It’s a cliché of contemporary publishing that every editorial in a literary journal like Overland invariably makes arguments for the importance of literary journals before platitudinising about the importance of literature generally. In Overland’s first editorial in 1954 Stephen Murray-Smith invited our readers to share our ‘love of living, our optimism, our belief in the traditional dream of a better Australia’ which is hard to beat for brevity.
When my father, Laurie, retired from his job as a high school science and IT teacher, he’d been a teacher for about thirty-five years. He was, I think, a good teacher. ‘I wasn’t super teacher,’ he told me, ‘I wasn’t Eddy Woo, but my students did well and sometimes they bought me a beer years later, I was an ok teacher.’ I liked the fact that he was a schoolteacher, liked that he chose to work at a public school down the road, because his values were my values.
There are books that, without you even knowing it, have shaped who you are as a thinker. I was reminded of as much on re-reading Humphrey McQueen’s A New Britannia: An argument concerning the social origins of Australian radicalism and nationalism. First published in 1970, my well-thumbed third edition from 1986 had been picked up at a second-hand store to replace an earlier fourth edition published in 2004 and now yellowing on some long-lost acquaintance’s bookshelf.
The pandemic further exposed a core logic of the capitalist state: what it giveth, it can taketh away. The changing rate of JobSeeker was an extreme case: shortly after doubling it—and thereby raising above the poverty line for the first time in decades—the Coalition cut it once more, with an insulting bonus of $50 a fortnight. But this logic predates the pandemic and extends beyond income support: it’s central to the operation of capitalist government, and intensified by our neoliberal model.
Approaching a house at night, it is possible to tell, from a distance, if the television is on. Even if the program is inaudible, the night walker, passing by, can discern beneath the sounds of wind and foliage, of cooling roof iron and cars ticking in their mechanical sleep, a kind of hum—a high and eerie keening, a dog whistle set to the human ear. The ghost in the television is electricity, pulsing at high frequency, causing the metal parts of the appliance to vibrate minutely, shaking its tiny ferrite bones.
I fancied becoming essential might involve fanfare, regalia and pay rises. Instead we were made invisible, essential only by implication and association. On the 2nd of April 2020 the prime minister announced that child care services were ‘critical,’ and would thus be made universally free, so that essential workers – those in healthcare, emergency services, and ‘everyone who has a job in this economy’– could continue going to work.
I wander down the wide corridor of the crunchy fire trail. Both sides of the track are lined with scaly black matchsticks sweeping up to the sky. It has been six months since I was last here and almost a year since the fires of the New South Wales Black Summer. The change is dramatic in this time. The matchsticks are now coated with a fuzzy layer of vibrant green epidermic growth, and fresh grassy whiskers punch out from the burnt forest floor.
They were skating this mini ramp down by the bike path, Shane and the boys. It was awesome how pedestrians and bike riders, whole families, would stop and watch. Like they were doing a proper demonstration. Pretty bloody fun. They’d change runs based on the foot traffic and the crowds that gathered. When there was a lull, they’d rest perhaps, or practice some new stuff, because when there was a crowd they wanted to put on a show.
Out by the sandbar the cockles are thick under the feet, crowding out of the mud at low tide. Toe them up, rinse them off and into the bucket, keeping an eye on the boy. He sits in the mud, squeezing it through his fingers. His too-small tee shirt slides up his belly.
She was standing between rows of bras in Kmart when the pain came. She’d been having twinges all morning, twinges she’d put down to eating two bags of liquorice allsorts the night before, but it wasn’t that kind of pain after all, it was…appendicitis? She grabbed a handful of bras, staggered into the nearest changing room and closed the door.
We arrive at night. On the way, traffic clogs the M4 and we move slowly up and over the range. Fog swarms across the road, retreating into wet gullies. Isla falls asleep, dribbling. ‘Thank fuck,’ mutters Jay as he turns the engine off. ‘Two hours, my ass.’ He unfurls long legs. I pull Isla from her booster seat, cheeks hot, arms stuffed into her red corduroy jacket like a fat rag doll. The others are inside, with every light on.
Fashion ephemera until it becomes fashionable. Fascism came back this way, fauvism might. Walk away from the chan comfortable in your felicity, hide behind the fact that the meme was dank.
tongues who feast in salt rinds of passage narratives of swallow and effect noone decides whose hunger carpets in stormy weather whose sank face, chows, all organs against in breakneck
there anything more fucked than a poem, when all Croajingalong has burnt, inkblot on the map of child heart, that great black banksia we feared as wicked, a thousand-socket resin candelabra,
Wake to the back neighbour’s pool pump, cloud of young mosquitoes in the stairwell, little girls screaming in the pool — the rich man’s voice pulls the cord on a two-stroke tuned soprano.
In the dream I give birth to twins but they aren’t human: they are small spindly creatures a lot like stick insects. When I am discharged from hospital we take them out to the car and I put them in the baby capsules.
This morning the veil the morning threw the yawning dark was pale-flower white and had my eyeballs in its breakfast milk.
(East Gippsland foothill forest: Gunaikurnai country) Words are leafless In the forest some words are too loud Most words belong to someone else The sheen of words precludes listening Leafs wait to be heard Felled: the story between earth and sky
The author composes an homage to a self who sings and sails on the great game of once upon a time. I am a sailor. I sing to excess. I am as perverse as degenerate art. I typecast myself across…
A group of bronze teens are partying under an unclouded day moon facing off a clouded sun in the corona pandemic.