A child's heart

A child’s heart
will tell you a story.

A child’s heart,
in its urn,
will tell you the child
did not grow
to be old.

A child’s heart,
smuggled out of its body,
is preserved like a fossil,
is a silent stone.

A stone remembers
what history does not.
Houses are built upon stones
that are built upon stones.
History is a stone,
in the hand of a child,
waiting to be thrown.
History is a child
that is told to keep quiet.

The child sits in a corner,

History will tell you stories
but a heart will tell you
only what it knows.

A child’s heart
will remind you
of what is lost.
A child’s heart
will remind you
of what remains.

History is not always
words and pictures,
monuments and

Sometimes history
is just this:
a child’s heart in its urn,
waiting to tell you a story,
to show you why
and how
a heart turns to stone.

Alexis Lateef (Western Australia)


I see you in the puddles
I walk through,
torn surfaces
trying to hold my reflection

I see you in the cup of tea
that I have poured hot
from the kettle,
holding it to keep warm,
to drink from and imagine
the heat settling in my stomach
is happiness.

The teapot gets cold
so quickly, my love,
and there is not enough of you
to fill my last cup.

It is cold here, so cold,
and my heart is small
inside its coat.
You opened its thin, too-red door
and walked out quietly,
but you did not latch it
behind you.

And now the cold has set in.

The cold has set in
and blows out every fire I light;
the cold feeds on me
and my heart grows thin.

I think that you will come back
and find this room has turned
to ice, and that I have become
its ice queen,
stone and rock and something
that once knew rivers
but now cannot run.

And you will touch me
but my skin will crack,
and you will whisper my name
but I will not hear.

The first time you cracked me
it felt like relief.
I thought this was love,
seeing you hold all that I was
in your cupped hands,
seeing you carry them,
piece by piece.

The second time you cracked me,
you opened your hands
and said, I’m sorry.
You opened your hands
and let them fall.
You opened the door
and did not close it behind you.

They say this will be
the coldest winter yet.
And I can no longer see
Yeats sitting by this fire,
I can no longer see you
the way I saw you,
the way I saw us,
as we must have looked
at that party,
eyes locked like
two pistols at dawn.

If the weather mirrors our
moods, my love,
then I fear this winter
will not be easy.

Alexis Lateef (Western Australia)


when you reach the laneway
the door will be to your left.
do not be afraid
to walk past it.

Alexis Lateef (Western Australia)

O'Connor Beach

Did you keep your eyes fixed ahead,
on that early morning horizon,
that pale slate
awaiting the sun?

Or did you turn your head,
as your legs kept you
on the back of your old friend,
him slowly, dutifully
trudging further and further?

Did you crane your head
to look back at that coastline,
at that sandy old familiar?
At the jetty that I
sit on now,
ruinous and ocean stained,
then only freshly
chopped wood?

Did you look beyond that stretch
of long paced upon sand,
your only confidante,
and back to the small town beyond,
town of your anguish,
of your late night despair,
the last seat of your life’s work,
your life’s ruin?

The town that drove you out here
to its furthest edge,
to jetty, to sea,
to this pale horizon?

When you paused
that morning
did you look out
and think of hollow piping
twisting through the heat?

The pipeline you thought would go nowhere

Is that where you thought you were going
that morning?

You died in water,
when it was water that
might have saved you

I swim to your statue
and stare up at you,
your head fixed on the horizon,
left hand reaching into pocket,
body ready to slip

and I think you must have,

must have given one last glance
at the town you toiled for
that didn’t toil back,
that drove you into the ocean
and into people’s hearts.

Alexis Lateef (Western Australia)

About C Y O'Connor

Port town

By day she sees them
framed against the sky,
gleaming steel and paint,
steady hull, stern and bow
and sun flashing on portholes.

She doesn’t mind the cold
or the seagulls that
crowd her at midday.
She likes being close
to a line of departure,
to structures brimming
with a promise of going,
the sloping beach where
she sits to watch the sun
sink somewhere
beyond her vision.

The town is a bustle of
tourists and day trippers,
locals soaking up cider and sun,
coffee-dry laughs
and the smell of fish,
narrow, art-peppered laneways
and the old man on the corner,
playing the concertina.

She doesn’t think of planes now
when she thinks of flight;
at night she dreams of
a picture frame
without the picture,
of steel and paint
and portholes gleaming
like pale eyes in the dark,
watchful, unwavering,
piercing her with
inanimate understanding.

Alexis Lateef (Western Australia)


Your lungs were always
too small for your life.

You wanted to breathe in
more air than you could,
made yourself red faced sick
trying to hold it in,
to store it, like childhood optimism,
stubborn and defiant against
scientific fact.

Sometimes you coughed for days,
and when you were bent double,
those strange keh keh sounds
erupting from your chest,
it sounded like there was
an animal inside you,
trying to claw its way out.

You said
that there was.
You said
it was you.

Alexis Lateef (Western Australia)
First published in Creatrix


Tadpoles in a shallow pond

Who doesn't want to scoop up
A slickly flabby school of tadpoles?
To run their oily, knuckle-shaped heads
Like balloons squeezed too hard at one end
Between splayed fingers—
We have webbing in common,
You, taddeus, and I!

It is the same urge, by my reckoning
As the dare-I-leap sensation
That tackles me, nudging my knees when I am
Toeing the line of a precipice, hovering a hairdryer
Near an unschooled body of water
A beyond body-ness,
The double-think of observing
The end as it occurs.
(While hoping for a sequel.)

Yes, if you ever want to feel alive
While courting the Schroedingery
Goodness of the mystery box
Come and find me,
And we can scoop tadpoles in shallow water.

I have a net if you need it.

Stephanie Campisi (Victoria)
Twitter: @readinasitting

Life goals

Well, since you asked:
I would like to climb atop
a fine-and-dandelion
and with an exhalation and
a carefully positioned
makeshift sail made from
a crepish plastic bag—
the tiny ones used
to ball the heat around
a slick market dim sim,
a hot air balloon of pork
and chopped onion—
tobble off into a Gulliver
world of wrongsizedness
and vertiginise at the
smashed white skeletons of
clover flowers, those pluffy
failed parachutes lost in
a spinifex cemetery;
I might even lasso a flagondry
with a shoelace of my own
tying and flue it up
the musky chimney that my
lounge room should have
but doesn't, but all in all
I think that I am quite
on track.

Stephanie Campisi (Victoria)
Twitter: @readinasitting

A designer worth her salt

When a designer is laying out a newsletter, and her client gives her a bunch of amateur photographs to include for which there is little room, the designer knows she will be in for a hard time.

Because our world is largely made up of horizontal planes
the majority of extraneous material
will likely be scattered along the horizontal plane
either side of the central subject

When a designer is formatting photographs that must all conform to the same space constraints — eg: must fit the width of one of the newsletter’s columns exactly — any designer worth her salt knows that if you reduce the width of any photograph, it will take up more space

If a photograph that is twice the width of a square has a lot of extraneous material on either side of the central subject, it might be necessary to cut out that extraneous material in order to render the photograph publishable. It may, in fact, be necessary to make that photograph a square.

In a universe populated by squares
and various other geometric shapes
a horizon governed by space requires of the designer
much salt for its successful negotiation

Because all photos must fit the one width, to cut the width of a photograph in half is to double its height.

Not only do two half squares make a square but two squares make a half square. If you cut a half square in half, you will make a square that is equal to two half squares. Cut a horizontal half square in half, you will double its size.

The Great Designer makes tame the horizon
The Great Designer shores up her salt
and bends space to her will

The rule does not apply to vertical photographs though one is still faced with much extraneous material, ridiculously tapered legs and bulbous heads. To cut out the extraneous material may actually reduce the photograph’s size.

Any designer worth her salt would not accept photographs from an amateur photographer, particularly when space is at a premium,

for one must be the ruler of space
and not be ruled by it!

Eddy Burger (Victoria)