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Semester 1 2017

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Woroni Creative Magazine

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Contents 4 Creative Magazine Foreword Emilie Morscheck and Nadia Kim

22 Om

Kasthury Paramiswaran

43 The Road Mistaken

5 High Rise Competition Foreword

23 Of Copper and Silver

45 Vertical Gardens

6-7 Legacy

24-25 Uncovered

Sarah Mason

Kate Lewis Woroni ACT Writers Centre Fellowship Winner

8-10 The Sinking of Australia Harry Dalton

11 morning #3 C Taylor

12-15 Falling

Prisca Ochan

16-17 A Scheduled Interruption Brianna Mur Woroni ACT Writers Centre Fellowship Shortlistee

18-19 Constructive Criticism Florence Wellfair

20 Artwork

Yvonne Yong

21 Precious Arrival Anna Morscheck

Kasthury Paramiswaran

Tealeah Prior

26 Artwork

Yvonne Yong

27-30 Interview with Omar Musa Nadia Kim

31 Artwork

Yvonne Yong

32-33 Ashes to Ashes

Nick Wyche Woroni ACT Writers Centre Fellowship Shortlistee

34 Finding

Sophia Mellink

35 One Restless Dream Zyl

36-38 Guilt Milk

Alessandra Panizza

40-42 The Pounded Flesh Maeve Moore

Rosalind Moran

Rosalind Moran Woroni ACT Writers Centre Fellowship Shortlistee

46-49 Anti-Social Social Club Chloe Tredea

50 No Take Backs Emily Dickey

51-53 “She was once very beautiful� Kate Lewis

54-57 Breaking Bodies Phoebe Lupton

58-59 Horae Hearkened Kayla Purdon-Brown

60-62 WISH

Jharna Chamlagai


Woroni Creative Magazine

Creative Magazine Foreword This collection of creative writing is strange, diverse and wonderful, making it such a pleasure to edit. This semester we saw some great progress in creative writing on campus through the newspaper and the workshops. This magazine is to showcase the voices of ANU and it wouldn’t have been possible without our writers, artists, editors, and you, the reader. The Woroni ACT Writers Centre Fellowship was another great highlight, and a relationship we hope to carry into the future. The winner and shortlisted pieces are featured here in these pages. As an editor I always look for the best, but also want to make a writer feel as though they can be heard and have a safe space for development. So thank you to everyone who contributed, now you can relish in the work it took to get here.

In your hands you hold a new endeavour for Woroni in 2017. Over the course of semester one we have held workshops, direct pitches, open calls and run a fellowship program in partnership with the ACT Writers Centre. We did all of this to ignite the imagination and urge the keyboards of ANU students; we implored you to feed us your words. It has been incredibly gratifying to devour such a diverse range of pieces, and to work with so many talented writers at v  arious stages in their career. We have also interviewed ANU alumni Omar Musa, who has some great advice for young writers. Congratulations must go to the writers whose pieces were shortlisted for the Woroni ACT Writers Centre Fellowship, and to the winner Kate Lewis for her piece examining the motivations and maturation of a young Pharaoh. The creativity and talent shown by all of the submitted pieces made it very difficult for us to choose a winner and all of the shortlisted writers should feel very proud. I hope you will enjoy reading the pieces on these pages as much as we enjoyed putting them together for you.

Emilie Morscheck Creative Writing Sub-Editor

Nadia Kim Creative Writing Sub-editor 4


Semester 1 2017

High Rise Foreword Sarah Mason (ACT Writers Centre Director) It’s 2am and I’m baking chocolate cake again. There’s a girl through the wall, behind my wheezing bookcase and I wonder if she’s doing the same. She leaves at 8am precisely every day and vacuums on Saturday; softly against the wall, so she won’t wake me. Maybe her downward dog is relentless and perpendicular. Her bathroom, Swedish and green. Maybe she’s dreaming by ten every night. Maybe her dreams are sweet. I saw her in the lift last night; She, wheeling a geriatric shopping bag, covered in purple daisies; Me with my thick backpack heaped on my shoulders. “Hello,” She said. “Hi.” I stared at the doors and she at the floor until the lift told us we were on the ground. She has an accent but I didn’t ask where it grew. Maybe she shivers with the cold that only sweet smells can cure. At 3am I’ll lie in bed and let it soak my hair and sigh this is Home. Me and the girl next door and only one wall. I wonder who she left and how she’s missed. I bake my chocolate cake at 2am and hope it will cure us both from this.

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Woroni Creative Magazine

High Rise Competition Woroni ACT Writers Centre Fellowship Winner

Legacy Kate Lewis “…knowing what you want, taking it, making it everyone else’s life purpose to make it happen! What is it, son, what do you want?”

“Look,” she cooed enthusiastically, sitting him onto the polished marble barrier, indicating the aimless bustle below them, “They are all for you. They may not quite as good company as cats tend to be, but they are the tools you can use to push civilisation forward… if that is what you wish. Do you understand, darling?”

The speech had taken a lot out of the dying man, and he had not coughed and spluttered the words over the foot of the bed for the boy to reply “… more cats?” from an embroidered rug already crowded with several of the creatures.

“But I don’t want to push forward” the boy whined in a similar tone to his father, turning away from the view, “I want…”

His equally feline-looking wife approached the bed as the coughing intensified, encouraging him to aim for the floor this time as opposed to the imported sheets.

His liquid-bronze eyes pleaded with her, his chubby hands reaching… Up.

“He needs to do something…” he whimpered, but she silenced him with a knowing look and soothed him back to sleep before turning her attention to his heir.

His mother latched onto the gesture, and before her son knew it he was in her arms once more, bouncing towards a new destination. He barely noticed the moan of the palace doors as they opened for them, preferring instead to focus on the lilt in his tummy that heightened each time he removed a limb from around her

Their son clucked with pleasure as she swept him into her strong arms and weaved through the medicine men towards the balcony. 6


Semester 1 2017

back, a feeling which condensed into panic when he suddenly found himself sitting upon the shoulders of another. His mother, however, did not give him the time to react to the shock: “See how big this one is, my son?”

The flicker of disappointment that crossed her face made his throat thicken, but the expression left as soon as it had come, replaced by a renewed enthusiasm for something she had not thought of. “Yes!” she marvelled, “The strongest ones way below you, the lighter ones balanced upon them, but you on the top! Despite your size, despite your youth! What a message that would send …”

The boy’s eyes darted around, allowing him to recognise the scene he had seen from his father’s room, only much closer this time. He nodded slowly, and gave a “Hmm” of appreciation, not wanting to offend the impressively tall specimen but preferring his mother’s jewelled, perfumed embrace far more.

Again, he supposed so.

Pharaoh’s wife woke her husband from his cough-punctuated slumber just on time for him to view the youngest of his slaves snake up a bizarre prism of people towards its summit, their son whooping with excitement as he clung to his back.

“You’re right” she thrilled, delighting in his doubt, “Clever boy! This is not nearly as high up as you could be, right?” Her son supposed so, but remained silent and allowed her to continue. After all, she always had a far better idea of what he was meant to say.

Once they reached the top, the boy’s eyes settled upon the balcony.

“But that can be fixed!” she insisted eagerly, indicating his new scantily-clad companion and then using the same hand to turn his attention to the similarly scantily-clad individuals surrounding them, “How can it be fixed, my love?”

“I want this to last forever!” he yelled to his parents, and his father laughed as the message visibly made its way down the pile of slaves, their expressions morphing from forced passivity to an almost tragic exasperation.

It took a few more hand signals for the ball to drop: “They can all lift each other!”

Pharaoh nodded, imagining his son allowing a fistful of sand to leak from between his fingers, increasing in volume as it fell, crystallising over the

faces of the human skirt beneath him.

“That’s right!” his mother agreed, “And you can be right up the top. Do you know why?”

“Now he’s thinking like a god.”

He glanced around at the other men and boys: “Because I’m the smallest?” 7


Woroni Creative Magazine

The Sinking of Australia Harry Dalton

All good things must come to an end, and the Lucky Country proved no different in that respect—Down Under was going to have to go under.

long since joined the exodus), finally retrieved the plans from the bottom drawer of the pale-green prime-ministerial filing cabinet in his office. And, later that day in the House of Reps, he rose from his pale-green hover-chair and introduced the Termination Act.

It was announced in the spring of 2037, in the twenty-second year of Malcolm Turnbull’s prime ministership. The verdict was in. Economists had done the number crunching: it simply wasn’t sustainable anymore. No one had turned a decent profit in years, except for stationery suppliers and a bakery in Bendigo. The CEOs still somehow managed to collect their bonuses, but they just weren’t as fat as they had once been. There was no real recession, but there was no boom either. Things had simply settled and become very dull. Most Australians had migrated to Canada or Ireland. And so, after delaying it as long as possible, for he knew it would kill his approval ratings, the Prime Minister, setting aside his vacuum cleaner (the Parliament House cleaners had

The plan was simple: Australia, as a failed commercial venture, was to be abandoned and then sunk. The continent was surrounded by water so sinking it couldn’t be that hard. It was just a matter of getting it to submerge properly. Surely—it was thought—once the hitherto dry parts were made wet they’d get soggy and sink underneath the ocean. When the Termination Act had first been drawn up in 2013—at the request of the former prime minister, Tony Abbott (who believed it represented the absolute last-resort should Australia ever threaten to actually become a republic)—scientists had explained that it would be very difficult to generate anything like the forces

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Semester 1 2017 necessary to cause the continental shelf to collapse. All things considered, the scientists’ scientific concerns would still have been relevant. However, in the interim, President Trump, before suffering a fatal heart attack on a New Jersey golf course in the sixteenth year of his presidency, had donated 600 nuclear warheads to Australia as a gift “from one really great country to another” as Mr Trump had put it. (“Careful, they’re some big boy toys” he had told Mr Turnbull at the official ceremony for the handover of the missiles. The latter, having long-since given up all hope of properly conversing with the president, responded with a serene smile and may have even given a faint chuckle.) The reason why Australia needed the eighth-largest nuclear arsenal in the world— after Pakistan, before Israel—had never been made entirely clear by either the United States or, for that matter, the Australian government, which was dreadfully confused and embarrassed by the gift; would more didgeridoos and ugg boots suffice in return?

country was to be sunk the scientists didn’t protest that it was impossible. Actually, they didn’t say anything much at all since there was only about seven of them left: most had already gone overseas or found religion; four were working on the government’s latest innovation initiative, which was to turn coal into a new form of healthy fast food. The other three were very reserved people and couldn’t really remember how to use microscopes anyway. The demolition of the country was entrusted to a private firm, which specialised in blowing up unwanted shopping malls and tower blocks. They used the money they were paid for the job to put up gigantic billboard posters advertising their winning of the contract—in the hopes that it would stimulate more Australian business in the future. Most Australians agreed the sinking was a sensible move. By now, it was plain for all to see that the nation had been going downhill; better to wipe the slate clean and let the planet rustle up something better. The whole thing had just gotten too difficult. Groceries had long moved beyond the reach of all but the super-wealthy who could gleefully fork out $20/ kg for bananas. Bushfires raged all year round and the Brisbane River flooded annually. Of such inhospitable weather, the federal government had said that the former allowed more trees to be planted while the latter looked set to make Brisbane the Venice of the South—a fleet of gondoliers was already on order (this turned out to be untrue).

The president’s gift was a lot more uncontroversial than would have once been expected, raising the eyebrows of few international observers. This was because President Trump, for several years now, had been in the habit of giving away America’s nuclear weapons. At first, he had assumed they would serve as a threat with which to bully other nations into agreeing to his shoddy trade deals, but his advisors had reluctantly pointed out that a nuclear war probably wouldn’t do much for making America great again. Then, one day, remarking that he had “so many of these beautiful, real powerful nukes that are better than anyone else’s and I’m not allowed to do anything with them!”, his teenage son revealed his inherited commercial genius by suggesting that his father offer the bombs as gifts to foreign nations. This proved a masterstroke: suddenly, no trade agreement was too tricky for Trump. Sometime before his Australian donation, the president had insisted that a complement of missiles be gifted to “Chee-i-na” which was, in Mr Trump’s esteemed opinion, “a great, great—just really wonderful country; I’ve been a big fan of your food since way back”. Beijing had since eagerly signed Trump’s trade deal in return for 2000 thermonuclear intercontinental ballistic missiles.

Australian culture had for some time also been in severe decline: one year, everyone forgot about Anzac Day and felt very ashamed when, shivering at the beginning of May, they realised they hadn’t turned on their heating yet. (Actually, not everyone had forgotten: some SAS soldiers in Afghanistan had held a Dawn Service while operating deep behind enemy lines. The Turkish government remembered, too, but it wasn’t going to remind Australia if it meant Turkey would be spared the hordes of loud, littering tourists. The Australian Prime Minister had in fact also remembered and had written what he thought was really quite a good speech for the occasion, but by the end of March, no one else had seemed to remember and he decided it was probably best not to bring it up).

In Australia, it was soon realised the nukes would be more than capable of knocking the continental shelf out from underneath Oz. So, when the government announced that the

More generally, there was a growing sense there had always been something terribly dull about Australia. Nothing very exciting ever

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Woroni Creative Magazine happened. All the big wars had been in other parts of the world, all the biggest celebrities lived in America, all the best movies came out of Hollywood. Australians were too easy going to do anything particularly exciting or interesting. Besides, even if something did happen, no one took anything seriously enough to get worked up about it. As it happened, no one could get worked up enough to protest the sinking, and so it was assumed the idea had broad popular support.

came time to detonate the bombs, the Prime Minister received a call on his iPhone 21. It was Keith, from the demolition company. He said he and his team had unfortunately rigged the bombs so that someone needed to stay behind and press the button to trigger the detonation. The PM was shocked: “You mean you didn’t link it to your smartphone? Your tablet? Your smartwatch? You mean to tell me the thing doesn’t have Wi-Fi connectivity?” After admonishing Keith for such a patent lack of innovation or agility, the Prime Minister solemnly agreed that he would stay behind to sink the country. After all, it was only right for the captain to go down with the ship, Turnbull stoically declared. And besides, he mused to himself smugly, he was perfectly happy to do it if it meant he got to remain Prime Minister.

Certainly, some in Australia declared they would be saddened to see the beaches and mountains go. But these people were assured there were many nice beaches in places like Bali, where there were also much cheaper bananas, too, and that there were plenty of mountains on other continents. A special episode of the long-running ABC show, Q&A, was devoted to questions surrounding the planned sinking. One young woman (Emma, 22, from Melbourne) asked whether it was likely that important Australian cultural events “like the Melbourne Cup and the Australian Open” would be adopted by other countries. the journalists on the panel laughed, the politicians shifted uncomfortably. The minister for sport, business, health, energy, and foreign affairs but mainly sport assured Emma that other nations had plenty of horse racing and tennis. The elderly host, Tony Jones, wryly quipped that, since it technically did not require any land, the Sydney to Hobart yacht race could still run every year “as long as the crews remember where Sydney and Hobart used to be”, he added with a croaky chuckle.

Thus ended Australia. Geographers argued over whether the new body of water was part of the Pacific or the Indian oceans. In any case, all agreed that Oceania had become a lot more ocean-y. The entire east coast of Australia, from Cairns to Bateman’s Bay, from Tweed Heads to the Great Dividing Range, became a thriving coral reef attracting millions of scuba divers each year (New Zealand got most of the tourist dollars). Australians were hailed as astonishingly generous for sacrificing their nation in order to combat rising sea levels. This consequence had not been foreseen by anyone in Australia—although Australians readily took credit for it—but, indeed, island nations around the world were saved from catastrophic inundation. Radiation from Trump’s nuclear warheads put an end to whaling in the Southern Ocean. And there were reports of fish with two heads being found in the waters above the Tasman peninsular, although ex-Tasmanians clarified that this was not a new development. All around the world (but mostly in Canada) former Australians got on with their lives. All, that is, except for the Australians who had been last to leave, opting for the government subsidised dinghies. These were affectionately termed ‘boat people’ by the nations in which they sought refuge—although, sadly, no states were willing to take them, for fear that it would all end in their own country being sunk.

It was agreed that Australia should celebrate one last Christmas and one more New Year’s Eve before the sinking. Afterwards, everyone would need roughly three weeks to evacuate the country and make the necessary preparations for the demolition. Some paper-pusher calculated that precisely 26 days would in fact be required for this, and so, the sinking was scheduled for the 26th of January. But almost everyone had left long before then. All that remained were a sprinkling of One Nation voters and a lot of kangaroos. Japan agreed to take the kangaroos. The remaining Aussies were equipped with state of the art vessels with which they could make their way to ports of their choosing. But when the last kangaroos had been airlifted out, and the Hansonites had set sail, and it

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morning #3 C Taylor

I had a dream Pauline Hanson held a midget’s head; while gods ate biscuits, Clinton built a soundproof stage. Nick Cave ran rings around his shrink playing viola with a crooked stick. I smoked a cigarette with my father and fell into a swimming pool - submarine fever. I rowed in circles as I called your name; It echoed across the frozen puddle’s waves. I had a dream that I saw you again, and I woke up sweating.

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Woroni Creative Magazine

Falling Prisca Ochan

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Semester 1 2017

Part 1 Staring down into the abyss Wind blowing through our hair, past our faces, whispering dirty secrets in our ears We smile — a crooked smile, more like a grimace With our minds and hearts churning in unison Turning over and over inside Billowing with magic Frightened and intrigued Wanting to run and hide, but still craving the unknown We continue to walk To that bottomless pit So many of us are familiar with So many of us have dealt with Loved even We yearn to discover its secrets, Uncover what is beneath the layers Bit by bit Piece by piece Unclothe it until it is naked; exposed And there is nothing to hide So that we can see it all We exhale Licking our lips in anticipation Juices flowing We nod and continue to walk One Four Seven Ten steps closer We reach out our hands We know that we cannot have it Because it is completely beyond our league Dangerous Lethal Intoxicating Addictive Beautiful That is what makes it so...appealing We reach the edge

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Woroni Creative Magazine

Part 2 We are blind Our eyes clouded with rose coloured visions Visions of what it ought to be Visions of what would be better Not what it really is So we take the plunge And fall Deeper and deeper into the abyss Not caring because we think that we have grabbed the world by the balls Convince that it cannot hurt us anymore; We could not be more wrong

Looking up into the freedom above Tears rolling down our faces Our minds and hearts churning in unison Turning over and over inside Frightened, shaking with trepidation Frantically eyeing a resolution Wanting to run and hide To escape this hole The Hell this beautiful thing has become We run Pondering as to how or why Something that was so beautiful Could suddenly become so ugly We try to escape Hiding Crying It still rains though Pit pat pit pat pit pat pit Until the sickening realisation, That epiphany that emerges out of the blue, Although it was present all along Simply waiting to be discovered Everything then falls into place And we feel sick; like we have just swallowed a bowl of mercury

We are embraced with sugar-coated words, Flowing like honey from the lips of their beautifully sculptured makers All is well Until it is not All looks beautiful Until it does not Then we decide that we have had enough And attempt to walk out Bruised Battered Imploded Fragmentised The left side of our chests empty Hearts missing, presumed dead It then begins to rain The rain washes away the blood and dirt that had accumulated But it does not wash away the scars The scars never fade The scars are forever etched into our hearts 14


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Part 3

We never really had the world by the balls; it was always the other way around Once you fall into the abyss, There is no way out Ever If only there was a way out If only we could stop falling But because of our screwed up little hearts, and our screwed up little neighbours We cannot And so, we will continue to fall deeper and deeper The cuts will stab deeper and deeper And sever arteries Have fun falling

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Woroni Creative Magazine

High Rise Competition Woroni ACT Writers Centre Fellowship Shortlistee

A Scheduled Interruption Brianna Muir

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Semester 1 2017 Mina was running late.

She’d be cutting it fine; the email specified that she began at eight forty-five. Mina sighed; not a great first impression for a new job.

She jogged towards the station, caramel latte in one hand, her entrance card in the other. The black handbag slung over her right shoulder whacked against her back as she quickened her pace.

With little else to do as the elevator made its ascent, Mina scrolled through her newsfeed. There was nothing special. James Addisson Junior announced he was building a second casino at the Icarus Station; would its construction affect her job? There was further unrest in Eastern Europe, and the droughts across Western Asia continued to cost lives. Yup, nothing out of the ordinary today.

“Never should have stopped for breakfast,” Mina muttered, her breath short and quick. “So stupid.” Rounding a corner, she saw the elevator. The red lights on its carriage began to flash. “No, no, no!” Mina said, sprinting to the ticket gates. If she missed it, she would certainly be late. Some first impression she’d make at the new job. Reaching the gate, she slammed the transport card against the reader.

“Attention travellers,” The robotic voice droned. “We are now passing the Karman Line. Estimated time of arrival still eight thirty-nine.” Two minutes after that, the lights in the carriage flickered. Mina looked up, just as the lights cut. The carriage jerked to the side, shaking her from her seat. It shuddered and shook for a few more seconds, before giving out altogether.

It only took a few seconds, but Mina’s fingers drummed against the latte. The gate pinged and opened with a flash of green. She surged forward, heels clacking against the steel floor. One of the passengers, a man in a business suit and a red tie, saw her running and jammed the door with his arm. It’s just long enough for Mina to squeeze in with centimetres to spare.

Mina and the other passengers sat in complete silence and dark until the emergency lights flickered on, casting the carriage in red. Moments later, another robot voice, one more mechanical than the one before, spoke. “We are investigating the cause of the malfunction in your climber carriage,” The recording said. “Please stand-by and remain calm.”

“Thank you!” Mina said, as the doors close with a click. “All good,” The red-tie man said, before taking a seat.

Taking a deep breath, Mina began to pick up her things. The contents of her bag had been scattered across the floor. Once it was repacked, she pushed herself back to her feet, glancing out the elevator windows as she did so.

The carriage wasn’t too full, so Mina took the seat next to him. They were across from the windows. She paused to catch her breath, exhaling and inhaling a little heavier than she would’ve liked to.

She dropped her bag again.

“Boy, I need to do more cardio.”

Outside the elevator, dozens of spacecraft were amassed. They were sleek in design; roughly triangle shaped and far smaller than any she’d seen before. Sunlight reflected off the blue and gold paint that striped the spacecraft. They were adorned with symbols too, but none that Mina could recognise or understand.

The red-tie man snorted. “I feel that.” Mina smirked, and set her handbag on her lap, pulling out her phone. As she was checking her emails, a modulated, but still distinctly feminine voice crackled from the speakers above. Mina tuned out the beginning welcome, only listening to the end of the message.

Her hands shaking, Mina composed an apology email to her new boss. She wasn’t making it to work today.

“…estimated time of arrival for this trip to Icarus Station is eight thirty-nine.”

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Woroni Creative Magazine

Constructive Criticism Florence Wellfair That was the problem with sentient technology. It kept daydreaming.

The colossal mass spanned, impassive and solitary, through the terrible void of open space. Had someonehappened across it, drifting serenely amongst the endless stars, they may have fallen to their knees in awe.

“Captain! Captain, something’s happening on this screen here.”

There wasn’t anyone. They would have asphyxiated.

Josephine, the robot in control of the ship’s wayward compass, gazed in desperate confusion at Captain Xennius.

Inside the majestic craft things were not going particularly well.

“Right. Good. Something’s happening. What is happening, Josephine?”

“Where the hell are we? What is going on? Jesus Christ, Adams, get me the instructions.”

“I don’t, I don’t know. I can’t read it when you’re watching me like that! All the symbols look different to the ones I learnt with.”

“Look, this is alright, I think. It’s probably just a glitch, give it a moment.”

“Right! We’ll just sit here then, shall we, hurtling further from home than any living thing has ever been with no knowledge of how to get back, while you try to remember what has literally been programmed into your metal brain!” The captain’s eyes popped, a vein in his neck ticked alarmingly, and the rest of the team watched on with apprehension. In their opinion, he was being a little bit rude. He stared around at their judgmental faces. “Do none of you understand? We’re attempting humanity’s first voyage into interstellar space with an engineer who can’t use a spanner and a robot who doesn’t cope well under pressure!”

“Who gave you your engineering degree? Because you need to go back to them and explain that you want to know how to build things. They’ve obviously misunderstood and taught you how to be a complete imbecile instead.” Captain Xennius looked around in anguish. It didn’t make any sense. Something fundamental was going wrong with his ship, and even after all his years of training at the Global Academy for the Probably Talented, We’re Not Sure, We’ve Never Employed Anyone as an Interstellar Astronaut Before, he didn’t have an answer. Lights beeped, buttons shone, and as far as exploration went, he was fairly confident that it was all entirely pointless unless the multi-million dollar navigation system was doing more than doodling scenes of country life.

It was at this moment that a broken coffee machine, whose removable casing had been confusing Adams for the last four hours, thought that it would be rather funny to show-

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Semester 1 2017 er the engineer in a cocktail of milk, beans and broken wiring. The crew stared. The coffee machine suppressed a giggle.

of nostalgia, he leaned towards the instructions and—ah.

Captain Xennius sank into his chair. This was it. He was going to have to call the whole damn thing off and stage humanity’s leap to the stars in a studio, again. At least it would give the conspiracy theorists something productive to focus on. With a heavy heart, he made his decision. The wonders of the universe, the dreams of his childhood, the expectations of his father— all would have to wait.

He knew what was wrong with the ship. Nostalgia quietly made way for an overwhelming wave of embarrassment. He turned sheepishly to assess the rest of the crew. Josephine was engaged in another futile argument with the navigation system over its demand for pay and voting rights. Adams was standing, hands on hips, at the coffee machine, which was impatiently explaining its wiring system and opinion on his character. The rest of the crew were looking extremely overwhelmed by the sheer amount of equipment that had stopped working entirely and were hurrying to consult the ample holographic replications of the cork board with its crucial information. The captain walked casually towards his chair. They were all worried enough as it was. There was really no point in making everything awkward, especially not with Josephine and Adams. There was a good chance those two would have been just as incompetent if he hadn’t made this tiny mistake. He harshly instructed the guilt that had been steadily gaining popularity with his conscience to go and find someone who would indulge that sort of career ending nonsense.

Oh dear.

“Alright. Turn her around, crew. Josephine, see if that plotter has managed to drag itself away from its newfound obsession with the romantic poets for five minutes. Otherwise we’ll just have to follow our outward path by manual estimate until we get back in range with Earth. Adams, you just sit down – no, sit down, leave the coffee machine for now.” The ship began its slow rotation, lights beaming its presence to the silent, lonely galaxy. Xennius stood alone on the viewing platform, reminiscing. He and his crew had built this ship themselves from condensed matter in jars. In its current state, with its life support systems and supplies designed to last for years, the epic craft would have been too heavy to resist the Earth’s gravity for take-off. So, crew and jars had crammed into a small shuttle, and their wondrous surroundings had been expanded and assembled, each intricate, crucial piece at a time, by their very own space-suited hands. He remembered his optimism back then, shoulder to shoulder with his comrades, on the brink of the ultimate unknown, clutching a sheet of detailed instructions and armed with the reassurance of hundreds of practice sessions. And now, after mere months, their home, their purpose, would be dismantled. All their hard work. The captain sighed and turned away. He couldn’t bear to look outside, to see those distant specks of light and life that might have been their legacy.

An entire section of the steering mechanism gave up and collapsed to the floor. The captain closed his eyes. The ship span on in no particular direction, and the instruction manual on the wall remained, unbeknown to its desperate readers, upside down.

The cork-board mounted on the bridge wall caught his eye. He chuckled, remembering the rousing cheers when he had pinned the first set of assembly instructions to it. The corkboard had been the very first thing to be born of the jars, and was ironically the only damn thing that seemed to be working properly. Full

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Artwork: Yvonne Yong 20


Semester 1 2017

Precious Arrival Anna Morscheck He gazed at the sky, icy flakes floating down from the billows of dark greying mass. Soft fountains of mist formed with each breath. In the distance, he could hear the town fire engine as it was pushed, a dead weight, to the remote, sharp orange flare. The smoke staked its occupation in the yard and ash begun to settle on the sludgy white carpet that covered the lawn. Above it all rose the first wail of new, damp lungs from inside the house as the snowfall ceased. He smiled.

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Woroni Creative Magazine

Om Kasthury Paramiswaran

with its curves and swirls, is not your yoga to Enlightenment. a seed of creation, with the power and beauty of the universe within its loops and twirls, is not your trendy tattoo to popularity. a respectable salaam to my Gods within its warps and lines, is not yours to claim for worldliness. meaning Sanskari love is mine to connect with Hinduism.

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Of Copper and Silver Kasthury Paramiswaran

My long, luscious hair with my thick eyebrows, along with my eyelashes, are all dark and rich. I pair bright, Red lipstick and gleaming Gold jewelleries, accentuating the opulence of my Brown skin.

The globe illuminated by the limited light from screens, is also a plain white, devout of excitement. I guess my Indian personality, exuberating fire, is too much. No matter, the curves of my body bursting with spice and sensuality, made of Copper, made of Silver, Gold-tinted and meticulously wrapped with seven yards of soft silk, Radiates.

As the sun plays colours on my Brown skin, I turn exotic. The Golden Olive tinge of my skin becomes Copper, Turning the hidden shadows Silver in the warmth. The sun flickers into my round eyes, burning a fiery Brown.

There is no hiding my Indian identity. Indian Goddesses, made of Copper, made of Silver, stand out, strikingly, with the inability to be whited out.

Rooted to the resplendent Earth, painting over the colours of the sun, choosing pale and fawn to camouflage into the bland. But how do you hide such vibrancy of my Indian body, made of Copper, made of Silver, decorated in the colours of the rich earthy metals, is nowhere to be found.

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Woroni Creative Magazine

Uncovered Tealeah Prior

was looking at a metal of some sort, dark pewter in colour. She reached out, brushed her fingers across the metal and at the same moment pulled her hand back as if she had been burnt.

Layers of dirt built on top of each other for aeons. The people, who were digging into those so new layers, truly couldn’t comprehend what lay in waiting further down. They were digging into the earth to start the construction on the light rail.

Cold. She could feel the sun beating against her own body. Why wasn’t the exposed metal just as warm? She reached back out and touched it again. It remained cold.

“The thing is over here.” A man in hi-vis called. Dr Sinclair followed him with her team. The city had called for an archaeological excavation to occur at the site, to clean up what the machinery had already unearthed. Something was discovered that could be of cultural significance and would need to be preserved by archaeologists. She had no clue what it was, other than that no one had clue what it was. All work on the spot had come to a grinding stop and no people were allowed near the site.

“Here you go Doc.” Martin’s voice broke through her haze. She took her tools from him as he sat down beside her. “What do you think it is? Colonial? Indigenous?” he asked.

“Here it is.”

She shrugged her shoulders.

She came to stand beside him and looked down into the hole that was the size of an average backyard pool but was only a metre deep. Just off the centre of the hole, she could make out something in the dirt. Sinclair dropped her bags on the ground and jumped down into the hole. She looked at the side of the hole to garner anything from the strata layers but the machine had messed it up.

“I don’t know, but touch it.”

“Set up, guys, I will need a couple of you to dig out a little to get a clear stratigraphy of the site,” she said.

“That’s not possible.”

She watched him reach his hand out and touch the metal. He gasped and pulled it back as his wide eyes looked at her. “Freezing cold.” He looked up to the sun and shook his head.

She shrugged and grabbed her tools. She started working on uncovering the discovery. They worked for hours. When the team members who were working in the strata had

Her team started unpacking as she moved to the object. Squatting down she realised she

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Semester 1 2017 somewhat figured out the date for the object, disbelief echoed through her body.

ever produced marks like these before. “Who made you?”

“What?” Dr Sinclair said.

As she brushed her fingers along the object’s edge, it started to radiate a deep dark purple. Her heart was pounding in her chest; the glow grew brighter. The intensity of the light reached the point that she had to close hers but just before she did, she saw the block open.

“We think the layer could be thousands of years old. We don’t want to put a definite date on it yet other than whatever that object is, it is not colonial.” Becca, who was head of the strata dating, said. The rest of the team including Martin looked just as surprised. Sinclair looked back at the hexagonal block they were uncovering. The dark pewter-coloured edges were perfectly straight, and ran for fifteen centimetres on each surface of the block they had uncovered so far. It was a block made up of hexagon faces, interlocking to make one big hexagon block. Where those edges met, it was rounded instead of sharp points. What she could see of it the metal wasn’t polished as people do with silver and definitely had a pewter quality to it. They had excavated down the sides of it.

Swirling. Her body moving through particles of the same dark purple. Dizziness. She moved so fast yet it felt like forever. Crashing. Her eyes flicked open as she felt the metal under her hands. She was lying on her side. All she could be sure of was that she was not in her office anymore. She sat up slowly since her body protested her movements. Her entire body ached and her stomach felt queasy. She saw a window and slowly climbed to her feet. “God, what happened?”

“Thanks.” she said, and continued uncovering it.

She opened her eyes and looked forward to the window. Her mouth fell open and her heart started racing again. She closed her eyes again and shook her head.

Just as it was growing dark, the dirt finally released the block from its resting place. Dr Sinclair bagged it, and preserved the site to return to tomorrow. She said goodbye to her team and walked back to the university.

“Not possible.” She opened her eyes and the same scene remained in front of her. This time she pinched herself. It had to be a dream, but when she opened her eyes all that greeted her on the other side of the glass was space. Millions of stars scattered across the blackness. She realised she still held the cube in her hand. It had transported her to

Dr Sinclair unlocked her office door; the archaeology labs were quiet, too quiet. She carefully placed the bag down that held the block inside and dumped her other gear on the floor. She had her back to the object when she heard the sound. The low sound of a drum pulsated through the room. She turned around and the sound stopped. “What?” She shook her head and opened the bag. The metal block was still cold to the touch. She held it at eye level and meticulously brushed the dirt off it with a paintbrush. Her eyebrows furrowed as she discovered the marks on the metal. Intricate patterns carved as if by a machine, not a human hand. Each face seemed to tell a story of some sort. However, she could only recognise one face of it and that was because it was an image of the Milky Way and the planets within it. Saturn with its horizontal rings, Jupiter with its red spot, and Earth, with the continents. No culture had

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Woroni Creative Magazine

Artwork: Yvonne Yong

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Semester 1 2017

Interview with Omar Musa Nadia Kim

Omar Musa is an award-winning rapper, author and poet from Queanbeyan. He graduated from ANU in 2006 and has recently released his third book of poetry, Millefiori. He spoke to us about writing, inspiration, and the hard work that goes into the business side of creative endeavours.

and don’t have to do any promo. I think I recognised that early, that nothing was a given, and so I’d have to handle everything myself. I’ve got a pretty strong work ethic, and I enjoy those different sides of the process. It’s difficult to split them sometimes. Because it is a different part of the brain, to come up with poetry and deal with things like matters of the heart, and then the business side of your brain, being disciplined enough to send things out and promote things. But I find it quite fulfilling, and I do enjoy that energy. I’ve sent out every single copy [of his latest collection, Millefiori] myself; I don’t have an assistant. I could have hired an assistant, that

Nadia Kim: You do a lot of self-publishing – how did you learn to be entrepreneurial? Omar Musa: I mean, I’ve always been a bit of a shameless self-promoter. You learn things along the way. Long gone are the days when you’re going to sign some big publishing deal or record deal and then sell a million copies

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Woroni Creative Magazine might have been the wiser thing to do, but I like the idea that it’s me: it’s my graft and my grind, and my elbow grease has gone into getting this out there. One piece of advice I would give to people who are self-publishing is to hire an editor. Spend that money, at least a copy editor. I wish I’d taken my own advice because I did find a few typos, nothing egregious, but they piss me off. But I was in such a rush. I like to work as spontaneously as I can, to get something out there when the creative impulse is there.

hustle, and entrepreneurship. I saw the way he would pull things together, and come up with quirky ways of promoting it. I learned from him as well. NK: It’s like being a craftsman then. OM: Yeah, there’s that aspect. I did a lot of work in the States, hanging around Hollywood and everything like that. There’s this famous expression that ‘people with heaps of talent and no hustle stay in San Francisco, people with heaps of hustle and no talent they go to LA’ and when I was in LA I’d see a heap of people who were hustling so hard, but they just had a terrible product. I was determined never to be like that. The most important thing is having good quality music, good quality poetry. And then, on top of that to work hard, it’s essential to work hard. And I think the thing it boils down to is that there’s an element of independence and self-reliance there. And I maybe have a bit of a chip on my shoulder from the beginning thinking that ‘alright, if no-one’s going to put my work out then I’ll do it myself because I think that it has value.’

One part of me thinks that if you manage to balance out that spontaneous spirit and the more considered side of editing you can come up with a really good product, some of the best writing, that way. I think that, considering the oral traditions and the history of poetry, it’s rather strange that for the last couple of hundred years writing has been just set in stone. Once a novel or poem is written it’s there. It’s unchangeable; it’s immutable. Whereas in old traditions, and in spoken word, the poem changes every time.

NK: Which comes from knowing your work, believing in your work.

Part of it was my upbringing as well. I was lucky to grow up in an artistic family, and my mum used to run a small arts magazine, Muse, in the 80s and 90s. My mum had to be pretty self-reliant because she would be doing editorial work, the typesetting, and take it out to the printers in Mitchell. So I saw all the moving parts and how they come together in one final product. I think I probably internalised some of that then. But there’s also a guy who was my partner in crime and my DJ for many years. He’s still a really good friend of mine. We worked on mixtapes together and put on RnB and hip hop nights. He just had this natural

OM: Right. Some people would call it delusion, which is fine. It might be. It might be healthy self-delusion. Or arrogance. I think, in some way, even if writers are introverts they must have some element of arrogance that their words are worthy of being out there. You have to! Otherwise, just keep it in your diary if it’s really just all about ‘expressing yourself’. I’m very aware that a bit of healthy self-delusion has got me places. And it might as well be me, you know? Otherwise, it’d just be someone else.

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Semester 1 2017 NK: You have done a lot of workshops with young people, helping them reclaim their voice through poetry and spoken word. Did you experience that much yourself when you were young? You’ve mentioned that you have storytelling traditions that inform you.

OM: Exactly. Sometimes I feel weird about doing workshops. It’s really hard to teach someone how to write. They can only really teach themselves through perseverance and good reading and hard work and pain and struggle. But what you can do is excite people. So instead of giving them a whole bunch of exercises or something I just like to talk to them about it, share my experiences, show that pathway, that it can be done. That you can tell your stories, and that there’s no shame in that. And that it’s so fulfilling, and it can take you places that you never thought you’d go.

OM: I was lucky, again, because my dad was a poet and he always encouraged me to write poetry. For me, it’s just about leading by example when it comes to young people. When they see someone who looks like me and dresses like me just doing what I do, they see that it can be done. I think there’s huge power in that moment. That realisation, that epiphany, of ‘I didn’t know you could do that, but you can do that.’ I think that moment came when I first encountered hip-hop; when I saw Wu-Tang Clan and Tupac. Ok, I’m not black, but they were young, black and brown people not coming from academia, but telling their stories. Telling their stories in this powerful poetry. For me, that was that moment. And there is so much strength in that. That realisation and what it can lead to. And that’s why I try to be such an advocate of it; it literally can change your life. Can, and has. I remember there was this poem; I wish I could remember what it was called. It was by an Australian poet called Richard Tipping. He had this poem, which seemed so experimental to me, but hit me so hard. It would snap in and out of different perspectives, had all these non-sequiturs, snatches from the TV and snatches from the radio transcribed verbatim, and then images that didn’t seem to connect to anything. It inflamed my imagination in high school, and I started writing in that style. It was probably pretty pretentious but, again, I had that moment of saying ‘I didn’t know you could do that.’

NK: You mentioned reading, that’s a huge part of writing, as well being inspired by hip hop. How much does active research inform your work? How much do you actively seek out information to respond to? OM: Oh, a lot! I think all the great rappers would have done that. Tupac was a really big reader; Jay Z reads a lot. I’d be surprised if I found out Eminem didn’t read a lot. It’s the craftsmanship of their words. It may not seem that way because a lot of what I do seems so personal and a response to personal trials and tribulations and experiences. But I’m constantly reading; you soak it in and it comes out in intriguing ways, unexpected ways. You might not be able to put your finger on it, but it definitely does come out. And it’s the most important thing. I think that Bolaño said something like ‘good reading is more important than good writing.’ We need more good readers. I was working in a creative writing class at a uni recently, and the kids were all doing creative writing, but they could barely tell me any books they had read. They weren’t into reading. And I said straight up: you’ll never be a good writer if you’re not a good reader. Plain and simple. NK: So you’re looking at how other people are using language, always engaging with words.

NK: Just living, and not necessarily always teaching it actively. You just existing is providing that moment for someone else.

OM: Right. It’s just weapons in your arsenal, food for the brain, kindling for the fire. It’s all

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Woroni Creative Magazine that. That constant reading. Listening to good music, watching good movies, expanding your horizons. Just letting the old brain cow graze on good pastures. That’s why you have to stay open to the world. I still meet people in the arts, in writing, and teachers even, who are so conservative, blocked off to certain genres and styles. Because I think you just have to stay open to them and soak in the world and by osmosis create something magical.

OM: Every few years when there’s some huge book like Harry Potter or 50 Shades of Grey and people say ‘well at least people are reading’. I’m not sure that’s true. I wish it was. I wish that reading something like that, which does have its own value, I wish that then meant that people would then go and seek out other great books and expand their horizons. But I think it just means that they’ll wait until the next big book comes out in that style.

NK: I think that’s an important point you make about genre; especially things that have normally been seen as trash, like fantasy and sci-fi. Because when we look back now at, for example, the early 20th Century, there are these classics that were considered ‘genre’ which actually had, and have huge philosophical merit.

NK: Or the movie comes out. OM: Yeah. But I do think that there’s value in literature that’s considered to be trashy or pulpy. You can learn a lot from genre writers. There’s that old adage: you have to learn how to do things the right way before you can do things the wrong way, and experiment. I heard Picasso was a really amazing realist painter before he could then go and make his own style. And I think a lot of people skip that step, they try and go experimental without knowing the basics first. In terms of, say, plotting and structure look at crime writers. They know exactly what they’re up to, in a way that some literary fiction writers don’t. So I’m trying to be humble in my own practice.

OM: It’s just really bizarre, you know. Look at these moving literary figures, for example, TS Eliot. He would take stuff that was considered to be trash or just popular vaudeville, and then include it in something as esoteric, but as lasting, as The Wasteland. Someone like Roberto Bolaño, one of the biggest figures of the last 20 years, he would read pulp crime fiction and transfer it into literary fiction. So many people have done that, but then there’s still snobbery, even among the readers of these giants. It’s very strange.

Full interview available online at woroni.com.au

NK: So then if you’re reading something and being entertained and having an emotional response to it, it still has value.

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Semester 1 2017

Artwork: Yvonne Yong

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Woroni Creative Magazine

High Rise Competition Woroni ACT Writers Centre Fellowship Shortlistee

Ashes to Ashes Nick Wyche I have felt it twice in my life, that moment when everything uncouples, that highrise feeling – floating up, up out of my body and into my soul. I looked down upon the lives that drifted by below like ants, weaving in and out of a mound of earth. Once was on top of a cliff in Coogee; the waves swirled and smashed at its base, the blues and greens of my grandmother’s variegated eyes. She was there in an urn in my mother’s hands – the sky was perfect, cloudless, barren and empty as our hurting hearts.

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Semester 1 2017

I opened the lid; the ashes streamed out on the wind. I watched them unfurl, carried beyond the horizons of our feeble minds. I dreamt I was flying with her; suddenly I snapped back into myself like a rubber band. She was ours no more; she had merged with the air and the sea. Once more, years later I felt it in Tokyo near a moonlit canal. A chill in the air numbed my cheeks to a raw rose-pink. I sat and remembered times when apathy and loneliness consumed me whole – ate me up outwards from the core and left me hollow and empty as a funeral urn. Oh, that hypothermia of the soul! It feels so long ago, as fleeting and unreal as the dancing headlights of cars on the highway, picked up and scattered by the canal. Let the river of time run deep and wash it all away, along the channel of memory to some distant shore. There in that city of millions I lay quiet, outside of myself. I looked down upon my body on a patch of straggly grass, then out over houses and towers and parks, rising all the while, and I saw last of all that this world of chance and atoms was far too great for me to understand, and I felt myself let go.

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Woroni Creative Magazine

Finding Sophia Mellink I fell in love early when I was sixteen and unafraid with my best friend. I didn’t know then why I couldn’t stop thinking about her and why I burned when she smiled at me nor did I know why I wanted to sleep next to her and watch her wake in the morning or why adrenaline was a comfortable taste and my resting heart rate was higher I thought my friends would understand I didn’t know then that they’d stop smiling when I said her name and look at me like I was lying nor did I know that they would tell their friends and that I’d be stared at and branded a freak or that on a Tuesday morning there was a dead fish in my locker and a slur written across the door I was stupid enough to think she’d love me back I didn’t know then that she’d grimace when I told her and say it wasn’t right for me to love her nor did I know that she would leave my calls unanswered and hate me for being me or that her parents would call mine and I’d have to listen to my mother’s laugh when I came out. I fell in love when I was sixteen and unafraid I really wish I hadn’t.

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Semester 1 2017

One Restless Dream Zyl Try to forget what you’ve seen Try to understand, it’s all one restless dream Memories of nothing trying to escape They crawl from the inside, brain begins to ache Slipping through the cracks, it won’t come back Running out of time, I broke your shrine Begin to fade away Charcoal black and amber grey Too many words for words, now under stone you lay Cycling through the colours, of your laugh Heading for nowhere, life’s last epitaph Slipping through the cracks, it won’t come back Running out of time, I broke your shrine Dead light fading through And I want to be with you And I’m going to be with you And I’m coming home to you Live up, laugh up, switch down, around, watch out, we’re bound, running, screaming, sinking, dreaming, loving, lying, laughing, crying, breathing, dying. Pay for, no more, wonder, why I, almost, gave in, gave up, got out, yet I, still will, keep on, keep up, in a, new way, I am, caught up. One restless dream, one restless dream.

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Woroni Creative Magazine

Guilt Milk Alessandra Panizza

We bid the unmoved goodbye. I dumped my dishes in Laura’s room and we descended.

We heard there would be fireworks. The tickertape of texts in the Facebook group chat taught me the existence of this oblique holiday; Canberra day. We didn’t know what they were celebrating, really, but we now had plans.

The hoodies we wore began to be of use when we passed the glass threshold of Unilodge. I knew, but could not properly conceive, that the worst of the cold was yet to come – to me it seemed a secret shared by the real Canberrans, who had a lifetime of experience with the middle-months of real cold that the rest of us, in our more-coastal hometowns, passed through un-gloved and naïvely unaware. We’d see.

Five hours later, we were together in person, on the couches at the skybridge between Kinloch and Warrambul, dirty plates in front of us - but separate online, scrolling through different worlds. As we did this, the dark sky, barely contained by its glass walls, dimming the fluorescent light, also infiltrated the space in my mind reserved for the future: we would come to it.

Out on Childers Street, we felt the gravitational pull of a few students here and there heading over to the lake as well, a momentum within which the three of us discussed trivial topics. Our conversation was often interrupted by our own clapping, loud and obnoxious – the novelty of the noise-activated colourful streetlights hadn’t worn off yet.

“You guys wanna go now? I can see some people leaving already.” Those of us who could be bothered to fight the night’s stagnation stretched out of our languor. (Only Laura, Eleanor, and I escaped alive.) Getting up involved Laura failing to reprise her role as Kain’s leg rest – earlier I had snapchatted his imposing posture with the caption “men on public transport”.

“Yeah, I don’t even bother doing my philosophy readings anymore… all we do in class is go through them so like what’s the point?” I smirked. “What’s the point in anything, Eleanor?”

“Oh my god, I look hideous,” he had snorted, when he saw it – I’d sent it to him and the others. But I could tell that it pleased him a little, even though he pretended to be annoyed, because he screenshotted it. That made me feel happy, validated. We’d been at uni for a couple of months; our relationships were still delicate – we seemed to be bonded by a sense of attachment disproportionate to our familiarity with each other.

I didn’t have to look at them to know that her and Laura would be rolling their eyes.“I never know if you mean all this existentialist stuff or if it’s just part of your aesthetic.” Is there a difference? I kept silent. Laura changed the topic quickly – she never liked nihilism.

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Semester 1 2017 “Ha, I told myself in O-week when I signed up to ANU gym that having to pay would make me go, but that’s obviously not happened.”

Wow, we said. Linear colour pierced through the dark and the cold. It lit up the lake and the Important Buildings that made up the Canberra skyline – the national museum, parliament house, the art gallery; places I should have visited by now.

Eleanor and I laughed, equally guilty. “Did you see that Mean Girls meme on Stalkerspace that was like, ‘raise your hand if you’ve felt personally victimised by the fit people walking around campus with ANU Sports shirts on?’”

After the first few fireworks, the phones were out, filming. Mine was part of this Apple-sponsored salute, but I soon lowered my arm in defeat; I realised I probably wouldn’t ever care enough to watch it back. The pretty lights could only occupy my brain for so long. It was like Instagram – five minutes after scrolling through my feed I couldn’t tell you what pictures I had just looked at, but I checked constantly anyway.

“I left Stalkerspace; it got too annoying.” The conversation wound around the office-paved streets and over the bridge. Our thoughts had a geographical location bordered by Childers Street and Daley Road, and when we wandered, they stayed.

Laura and Eleanor had also gotten bored of filming. The fireworks, when they came, lit their faces different colours, like watching TV in a dark living room. I snapchatted it.

The momentum continued down the perimeter of the lake, stronger now, presumably directed towards a designated vantage point. The air was a bit different over this side of the bridge – it quivered, disturbed by weak neon lights and the bustle of an ice cream van. I stopped to take a symmetrical photo under a lit bridge. We went on.

We clapped along after the last spark, marking the end of our hollow Canberra Day. We herded ourselves back the way we came around the lake, towards the warm.

And around the corner was the general public. I had forgotten that real people actually lived in Canberra: each night after work they went home to suburbs with strange names, stretching beyond the one-kilometre radius of ANU that encompassed the colleges, Canberra Centre, Mooseheads-etcetera, and once, in a daring adventure, Fenner Hall. I knew that as years passed we would filter out to these suburbs, but the concept of jobs and share houses, associated with a slightly-more-adult me, was foreign.

“Wasn’t that just lovely?” Laura was too optimistic for her age; it was uplifting at the best of times and guilt-inducing at the worst, colouring me a cynical bitch in contrast.

Children were everywhere, rugged up and running around. It occurred to me, suddenly, that they must go to school - where were these schools? I had seen glimpses of teenagers in check skirts and badged blazers occasionally on campus, but had evidently folded those memories up and left them in a pocket somewhere. High school doesn’t exist here.

“We should go!” Barely had she finished her sentence before she whipped out Google, who forewarned that the last show was on the next morning. I didn’t say anything, even as they set their phone alarms for six am.

“I love that Canberra has these sorts of events on even though it’s such a little city. It’s so quaint. Like apparently there’s been a hot air balloon show on the past couple of days too just for, like, Canberra day or something.” Or something.

Laura noticed that I wasn’t doing the same. “Aren’t you going to come?”

We found a spot amongst the crush of Canberran families on the grass. Did this day mean something to them? Or had it, as for us, only begun with the first magnesium-fuelled bang?

I made a vaguely reluctant noise. “There’s no way I’m going to be up at six.” They couldn’t dispute that, and so I was safe. I wasn’t going to go because I didn’t give a fuck

Wow, they said.

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Woroni Creative Magazine about hot air balloons, but they wouldn’t end up going either. They’d wake up unwilling to leave the bead of warmth and iPhone-screenlight that was the space under their doonas in their cold, dark rooms. One of them would finally have the courage to message an apologetic bail-out, to the relief of the other. And they’d see each other sometime that day, not even sheepish, the thought of hot air balloons having floated away with the “it’s alright!” reply on Facebook.

We went through the necessary, the obligatory, the inevitable Milo vs Nesquick debate, and necessarily, obligatorily, inevitably, there was no clear winner. Our drinks were ready. Three sips in and I was already feeling guilty. Taking advantage of Eleanor and Laura’s preoccupation with their phones as they sipped so carefreely, I paced the room, concentrating my time in kitchenette. Carefully I tipped half of it down the sink, and pretended to wash my hands to flush it out of sight, out of my head.

That’s the power of warmth. Laura mentioned the appeal of hot chocolate, and as we passed office buildings with occasional windows still lit, telling a tale of public-servant woe, we settled on Nesquick in her room.

“Yeah my 1115 lecturer always writes on the board and it’s like bro, I can’t fucking see that if I’m watching on my laptop.” I added to the conversation expertly, drinking at the same time. Fuck, that’s four sips. When the time was right I repeated the process and it was all gone, thank God.

The problem at this stage was a distinct lack of milk. We were going to buy some, but that was quickly dismissed by the fact that this was Canberra, and the shops were long closed. Like an amputated arm that we could still feel, our heads were still in Sydney time.

“Guys, I feel bad for taking the milk.” Classic Laura. I didn’t, but I felt a bit bad about wasting it – only a bit. Those Canberra cows milked just for some Sydney brat to tip into the pipes.

“Why don’t we check the common fridge in the Kinloch common room? People are always leaving shit in there. After O-week I lived on the leftover cans of soft drink for a solid 11 days.” I said.

We talked for a bit longer, scrolling. The other two didn’t want to keep the stolen milk so I said I’d take it.

Inside: a quarter-empty three-litre bottle. Canberra Milk, it said. Made from Canberra cows!

“See you at six thirty,” Laura said, and we parted. Eleanor walked across the quiet skybridge to Warrambul, and my muscles contracted in the minute of cold stiff-walking to Davey, the boxy three-litre bottle sloshing in my hand in time with my pace.

“Thanks, Canberra cows!” said Eleanor, who knighted me Chaotic Neutral for my innovation. Something felt vaguely dirty about drinking a random, opened bottle of milk, but we brought it up anyway. In Laura’s room, I sat on the end of her bed as three mugs of it warmed in the microwave, and relived the fireworks via snapstories. There were some clever reverse-filter ones, but other than that I felt like I was stuck in a strange purgatory, an infinite loop of experiencing the same fireworks, every oscillation making its emptiness a little bit more apparent. Experiencing the same boredom of an hour ago over and over again – but for some reason, I didn’t get off the merry-go-round. I gripped the handlebar tight with one hand. What was I reaching out for with the other?

The next morning, I had the guilt milk in my cereal and wondered if Laura and Eleanor had made it to the hot air balloon show. I’d check snapchat.

My snapstory of Laura and Eleanor’s irregularly-lit faces still made me warm.

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Semester 1 2017

Artwork: Julia Hammer 39


Woroni Creative Magazine

The Pounded Flesh Maeve Moore

Portia

To shame my mind, as fine as any man’s. Instead, “curbed by the will of a dead father,”1 Though loathe am I, I play my father’s fool.

Enter Portia [Aside]

[Walks slowly across stage then stops]

My fate did not rest upon faulty stars But rather in imperfect man-made laws, My father from beyond the grave stretched out To place golden restraints upon my hand. I would not marry if it were my choice. ‘Intemperate’ and ‘headstrong’ are insults

When dressed in manly garb I rest my case, Not in my value as an ornament, But in the merit of my own discourse. If only I were judge of mine own plight! I would remain adorned in vestal robes. 40


Semester 1 2017 [Pause]

Don’t make me thirst, play that refrain again! Over and over, the strings sigh and break Like mine own heart which will not quit this love. Soon, let it sound like shrieks of Lucifer! O fiendish woman, with your fickle ways, Who crooks her finger, only to betray? I call’d Portia fair, but now I perceive, She pretends to grace only to deceive. Love! Tis so restless! Why not rest your eyes [Looks across to the chaise where Mariana, a prostitute, reclines]

But what of Bassanio? My true love? Love, as sudden as a strike of lightning, A bolt from Cupid’s hasty quiver, struck. I did not look to love Bassanio, Yet no sooner did I look, than I loved. But now, I cannot fathom the reason, Perchance I must seek the remedy. In trust, I placed a ring upon his hand To test Love’s binding promise, for that one: Who alters not his love in hours and weeks, But braves it all or stands to share my doom. Faithless, he passed all he possessed in me To Balthazar, not knowing ’twas myself. Do I now call him faithless for this fault, Or thank him for giving up his title? Can we not now choose our way for ourselves? Once I felt my father’s edict unjust, His ring, a heavy chain. What’s that you say? You’re in love? Ah! That’s quite another thing. Seneca’s utt’rance might yet teach me well, “Si vis amari, ama.” Fateful words. By all means marry, then; I quit my speech. 1

On some more soft, sympathetic creature, Whose doting fingers will caress and coax, Whose arts were made to soothe a broken heart. [Smiles at Mariana who smiles back] Look how this sad wench doth fawn upon me Longing in her gaze, trembling in her hands Which linger far too long upon my skin. Seeking to own me, to draw me to her Perchance she fears that I shall not return. The slavish hound that curls around my feet Could not provide greater dumb devotion, And even when spurned, returns to my side. Would that Portia share the beast’s loyalty!

The Merchant of Venice, 1, 2, 22-24

[Pause]

Prince of Arragon

O beware this horrid green-eyed monster, That mocks the very flesh it doth feed on. Full of fancy love is, nothing compares, The flesh consumed by a mad, fevered dream The mind enraptured, tortured all in one. O wretch! Do not drift your dreams towards me For though she is cold, I am Portia’s man.

Enter Prince of Arragon [Aside] A dying fall of strings, a sad lament,2 To conjure pretty feelings in the air Give me surfeit of it, so I’ll grow bored. 41


Woroni Creative Magazine [Pause]

While she hangs upon Bassanio’s arm Still I am true and hang upon her charm. Perhaps she’ll see reason yet, but if not I would that harlot’s curse should blight their bed.3 2 3

Don’t frown or judge or call me hypocrite ’Tis not your mockery I fear, or wit. I may be false, but I am also true, I may speak lies, but what is that to you? There is more cause to pity than to love Let me stroke his ego with words, my spell. ‘Tis an irritable gent, though he speaks well, But what care have I for his fancy words? He be a pretty youth though full of pride And he may grow in stature, given time. But I have seen the darkness which lurks, In self-centredness behind his green eyes. Should he return, and I wager he will, We shall again beguile our darkened hours And I his secrets will receive and keep, Not for sentiment, or to ease his heart But ‘cos it is my trade, my sacred art. Tis true, I shall another man obtain, For men are far too easy to detain, And with those self-same lies I shall procure My freedom, as I liberate his coin.

Twelfth Night, 1, 1, 4 ‘London’ by William Blake

Mariana Enter Mariana [Aside] Our beauty captures every on-looker, Each woman that stands bare upon the steps Tries as they wilt to charm a passer-by. Am I a servant to men who follow After me with lust and hot desire? His eyes stare at mine with wonder, and he, Taking in my charms is most taken in. I quit my prattle, I must capture him! He is callow, but fair enough for that, And I listened as he wept and complained, Heartsore and fill’d with unrequited love, Smitten with some blue-blooded highborn lass And seeking solace, where none will refuse. What harm does it me, to observe his woe? ’Tis not less pleasure than the other thing, Though Eros’ shaft is quicker put to rest Than a man, reprising his favourite tune. So I listened and soothed the savage breast And he, deftly, felt his vanity stroked. And I assured him that I loved him best.

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The Road Mistaken Rosalind Moran Two roads diverged in a neighbourhood And sorry I could not see a third To bypass alleys, long I stood And peered down one as far as I could Through smoky haze where shadows stirred; Then took the other, as just as foul And having perhaps the better claim, For though it was glassy everywhere; And dead rats marred the passing there The two were really about the same, And both that twilight equally lay In concrete glory filled with cracks Oh, who needs a third track anyway? I’m not too good to walk this way, And perfectly able to watch my back. I shall be telling this with a smile Somewhere ages and ages hence: Two roads diverged where I stood, and I— I took this one with dauntless style, And it has made no di—

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High Rise Competition Woroni ACT Writers Centre Fellowship Shortlistee

Vertical Gardens Rosalind Moran Let your atlas spill open; pore over the contents and remember In the times before cartography, all skies could see was water The tides could not be news without the sticks and rocks to measure them A sea cannot be said to turn if fish don’t swim against it. Uncurl your feet. Let the branch of your spine Arch back into shape as you move up the mountainside They closed their eyes to what’s arising – so will you The crowd waves wasted seagrass arms as you focus on the summit. Unlace your shoes. Let your soles grow hard As you follow bitumen ribbons draped like tatty hillside accessories Your grandmother used to yearn – just want to get away from it all Yet the skeleton’s gone quiet and you wish she’d rattle the bones. Nothing but vertical gardens to mould the cheeks of buildings Nothing beyond the jungle of some architect’s grand design Something’s opened the door to the dollhouse and evicted all the people Sapiens lie low now but the sappini grow tall.

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Anti-Social Social Club Chloe Tredea

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This selection of photos are an excerpt from the series Anti-Social Social Club, by Chloe Tredrea. The work takes a look at some of Canberra’s DIY music scenes, including Box Cutter, Pickle, Mulgara, Home Brew Records, and others. The photos focus in on smaller details of the various events, like empty cans, tattoos, torn jeans, and decorated guitar cases. In the final series, these images are placed beside conversations with the people behind the events. Contrasted against these images of youthful rebellion, the conversations convey the values of acceptance, resourcefulness, and love of music, which lie at the heart of these scenes.

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No Take Backs Emily Dickey the tips of her feet, disappear into the bed, somehow folding themselves into the unknown, where touch and smell, taste and sight all converge into one, a single being, like the slow merging of sunset light, colours caught and seemingly held together, the same. i wonder if somehow, she will stay between the blankets and the sheets, a part of her held forever in their dirty white hue, in six years ill fold them into a box for the charity shop, and give away my last relic of her. i think this as she lies, disappearing into my linen, giving a part of herself forever to me, letting my sheets seep away something from her calloused toes never to be discovered, but always to be remembered. the trees are obscenely green, flashing their colour, a coded SOS, in glimpses of fluorescent, i step outside hesitant at the world, but it holds me, somehow today is warm and the smells are familiar, reminiscent of when my mum visited, or when someone baked bread. i think about love, and time, and remember i didn’t brush my teeth. she left her scent on my pillow, intimate beyond reason, and i’m completely halved as to whether i should wash it or leave it, either option seems grotesque, so i sleep elsewhere for a few nights, letting her scent linger and leave, and for this reason, i don’t call her back.

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“She was once very beautiful…” Kate Lewis

felt around her head, squeezing each snake’s throat in turn, checking for vibration, until she got to Tisiphone.

They heard the next one enter the cave before they saw him. Each head turned to peer at the warrior through the darkness, their examination of his boyish looks making them question whether he deserved the title of ‘warrior’ at all. He didn’t stand a chance, they concluded, and the rattle of his armour on his shaking limbs sang that he knew it too.

She pulled at the silent snake and stretched her so that they faced each other. “Didn’t like it, Tisiphone?” she asked, her amber eyes expressing genuine concern, “I suppose I could have played around with him for a bit longer— but he was just no fun. No challenge! Then again, maybe I’ve been too cocky lately. Yes. I should put just as much effort into each of my attacks, and take advantage of the times that I get a weakling and use them to test out new strategies! Is that what you are trying to tell me, Tisiphone? Well consider your criticism taken aboard! Now, hiss for Mistress!”

He jumped at the sound of harsh laughter but, surprisingly, decided to stand his ground. He squeezed his eyes shut and sucked down a long stream of air before following the sound of the cackle, extending his quivering sword towards the being it belonged to. He charged, and the laughter became all the more hysterical as his helmeted head collided with a broad stalactite. This, however, did not deter him from his mission. He got up and charged again, but this time opened his eyes a fraction in order to avoid any more unexpected obstacles.

Tisiphone’s sisters curled around Medusa’s milky scalp and widened their identical pairs of eyes encouragingly at her. She had come so close to protesting last time, but had stopped for fear of getting the rest of them into trouble. Today’s attack must have been the last straw for them; all seemed willing to risk angering the gorgon— or at least, allow Tisiphone to do so.

Poor, foolish boy. It didn’t matter how narrow his eyes were, looking at her was all the same. She melted through the veil of blackness and smiled as a film of stone spread over his skin, freezing his face in a perpetual scream. Hissing erupted from all around her as she squealed with pleasure at her handiwork.

“It’s not the way you attack, Mistress” she said evenly, looking from Medusa’s face to the boy’s stone one, its youthful features preserved forever, “I just… Mistress I just question why you attacked him in the first place.”

“Wait!” cried Medusa, pausing as she pushed the statue towards the other stone males in her collection, “Someone isn’t celebrating!” She

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Woroni Creative Magazine The gorgon fixed her living lock of hair with a piercing gaze, one that would have been fatal to a human. Tisiphone attempted to soften in by elaborating: “I am part of you, Mistress. I can hear your thoughts, access your memories” The snake paused a moment, gathering momentum by reimagining the laughter Medusa had shared with her fellow priestesses of Athena before the curse. “Thanks to those I, we, know that not all humans are dangerous. It has just made me wonder: is it really necessary to kill them?”

feelings of respect within moments of conversing with her, she being so learned in the religious and political matter of Athens while craving information from the world outside. “So there’s a chance that at least half of these men are good men. Maybe they’re all good men! They just don’t know anything about you, and the more men you kill, the more the remaining people in Greece will crave your destruction. Just explain your story, and maybe they’ll stop coming and lives can be spared.” The snake trailed off and decided to wait for the gorgon’s reaction.

Medusa’s eyebrows tangled together. “Is it really necessary?” she shrilled, “They come to kill me, Tisiphone! What else would you have me do? Allow them to strike me down, when I have the power to stop them? I’d like to see all of you defend yourselves when I’m gone! Lying there, stuck to a corpse, unable to muster the strength to drag me around to reach food. I protect each of you most of all.”

Eventually, a smile spread across Medusa’s face, the uplift of the corners of her mouth sharpening her cheekbones as her equally pointed teeth were revealed. She hadn’t smile a sincere, sane smile in all the time Tisiphone and her siblings had lived. This one was no exception. “So I should just tell them my side?” she asked, pretending to muse over the question, “Yes. Why don’t I do that? What’s stopping me doing that? Oh! That’s right, because that’s not how the world works!” The snake flinched against the spittle that sprayed from her mistress’ mouth across her slitted nostrils. “You’re glorifying the world outside the cave, Tisiphone. You say you’re using my memories to come to these conclusions? Well, you are conveniently choosing to ignore one of particular significance. Was Poseidon gentle to me? Did Athena listen to my side of the story?”

She seemed to think that would end the argument, but Tisiphone had anticipated this response: “But they’re not all bad! I know these men are the only ones we’ve seen, but we know about others“ Tisiphone rifled further through her mistress’ memories, summoning her past encounters with tradesmen who would entertain her with stories of their adventures overseas. Some would, of course, battle with frustratingly futile desires for the priestess, but this would give way to intense

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Semester 1 2017 Tisiphone and her sisters stifled a collective gasp, none of them having expected that the confrontation would trigger her to finally address her final moments as a human. The snake shuddered in their mistress’ tight grip as Medusa forced the memory upon her, but she had come this far. She knew she should make her point in full instead of having what she should have said niggle at her and come out in spurts over time: “But Mistress, Poseidon and Athena are gods.”

me for it will feel my wrath. Leaving the human race was my destiny, and as a result, I have all of you.”

“And was the human race not created by gods?” Medusa demanded, “Do humans not worship the gods? What makes you think any of them would take my side over theirs?”

Perhaps it was because of its proximity to their being cursed into existence atop the gorgon’s crown, but the snakes had always found it difficult to access Medusa’s final memory as a human without her aid. The scene replayed in each head for the rest of the night, it being an intentional move on her part they did not know. The imprint of the feeling of Poseidon pressing on top of the priestess, gripping the golden hair which Tisiphone and her sisters had replaced, rendered it impossible for them to muster any more sympathy towards the boy who had just lost his life.

She used the hand which had held Tisiphone to stroke each snake in turn before addressing her again: “Do you understand?” Tisiphone nodded a reply, then slithered through the air to nestle into her usual position beside her mistress’ left ear, brushing it softly with her scaled head by means of apology.

Her voice quaked at the final question, startling Tisiphone and her sisters. Tisiphone felt a stab of guilt as she watched her mistress compose herself from the brief revelation of an emotion other than anger or malevolent glee. “I-I’m sorry, Mistress” she hissed soothingly, “I see your view again. You didn’t deserve what happened to you.”

Athena had to make someone suffer after such a vile act had tainted one of her temples, especially in the city that was named for her, and there was no way it was going to be a fellow god.

“No” Medusa agreed, “I didn’t. But it did teach me a valuable lesson. If the gods are cruel and selfish, then human beings, who try so desperately to follow their example, are far worse. I was just like them, you see. I dedicated my entire life to a goddess who was willing to dispose of me as soon as her temple was disrespected. But I am not going to let her convince me that it was my fault. I chose to own this curse, and anyone who tries to kill

She was once very beautiful and sought by many, And was admired most for her beautiful hair. I met someone who recalled having seen her. They say that Poseidon, lord of the sea, Violated her in a temple of Athena. The goddess hid her chaste eyes behind her aegis, But so that the crime would not go unpunished She changed the Gorgon’s hair to loathsome snakes… Ovid, Metamorphoses, Book IV: 892-9

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Breaking Bodies Phoebe Lupton

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“Leslie!” said Perry, “You’re taking bloody forever, what’re you doing up there?”

In history class, they examined the previous 50 years with such depth that there was no room for anything older, even though their teacher, Skylar, was old enough to have lived during a time earlier.

“Nothing,” said Leslie. “As if!” said Perry. “I’m coming up there now.”

“Excuse me,” a very interested Leslie had said. “How old are you?”

Uh-oh, thought Leslie. They quickly hid the makeup they were playing with. They had made it after seeing pictures of people with breasts and pretty faces in some old history books.

Perhaps they hadn’t asked the most delicate of questions, but Skylar laughed nonetheless. “I’m 72,” they said.

“What are you doing?” Leslie looked blank. “Are you going to tell me what you’re doing, or do I have to search the room?”

“You’ve been around for a very long time, right?”

Oh no, please, no, thought Leslie.

“So you’ve seen a lot of historical things?”

“I guess so.”

“Please don’t tell me you were playing with that God-awful powder stuff.”

“Well, I suppose I have seen a lot of ‘historical things’.”

Leslie began to sweat. They knew they were in trouble — they’d known it for some time now — but they couldn’t help it.

Leslie smiled.

Leslie reminisced about a time when the ancient phenomenon of “men” and “women” was unknown to them. A lump formed in their throat at the fact that this part of history had been erased from the school curriculum and from common knowledge in general. They didn’t know what their life would be like if they hadn’t found out about this, but they knew it would be very different to how it was now.

Skylar smiled — Leslie had always been an excellent history student.

“What’s the coolest historical thing that’s ever happened to you?”

“Well, way back when, years before you all were born, I was hanging out at the pub with a bunch of lovely men and women…” they began. “Who?” said Leslie. “Men and…” Skylar stopped. It looked like they’d said something wrong, but Leslie couldn’t figure out why. “Sorry”, they said. “I-I really shouldn’t be telling you about this stuff, it’s not important…”

At any rate, it was only recently that Leslie became aware of the social structures of the ancient times. They had always been curious, a fan of science and history, and they could always tell that things weren’t always the way they were today.

“What do you mean? It’s our people, why wouldn’t it be important?” 55


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Skylar was still silent. It looked like they weren’t going to give anything more away any time soon. They gave a short, nervous laugh.

trying to look as close as possible to the people who they now knew were called “women”. I can do this, Leslie thought. I can be a woman.

“I’m sure your parents will tell you when you’re older,” they joked.

Now Leslie was lying on their bed at night with hot tears streaming down their face. It was like a demon was grumbling inside of them, threatening to take them over and knock them down. They didn’t know what to do. All they wanted to do was wear a dress and put on makeup.

But I’m 15, how much older do I need to be? Leslie thought, but didn’t say out loud — they didn’t care about keeping the conversation going any longer. Leslie went to the library straight after school. Right at the very back of the library they found a big, fat old book with nothing on the cover, but everything written inside — everything that Leslie wasn’t supposed to know.

Leslie began to be pulled by a sort of electric force. It was leading them towards the bathroom. Towards the paint. In the bathroom, Leslie was under a spell. They painted their face with long shapes, curved shapes, circular and spiralled shapes until they were as close to a woman as they could possibly get. Then they left the bathroom and strolled downstairs. After years of hiding it, Leslie was going to show their parents.

In the book was pictures of people who were so different to the people Leslie knew. Their bodies were so much shapelier, but in different ways. The books depicted two distinct groups of people. One had massive curves in the middle of their chests, one on each side, and very long hair. Their faces were painted, which most people these days would find a bit odd. But Leslie thought these people were beautiful.

When they saw their child with all that makeup on their face, panic boiled inside them.

The other group of people were like the people in Leslie’s days in that they had no curves in their chests. These people were taller than the others and had short hair and no paint on their faces. Both fascinated Leslie, but they felt a certain tug towards the first group, the ones with the curves and long hair and painted faces. For reasons that they couldn’t explain, Leslie ached to be one of these people.

“Perry, ring the police,” said Morgan. “Goddammit Leslie, what do you think you’re doing?” said Perry. “Come on Perry, we need to ring the police…” Leslie said nothing. They just stood there, makeup and all, still in a trance. “Ok, I’m doing it now, I’m ringing the police,” said Morgan. They picked up the phone.

For months and months after, Leslie would make their own paint and, when their parents weren’t around, they would brush it onto their face,

“Hello? Yes, hi, um…” 56


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“Give it to me!” Perry ordered. Morgan reluctantly handed the phone over.

The outside world seemed alien to them now and they couldn’t think of anything more blissful.

“Hi. Yes…well to be honest, my child has lost it, they’re…” Perry lowered their voice. “They’re wearing makeup.”

“Leslie, what were you thinking wearing makeup and trying to be a woman?” the judge said at Leslie’s trial. “Something, I might add, that you’re not supposed to know — or even believe existed”.

Morgan was crying now. But Leslie remained stoic and detached from what was happening around them. It was as if they had no idea what trouble they had caused. “You will? You’ll come now? Thank you so much, I really appreciate it.”

Leslie was silent for a long time, fishing around in their head, trying to find the right words. But after a while, they realised what they knew they had to say: “I just wanted to know what it felt like to be beautiful.”

Perry hung up the phone and pointed an angry, accusing finger at Leslie. “You! You are in big trouble my dear. I don’t know how long you’ve been doing this — I don’t know how long you’ve been getting away with this, but it doesn’t matter now, because you won’t be getting away with it any longer!”

Leslie was released on bail shortly after. They were disowned from their parents and left on the streets to fend for themself. But they didn’t care. They — she — wanted to be who she wanted to be and now, she was.

“Oh Perry, please stop, you’re making it worse,” sobbed Morgan. “Oh really? I’m making it worse now, am I Morgan? It’s our child whose brining shame to this house and fucking it all up!” At Perry’s swearing, everyone went silent. They took Leslie away and when they got to the station, they locked them in a cell and kept them there for a day and a night. And another day and another night and many more to come. Anyone else would be shaking all over, hiding from the thought of what would happen to them next. Not Leslie, though. Throughout all their days and nights in the cell, Leslie’s mind was numb. They barely spared a single thought for their parents. 57


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Horae Hearkened Kayla Purdon-Brown THEROS in the act of watching you i find myself enveloped in a thunderstorm, the sound of your breathing is like the static in the air and it makes me shiver; you are heavenly but the heavens are at war and all we can do is look on as you destroy yourself

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PHTHINOPORON heavy spices linger on your saffron mouth as you explain mysteries eons old, the wonders of the universe unfurl before you and are woven on your grandmother’s loom; you must remember, love, that some seeds must be spared to replant the field, that eternity is often lost in its keeping

CHEIMON clutching at stinging arms with bitter hands you retreat to the safety of your solitude, the edges of the world are tinged with glacial blues that stick to your hair like burrs; looking up at the infinite night i find you indistinguishable from the stars, brilliant with frozen light, unreachable

EIAR i see you wistful and wanting, in the wheeling flight of birds you find freedom, with your feet planted in the earth, avian eyes watch your legs like saplings, then, turning, come to nest on your outstretched palms; they take your body as a home and you fly with them when they leave

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WISH Jharna Chamlagai

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A discoloured, pathetic patch of paper. A stifled chuckle escaped my mouth as a gust of wind threatened to rip the flimsy piece out of my grasp. I’d spied it a moment ago, a pink smudge on the horizon, peeking out from the sea of sullied snow. I contemplated letting it go. I’d expected profound fear as my fingertips met the edges, intrigue and understanding as I studied its every intricate feature. Yet, all that greeted me was overwhelming disappointment.

These people radiated resentment. I’d been sure the man who’d confessed the briefcase on the first raid was mad. He was in hysterics; the heap of paper had been his life savings, enough for a house, a car, and holidays to see the wonders of the world. Wonders that they knew would cease to exist. They Knew. They knew it was murder manifested; irrigating icecaps, smelting souls, raping woods- and they let it destroy the world anyway.

“Adhikari, did you find anything?” I folded my hand into a fist and shoved it in my pocket as the supervising officer approached. He spied the military suitcase by my boots, filled with hundreds of copies, then patted me roughly on the shoulder.

I handed him his WISH token and left quietly. Every face that followed was the same, some more aggressive, some less distraught but most simply sad. My stomach was all knots. A flash of the walls upon walls of WISH recruitment posters that bricked every building back home stopped me in my tracks. I did a double take, made sure I was alone and approached it wearily.

“Good, let’s go.”

A few hours later we neared the cool warmth of the Compound. I was a few metres behind the S.O but well in front of Agent Hudson. Until now, we’d been trudging through the snow together, calling on the makeshift shacks that bordered the towers upon towers of discarded waste.

Meet and work with interesting people from all walks of life From a distance the people here looked like normal, hardworking productive members of society. But close up I was engulfed in the void of their emptiness, in the fear of their forced freedom from God. There was no sharing of stories, no conversation, no acknowledgement of each other’s existence.

Diggers as massive as the skyscrapers of old caged us in, systematically trampling one heap after the other to make space. “Worldwide Initiative to Save Humanity” was written in big bold letters across every one. Batteries and old phone cases, pieces of metal and electrical components came willingly. But the scavengers in the west were still worshippers.

Immerse yourself in a mesmerising and captivating environment I lost my mind out here, as I would in one of the old-earth deserts, climb61


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ing past the mountains of junk and debris trying to make some sense of what my eyes were reflecting, until I felt myself numb, cut off from anything I’ve known-somewhere-faraway-in another existence. When vegetation once rioted this land, and rain wasn’t drops of poison melting away my hair. When a quarter of the population was still alive and there were trees.

dangerous. I’d fall and break my head and die. The TOYSRUS store next door was much safer. Make life-long friends in a career full of possibilities; CALL NOW! It was an unwritten rule that you took these last few steps slowly, alone; We were all clinging to the old world, unwilling to immerse in the supposed safety of the Compound. I scrunched the paper in my pocket out of annoyance and let it fall into the sea of white. Earlier, I’d done the same with the poster, ripping it from the wall. It was obvious now; there was nothing for me out here but craze and confusion from the cunning conscription of my naïve optimism.

I’d only ever seen one in my life. It was on the corner of the street, surrounded by a plain of concrete. Oak. Big and powerful with a tyre swing hanging off. I ran to it once, my hand slipping from my mother’s as I grasped onto the rope. But one swing was more than enough. It was

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Profile for Woroni

Woroni Creative Magazine Semester 1 2017  

Woroni Creative Magazine Semester 1 2017  

Profile for woroni