Published in Overland Issue 236 Spring 2019 Uncategorized Toad Damen O'Brien Toad in the garden, which is the same as a snake in Eden or a crack in a mirror. Inexpungable blot of evil but we must try. The castle must be defended and each can be the mother of an empire, a pullulating and teeming pathogenesis threatening to gush out of the gaping mouth of nightmare, cover the world, flatten the lettuces. When we were young enough for casual violence we’d roam through the plush veil of darkness just beyond the moth-blow floodlights with cut down golf-clubs and feeble torches, stumbling and giggling, night-blind and sugar crazy, until we’d echo-locate the resolute density of a toad. Wild invisible arcs and that satisfying thump of bodies. Changeling stones, staring us down. There was a black plague creeping southward and Queensland was lost, untouchable and alien, the language of genocide, not that we knew it then, the protection of feral snowy river brumbies for the nostalgia of a poem was years away. Dot to dot brown spatter of the enemy laid out on wet season roads and our challenge was efficient returns, swerving the 4WD in slime. Inexhaustible armies of malevolence, but now I can’t decide on measures of humanity: cold frozen euthanasia over the gassing eternity of asphyxia. We sling her kicking and indomitable into her own hell, the bag crackling in the wheelie bin and for hours her scissoring legs thump out someone’s punishment until ants climb the lid, not offering rescue. Read the rest of Overland 236 If you liked this poem, buy the issue Or subscribe and receive four brilliant issues for a year Damen O'Brien Damen O’Brien is a Queensland poet. Damen was joint winner of the Peter Porter Poetry Prize and has won or been shortlisted for many others including Val Vallis Award for an Unpublished Poem, the Welsh International Poetry Prize and the Gwen Harwood Poetry Prize. Damen has previously been published in Rabbit, Southerly, Cordite, Island, Verity La and StylusLit. More by Damen O'Brien Overland is a not-for-profit magazine with a proud history of supporting writers, and publishing ideas and voices often excluded from other places. If you like this piece, or support Overland’s work in general, please subscribe or donate. Related articles & Essays First published in Overland Issue 228 31 March 2023 Poetry Poetry | Dog walking in the desert Leni Shilton Mparntwe | Alice Springs claypans Each time you walk take a bag for the rubbish, for the weeds. Stride out then confuse the dog as you stop over and over, like you are picking at treasure. You dig with the heel of your boot at the sea of three-corner-jack prickles and remind yourself next time to bring gloves. First published in Overland Issue 228 30 March 202331 March 2023 Culture RollerCoaster Tycoon and the art of niche hobbies Zac Picker As a writer, I spend too much time awake at night worrying about building an audience for my work. And yet, I spend even more time awake at night, planning my next RollerCoaster Tycoon park in my head, for an audience of the hundred-or-so RCT parkmakers I care about the most.