Heart to Heart

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 The lady down the street has brought me another pie. Apple, this time. It was still steaming when I noticed it on my doorstep, though she didn’t knock. If she had, I wouldn’t have answered. Jeffrey, she told me once, was her husband’s name. I’m pretty certain she went through my mail, because I don’t recall ever introducing myself to anyone in this neighbourhood.

I’m in the witness protection program. As far as anyone is concerned, I’ve lived in Illinois my whole life. I won’t tell you the city, but it has a lake, and the leaves turn orange and red in the fall. I don’t have a wife or children. I ceased being a son a decade before either of my parents died. Those were the conditions I accepted when I signed my life away to the President of the United States.

Right now, I’m sitting at my kitchen table, watching my cat sunbathe on the windowsill. Earlier, he pawed a stray potato towards me. He’s been watching me ever since, waiting for my next move. I was going to make soup.

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it’s all about scale, climb and rest and climb again,

just to turn around and see the scale

the hills, more than hills, when you grow up without them.

now they are heights to climb—can’t see Perth this way

without a light plane and a pilot’s license

who knew the clouds cast shadows that wide, or that from afar

the Earth crawls with life, all of us ants on an apple

—you knew, you all knew—

but no one told me, not in those words

there is a kangaroo at the top of Mt Taylor, staring,

so seamlessly tucked into the bush I barely notice him

until he snarls

looks at me, knows I don’t belong,

but I want to stay with the sky a little longer, push my luck,

waste my time. is there something over the peak?

down in the scrub? anything beyond those hills?

double check, triple check.

I leave him be, standing on the edge of the field in the brush

and I do what I’m told to do, Take It All In, think up something worthwhile,

because nature has a tax, nature makes you think, nature gives you ideas,

nature gives you stillness, a chance—

meadows look better far away, and so do cities,

unless you find the flowers,

for which you have to look close, quick! there!

 

Lover Lover

I say I like honesty, I tell myself

I like honesty because

I keep making friends with lovers

with one-sided feelings

 

I know how those go, I am a girl

who lies on her bed in the daytime

earbuds in, staring into the middle-distance

watching a second life play out like

shadows on a sheet during a storm

 

I am a cautious person in life and

in imagination, knowing all too well

how the two fool around with one another

and at sixteen, how a thing between a boy

and me can turn my insides out

 

here I should admit, I am unlikely

and in all my state I attract people

who are all smiles and false impressions

who are my friends, my very best friends

until they admit otherwise

 

I can be bitter, even at my calmest

when I am told over the Internet

from age sixteen onwards, that I am loved

in a way I do not reciprocate

and that a relationship I thought

—dangerously—was equal, was not

 

I have lost too many people

to feelings felt, words unsaid for months

and months and months, amongst it all

I’m rarely spoken to in person

about feelings so personal

they ought to inspire intimacy

 

this is where I leave most, because

I haven’t been met with the chance

to share feelings, but instead have been stuck

receiving them, dealing with them

addressing them

 

if I am that girl for you, on the bed, daytime

through the blinds and eyes staring off

at something an arm’s length away

then you will know, because I will tell you

 

 

Orphic Idiot

singing   from  the  other  side   of  the   River    Styx

the   words   lost  over  the  water, your  back turned,

my   ankle  dotted   with  blood,  your  neck strained

against  song,  so  i  sing:  “on  thee   the  portion of

our  time  depends, whose  absence  lengthens  life,

whose                          presence                            ends.”

you   look   back,   you   look   back,  you looked back.

i    crouch  at  the  bank  and let my dress dip into the

water. you   kneel   in  the  sand,  hands  behind  you,

eyes  forward.  you  sing  as  the sword comes down,

and   you  sing  as   you  cross  the river, and you sing

as    Hades’   bottom    lip   trembles,  as   i   hold  you,

singing   from   the   same   side   of    the  River  Styx.

 

Hello, World!

A portrait of the writer as a young clown

I’ve been learning to code for the past 3 months – nothing major, nothing spectacular. But now I know that the utterly simple exclamation of Hello, World! is enough to induct a newbie into the world of programming. I’m saying this now because I realise I’ve never really spoken to any of you directly – ever – but here you are: still and unflinching, dark and mysterious. You fascinate me. I recently started an internship producing radio at the ABC, and my presenter says that word a lot – this is fascinating, it’s great to talk to you.

So, then. Who are you? How are you going? Do you have any pets? A cat or a dog or a gecko?

I’m opening up to you in hopes this rambling display of openness and trust will inspire some back-and-forth. Tonight I spoke to a curator at a museum for the morbid, last week to a woman directing the Future Library art project, the week before that to a neuroscientist. I like talking with people, so it’s probably time I start a conversation on here. Here, where my teenage writing matures. Where the evidence of my evolution sits under glass.

These are the coordinates of my life right now, as it stands: I hurt my ankle a few weeks back tumbling, and I’ve been staying up until 6.00am for the Olympic gymnastics – all the while wishing I could jump again. I still prefer sunsets over sunrises. I’m in the final hour of the audiobook The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer. I’ve got the business card of a NASA engineer sitting in front of me on my desk, next to my lapel pins shaped like stars. It’s 1.04am and I have an important email to send in the morning. I’m in my final semester of university. There’s a new This American Life episode waiting for me, but I can’t bring myself to listen to anything titled My Summer Self while I’m still wearing finger-less gloves. I ordered six second-hand Ray Bradbury paperbacks this afternoon. I still don’t know if writing things down is helpful for me or for anyone else. I’m going to sit in the sun tomorrow and listen to Neutral Milk Hotel and the soundtrack to In the Heights. I’m not going to check this for spelling errors.

My reasoning behind all of these sentences of admittance, is an intersection of occurrences. Last night I wrote a poem to my favourite author, who I’ve posthumously adopted as an unwitting mentor. I don’t think it made sense, not unless you’re someone who is well-versed in Fahrenheit 451 trivia or the tales of Dandelion Wine. But when I posted it on here, on my scribbled home, it got half a dozen likes. I wonder too much – too much not to ask – whether anyone actually reads anything on here. I need to know if you have, and I truly want to know what you think.

This is an offering – a short but concise map to my life right now. It’s a gesture. I’m letting you know that you have access to parts of my life, the same as you do my writing. And to let you know that it would be great to talk to you about fascinating things.

 

Ghost Boy

There was one figurine left, sitting in the far corner of my Grandma’s glass cabinet. A porcelain ballerina tying her shoes, looking demure as she crisscrossed the ribbons across her ankle. I had to get on my tiptoes to reach it, and as the shelf dug into my chest all I could smell was dust.

“Um…Liss?” Maggie called. She was standing right above my head – I could hear her small, sensible shoes shuffling around the attic floor. I grabbed the ballerina by her head.

“What!”

Sliding the glass cabinet closed, I caught my muted reflection in the mirror and saw the bags under my eyes before anything else. I pushed my fringe from my forehead.

“What!”

“Can you come up here?” Maggie said.

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