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Step 6: Find a friend to support you as you go through the difficult process of overcoming your phobia. Having gone through WikiHow’s first five steps it is time to move on to working through my de-conditioning regiment list. I have been dreading this moment, but my outgoing, blond friend Joy is happy to have an excuse to escape her husband and kids for a while. The sun is falling beneath the snow crusted flat plain when we arrive to the solitary restaurant off the highway. Two rusted trucks are parked near the small eatery and hotel. Red, green, and white flickering Christmas lights clumsily line the shingled roof. The sight of a pair of deer horns visible through the horizontal blinds makes me shudder. I can do this. I …

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  Sitting in the back of the archetypical sunny yellow cab, hurtling down the Long Island Expressway, Harold took an inventory of his strongest opening lines. It was either the one about getting stuffed or the one about getting mounted. They were both pretty dirty—almost on par with the inside of the cab he was perched precariously inside, trying desperately to ensure his skin didn’t come into contact with the upholstery. Generally speaking, the filthier the comedian, the more laughs they received. Even among the taxidermists of the world. The cab driver stopped short of the covered entrance and waited. His position wasn’t ideal given the inclement weather. “We’ll be waiting all day to get any closer … ” he craned his neck to look at Harold sitting directly behind …

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First up a big congratulations to our winner… By a single point… Alayna Cole! Alayna’s only been entering for a couple of months and after making her first short list last time round it’s great to see her story,  Stolen Property, on the winner’s podium. Congrats! It was another tough contest with some interesting interpretations on the theme. Here’s what the judges thought of the other stories.   Letter from HW by Clarissa NG “I liked the parallels between the deteriorating landscape and his wife, and the way it was nuanced to sound like an older man.”  (Dis)Harmony by Dakoda Barker “I loved the ‘successful’ chunks of bitumen, and the irregular tune of the water and the dull knock of the boats” “Nice, clear descriptions which gave me a good mental vision …

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Jerry was in the driver’s seat, while Ian rode shotgun and the dead tiger lay across the back seat. They had covered it as best we could with an old blanket, but its legs, tail and snout stuck out beneath the patchwork, so the disguise wouldn’t fool anyone looking in. “You’re driving too slowly,” Ian said. “I’m at the speed limit.” Jerry was sweating. He couldn’t tell if it was from the heat, or from nerves. They had wound the windows down, because otherwise the stench from the dead tiger would have been overwhelming. The hot summer air blew into the car, but the smell of shit, blood, musky fur, and rot lingered. “No one drives at the speed limit. You’ll get us noticed.” The speed dial crept forward slightly. …

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At first, the road snakes into the valley, a narrow stream trickling down the mountain. Then it flows into a larger river and the road begins tracing the edge of the lake. Great forested hills stand all around, as if they were seats in a football stadium, but the hum of the engine and whoosh of wind rushing past are all that can be heard. The car slows and turns. The gravel lot, empty save for two other vehicles, gently slopes towards the water. At its mouth, the bitumen has spread, slowly clawing its way toward the water. More successful chunks of bitumen sit among the gravel like chocolate chips, trekked in on shoes or tyres. Atop the manicured grass—too neat and too green to be natural—sits a weather-worn brown …

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Roma has a particular kind of dryness that will crack your skin, burn your eyes and dry the washing on the line in the underside of an hour. The parched, clay soil—infamous to the region—will shift the foundations of your house, devour your veggie garden and stifle your livelihood … if you let it. The Queensland countryside can be raw, dangerous, authentic and celestial, all at once and in fluctuating quantities. Yet amid this harshness, strikingly beautiful sunsets highlight the screaming gum trees, awaken the otherwise bleak creek beds and paint the flattened horizon in soft hues of purple, orange and pink. Occasionally, the wet season will grace the ravaged region with a beauty of a thunderstorm, bringing hope on the tail end of a cool breeze. Nevertheless, if it …

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Most people know the White Cliffs from the song but I know them because I grew up next to them. Not admittedly the famous ones at Dover but the Seven Sisters, the cliffs in Sussex that stretch eastwards from Brighton and are a brilliant white background on a sunny day when you walk almost anywhere along the coast, except of course if you are looking out to sea from on top of them. I consider our Sussex cliffs superior to the Kent ones which are dirty and rather ragged looking in comparison to the Sisters, although I dare say the soldiers seeing them on the way to or back from war would not have been that particular. They were a sign of home and worth protecting. In fact, the chalk …

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The untrampled leaves made it apparent that only the most light-footed of creatures had ventured near the house in years. The hint of a path still remained, leading to what was left of the front door, but the stepping-stones, stolen, polished and placed here years ago, were cracking in the harsh sunlight and sinking into the earth. Dancing strands of overgrown grass did not discriminate, twisting themselves around the house’s supports just as they did the trunks of the surrounding trees. The dirty green paint on the panels was flaking away to reveal the brown hardwood beneath; in places the wood was splitting and splintering as the trees of the forest showed the house its quiet, patient rage at how many of their kin were destroyed for its construction. The …

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The air is crisp and cold wind whips my face. The cool rock face beneath my feet is slippery and covered with moss, leaving behind squelchy mud and lush green trees with intertwining roots; natural and fierce. We’ve left our mark on the earth during the climb; this battle between earth and man. The only way is up. If I glanced around, I would see thick white haze and the distorted shapes of those ahead of me. The fog engulfs us. Apart from the scream of the wind, there is silence. The earth’s surface has become too steep so I creep to my hands and knees and crawl further. Ahead is a segment of flat terrain with muddy crumbling stone. It begins to rain and I have to squint to …

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The rain and sun make everything sweat and quiver; the plants, tar roads and women’s bare thighs, that are fat and glistening with perspiration. The rainforest grows dense and casts dark shadows on cinder block homes. Trees and vines copulate and choke one another: blushing Ixora flowers gasp for breath between green razor blades, palms spew up purple banana flowers, canopies drip golden Datura trumpets and in the underbrush Lantana knit webs and burgundy Sorrel bells bloom. Everything is humid and sticky and drips. Jamaican mummies mop their necks and brows with rags they keep in apron pockets. Everyone is passionate and boasts that they will murder you and make love to you, before the pale moon sinks into the sea and the mandarin sun rises. Men swing machetes and …

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22nd July, 2002. Dear J, How’s everything? I hope that my sudden disappearance didn’t cause you too much trouble. I know you can handle the company by yourself, though you’ve got to work double hard. Who knows, you may be mad at me. So I decided to write a letter instead of calling. One-way communication is always a safer bet. As you may have already guessed from the postage, I send this letter from my wife’s home town. She was always fond of the sea. Don’t come looking for me. I am only going to be around for a couple of days, to scatter her ashes. This town is an eight-hour slow train ride from the station near our office. The journey is hardly picturesque, industrial buildings and warehouses amidst …

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Broken Hill stretches out beneath me as I survey the city from its enormous man-made lookout. It strikes me as a town forgotten, a satellite city thrown to the edge of memory by civilisation.This is how itexists— lyingalone between coastlines, between cities, between history, the present and the future. Although it is the latter that always appears as an uncertain blur, this is a town that continues to endure,defiantly facing up tothe inhospitably dry environment of Western NSW. The lookout I am standing on could be considered the centre of town. It lies on top of what the locals affectionately call The Slag Heap, the elongated, mountainous pile of rubble that separates Broken Hill from South Broken Hill. The Slag Heap runs parallel to the main drag, Argent Street, but …

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It was one of the most important things they did together: with each other and for each other. They would buy a bottle of wine—just a little bit more expensive than they should be buying—and watch the asterisms over Fitzroy. When it was about to happen, it was always a silent agreement. They both knew, on rare afternoons when the terracotta haze spread its wings over Melbourne to greet the rising moon, that the lights would be at their brightest. They both had an eye for the atmosphere and an arcane sense of infinitesimal shifts in lunar alignment. It would take him at least an hour to set up the telescope. Years before they’d moved in together, when he’d first taken her back to his tiny apartment, it was the …

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Our bricks and mortar sit on rammed earth like dirt sits on our skin. What seems so solid, so dependable is nothing more than a visitation on the earth. A layer to one day be washed away by choice, storm or the certainty of time itself. Circular Quay rests like the nest of a kingfisher against the water, incubating fragile eggs which hold such promise. A heart with all the trains and busses like blood lines pulling and pumping the vital molecules of us in and out. With every beat the atrium of Wynard and the ventricle of Central Station fill and empty with fresh hands, fresh legs and fresh minds to replenish and repair. To ensure growth. Our icons, The Harbor Bridge and The Opera House, like two eyes …

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the reef’s every nimble colour mirrored by an oil slick* __________ * So the speaker ends on “slick,” an elusive word that, writhing like a sea snake through vaulted coral outcrops, animates the final line while wedging a stopper in our thoughts. Or so we think. Note the shallow correlation between nature (as always, organo-goodly) and its befouling opposite. This mode is as comfortable – for any post-romantic – as are the loafing arms of an anemone to the chary clownfish. Must be, we think, more vulgar lefty commentary. But no, look deeper, these are baited words amid which lurks something devious and salty. We recognize the form as Haiku, but Haiku have strict rules governing, laid down by clever folk on expensive paper: the above is in breach. We …

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Let’s make this quick, cause it’s Saturday and I wanna parttyyyy. The KARMA ANIMAL Award is our second performance poetry award, a short list of five poets, all who took up the challenge in their own unique style. Here;s the rundown. Alistair Robinson’s The Wheel blended mechanical imagery with verse on the abstract nature of karma, and it’s relation to the natural world. One judge had this to say: “reminds me of something that belongs in an underground art gallery Enjoyed the abstract nature of the poem” Erin Biglia’s Empty Gesture, Venom Threaded, ruminated on the notions of just deserts, and getting what you deserve. Erin’s piece came in a close second to our winner this week. Well done Erin. One judge described it as “Complex, with a rhyming scheme …

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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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