February 2014

And so the Karmic Wheel it turned, Freeing birds from wont to learn, For soon as mistakes could be made, The memories of them would fade.  And so the wheel it turned, And left us all unscathed, The Rabbit, Monkey and the Bear, Each of them a turn despair, But then again high in the air, The Karmic Wheel, its will was fair, And fair because it could not care, Or would not care, Was hard to know, The Wheel just turned, It never spoke. Unlike the Bird, Or the Bear, or the Monkey, or the Hare. They talked as if the wheel was theirs, Or that its turn was by design, Especially when days were fine. And then a dip would bring malaise, And damming wheels would be the …

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The Cat from Alexia Dickson on Vimeo. Cats don’t go on dates There’s simply no need Why would they date When they can lick themselves?   I go on dates With a plethora of men I go because I’m lonely Because I’m empty inside.   Cats breeze through life Have a litter here and there Meow at the door Every day is a holiday   I struggle through life Try to be kind Blindly stumble through Do something wrong   It doesn’t take long A week Maybe a month Karma is here   I make an error in my ways It’s quick to catch up He thinks I’m perfect But he’s “too crazy” for me   Grief resounds So I do something right What goes around Comes around   I …

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So you’re sitting on the floor and you’re detailing and more how you see yourself and see the way things are And through the gestures of your fingers I can see the sadness lingers As you falter that you’ve only got this far   But I wonder if you could Step outside you, if you would Take a moment, stop and see you through my eyes Because I know that in a spark, we are born and then it’s dark But there’s days and time between that, please realise…   There are those who spread their poison Thread the needle with that venom Patch and piece together shelter –  and they hide they reach and claw at ragged edges, snakes and leeches, poison netted Try to ignore the truth that’s …

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When you fly across a desert Injured, crashing, stumbling over hot sand until Ahead, the air shimmers above a patch of green, you think I’ve seen mirages before; it’s hard to feel hopeful. But little choice prompts you toward them. You steel yourself for disappointment Only to reach an oasis after all And suddenly, all the space is filled with richness and shade, and sweet, cool water. Where did this come from? There is nothing within me Which planted it. And truth be known, it strikes me with terror Where I was never afraid before. Where instead was resignation and maybe even Some vague impression of justice. I made this desert. I don’t know the cost of leaving it. But he looks at me with such compassion in these moments …

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He changes lanes so often, the white road line crosses back and forth between us until we’re 10 year old siblings dividing a room with string, insisting we stay on our own sides, this ticker tape of a white line ticking between yours and mine but we can’t seem to decide if we share anything more than these weathered car seats and the last thousand miles of intermittent disdain. The same refrain of scenery slipping by. Breathtaking, but infuriating in it’s lack of greenery, the extremity of it’s purity. We’ve been stuck in the same country road snow globe scene for days. Highway hypnosis taking over in waves, but this is more than white line fever; this is white window disease, white earth influenza, white blanket with complete lack of …

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For the ROSALIE GOES BOPPING award we asked you to write about the theme of music and character. It was great to see some fresh faces and new voices on the short list. She had enough. Thump. Thump. Thump. Three knives; three BULLS-EYES against the wall. That’s from Rebecca Xu’s Repetition. A mournful, chaotic tale of insanity, addiction, and music. Michael Drew’s Country Boy covered the life of whiskey drinking, Otis Spann tooting Charlie as he moved through landscapes and towns in eight short vignettes. Similarly epic in scope. Candace Davis’ Her Painted Melody weaves a tale of Parisian wealth, war, melody and music. Covering three generations of women in a short story isn’t easy, but that’s what makes Candace’s piece so interesting. Levi Ender’s Scream is a magical tale about a girl …

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    Dear Short Listers, I suppose in one way or another you have all won my heart. But seeing as their can be only one winner, in another, far more accurate way, that winner would be: Rowan Chestnut! Congratulations Rowan, on your first short list and first win. Special mentions to Lance Cross, Carmel O’Connor, and William Alexander, who were among the judges favourites for this award. There are plenty more competitions coming up. So check the awards page, and keep writing.   <3 Needle In The Hay

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The familiar mourning melody of the infernal violin seared through her mind like a sharp knife slicing mercilessly through her aching heart. Nothing irritated her more than the screeching of string instruments. It was unfortunate for her to have been taught the skills of decoding the beautiful messages hidden by the language of numerous black and white notes printed laboriously by hand on pieces of manuscripts, passed down through generations, surviving wars and destruction under the protection of a thinly veiled glass case, and knowing the secrets whispered by the harmonies and melodies produced by the violin. Again and again, the memorable tune remained glued in her mind, stubbornly refusing to leave for all the gold owned by the Aztecs. No matter what she did, whether she cried tears until …

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  8 Charlie collapsed into the armchair next to his father. ‘Would ya?’ Charles Senior held out a glass, smoothed ice-cubes jangling within. Charlie took the glass from his father’s hand, walked to the cabinet, filled it and handed it back before leaving Charles Senior alone in the lounge, less one bottle of whiskey. Like his old man, Charlie’s days were spent in the shearing shed. His nights were spent drinking himself into a stupor, listening to the same old records, dreaming of being the guitarist, pianist, singer, anything. 7 He woke feeling groggy—nothing new. Outside, the rolling hills seemed flatter, the plains seemed longer and the ranges seemed further away. The typical cloud cover promised nothing and delivered. By late afternoon Charlie was wandering through the green paddocks with …

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Her painted melody Written by Candace Davis   Clara Poulain really was, quite possibly, the most enchanting pianist on earth. A flowery, petite and curious young woman, she was as humble as she was pleasant. If anything could drive Clara from her 88 ivory-keyed, black-polished grand piano, it lie undiscovered. I am convinced she really believed music coursed through her veins, propelled her heart, nourished her brain.   For an hour or more that afternoon she sat––her content, delicate profile outlined against the sunlit wall––and illustrated the pitter-patter of rain falling. Her body moved with the tempo and, finishing on Middle C, she inhaled the stale, woody scent of the instrument.   “Suppose,” she questioned her mother with hunger, “that I received an acceptance letter this afternoon. Under what conditions …

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Four-Legged Ballet – Madeline Pettet   “Trot at C, canter at A.” The absolute tedium of dressage tests always puts me off ever competing again. It’s supposed to be horse ballet but it feels so rigid and stale. I know Alfie, my companion in these events, gets sick of them too, especially the practice. The first few times are okay, it’s something new but the same circles and same measured gaits easily become painful. Round and round we go. Doing it over and over until my mind is a swirl of equestrian terms and letters standing for arbitrary points of the arena. But without practice we’ll never win. I throw the stack of potential tests to one side and put my head in my hands. There’s no choice about competing …

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Eric sits in his bedroom alone. There is music playing. That song. That song. A drop in the ocean. A change in the weather. Eric’s eyes burn with the promise of tears that he hasn’t had time to allow. He makes an effort to fill his days so he is never consumed by this hungry solitude, but his personal trainer is sick and they couldn’t find a replacement in time. ‘You can have the day off,” the gym receptionist had said, a smile in her voice. By the grace of God, I do not rest at all. Eric stands. He walks to the opposite wall. He walks back to the bed. He runs his fingers through his hair and closes his eyes. He drops to his knees. Absently he wishes …

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  A scream escaped her lips the moment she parted them. The man before her winced as he covered his ears with his hands. She immediately closed her mouth. The silence that ensued was more disturbing than the shriek had been. “What ever happened to you?” he asked, removing his hands apologetically. “You used to have such a beautiful voice.” She turned away, clutching fistfuls of her hair in grief. Don’t remind me. It was a curse. Since she was born, she had been able to make whoever heard her sing fall asleep. It was not an ability she’d ever wanted, nor one she could choose not to use. All her life, she’d been careful not to sing before others, refusing to even speak when someone’s eyelids so much as …

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Anger. Burning, red hot anger. An evil substance which flowed as freely through the veins of the boy as the music through his head. He referred to one as ‘The Poison’ and one as ‘The Antidote’, but they were interchangeable. Neither were safe, but neither were dangerous. The boy possessed an overwhelming enjoyment for one, and a consuming hatred for the other, but they were interchangeable. When anger was love, music was hate. When music was love, anger was hate, and the boy basked in the knowledge that either could harm and either could heal.   The boy felt The Poison. He felt The Poison when his fingers brushed the cold stones which lay over their cold remains. He felt The Poison when his bare feet left history in the …

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I stare at the light green wall. I can’t remember why I am here. Who am I? I am told by people in scrubs that my name is Louisa. The name brings back hints of memories but nothing more. So I stare at the constant, never changing wall. There is a knock at my small wooden door. Moving would take too much effort so I stay firm in my chair. “May I come in?” A woman asks. I should be excited to have a guest, but I’m not. This person will expect me to know who they are. The door creaks open. Footsteps draw near to me. A soft hand touches my wrinkled white fingers. “How are you doing today?” I want to look her but I am frightened I …

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I swirl the froth on the top of my coffee cup with the tip of the silver spoon.  It looks delicious; light brown chocolate sifted carefully over the white milk.  Usually I would really enjoy a freshly brewed cup of coffee, but today I don’t even want it. I want something else.  I want the boy sitting next to me.  I can practically feel my heart pounding in my chest, reminding me of how his was racing when I hugged him at my front door.  I can still hear it, fluttering against my ear as I pressed my head to his chest in an embrace I never wanted to let go.  I try not to look at him, letting my eyes rove around the café instead.  I can feel his …

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“Why do you keep getting us in these situations?” I asked silently. No reply. I thought for a second he shrugged, as if to say “Hey, I’m just doing my job,” but it was probably just my imagination. I gave him a pat, we were in this mess together afterall. In a way he was my best friend. And at the same time he was probably my worst friend. If it wasn’t for him I would get so much done. I’d have a high distinction average, for one. But I had to deal with his constant interruptions, and damn it if he wasn’t convincing as hell. I looked at the girl sleeping quietly beside me. As usual he had nothing helpful to offer. The strong and silent type. “Well at …

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Self control – Joel Compton had never really had much of it. He liked to believe he knew exactly when and where it all started becoming a bit loose – the day he first laid eyes on a picture of a naked woman in a men’s magazine. He was only seven, but even at that tender age reckoned his discovery to be of great significance, despite his complete lack of comprehension. He could still recall the exciting, glossy smoothness of the paper. But the finer details of her face and physique, those instantly engaging elements of a body, a person and personality – these had been largely overlooked in the time he spent staring at the centrefold. She had been blonde, he was sure of that. He remembered that frizzy, …

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The icy wind whipped at my bare, tear soaked face as I hid in the shadows of Autumn’s dusk. With my head bowed and my hands stuffed firmly into my jacket, I fought off the cold air as I briskly pounded the pavement in my desperation to get home. I was having a horrible day, the kind where nothing you say or do is right, where it feels like the universe is conspiring against you and every insignificant chore becomes a painstaking mission of frustrations and complications. I longed for giant hands to reach down from the sky and scoop me up, taking me above the rain and the gloom so I could curl into a comforting ball of denial and release. As I fumbled for my keys I knew …

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Tony waited silently on a bench in the corner of the Robot and Parrot pub. He fidgeted with a ceramic coaster advertising something called Ye Olde Porcine Skin Fragments, pausing occasionally to run his hand over the itchy brown stubble on his head. A bald female dressed in purple overalls walked in and scanned the room. When she spotted him she strode over and sat down on the bench. ‘How do you do. I’m Tony 12,’ said Tony. ‘Sharon 5. You can call me Sharon.’ Tony nodded. ‘Pleased to meet you. I’ve taken the liberty of getting you a drink?’ ‘What is it?’ asked Sharon, as she inspected the glass of muddy, fizzy liquid in front of her. ‘It’s called ‘beer’. It’s made from water, a fermenting agent and some …

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