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The epic life of the real Iphigenia

9 Comments
15 March 2016 | Gillian Bouras

IphigeniaIt was a bright winter's day when we visited Iphigenia. Long widowed, she was meticulously turned out in black traditional outfit. Iphigenia is not sure how old she is; she thinks she is 86. Anglophones regularly make a hash of this beautiful name, the correct pronunciation of which is Ifeeyainya. But the ones I know are intrigued by the mythological character, who was ill-fated, to say the least. I soon learned that there had also been ample sorrow and trauma in the life of the modern Iphigenia, too.


Homeless truths from an agent against poverty

8 Comments
08 March 2016 | Brian Doyle

Gertrude StreetThe tall man had worked for the Brotherhood of Saint Laurence for years, and long ago had lost any illusions about the overarching nobility of people who were hammered and lost and helpless against addictions, diseases, crisis and tragedy. I asked him about the most wonderful people he'd met, and he told me some amazing stories, and then I asked him about the worst, and he told me some horrifying stories, and then his face twisted and he told me about the worst of the worst.


Home, alone and stoned

7 Comments
07 March 2016 | Peta Edmonds

Wet concreteI've run out of dope. This is my last ever toke of synthetic pot, I hope. There's synthetic people, but my heart drops like a coin into a homeless man's hat. The eternal night isn't very maternal. Of all those people sleeping on a concrete mattress under a black sky doona ... The homeless have faces like empty spaces. No solution to their heads in the pollution, and their feet in the gutter. The poor gather on the banks of the flowing street. The rain hits the roof in pain.


Death and the (young) maiden

3 Comments
01 March 2016 | Barry Gittins

Wolfgang the SpoodleThis year we faced the prospect of having Wolfgang, our 16-year-old apricot Spoodle, euthanised. This was sad for me, my wife, and our son. But for our daughter, entering her first year of high school, it presented a looming disaster. Mark Twain is purported to have said that 'the fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time.' Timidity equals preoccupation with mortality? No disrespect to Samuel, but it's unlikely he shared that gem with his daughters.


In the ring with Stevens and Hemingway

1 Comment
29 February 2016 | Peter Gebhardt

Ernest Hemingway fighting stanceRounds and counts, jabs and feints. Glass jaws and upper-cuts, southpaws and the rest. It was a new word-world. Yet more colonial drill, and blood should spill. Meanwhile there was order by the key, water was washing, banter and barter in brief bargain. Then a jab to the jaw, fishbone cry, a hand cracks, skinless words.


Being myself doesn't work

10 Comments
28 February 2016 | Paul Micallef

Person alone on beachAutism typically makes people less likely to care what others think. When I was younger my default was to do what I wanted, to 'be myself', and not worry if others were not doing the same thing. You can imagine what happens when I put this into action: I end up alone. I am the only one not dancing. I am the only one who wants to crank the metal music at 7am. I like people. I want to share my experiences. But often my choice often comes down to: 'Do I be myself? Or do I be around others?'


Today won't be her eternity

22 February 2016 | N. N. Trakakis and Oscar Roos

Wet cobblestonesShe said she'll never write a book, and she hasn't: that's no book, it's a drop of experience Infused with the spirit of Sabi ... alcoholically she soils God with sour tears. The last time I saw her was in the obituary column: golden as always walking barefoot, cigarette in hand reflecting the sun's anonymity.


Reading in end times

5 Comments
18 February 2016 | Ellena Savage

Murukami's Norwegian Wood coverThere's a part in Murakami's Norwegian Wood, I told a friend, where a character loses someone, and walks for weeks around Japan until he reaches the beach, where he just stares out to sea. I feel so desolate, I said, that that's what I want to do. I don't know for sure that that's what really happened in the book, or if I was really that desolate ... Maybe that's what reading is for; to build a repertoire of emotional and social situations in order to connect with feelings that don't have words.


Fenced in

5 Comments
15 February 2016 | Cheryl Howard

HorseThe lonely horse stands, welcomes the approach with a nod, which doesn't dislodge the flies from his face. The proffered dry grass becomes a gentle brush, freeing him from tormentors ... Simple and pure kindness can be like rain in a land parched of understanding.


Fleeing Syria's pious knights

2 Comments
08 February 2016 | Geoff Page

Refugees welcomed at Munich StationThere were some cheers in Munich station but not all Eden proves to be so free with food and toys. There's something deeper in the blood. They have that sense of deja vu: horsemen, pikes and princes ... The pious knights of 1640, those fine sectarians, who charged for thirty years across the northern sweeps of Europe, are born again in Syria with new nomenclatures; so once again the hapless foresee it's time to move.


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