I think that the world was born from terror.

She wore a seraphic smile to please the gaze of others.

She found her many faces in the lakes, the oceans, the streams,

that caress her supple skin.

The same way that I find myself,

not in the mirror across from me – that figure is


Devoid of life.

Not in the mirror across from me,

but the crescent moons

etched into my palms.

And so, we are the same – the world & I.

A vengeful vulture.

Far below us, night envelopes the lands.


Pale blue filmy eyes carefully unravelling

Fractured curious souls.

A startling silence settles the void,

as the people await first broken light.

MARCH 2003

I) I think that I was born from terror.

A distant child who did not dare cry or yowl.

I often questioned myself why I was so afraid,

to speak. To be heard.

‘Melt my scorched flesh.

And bury me beneath your skin.’

I begged.

Only then will I be whisked away into the smoke-adorned clouds to

witness the Mirages: familiar gifts.

And I wail for I know my prayers will go unanswered.

II) A solitary life was death to some.

To me it was a boon. A blessing.

Beginning and end. That is our sole purpose.

We are a cycle.

Of seasons – green, grey, pale yellow and burnt amber.

We are a cycle.

Of memories – tainted with the soft colours of a child’s kaleidoscopic mind.

Are we also, perhaps,

a cycle

of tortured nostalgia and

self-inflicted wounds?

And so, one day I will disappear, but for now I lay in the earth’s palms –

and for just one moment she and I are infinite.

Untouched and Whole.

‘Oh, silent little lamb,’ she says to me,

‘How I pray that fear never consumes you in

the same manner which Saturn once devoured his sons.’

‘The same manner in which

I must soon devour you.’

And she wails for she knows her prayers will go unanswered.


We are people made up of words.

Written, unspoken, fleeting words.

We are monsters made of half-told lies

and impending nightmares.

We love and we ruin.

We hate and we create.

We are everywhere all at once,

devouring, inhaling, perceiving

and yet,

We are all so utterly alone.


this is what makes us such awful arrogant creatures

who consume what is not meant to be ingested

and bestow what is not ours to grant.

We all have such an insatiable hunger to be known.

To be desired.

To be remembered.

Yet, we choose to devour.

Hungry beasts litter the street floors

as we speak.


But I am now free.

My mind no longer


by the limitations of my body.

My soul has been captured and locked away by

the village people.

And as the ardent fire licks away salty tears,

the crescent moon, he witnesses such

naive and hollow Man: a familiar sight.

Man comes together to watch the flames lick at the wretched beast’s heels.

And my heart – bloody and pure; yearns for another chance.

One final chance, not for myself, but for her.

I am no longer a silent child – a shepherd’s little lamb.

And I will find myself grappling with my purgatory state.

Narcotic murmurs threaten to spill from my petal lips

unto the waves of heat and humiliation.

Shouts of fury and rage.




Once more


Am I truly her child?

Or simply:

A bird of prey.

Jannavi Rao is a dedicated writer with a hunger for romantic fiction and gothic suburbia. Her writings are an exploration of nostalgia infused with a brief yearning to understand the complexities of life. Her piece “Colours of the World” was shortlisted in the Whitlam Institute’s “What Matters Now?” writing competition in 2020.


I wish I knew before

That revealing my pride

Was more than wading

Past dresses and swimwear

I’ve got a slippery grip

On a blood-stained knife

It flirts with gravity

Still angled at the corpse on the floor

I didn’t know of these guards

Protecting the door

Nor of their hollow eyes or claws

Nor of the fight they would cause

My spiking adrenaline aborts

Leaving shivers in my veins

They form a hunting party

From doubt and regret

Pounding in my head

My desire to know

What it’s like to be out—

Side, under the sun subsides

The price: too high

My freedoms: undefined

There is no relief in murder

Inside is safe

Inside doesn’t leave

Bloody footprints

Trailing over the threshold

Inside leaves

No bodies to dispose of


Inside is also a coffin

Cotton shirts that once embraced

Me, now a source of strangulation,

Fabrications force-fed like

They’re evocations of my life

Those lies become

Ten-tonne plates pressed

Against my chest

Sinking to the floor

All I want

Is to float to the surface



I have already served my audience

Meals of diluted truths

To make the light brighter

The change from darkness

More moderated

Less shock shinning back

When I step out—


Their death is a price too expensive

But it’s what you demand

Hoping I can’t pay

Hoping I’ll stay

Exactly where I am


Not telling

Not asking

Swept under the rug

While you pray me away

Praying I’ll go extinct

A species scared to death

Explains all the skeletons in closets


Past mistakes awake

Only fools wield knives into battle

My armoury is stocked

A battle-axe drops and lands

Perfectly weighted in my hand

There is no relief in murder

But it turns slaughter into freedom

And creates comfort from carnage

And in the end

I’m out

Standing under the sun

Quickly crusting blood

Stains my nail beds, but

 A rain shower relieves

Other bloody remnants

And throws a rainbow

Across the sky

Emily Duff is a budding writer from Sydney who finds her inspiration in new experiences and travel. She is a writer of poetry and short stories with a focus on romance and social-political themes. Her poem Killing the Monsters was long-listed for the Macquarie University Future Leaders Prize in 2022.



Anarchistic aphids abound

               aroused and awkward

                             asking artists about

                                           alimony Billions—

              BUT be brave

bustling before busted bulging

broad big brained benevolent

bent broken CARNIVORES.

                                           Cursed cracked creaking

                             Columbian coffee cradlers

               causing commotion censoring

calculated corrupt Devotion.

deMoralised dangling destitute

dew drop drinkers

drip      delivering        dread

down doomed dark Eventides.

Entrenched entitled entities

engorging effervescent excess,


exterminating each exploited Fawn.

Fallacious flawed foundations

forging faithfully flagrant

free falling frightened

fecund fame Generations.

Glutinous grave grabbers grope

groomed gallant glamour gods,

grip grasping genuinely gifted

glory gene Humans.

Harm harbingers harvest

hoodwinked honest heroes;

how hope has housed

hungry haunted Insects.

Insidious internal interests,

imbibe indignant ichor,

immobilise I d e al s,

illuminate Junk.


jeer jagged Judas jewels

juxtaposing justified

jam jacketed Kickbacks.

Kaleidoscopic Kodak Killers

Kidnapping kindness.

Kiss knuckling knowledge.

Knife knocking Life.

Lie loving liars lacerate

lovers like ly-canthropes,

looming lying lunging leeching

lust laden Machinations.

Meagre mould merchants

monopolise meaty monstrous

mechanical melodramas—machining


Nefarious neo-n narcissists

nuzzle nose numbing

nuclear nasal needs

neglecting noxious nauseous Omens.

Oily oxygen orphans ordain

oppressive orange oligarchs,

omitting obscene opinions,

orienting oblivious Patriotism.

Pernicious pallid poltergeists

parade petrified plagued photos,

purporting powerless pitiful people

pacifying painful pertinent Questions.

Quasi quality query quests

quantify quaking-quarrels²

quashing quintessential quiet

quenching quavering quelled Resolutions.

Ruinous riotous ruffians rouse

rough rising raucous reticent;

revivifying recycled,

rust ravaged Sabotage.

Stifle stench scented

slogged salacious smut stacks,

sifting serendipitous—

summer sucking Termites.

Tell the truth

Truth tells

The truth tells the truth

Tell the truth trhtu.

                                           Upholstered Undergrowth ‘Underdogs’

                            1. Unearthed, u-n-s-t-i-t-c-h-e-d, unravelled

                            2. Unfastened, u.n.b.u.t.t.o.n.e.d, unfolded

                            3. ‘un’|domesticated|, ‘unadulterated, ‘unviolated

Vice varnished villains vilify                                                                                    Want.

voiceless vanquished victims                                                                                      Worth.

venerating vulgar vile                                                                                                Wealth.

VOGUE virtue value w—                                                                                           Warfare.

xXxXxXxx xXxxXxxx xXxxxXxX xXxXXxxX

xXxxxXxx xXxxXXXX xXxxXXXx xXxXxXxx

xXxxxXXx xXxxxXxX xXxxxXxX xXxxXXxx

xXxXxxXX xXxxXxxx xXxxxxxX xXxxXXxX xXxxxXxX

xXxXxXxx xXxxXxxx xXxxXXXX xXxXxxXX xXxxxXxX

Yesteryear yolk yielders yanking,

youth yabbering yes yappers yerking,

yawling yardstick yawners yelping,

yammering yuppie zealots zoutching—

Zeitgeist Zoo!

Tell the truth.

Alec James Wright is a Sydney based poet and screenwriter who lives on Darug land. He writes about themes of unity, uprising, modernity, and catharsis, finding inspiration for his work through ekphrasis and connecting with the natural world. In 2022, he was longlisted for the Future Leaders Writing Prize.

Rhyme Over Imported Wine on Date Night, Poppi Hmelnitsky

Blasted Tweed By Andrew Hmelnitsky

Now is like forever. In this park of glooming distaste I taste blood and bleed sweat.

Sirens whistle whilst we wander. Wonder wistfully. Whilst clenching Jenny’s clammy hands.
White men don’t show weakness.

Week-night date-night never knew this park, was once Gadigal country, ceremonial place of
the rainy-day missing puzzle peace. Please, replace the rephrases of the missing manual to
heaven here.                                                                     Hear, persistent European explorers aspire
to infinite incorrect underqualified entitlement. This was meant for a contemporary
reincarnation of biblical pyres, sacred suburban high-rise to the occasion of reality. Real life
escapes the cunning and time ticks.                                 Tilts,                                     Turns….
               Another round of beers for the boys!
We rise, the diamond goblets to our ruby lips in moonlight. Mozart’s signature sonata.
Romanticise me! I hold Jenny’s hand and whisper that I love her. How the stolen sweet
compromises sicken me! (Speaking softly) Of generational death in colonial paradise. Diced
ham and pineapple the epitome of the insular family.

                                                                                                                          Representing the fantasy.
Tassie but a paper bag, strew to sea, lacerated in the visceral vermillion physical of
perpetuating hierarchy. Genocide. Insecticide. Insist on laying the blanket horizontally.
Newspaper clippings dissect distant distance distribution injecting general anaesthetic.
Explorative surgery superficial sorry speech swings, silently to mind.
Mind your business and your step. Propagating perennial proclivity of instilling
institutionalised desensitised Australian’s, re-crafting obsolete optimum optimism sponsored
by commercial telly. Vision of a picket fence blaring footy and bunnings 10%.

Internal internet-work net-worth broadcasting blatantly bias billboards. Blurring the lines
between now and never.                           Quiver.                                                             Quit the vein
of conservative department parliament reimbursed delight:

            •   Turkish-delight.
            •  Australian-dream.
          • Dream-force for the country.

Unearthed relic of the prehistoric precolonial, pre-manifestation, of man-slaughter-woman-slaughters-laughter suffocates pigs, racked for rails cling to mud slushing as we slurp Kilpatrick’s slathered in dead horse, dictating my drunken discourse. Lamb tartar with capers
squelching. Squeezing. Screaming sacrifice. Sacrificial lamb for Australia day.

Date-night, day of invasion mother country, count me in the census mate! Inaccurate
illegitimacy against, your stella reputation of legalising migration. Documentation
disregarding aural authenticity, but backing fake histories? We are, bleary eyed disastrous
teens tumbling like turn-tables tabloids and dilapidated documentaries.

I pull the picnic blanket out from our red knees. Never stepping silently. Spilling, the Spanish
Red-Wine on Jenny’s White-Blouse, billowing on her mother’s heritage hills-hoist the
fictional flag. Signalling another bruised skyscape not all heroes wear a cape. Cap the wine.
I’m as drunk as a skunk! Can we walk the perimeter before dessert?

I take Jenny in my inebriated embrace, lace the lemon pie with admiration and cream of the,
crop circles have more referenced credibility then eroded wooden placards along the
undulating river bends. Swiftly revealing the dubious integrity. Gritty underside of published
articles. Clothing strewn undesirably. Questionable ability identifying the artificial artifacts,

Date-night with imported wine and I can’t keep this nonsense as just mine!

My love rhyme for Jenny….
                            And I’m failing at racking up, turning a blind I can’t place my hands precisely,
                            perpetual inability to come through strategically, exasperatingly… mate!

                            I’m up a fucking gumtree!

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A Star-Studded Season of Sleeplessness, Giorgia Woolley

Image by on Instagram

Burning so far above, blazing and bright, you do not pause… Still striving forward, and
sailing through star-raising seas— won’t you stay awake too late with me?
Carry me through to those final hours blue, due to darken at midnight.
Come on, push against the pull, It’s not as late as you say!
Do not stray away from your heavenly work-desk—
please, do not guide my sight away from mine.
Pink-blushing-red-bruising-purple sheets
fold and crease, tuck us underneath
golden green and brown beds,
darkened pillow mountains.
Artificiality cannot best
gravity, yet I persist
and resist…
Out of sight, under
covers at last,
though not the final mark to be made
in highlighter,
glittering gel pen,
black ballpoint ink—
my thoughts twirl and twist their way back to that desk.
Quiet yet desperate protests,
for the vivid darkness of dreams cannot suffocate me…
Where is your warmth?
I fumble to find
just a semblance of your light, a flashlight so bright
in your shadow. I will justify this artificiality
as an emergency!
Lying still
in restless sleep,
I stretch and I seek
for the gap in sheets
o’ tourniquet. Oh, but
will they? Won’t they? Wilt away,
slough off the skin— chain us no longer!
Oh, light up your desk and mine, once more!
Lift me up to my duty, warm my skin as I surface
at the sandy shores of golden skies— come rise with me again
against this gentle gravity!— and turn that mistrustful moon away.
Light up our old and hidden dreams, as we daybreak into our routines.

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Mist and Damp, Alec Wright

As heels peck the earth
I yearn for
an unknown world.
A quiet desperation,
for mist and damp.

Pecks turn to plump
sodden things,
upon drowning dirt.
A slow dance with vine leaves,
in mist and damp.

Untitled creatures chatter
moss covered,
A riotous reverberation,
about mist and damp.

Silhouettes of
long-lost-lovers call
to each other.
A forlorn choir sings
to mist and damp.

Gluttonous mud drinks
an ample deluge,
of cold wet misery.
A wild-place. Wander
through mist and damp.


Boyd, Daniel. Untitled. 2014, Art Gallery NSW, Sydney, Australia.

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Sounds from the Tree House/On Visiting My Childhood Home/The Sea, Katherine Giles

Photo by Jplenio on Pixabay

Sounds from the Tree House

As night falls
the shadow bats sweep
in and fill the sky
with hungry shrieks
and sounds of flapping wings.

A celebration in the trees,
all night conversation
or screeching argument,
no waver from their noisy game.

I lie in bed,
high among the trees,


I hear their clumsy flight,
their voices so near.

Did I close the door?

Will I wake,
covered in velvety wings?

The night is long,
but daybreak curfew
brings a moment’s quiet,

a silent metamorphosis

then screech turns to chorus
and webbed cape
becomes feathered wing

On Visiting My Childhood Home

above the low rock wall
the aloe vera
sends green spears
in all directions,

the bird’s nest
spreads its wide leaves
to the sky.

In the raised bed
skeletons of parsley stand,
dried seedpods,
like outspread hands
holding tiny seeds

I’ll go and run
my hand over them,
before I go,
and fine seeds
will scatter
in the earth

The Sea

My mother says
I screamed at night,
till on a ship
I found sound sleep

I feel it still,
this watery past,
the push and pull of tides,
the to and fro of passing days.

I walk towards the water’s swell
step by step,
feeling its movement
lapping, lapping against skin

feet free and floating,
I’m carried by the sea,
its arms full round me,
and here our steady pulses meet.

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The Globe’s Ghosts, Sienna Knowles

Photo by Eurpeana on Unsplash

By a Sleep We End the Heartache

He was a violet –  

The most striking of the King’s garden.

Should I have even tried

To play the instrument of his mystery?

I was warned he would not bloom long,

But what power does a young heart hold

Against the melody of a prince?

Soon, he seemed to wither –  

Not with the ecstasy of love,

My beauty not the cause of his wildness

But his madness the cause of mine.

It was not to be.

The willow branch would not hold me.

I sent myself to the man I loved –

Left Hamlet to fight upon my grave. It seems

Only after muddy death did grief and love pursue.

No matter –

By a sleep we end the heartache.

Lay Me With Juliet

Though in fair Verona he did lay his scene,

Sempiternal is the role of luminous lovers:

Volatile, meteoric, furious, but bright –  

And so, blinded are we

To the fool’s journey – not years but four days

Until young love is lost young.

Not often have happy mothers been made younger than fourteen.

I bide my time and wait for the work of years

To attune her infant eyes. Too late –

He whose heart just yesterday glowed incessantly for another Rose

Has crossed the stars for my wife-to-be.

So though she weeps for the death of kin

At her lover’s hands, she wavers not from her given lines,

Nor he

With his poetry, iambic and irresistible,

That captures the awe of not just her

but the audience of four hundred years.

All asteroids meet their demise.

While no one predicts such a sudden strike, I saw the moment coming –  

Saw her streak across the sky

And though he killed me for scattering flowers on her grave,

My type was already slain when, palm to palm, those holy lovers kissed

So open the tomb,

And lay me with Juliet.

She Had Eyes but Did Not Choose Me

Beauty, wit and fortunes tied my heart to Desdemona.

But as it always is,

She loved another for dangers I had not passed.

No witchcraft can brew the draft of lustrous rebellion.

Is death or friendship the physician of a broken heart?

One came in the form of the other.

He told me my garden was fertile yet

And so I filled my purse

With villainy.

But for youth she did not change.

I did not taste the perfume of her lips,


Assured they would never blush again.

And yet, I could not even claim the role of antihero –  

Outplayed by both good and evil,

I did not die upon a kiss.

For she had eyes but did not choose me.

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Six Seventeenths, Kyla Hetherington

Image by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Six seventeenths have passed, you’re sick with change.
They urge you ‘Find a craft. Switch the cage.’
You toil, aching back tilted over tender sprouting soil.
In the shower you kiss your bronzed hands on a whim and wonder,
        If I plant them, will they grow?
        One day at a time.
You scoop out your emptiness while your very veins crave,
Remembering the years you spent tethered to shades.

Six seventeenths past, Mother, stricken at your chains.
She grieved. ‘It kills me to see you. You’re so thin.’
You laughed, dark like a crow, creaking and frayed.
On the way out you snatched up her ruby ring and wondered,
        Will Cash Converters still be open?
        One day I’ll stop.
You lay splattered, supine, seeking Elysium and finding
A barren reverie. All Self. Sacrificed for that roiling oblivion.

Six seventeenths will pass, you’ll be stuck at the game.
They’ll greet you ‘One year sober. Congratulations.’
You’ll show your teeth, decayed and afraid.
When the heavy talisman of hope slips, you’ll wonder,
        How long will this hook stay stuck in my brain?
        The days are mundane.
Mediocrity will thwart your arcane shame.
Stumble, fall, but do not forget; you are living unlocked in colour.

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Hunger, Sofie Fernandez

Photo by Xin on Unsplash


Do you remember, Brother?
If you would listen, I’d ask you,
Do you remember when we were children of the woods?
Are we still children of the woods?
Are you hungry, Brother?

Mother fed us to the forest,
walking ahead of us, her face plastered with smiles,
her hands holding ours,
forming a neat line,
as we marched into the mouth of the forest.
The roots of the trees tasted our toes.
We could hear the forest swallow.
She rested a hand on my head,
Are you hungry?
she said as she passed us each a slice of bread,
her smile widening.
We’ve been fed.
I’m hungry, you said.
I passed you my bread.

We knew the witch, we knew food.
But I was hungry.

So was I. But I fed you, didn’t I?
I gave you my flesh, Brother.
When the pangs of hunger haunted you
I let you consume me.
Watching my blood stream over your small lips,
I smiled,
your eyes begged me for more,
my sullied flesh was your all.
Are you still hungry, Brother?

I’m still hungry, Sister.
But we saw the gingerbread house, and I could finally be full.

That’s not true, Brother.
The sweetness wasn’t real, Brother.
But your teeth were crunching on the roof,
when its charming voice came from inside
those cinnamon soaked walls.

I needed her, Sister.
You had me, Brother!

It ran a nail down your cheek,
squeezing the meat, it licked its lips –
Are you hungry boy?
Greedy talons, down your spine,
it smelt you, grinning,
You’re mine.

it fed you
to claim you
not to fill you

I know, Sister.

You didn’t belong to me anymore.

You ate whatever it gave you
I don’t know who you are anymore
Your veins pumped with syrup
.                                                      more
Your eyes rolled back at the hit
.                                                    more
Your hands clenched hers
.                                              more
The sting of peppermint
.                                         more
The rush of being full
I was stupid to think you’d choose me
over the witch’s pull

I wish the forest had consumed us then
we wouldn’t had suffered like we suffered.
You’d have no choice but to choose me
as we died in that forest,
the birds pecking at the breadcrumbs left in my apron,
your breaths swallowed by the trees,
your hands holding mine,
as the birds jabbed at our frost covered eyes.
Can you smell the pine?
My empty sockets now let me see
blood trickling over my cheeks,
still weeping for us, even in death
and I wouldn’t have watched you disappear
within the walls of that sweet house
and I wouldn’t have boiled the water,
my dear brother.

You killed her, Sister.
You killed the hand that fed me.

I did it for us, Brother.
and you came out of the cage,
a film of oil clinging to your mouth,
your voice jittering as you spoke,

What will we eat now, Sister?
I have nothing
Only hunger.

There’s only me, Brother.

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