Category Archives: Srs Writing

Old Writing


Some people write because it’s the only thing they enjoy. Some people write because it’s the only thing that can help them. Some people write because it’s just something to do on a Sunday night, when there’s nothing on television and they’re alone in the house in their underwear, wishing that someone would touch them. Some people write even when they feel they shouldn’t.

I’m sure the best books in history were written at the most inopportune moment.

Sitting alone in a small, patchwork house, in my underwear, I’m fighting off the demons of self-doubt and self-loathing. The house is cold. My bedroom window is open and carries the scent of a thunderstorm on a chill breeze. Down by the foot of my bed is an aging, gassy jack russel, creatively named Jack Pavarotti. My grandmother bought him when he was a puppy for ten dollars. “His name is Jack!” She’d proclaim proudly. “Jack Pavarotti, ’cause he cost me a tenor!”

And then she’d guffaw like it was the best joke in the world, and when I was little, it was. I’d guffaw right along with her.

Loneliness is not a feeling I am fond of. I would like to say that I’m one of those people who needs to be alone, who enjoys a private life, but it wouldn’t be true. I dislike being alone just as much as I dislike being around people. I think sometimes that it is better to be alone.

Perhaps not alone. Perhaps solitary is the better term.

Solitary but not alone.

Out in the bush, in the red dust, breathing in the clear air and sweating beneath the sun, I felt good, for once. Safe and comfortable. There were no eyes on me, no invisible enemies prepared to attack. I was only a child but the strangeness starts young and I had already exhibited traits. I feared everything, but in the desert there was little to fear: just the wildlife and the smell of heated clay. I remember the way my grandmother would stride down gravelled paths with dead rabbits clasped in her hands, at home in the bush. Though she was soft as marshmallows she would do what needed to be done, and told me in short gentle words of myxomatosis, of the terrible and inhumane, shaping cruelty into words a child can understand without trembling. The rabbits would then be buried somewhere far from where they had been found, far from any rabbit holes, and kept from the dogs. Kindness to animals and a love of stories was tantamount, she’d tell me. I’d be distracted by the smell of apple crumble pie and wouldn’t respond, but she preferred it that way. As a child I seemed more a wild animal than a human being and kept better company. As children we are not so confusing. We fend off the loneliness and do not comprehend the private. As a child I maintained her solitary world, as yet unknowing the problems that could arise, that would arise, as time went on. Her otherness was not as clear to me as it was to her own children.

She was strong in the world when she was solitary. She was never alone then.

Years later I’d come to see her at family gatherings and in crowded places and she would stumble about like a rabbit herself. I had grown into a young woman then and did not visit her as often as I felt I should have. I stood back, behind the scenes, and observed, deep in the clutches of my own difference, noting a similar difference in her but dismissing it in the same moment. She would watch conversations with glassy eyes and a furrowed brow, as if we were all speaking a language she had never quite grasped. She was always happy to see us but eternally confused and I both pitied and resented her, remembering the strong woman who read to me the tales of Strewwelpeter and gestured with the corpses of diseased rabbits. Here in a room full of family she was the most alone. She knew it, too. Maybe that was the worst of it.

She died not long after that.

At her funeral I felt I’d suddenly taken her place. We- my father, my two aunts, my sister, and I- stood at her grave and gave short, respectful speeches. I had no speech to give and when called upon found myself unable to move, to breathe, to look up from the absurdly peaceful ground in which she was supposed to be buried. She had opted for cremation, but the service called for a burial, if only of an empty coffin. The strangeness of it all raced repetitively through my mind, drowning out all else. I could hear the grinding of the earth as it turned on its orbit. I could hear the soundless keening of the long dead. Most of all, I could hear the silence as my family waited for me to step forward, to speak, to offer the words they knew I kept folded beneath my tongue.

Eventually they moved on without me and I realised I had adopted her curse.

After the burial people offered their condolences and gave me strange looks when I attempted to arrange my face into one appropriate for the situation. I did not understand why “I’m sorry” had become the new greeting for the day, or why these people I’d met all of once in my life chose to offer it at this moment. The few words that I stammered in response left them confused and wary and soon they would turn to my more sensible sibling. They were comforted when she thanked them and relieved them of their fickle grieving-burden. I avoided eye contact. She would only scold me for my rudeness.

I don’t mourn. I feel grief in multiplied immensity but I do not mourn.

I do not understand those in mourning and avoid them when I can.

Skip forward one month and I have my first real breakdown. I don’t know who I am and I feel nothing- not numb, not empty, just nothing. I convince myself that I am purely exoskeleton and feathers, that my insides are made of birds, and my birds compel me to stride out into a busy street. I don’t know why. At the time, I don’t care. I am caught before a bus by tough, fleshy hands and pulled roughly aside and I find myself relieved to feel rage towards my saviour. It is an overdue wake-up call. He does not realise what he has interrupted and instead is bent on continuing an argument I no longer care about, and shouts at me while I curl up and shiver outside an icecream store. A month later, he leaves me. We believe it is for the best. I find a new love in the blades of knives.

I return home and my grandmother’s ashes follow me there the next day.

This time I find my aloneness reassuring, comforting, a kind of soft and gentle place in which to recuperate. I do not consider myself solitary. Rather, I am always around people; at home my parents speak to me of a better life and teach me to cook. I feel pain and sorrow but I believe it healthy and take it like some kind of daily vitamin, a boost to the senses. I can cross a road without doubting my arrival to the other side and it feels to me a slight victory. When the house is empty I stand in the kitchen and watch my grandmother’s green urn-box, contemplating her awareness post-mortem. I do not leave my bedroom for days, and spend my time peeking between the blinds. The world continues to turn regardless of whether I am in it, and often unaware of my presence altogether. I watch families move in, move out, have parties, have children. It feels as if I have visited a zoo and they are an exhibit, strange creatures behaving in strange ways in strange fenced-off boxes.

I spend too much time like this. I paint. I think. I pace. I do not write.

My grandmother’s belonging populate the house. Her lamp finds it’s way to my bedside table and illuminates my workspace. I begin to write again.

Standing again in the desert heat but this time alone (alone, not solitary) half a year later I would think of her, and of that moment, and wonder what it is about us that sets us so far apart from the rest. There are words, of course, acronyms and medical terms to explain us away. This time I know I am mad but do not yet know the name for it: while hers was dementia and stroke, mine is more complex, more fragile. This time my neck is heavy with a camera and I shake with laughter, sneaking kisses from my partner while my sisters play on rocks. We share a secret, he and I, a secret loneliness, though his is different from mine. Together we are solitary, a pair, alone in the crowd. We stand apart. I feel crazed beneath a deep blue sky and he holds my hand and does not understand, but is patient. For the first time in my life ‘alone’ is not such a bad thing and when I mount him later that night in forty degree summer heat I feel neither alone nor solitary. Somehow, after the act, the stickiness and heat does not seem as pure as it had, the connection more tarnished, but we savour it anyway. Our kisses transform the old metals of sex into burnished gold. Everything is sacred during those first few months of love, and beguiled I open up to him. I tell him everything. Afterwards we ache and bemoan our sunburns and ask each other if how we felt in passion is how others feel in the crowd.

We doubt it. He suggests that everyone is alone. I believe him.

I ask him if I am crazy. He shrugs, and kisses me, and tells me he doesn’t think so.

I tell him I need help, and he agrees.

Later again, not long ago now, and I know my words, I know the description for my loneliness. My otherness takes on an acronym and a rough cloak of stigma. I am a girl, sitting on a bed, alone and tired and not altogether there. I keep the company of a jack russel named Jack Pavarotti who has a terrible issue with flatulence and sad old eyes that always seem guilty. I am well loved and well cared for and very rarely solitary these days but I am maddened, an other, apart from the rest.

I write at inopportune moments and of inappropriate things, and it brings me catharsis.

I wish my grandmother had been granted the same kindness.


Trigger Warning


Hunched in the seat in the stains of all who came before to- sex crimes division, glass door, bullet proof, sharp black lettering on the wall behind, locked tight with a bell to ring that only rings if you press it for five, four, three, two, one–  look at the file, the tissue box, the bland bench, the white wall, the Duress Button, red and hemi-circle. Feeling oddly little, well, not oddly, you know this ritual, distance so that you don’t cry. The predictability of that feminine display of emotion is extra humiliation under his blue-eyed stare, blue-eyed like him, like- “You’re a girl, it’s what girls do” when you comment on how many messages you have to scroll through to find the evidence, thick, dripping, distant rage flares and dies and you don’t cry. You don’t say a word. You read the blue bubbles like clockwork for the fourth time, hand the phone over, already violated, privacy is nothing now that you gave them username and password and everything you ever said in the name of evidence, of proof, of please for fuck’s sake someone fucking believe me it was real it was real it was real it was-

He hands the phone back and you exit the screen, flip it closed, flip it open again, flip it closed, and open one more time before clenching it in your fists until they ache. Bite down hard on antipathy the way he bit your thighs before you knew when a chuckle precedes “I hope you’re not into any of that nasty stuff like the cutting, disgusting what we get in cybercrime,” conversational like his revulsion at your being isn’t something you can taste behind your teeth.

Recounting it takes the taste and slips it into narrative, this you know, this you do well. Absence again, watch his face carefully blank as he types what you say, intentionally getting details wrong for later, when he prints it, and you have to read and correct, like critical thought is something anyone can do. Her name doesn’t have an e. That’s the wrong date. Yes, he was naked. No, I slept on the couch. Yes, they knew I was there. No, I didn’t tell them.

He’s typed it all like it’s jealousy. They’re dating again. You try to correct him. They post photos, together on beaches, smiling like he didn’t do it and she didn’t know. He amends some sentences, but the story reads the same. He’s not sorry. You’re exhausted. You don’t try again.

“You have to understand” You have to understand, you do understand, you knew before you made the decision opened the door stepped through and spoke, “That most people on a jury will think like me, they’ll see this-”

Gesture at the file, the statement, flicking through earlier he let slip the photo of her, the closest one, who in one breath said It’s not your fault if he took the bait and in the next said well you brought it on yourself-

“- And they’ll think that you got what you were asking for, it’s what you were talking about after all.”

No it wasn’t no it wasn’t no it wasn’t what about this do you not fucking understand

Sharp smile, practiced, your voice is strained and you hate it. “Well I have to try anyway. Someone else might get hurt.”

He looks at you like you’re lying, and again you feel filthy, and somewhere far away the rage burns in a small glass bottle, growing dimmer.

You go home and have nightmares for the 14th night in a row.

Red Dust Lover


I wrote this in response to this beautiful post by @inkskinned.
It started off as a comparison between ‘seasons’ for the rest of the world and the Australian seasons. It ended up becoming a sort of therapeutic self-love thing. My healthy self writing about my sick self. Shh.

When they say their lovers are like the seasons, it takes me a moment to remember that their seasons are not like mine. I’ve never thought of her as being like the seasons- but then, I have, I have, I’ve thought it to myself on quiet nights when I watch her sleep, her expressive face stilled, body sanguine, naked, uncovered. Sweat-slick at 3 am we do not touch, the overhead fan creaking with exertion. Our seasons are not divided into quarters. There is no clear winter in her, no autumn, no falling golden leaves.

My love, she’s red dust and blooming acacia. She’s a wide sandy grin on the coast at sunset, in September, when it’s warm enough to swim but not hot enough to coax the cicadas into song. Her laughter is the creaking of the gum trees, and her kisses, her whispers, are the susurrus rippling through their leaves. She is soft and precious, like the orchids we find on our evening walks.

By November there’s a cloying stickiness to her love. She grasps for my hands despite the humidity and overhead the clouds rumble. It’s hard enough to breathe and like the flies she clings to me and I slick her from my skin- I love her, yes, I love her, please, enough, enough already, enough!
The sky flashes and over the crashing waves I hear her thunder, a crack in the depths of her that shakes the windows of my soul. Unbeknownst to me, lightning far away strikes bright the first bushfire of the season.

As quickly as they came, the storms pass, seemingly overnight. Left in their wake is a dryness that yellows grass and leaves me rasping in her presence. Her eyes are hard. Her voice is something crueller than cold. At least cold is wet, at least ice will soothe the parched lips of the lonely and the lost. I seek her but I am blinded by the brilliant light of her; I reach for her and find only vapour. She is a mirage, far from me, beautiful and devastating. The crispness of her conversation pricks me. Her barbs hook and catch and carry with me through the days.
We fall to silence. It’s too hot, too dry, for me to speak.

She burns.
We are taught in summer to clear a boundary around all we hold dear. We strip the land of life, we soak it with water, we plan our escape. We burn in advance. We pray that this year we will be passed over for the inevitable destruction. I follow the guidelines as closely as I can, careful to maintain control as I lay my boundaries before her. The silence is stifling. Across my lonely distance I watch her tremble in the sunlight.
When finally she does erupt, the flames are devastating. She is summer in full swing: the fire in her obliterates all it touches, and spreads, and devours. She rages without cease. Charred scars remain wherever she sweeps, smoke billowing on the horizon, and when her gaze settles on me I am already choking long before I feel the searing pain.

When January comes, and it does quite suddenly, I find her smouldering in the remains of all we built together. Her face is streaked with ashes. She is dripping, almost extinguished, no longer considered a threat now that there is nothing left for her to burn. She looks about herself like a child. She doesn’t know why she razed so much. She doesn’t even know what sparked the onslaught. All she knows is that it began, and raged, and ended.

More fires spark, here and there, as the months cool, but none of them with anything of the devastation of her summer fury. We sift through the remains of last year’s world, listing the names of those lost, salvaging memories. We lift water to eachother’s lips as the cleansing rains sweep in again. The Doctor, that ocean breeze named for the relief it brings, cools our skin. I hold her as she trembles through the shock of cold nights. I braid white wildflowers in her hair with each new day.
Those who survived the bushfires return. They survey the damage just as we did and a few of them leave, finding little worth saving. Those who do remain, however, band together. They help us rebuild.
In March, when the heat finally breaks, she sobs an apology.
They chuckle gently and murmur, “This is part of loving you.”

You don’t live in Australia and expect safety. You take the suffocating heat and deadly summers with the balmy days and sweet blue beaches. I love her even though she is like the seasons because when April and May roll around, bursts of hardy green break the scorched earth. Seeds released in the flames- seeds that are only released in the flames- sprout and bring new life to the ragged landscape. Our autumn and winter are not seasons of death and stillness. They are rich with new life. They are the salve to the aching wounds of our summers. They are resilient beauty, thriving in the chaos.

And there is nothing more beautiful than my red dust lover after the burn.

Alive – The Glut


I like living, I really do. I’m hopeful. I hope the world learns from history and things are actually getting better and we just can’t see it yet.
I’m hopeful for a future where things are different and good and that humanity is evolving toward a better, kinder existence. I don’t actually believe so, but I hope so, and that’s close enough.

Today is a nice day, it’s sunny and clear and I’m talking to a beautiful woman across the other side of the world who tells me she loves me and has such a big heart and is excited about going to dinner with another beautiful woman

And there are colourful yarns and I’m listening to music, music that is so bountiful I could listen to a new song every three minutes and never ever have to repeat one

And I am healthy, and relatively young, and I have touched and been touched by some of the most brilliant minds ever to be totally unappreciated by the world, and there is art, centuries of art, cataloguing all that the human race has ever done

There is architecture and philosophy and poetry and cooking tv shows and Gordon fucking Ramsay and christmas carols which I hate except for when I don’t and people crying at airports and orgasms and news anchors who burst into tears on live television because they saw a picture of a dusty young boy pulled from the wreckage of his home and

metal rulers and movies about slavery that make me cry at 2 in the morning and memes and stupid articles about Apple headphone jacks and beach breezes and a Cute Pancake Girl who may stay or go but right now she kisses me

And family, blood and found and chosen, and pretzel sticks, and drinking water from rivers and bacteria and very pretty rocks and very plain rocks and wine bottles being recycled into glass walls for glass houses and cruel politicians and the goddamn KKK and whirling planets and songs about Voids and boys with body issues and girls who write porn

And dalmatians and pallas cats and wine and anthrax and
This world is a glut, my loves.

None of it matters, and all of it matters. Everything hurts and there is joy all around. We’re all going to die someday. The whole human race will die someday and all of this? Everything? This is all history that we’ll leave behind, and whether we’re alone in the universe or if there’s some kind of life out there, these abstract passing functions of our existence will outlast us.
Is there a word for being simultaneously hopeless and hopeful?

This is what we are. Neither good, nor bad, just… Alive.
For a brief moment. Alive.

A Home I Make in You


I have to step back sometimes.

I want to squirrel myself away inside him. I feel myself changing, mirroring, mimicking. Seven, he says. Seven, I say, later, in the kitchen.

Ireland, he says, with a proper ‘r’ so that it doesn’t sound like ‘island.’

Island, I say. I miss the r. I can’t quite catch it yet. I’ll try again later without realising, and come a little closer to the sound that sounds more human.

We curl up in bed and murmur into pillows our dreams, hopes for the future. Weddings we talk about with awkward forewords: “And if, I mean, not being assumptive here, if we get married sometime in the future-” and children we talk about like some vague half-concept, unsure if we want them but certain we will have them if we do want them- and death we avoid, both too raw to discuss it at length. We will live forever, and the pain of grief will never touch us. Safe beneath the blankets our loved ones will never leave, illness will never take us, our brilliant minds will never fade and our bodies will stay strong. We laugh about boxes, and cats, and the house we plan to build but know we may never be able to afford.

All this while I can feel myself reaching out and thinking, is this safe? Can I put down roots here, can I grow inside his kindness, will he give me form?

No, I cannot spend every waking moment with him. No, I will not allow him to look after me. The creeping needy child in the back of my mind grows ever more insistent and wide-eyed as it watches the way he mends my wounds and kisses my scars and whispers forever in my ear, like forever is a thing he can offer me. Nights I spend alone I spend in tears. He’ll leave. He’ll stay. I’ll break him, I’ll need him, I’ll need him.

I have to step back sometimes, or I won’t know when to stop.



At first I am unsettled when she grasps that mop of copper curls and tugs it from her head. What I had thought was her hair had been a wig- Instead she sports a full head of soft, mouse-brown hair, unevenly cut and shaggy towards the ends. Her lips as she swipes the lipstick from them are not bloody red but ashen pink, and her long neon nails come off with a click to reveal chewed stubs. I sit awkwardly alone in her living room as she excuses herself to shower, studying the mismatched pillows and threadbare throw rugs until she returns plain looking but no less intense. Soap removed much of her magic, yet she remains enthralling still, scrubbed clean and softly perfumed. Gone is the dizzy party girl. The woman who stands before me now, wrapped in a silk dressing gown with dripping hair tossed about her shoulders, has a different kind of presence. She is quiet, and strong. She seems to make the room fold about her, instead of simply inhabiting it, and she looks at me as if she knows what I am seeing.

I swallow.

She makes us tea, and we sit and drink in silence, observing each other. Her possessive gaze unsettles me and I avoid eye contact, peering about myself at her tiny, lavish house. The glasses are small and intricate. “My father bought them in Azerbaijan,” She whispers, reverentially, as she peers into the depths of hers. “I have never been, but I am told their tea is legendary.”

I nod silently in agreement, as if Azerbaijani tea is something I know much about. She doesn’t seem to notice, or perhaps she simply doesn’t care. The tea is bittersweet.

When the cups are empty we leave them to cool on the table top, reflecting the faux-firelight in gold and cherry-red.  I lean forward to admire them but she wastes no time, catching hold of my shoulders and planting kisses beneath my throat. We fall wordlessly against each other, stripping, exploring, kissing and gasping. We make love on the floor for hours, catching our breaths on orgasms, writhing and rolling, feline in our ministrations. Her tongue is pointed; my fingers are wet. When we are exhausted we curl around each other and stare, still silent, preserving the sanctity of what we had just done.

I am hypnotised by her. Hours could pass; Days, weeks, months could pass, and I would lie there, unknowing, uncaring, lost in her. I can’t read her face, her eyes half-lidded but attentive. After a moment she shifts, burrowing her face against my knee.

Kisses punctuate her ascent along my leg and she pushes me gently until I unfold beneath her, stretched sanguine. She breathes against my breasts; her hair tickles my sides.

“I want to paint you.” Lifting her head, those heated green eyes catching mine and holding them, she murmurs with inescapable authority. “I am going to paint you.”

Far from the fire she leads me, into the cooler parts of the house, along winding limb-like hallways and past coloured doors with mismatched handles.

I am shivering when she topples me into the studio with more kisses, impatient kisses, and closes the door.