The crunch of pages and the scratch

of the pen against my brain.

A piece chips off, and is born:


Method and mode for her

and I to become us.

Made in my image,

under your watch.

I’m judge, jury,

executioner and accused.

Working by your captious light,

we fear to tread the unbeaten path.

One stone out of place,

the titan chews

and spits up his son

like gum that’s lost its flavour.

For my penance I lash the whip

on her back and feel

the sting in my writing hand.

The synchronal strikes spur me on.

Let me justify my means, I’m almost done

I promise.

She and I,

our ribbons tangle and blow away –

to be unseen and forgotten

(we pray), hand in hand,

pen to paper.

My fingers clutch the rim of the ship.

Charybdis, censorious,

swirls and spits and seethes.

Both hands full, Scylla before me.

She takes her place,

and offers the whip.

I’m contradictory,

and I have a stainless history.

The skeletons don’t clatter

when I have guests over –

we have an agreement, you see,

gravely written in secrecy.


To be limited to oneself

is a horror I’d wish on (n)one,

but in the shelter of fiction

I’ll shoulder the guilt,

until I’ve made something worthy

of the standards you’ve set.

Scylla stops in her scene,

frozen by a shiver that turns her head

to the chill, a pause.

My touch on her shoulder

she can’t feel the warmth

or her mirrored fingers at my neck.

I’m a wraith to these pages

and I’m the only one there.

Clamping my head in place

and boring holes in the paper,

trembling at the canyons between

each letter that spans the sea.

It’s a pretty reflection

of Claude’s world.

Don’t lean so close,

it’s bad for the eyes.

I’m under the microscope

and I’m looking in

but we’re both just strokes.

I step closer,

head to the canvas

and marvel at the atoms.

So three cheers to authors

who haunt their narrative

and four for those who’ve

left theirs behind.

I’m on my way

and I know the road.

Mia Koch is a Canadian-born Australian writer who definitely loves to put words on paper and doesn’t dread it all. They have been Long-listed for the Future Leaders Prize in 2022 for poetry.