When I arrive he says he's sorry for being
a bad man. He's shaved his head 'cos

his brain is burnt. He bows to present his crown
so I can see the mark. He says he's turning

black 'cos they're feeding him humans.
He's actually a tan colour, a mix of rollies and

pacing in the sun. He smokes the Tally Ho
he got for his birthday. His thumb, calloused

and stained, flicks the butt he holds in his tremoring
fingers. A grimace flickers over his face

like the home movies of his childhood. As we drive
he taps the quiet car radio. Yeah, arrrrrr,

that's the source of the problem, right there, that's where
they're coming from. He shrinks into his seat, laughs,

and runs his fingers through his scalp. Last week
he was God and showed me how he made the Swan River.

In high school he was Mojo Rising, but as I drive away
looking in the rear vision mirror      I see my boy.

Natasha Adams (Western Australia)

First published in Creatrix

night light

her valium is white
mama’s little helper is here to stay
it lights the way through the night

now she’s cross-legged and polite
she can’t fuck the pain away1
her valium is white

maybe the drug company’s right?
there’s got to be a happier way
it lights the way through the night

medicine cabinet calls from head height
mother in the mirror has something to say
her valium is white

sick kids and the place is a bomb site
she’s disappearing into dismay
it lights the way through the night

she’s all out of fight
as she says goodbye to the day
her valium is white
it lights the way through the night

Natasha Adams (Western Australia)

First published in Creatrix

1. Fuck the pain away is a song by Peaches

Note on Front Door

Dear Burglar,
Please don’t break in today
You see I’ve hardly cleaned
The floors are in a mess
and I haven’t Mr Sheened
I hope you’ll understand
Good help is hard to find
and I can’t do it all
I barely have the time
With visits to the spa
and classes for my art
My nails have just been done
I don’t know where to start
I need to hire a nanny
and find a gardener too
A housewife’s life is hard
A stressful thing to do
You mustn’t see my house
in such a wretched state
Kindly check your times
and advise another date
My cleaner comes on Friday
so could you come back then
Please RSVP below
and let me know just when
Yours truly

Merrillea Faux-Pride
Lady of Leisure (LOL)

Natasha Adams (Western Australia)

First published in Creatrix

Haiku: chirping cricket...

chirping cricket
her walk
in leather pants

Natasha Adams (Western Australia)

she's designer

people make the clothes; clothes do
not make a person

— Zhang Nah
pull back the bamboo curtain
she holds scissors like shears
to the throat
of the mannequin

rips stitches
to remove an olive collar
hitches up a hem
frays a cuff

leftover fabric for a belt
she sews late into the night
on grandmother’s machine

her lamp casts yellow light
through wafts of smoke
cigarette burning
in the ashtray

from the cushion
on her wrist
she plucks a pin
with her teeth

East no longer looks West
Fashion Week over
her upcycled clothes sell
to help rural women

her designs stitch
a future to the past
she won’t forget where
she’s come from

red heart beats strong
she’s designer
rainbows of ribbons
butterflies on strings

Natasha Adams (Western Australia)

First published in Creatrix

twenty six

Simon Paul (Western Australia)


I carry my loss with me most days now and it’s
surprisingly heavy, considering it’s the absence
of something. It turned up not long after you
went, like it didn’t want to meet you, although
I suspect it had been there a while getting
ready for the answering-back phase. I used
to keep it at home with the curtains drawn
until a well-meaning neighbour said this was
simply not healthy, that I must allow it to do
what it wants, but I was worried there’d be a
scene. She convinced me though and I took it
to her Friday night group where it sat quiet and
bright, annoyingly so, waiting for me to break.
But that had been a good day and I held out
until we got home where we had words over a
bottle of red. So now it’s in my handbag messing
with my make-up and laughing at my diary. But
even this has its risks when I tried to pay with it
the other day, certain I’d seen your eyes in
someone else’s, failing to notice the god-awful
sound and the look on the poor girl serving me.

J V Birch (South Australia)


The little girl – except she’s not so little –
Says to the young man, Your Eyes
Are blue as the sun in winter.
He pretends not to believe her
As he holds her middle finger
In the palm of his ribs. Listen, he says,
To the thunder of my heart.

The young man – except he’s not so young –
Says to the great lady, Your Hands
Are ochre-yellow, bougainvillea.
She thinks of violets, roses, red azalea
As he lifts her up, down, higher
Flesh spilling through his hands. Listen, he says,
To the squirrel in my pulse.

The great lady – except she’s not so great –
Says to her husband, Your Feet
Are the crimson roots of green pea.
He tastes salt-water from the sea
As he pretends not to see
The bruises on her thighs. Listen, he says,
To my promises and lies.

The husband – except he has no love –
Sits in the shade of trellis vines. The sun
Comes in, invades him, bright and gold.
What have I done, he says, in a past life
To deserve my wife? She is a lady
And great, and so lovely it is easy
To ignore the young man within her.

The little girl comes home, the sheets
Are fresh. She says to the young man,
Your palms are too wide for your wrists.
He pretends not to hear her.
He holds her lips against his own
And listens for the sea. She is limp.
The music from her eyes is silence.

Karmun Khoo (Victoria)


My Body

Wake me when the star jasmines bloom
and the turtledoves no longer hide in their leaves,
when I no longer find bleeding lines on my skin beautiful
and the empty rumbling in my stomach is no longer music.
Wake me when a size 12
clinging to curves is
when it is delicious
that the muscular thoughts inside our skulls
determine who we are
instead of the length of our hair,
the width of our waist,
the height of our beauty.
Wake me when every bite that enters our lips
does not drown us in guilt,
when I can stay afloat and keep it in my stomach,
when I can eat it at all,
and when my ribs are not precious coins to count.
Wake me when the men cover themselves
if we must cover our beautiful bodies
like curtains on stained glass windows
to deter temptation.
Wake me when equality smells sweet,
when the star jasmines are in bloom
and the sap bleeds white and gooey from the stems.
Wake me when my body is mine,
but until then
let me sleep.

Taylor-Jayne Wilkshire (Queensland)