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My Baghdad dreams

1 Comment
01 February 2016 | John Falzon

BaghdadI bite on life. The bitterness will daunt but not defeat me. And I hear you. I can never give you voice. My dreams take speed. My Baghdad dreams take speed. My rest my head against the pillow of the west ... Exclamation bombs my Baghdad ... You don't have long to live sweet parliament.

The last year

18 January 2016 | Diane Fahey

Half-filled crosswordThey'd stopped by then, your half-filled crosswords with their fey surmises — inspired leaps from the backs of routine clues ... I glimpsed alcoves of dusty treasure: kris — 'Malayan dagger'; obi — 'a Japanese sash'; écus — 'old French coins'. You summoned bird names from the air: rhea, erne; had the secrets of ponds and streams at your fingertips: eft, orfe, elver ... 'open', 'small seeds'; six letters. You would have got that.

The flight into Egypt

1 Comment
14 December 2015 | Grant Fraser, Anne Ramsay and Rory Harris

Painting of Jesus and family crossing desertBehind them that beast of prey, that Herod, was still glaring doom from his trees of thorn, eyes bulging like a fox. And so, by night, Joseph squired their secret way, prayed the morning kind, prayed empty the brigand-haunted roads. Each day they made another cold remove, with the infant swaddled close, and their way marked by quiet nurseries of straw. Joseph kept close his thoughts, measured each horizon, always with the rumour of dark hoofbeats thrumming in his mind.

What will children dream if not of bears?

08 December 2015 | Brian Doyle

Boy with imaginary bear, artwork by Chris JohnstonIf a three-year-old likes bears, you are into bears for the foreseeable future. Bears have been around since before there were pencils, my young friend said, which is inarguably true, and not something I had ever considered before. When we talk about what is lost in a world in which wilderness is lost, we never talk about the loss of the life we imagine. When there are no bears in the world, then no children will dream of bears, and draw bears, and sleep with bears, and that will be a terrible shame.

The long haul

07 December 2015 | Lisa Brockwell

Mark RuffaloThere is another life where we end up together. We wake in the same bed, startled but not sorry; the timber frame is warm, hand-caulked with the day-to-day dedication of the long haul. The air between us no longer electric, all now sanded smooth. But whose dog jumps on the end of that bed: yours or mine? I don't plan to think about my husband or your wife; let's leave my son right out of it. Fantasy, no more dangerous than eating gelato and dreaming of Mark Ruffalo.

Hipster heroes of gentrification

1 Comment
01 December 2015 | Charlotte Howell

Cereal Killer Cafe front windowI was born into a working class family in Leyton, East London. But in the late 1980s, gentrification in the area forced us to relocate to the poor working class town of Harlow, Essex. In a twist of fate, these days I can't even afford to live there. This time it is not due to gentrification brought about by 'hipster' entrepreneurs, but because powerful construction companies have replaced the historical architecture with new developments and housing estates. I know who I'd rather pick a fight against.

Not racist but

30 November 2015 | Barry Gittins

Racism written in splashed red paintI'm not homophobic, but if you question my relished prejudice, satirise my hissy fits, you're not playing fair. I'm not racist, but don't you call out my revulsion, or reveal cultural discrimination (not here over there). I'm not sexist but your flaunting of sexual freedom, power, makes me long for lost hour ... If you peer quite closely you will notice I am mostly not a loving breathing person (that's rare).

Working mum contemplates balance amid chaos

1 Comment
26 November 2015 | Jen Vuk

Balanced ballsThe tweet I sent that afternoon pretty much summed things up: 'Running late for work-life balance seminar. Why? Life, of course.' The irony was not lost on me. While officially I work part-time, I also freelance as a writer, volunteer regularly at my kids' primary school, have increasingly frail elderly parents who I feel terribly responsible for, and try to keep fit and maintain some semblance of a social life. On the day of the seminar on work-life balance, I'd managed to fill my schedule to breaking point.

Worn by remembering, mastered by great age

23 November 2015 | Grant Fraser, Ignatius Kim and Margaret Quigley

Woman with Alzheimer’sNot seven steps from the familiar geography of her room her bewilderment sagged on her walking frame as she shied away from the stern arm that was guiding her ... We composed ourselves upon the couch long enough for her to plead 'But I don't know who you are' as she trembled beneath the insult of my peering eyes and frowned away; and I felt a stranger's smile curdling on my face.

My own personal recession

17 November 2015 | Isabella Fels

Eye with dollar signMy recession digs deep. In many ways I cannot take a leap as I would if I had heaps of money. How I would love to buy all sorts of goodies and never deny myself anything! How I wish I could be given a handout and make easy money, and throw money around everywhere I go! I feel myself learning the value of money the more I yearn for the dollar. In many ways it makes me feel stronger to make my money last longer, rather than constantly being lured by the dollar, and being easy fodder.

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