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The musty sweetness of the Styx ghost

19 January 2015 | Chris Armstrong

Styx ForestWhen you get home from a bushwalk the forest has infiltrated your clothing, skin, backpack, there is a musty sweetness when I open the cupboard door, a week later, it wafts out and I wait a while to unpick your scent of nature from the fabric of my self.

Aussie diggers' pen as mighty as their sword

16 December 2014 | Gillian Bouras

Cartoon from 'Aussie'A soldier's life is usually one of bursts of brief action followed by extended periods of drudgery and boredom, and never was this more true than during this dreadful war of attrition that dragged on apparently interminably between 1914 and 1918. A book titled Aussie was published in 1920 as a bound collection of AIF soldiers’ own paper of the battlefield, wholly written, illustrated and printed in the field. 

Wee Mary MacKillop minds the shop

15 December 2014 | Brian Doyle

Young Mary MacKillop bronze statueI can tell you that Fitzroy always was and will be a wry wilderness; Every colour and ethnicity and language you can imagine lives there... And now I see wee quiet shy Mary MacKillop there, minding a shop. She is fourteen. Her people are Scottish. She will be legendary, later.

Fighter who found community on the streets

09 December 2014 | Steve Sinn

Sue will always be for me flesh and blood, her trust I will forever cherish. Hers was a wretched life from the beginning to the end. But for some reason I feel impelled to lift her name out of the anonymity narrative that includes the vast numbers of people who have gone before us. 

God's little twinkler

08 December 2014 | Jordie Albiston

Girl at window —trembly bubble of life —raindrop clinging still to cold window glass —illuminated deity —stunning —hosanna on heat —heaven in a melt —earth on its knees beneath serious sun

How Phillip Hughes' death moved the nation

04 December 2014 | Brian Matthews

Mourning Michael Clarke on cover of The AdvertiserGreg Chappell has already made the comparison with the response to Princess Diana's death, but it goes back further than that, to John Donne, for example, in 1624: 'No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main'. Death haunts the newspapers and the airwaves. Just? Not at all. Every now and then, we cower and weep before Death's undiscriminating might.

Homage to the king of herbs

02 December 2014 | Gillian Bouras

BasilIn pride of place on this feast day, a modest silver cross lies in a glass case. The cross is surrounded by leaves of basil, the plant that was supposedly found growing on the True Cross when it was discovered by St Helen in 326. The word basil means king, the plant is considered the king of herbs, and bunches of it are always used in the sprinkling of holy water.

A broken life gathered in beauty

01 December 2014 | Bill Rush

Clouds with silver liningI hope no-one asks me what the preacher said ... for I'm looking south, where David strikes his harp in a riot of glass and the hymns wash over.

Shock of the new bourgeois reality

27 November 2014 | Ellena Savage

San Francisco bourgeois houseThe need for artists to exist inside an economy regulated by middle class tastes and preferences restricts the possibilities for their work. But when our present is rocked by the incredible injustices we are watching unravel in Ferguson, artists are called upon to drop their aspirations for class mobility that is tethered to the material, and instead draw light on the immaterial, Emerson's 'secret'. 

Suitcase crammed with affluence

24 November 2014 | Jena Woodhouse

Young woman with suitcaseWhat they thought could not be read in faces pinched with need. They plodded on, a ragged band of hungry, thirsty refugees, hoping for a crust of bread ... Perhaps tomorrow, there'd be grapes and oranges awaiting them; farmers who would pay in kind for harvesting.

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