, unenjoyment, fearful fellowship on my own flight. Benevolence in freindlessness. Silence over this radio zone. Specks over the bridge of time. Flecks of spit, drooling time. Sick and spittle, creative brilliance alone in the moment- everlasting as nothing is. Or is not, the knot undoing. The line or rope hanging, sticking in my throat. Poised. Ready, fickle finance, the fools hold. Pick me up, the gravity of my ills, mis-pretension of apprehending endings. Bed bound and wound around the sound of my neighbours, abuse and gall. Of all olds, the manifold soul of those sold, touching nerves, swerves add race like mace in a space or place is ace for traction attraction interbreeding and weeding, seeding is feeding and freeing states of being my lightness. Sit sit sit all day sleep all night, burn-out. Switch off. Make it work for you. This shoe: shoot your self in the head. Blast plaster with your plastered soul. Live or grow old. Crab crab cram. Crab arms and degeneration. No nation, disgust. The food in me lulls me into fits of anxious tidal waves of sick. Chunks of digestion, sensitive to the moon? Torn and tired and spilling it all out.