She runs

She runs. More than a shuffle. Less than a sprint.
Steady. That’s what her father would have called her pace.
“Slow and steady wins the race,” he used to say, always with the imputation that she was doing things wrong. Rushing.
It became the quest of her childhood, to steadily win his affection.

She runs. Away from her apathetic, underachieving children. Away from her husband with his grins ground out of him.
Her father used to smile at her sister. Chuckle even. There was never any question as to his favourite daughter.
He preferred the hurdler, not the middle-distance runner.
Steady didn’t seem to count.

She runs. Past houses and gardens. Along the bland streets where she lives.
Past friendships that faltered. Teachers who didn’t bring out the best in her kids. Injustices snagged on picket fences.
One foot, then the other, her breathing a thumping mantra repelling all but fleeting thoughts. Must write a letter to Council about those people that leave their bins across the path.

She runs. Pushes through darkness and pain, anger powering each stride.
Running has changed her body, slashed two dress sizes from her hips, carved away her chest. It’s put steel in her glutes and calves, required cortisone in one traitorous knee.
She presses on, hungry for forward movement. For leaving things behind.

She ran. Submitted an entry form online. Committed herself to a date, seeking run rather than fun.
She arrived early. Held her space at the start line, twitchy and impatient. Survived the melee at the gun, striding out to find her own space.
She maintained a steady pace for 15km then surged, letting her furies drive her home.
Broke the ribbon, depleted but triumphant. Not second best.

The author as eidolon

You drive interstate to attend a sporting event and stay in a stranger’s house, booked by a mate as a homestay property.

You live in the house a few days. It’s functional, nothing flash. You breathe it in. Get a sense of the family that belongs there. Based on the suburb, the furnishings, the pantry, an occasional photo, the stained ceiling from the leaky toilet upstairs, you build a picture of their lives. A single mum. Teenage kids. Athletic.

They are not readers. There’s barely a book to be seen. Only two that I can spot.

Including one I wrote.

I think about signing it. “Hey, thanks, for letting me stay in your home.”

No. Too creepy.

Street art word (or world) play

The Cartographer

The cartographer
saw the vastness of landscape
and rendered it knowable.
Transformed terrain
to elevations, angles,
contour line etchings
and watercourse filigree.

The cartographer
used his raptor vision
to view conflict as landscape,
charting paths through
political quicksand,
over bureaucratic dunes
to the ocean of truth.

The cartographer,
now guided not guiding,
his acute compass
dizzied by Alzheimer’s.
Piercing the fog,
he cedes, all pauses and sighs,
“I’ve lost the path”.

Melbourne Marching

blusters with threats of winter
but falls back to summer leftovers,
flavours as raucous as yesterday’s fruit salad.
Workplaces finally cede holiday torpor and,
the ante upped, your pulse spikes
at the realisation the year is almost a quarter gone.
As the cherry tomatoes cheer their last,
and the passionfruit scrambles toward last shards of sun,
that manuscript alchemy remains elusive
and the house needs another lick of paint.
Acorns clatter, parents mutter
the kids are a term down, pedagogically unchallenged,
living from one YouTube hit to the next.
Medical clinics plug proactive flu shots,
figs fall on forgotten bluestone lanes
and any footy fan can believe their team
might make the last weekend in September.


Photograph of a bright ‘supermoon’ looks a little like a spaceship swooping

The angels arrived like stealth bombers, sweeping each suburb, each street, each home.

#Rapture trended immediately on Twitter, as fundamentalists claimed their moment of triumph had arrived.

All Theo knew for sure was that these angels had nothing in common with those he’d learned about in Sunday School. He heard the screams, saw flames flare and knew there’d be no inner calm, no glow of divine love accompanying visitation.

A practical man, he didn’t see any point cowering beneath a blanket or bracing himself in a doorway. This wasn’t an earthquake or wildfire. It was an Act of God no insurance company ever envisaged.

So he strolled, barefoot, out into the summer night. Stepped off the gutter and onto the warm bitumen. Wriggled his toes on the rough surface. Watched and waited.

In the instant his angel swooped, he understood. They weren’t messengers. They were auditors, celestial census collectors. And pest controllers.

The angel scanned his soul and it was like immersion in an arctic sea. He was aware his ledger, his personal balance of good versus evil, was under assessment.

Then he was kneeling on the road, not in praise but simple gratitude. He stood, slowly. Inhaled and savored the air entering his lungs. His skin tingled. He wondered who else had survived.

He knew the angels would be back in a few hundred years. And that no one would remember they’d been before.