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Letters from dystopia in these best and worst of times

6 Comments
03 April 2017 | Gillian Bouras

Splinterlands by John FefferSmall wonder there is a particular surge of interest in dystopian novels: many people feel times have never been so troubled or so complicated, although I remember my father pointing out that people felt the same when the longbow and later gunpowder were invented. Amazon recently reported that Orwell and Huxley are selling like hot cakes. This at a time when certain purveyors of doom are lamenting the fact that 26 per cent of Americans, for example, did not read a single book during 2016.


Mme. Blanchard hits the roof

02 April 2017 | Ian C. Smith

Sophie BlanchardRiding her gondola, a skimpy thing like herself, she sees her balloon ablaze, begins her descent, feathered hat lost, a rushed farewell performance. The house roof's pitch steep, her rigging tangled, fire almost out, burned, broken, she can't hang on, she who once remained aloft all night over Rome.


Daniel Berrigan's rebel spirit

1 Comment
26 March 2017 | Juan Garrido-Salgado

Daniel BerriganPain is a cold food like garbage left, no compassion ... Compassion, bread and old wine, waste in a temple to worship money and power. Mankind has lost its root system thirst for happiness. Our bread is autumn leaf tossed into the branches as the bird dies. They make wine from the waters of these rivers suffering bloodied by the blood of Syrian children. Wine is the blood of indifference on the streets of Palestine. The wine is the blood of cruelty in Nauru ... why are you silent?


A life in song for the working class

4 Comments
21 March 2017 | Tony Smith

Danny SpoonerDanny sang of farm labourers, poachers, mariners, union martyrs and miners. He did not simply perform the songs - that would be too much like exploiting them. His aim was to help preserve them. When he introduced a song it was clear that he had great respect for the tradition in which he fitted and that he had done extensive research into the song's provenance. The songs were important because of how they recorded aspects of working class life which mainstream histories might neglect.


Prayer at the scarred tree

6 Comments
19 March 2017 | Martin Flanagan and David Adès

Scarred treeThis hunger that gnaws endlessly in my guts will be the death of me, but is the life of me, because in braving yourself to the emptiness something is born, something happens. Watch and observe, tell the story well, make it an expression of your sanity, which is otherwise at risk from waves generated by the outside world and past regrets.


Vienna bronze

3 Comments
13 March 2017 | Michael Sariban

BronzeWhen she fell, at last, out of this life, I caught him as intended, solid as belief ... eyes raised, palms turned to Mecca, his fixed magnetic pole. A Vienna bronze, perhaps 1920s, most likely a Jewish workshop - a fusion of metals and cultures, before Holocaust, West Bank or Gaza; a figure in robes, on a small carpet, its yellows and reds realistically creased, his sandals ... Aesthetics ranked high in her life - a second, earthly religion - all the style she could afford in the world her parents had fled to.


A glimpse of devastated home

2 Comments
05 March 2017 | Susil Pun and William Okello Kadima

Bombed buildings in HomsOnce upon a time it used to be a beautiful city. Suddenly it turned into a yard of sorrow and pity ... No matter which area, nobody ever suffers like people did in Syria.


To feel this world

28 February 2017 | Allan Padgett

ThylacineNotes that humans cannot hear include the sound of thylacines crying in a van diemen forest, a dodo's plaintive shuffle on a nearshore kiwi island, a mammoth's woolly orgasm on an ecstatic arctic tundra, an esperance dog weed's silent transpiration, the rumbles of a gastric brooding frog giving birth by burping - these things are far too late for caring. Things we need to see and taste include the surging milk of human kindness, the euphoric rainbow of random caring - these would make a nice day nicer.


How to survive the crucible of school bullying

7 Comments
23 February 2017 | Barry Gittins

Sad school studentSquarely back into the school year, dinner conversations with our kids have included strategies for dealing with bullies. A 2016 survey of 20,000 Australians students found one in four respondents reported being bullied, and bullying 'was more common for year 5 students and year 8' - the grade levels of our boy and girl respectively. I'd love to be the 'parent nonpareil', with the right words and advice, but it's not that simple. The variables of personality and situation mean there is no easy, perfect answer.


We will never be free of all our debts

4 Comments
19 February 2017 | Sandra Renew

SpiderObserving the decades long incident is unbearable - although they have fallen beautifully time is not on their side, their ideals are consigned to fire. But do we care so little that when the fates convene and humans fail sumo-sized jelly fish and yellow crazy ants and ubiquitous spiders will be all that's left? Do we care so little and think we are free of all our debts? Did we think we were never so needy as to sell our dreams?


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