Saturday, December 20, 2008

New Art and Story by Wayne H. W Wolfson

Magic Hat

Youkali said she would trade me a new hat for one of my drawings. Her cousin owned a shop near a bar I liked so we had some drinks before going to get one.

I usually wore a snap brim to mute the sparks I occasionally gave off when things were going well. Knowing that I was getting one tonight, I had not worn a hat. I was only half recognized, the way one would a familiar song as heard from a distance.

Blue-gray fur and of Russian lineage, it sat, a stranger among the Pork Pies and Fedoras. I had always been superstitious and knew this outcast would bring me luck.

I tried it on as Youkali gossiped with her cousin. Two faces flushed, one with drink, one with lust.

“It’s more than I wanted to spend but no one else would ever take it which may be why it costs so much.”

Initially I was going to just offer her a piece from my portfolio. Although it had nothing to do with my choice, I had seen the price tag as I moved it out of the way while trying the hat on. I had to do something a little more special, not out of guilt but because I felt to do otherwise would cheapen my art.

We did a quick shot of Grappa out of paper cups with her cousin and then were off.

Walking down the street she took my hand. It was warm and fluttered, a bird which could not come completely to rest. She drove me home. We sat in her car for a minute.

“I will do a portrait of you.”

I was debating whether to ask her up now. Nerves won out over desire for her.

“You can do it from a picture I will give you.”

I put on some Don Byas and fell asleep.

Early in the morning I heard a noise. Only half awake I thought it was the paper-boy or the sun taking the stage.

Hours later it was time to get up. I found an envelope had been slipped under my door. Over coffee I opened it up to find an instamatic photo.

She had used the mirror on the armoire. A reversed image Youkali sitting up in bed, naked but visible only from the waist up. She knew the trick I could do, so her eyes were shut and with the look on her face it was not clear if she were coming or crying.

We met for dinner, the bar being our starting point. With the picture done we would be even, so it was unclear who would pay.

Again, a mad chorus of drinks, empty glasses lined up before us casting their shadow over tattooed cocktail napkins. It all took longer than we had realized. She could make good eggs and I had half a loaf of bread with a little life left in it.

We walked back to my place. I stopped her under a street light I was fond of. She had noticed the large envelope all night long but in a show of extreme will power had pretended not to.

She carefully pulled the picture out. She liked it as was evidenced by the care with which she handled it. I had also put the photo in the envelope which she now held in her hands.

Again she closed her eyes and kissed it. Within the beat of a heart it was floating skyward, the plastic of its surface reflecting the moon as now motionless, it took its spot hanging in heaven, a celluloid star among other abstract dreams.

- Wayne H. W Wolfson 2008

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Submissions in the spirit of summer

After that fairytale end to the test in Chennai between England and India, when the Mumbai hero Sachin Tendulkar knocked up a century and the historic winning runs in a single languid sweep behind square, when the soothing balm of cricket was laid over a pained nation......

I could go on until your ears began to bleed.

I have decided, in the full knowledge that Dave Prater at Cordite will be whispering "hey, that bastard stole my idea!", to put out calls for submissions with the noble game of cricket in mind. Don't be too specific. In Australia cricket evokes long languid summers slurping on mangoes and falling asleep on the beach under the latest soon-to-be-pulped-staff-pick with the occasional bark from a radio as another wicket falls. In every corner of the world there will be different associations. I would like to sample as many as possible.

So just for the time being, submit with cricket in mind.

Monday, December 15, 2008

New Poetry by Ashley Capes

lapse into

gabrielle is weeping –
they’re smoking his hems now.

a spoon tangos spaghetti

and brown shirts gather
in the wardrobe

lens click and you pirouette,
unleash the elephants.

a robin lands in the fruit bowl

somewhere in the desert
a tomb
and in that, your smile

i start to cover things up.

- Ashley Capes 2008

Ashley co-founded Egg(Poetry) in 2002, which sadly ceased publication in 2006. He is currently studying Arts and Education at Monash, while co-editing and singing for his band. His first collection of poetry pollen and the storm (2008) was published with the assistance of Small Change Press.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

New Writing by Jen Craig

The inheritance

My colleague took great delight in hearing that one of the students we
taught together, a student who appalled her by continual racist slurs on her
fellow students and, last month, on Barack Obama¹s biological legitimacy,
had recently inherited an aged, diseased cat. Having spent years looking
after an irascible and childless neighbour, I had heard, looking after in
the sense of occasionally ringing the elderly neighbour¹s doorbell and
bringing her soup or the local paper, our student had been furious to learn,
after the neighbour¹s death, that the stately but disintegrating terrace
house in Stanmore she had coveted had been left to the church instead of to

The delight of my colleague would have been complete if I had been able to
tell her about months of exorbitant vet bills and feline dyspepsia, but this
student, always canny and now grown righteous in her anger, told me that she
had left the cat at the church in a laundry basket. The church would
understand, was all she had said.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Calling all poets

I will be away down in Sydney for a couple of days reveling with my good friend "Geordie", but will put out this call now for submissions in the expectation that we can sail under the radar of the law as we perhaps haven't done so successfully in the past.....

The usual conditions: a handful of poems in the body of the email. ATTACHMENTS WILL NOT BE OPENED. Any style any subject, but as with my drinking partners, I am always looking for something with a bit of flair and sense of adventure. Comments, too, are always welcome, although I loath the encroachment of Messrs Anonymous into the Public Domain. Times such as ours demand that every man and woman bear their stamp proudly.

Monday, December 01, 2008


Recently, at the gentle behest of my most staunch and dew-eyed drinking partner, Jeff "Geordie" Graham, I began work on a collection of poems whose titles would all bear the august names of bands or singers who (and by extension...)I figured had cast some sort of spell over times and places since the turntables started turning.

It seemed a noble idea between beers and the froth that follows.

We both misted up and scrawled a whole lot of crap in the most frightening Gen-X ransom-writing that I gazed at next morning in mute horror. And yet I went ahead, pasting snippets of my life to the names of great people with heartfelt and brainless abandon until one day I fell back a little dizzy with the effort and realised all I had was a fistfull of poetry-lite and heavy lawsuits.

The poetry-lite was the problem, not the names I had attached to the waffle, as dawn bled over me. Because the names became an anchor. No-one, other than Gore Vidal, would divorce their name from even a middling work of art; assuming, of course, they were merely the subject and not the hapless author.

Speech writers have their own private hell.

Names are the very stuff of us. It will be the prevailing matter, trust me, when Jeff and I meet for lunch next Thursday. That and the bill.

The names I keep calling these things, mate. "Morrissey", "The Pixies", do you really think they'll mind?

Jeff works high up-middling in one of the big corporations, dances at Christmas parties with a witch-hat on his head. Sings through a "no" as though he had a deeper sense of its polarity but didn't want to break the party up to warn us. A man I have always considered born out of his time, such as Bowie or Frank Black or that lazy-eyed genius Thom Yorke. Loves his ex-wife as the mother of his daughter. Has never once pitied we "childless", knows he is simply along for the ride, witch-hat or no. He is a story on his own, Jeff, which is probably why I decided to dedicate the book to him.

The one with all the names inside of it.

Proper names, like proper nouns. Those ones we all own and have a right to scratch our heads at when we meet them in out-of-the-way places.

Which brings me to AUSTRALIA.

I have learnt a thing or two about naming things with this book.

One: that if there is any borrowed splendour from your creation it will not come from the name.

Two: names are important, not imported, mate. You cannot assume with names. Especially names as redolent and (apparently) unsung.

You had a good thought, you should have stopped at the second line.

As a pimply boy from Castlecrag with a hump on his back and just as much love for this strange and wonderful place (although with a little less money to spend), I set my sights on writing the Aussie version of Dostoevsky's "Brothers Karamazov". My twenties were wild and wired and roaming, but never ever in all my time before or since would I have ever assumed such an audience existed for a poem named after a country.