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Spinning Out

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The Hands of Thomas

Here are the hands of Thomas, delving deep into the belly of the fan, coils cast out, covers ripped asunder. They work amongst scattered mouse poo pellets and spanners. Discarded surgical gloves give the scene a slightly sinister air. But that’s before I have really settled in. 

I have entered a room packed full of workers, the repairers, and expectant repairees at the St Kilda Repair Cafe. Held at the EcoCentre on the second Sunday of each month, the repair cafe exists to promote repairing and recycling of household goods, to foster an appreciation of ‘making good’, repairing to restore functionality, rather than throwing away.

Thomas picks up a mouse poo pellet using a scrunched up latex glove: it looks like he’s holding a tiny turd with a condom. Flick. Away with you, mouse poo! A necessary output of the disassembled toasters, brought to bare their innards to a community of fixers. Fixer-upper-ers. Or nerds. Earnest workers. Carers. People who care. Possible carriers of genius.

Men pe…

Coming of Age

The bricks were always cold underneath my bum. Cold and hard. I could feel their sharp edges. In the nights we sat and talked, my brother and I and the neighbourhood boys. The smells of sour smoke and saliva on one, body odour on another, and menace on the other. The fluorescent globes hummed from the train station platform across the road, and the street lights pooled at the corner.
Inside was out of bounds to these boys, so we met on our side stairs. The frosted glass door between us and our home. These were the kids we didn’t trust, the boys from the wrong side of the tracks. Where were their parents? Absent fathers, unsighted mothers, these boys roamed the streets and set me on edge. The attraction to the dirt, to the smell of one’s mouth...I can still feel it now. It was an urge, but not an infatuation. 

The hearts of these boys remained hidden. It was as if they walked in costumes, played their parts, and kept their distance.

One day, my mum greeted me at the side door with these w…

The dogs of suburbia

Fears are not rational. But growing up, in my mind, it made perfect sense that a dog could bite me, and moreover, most likely would, given the chance. 

My fear was born of repeated backyard encounters with a mauling, snarling dog. We shared the yard with tenants who lived in the other side of our grandfather's house. This meant our sandpit was contested territory, my dolls were easy targets, and my young mind was easily imprinted with the image of slavering jaws crushing heads. Dolls' heads, true, but that had implications.

Sure, it wasn't me who had to contend with the bitzer terrier going for my dangling doodle-my brother seemed to emerge from that encounter mentally, and thankfully physically, intact. For me, bearing witness to the dolls' destruction and the attack on the tiny penis, the outcome proved more traumatic. Perhaps being that year older, my mind could seize the sense of threat?

What it meant for me was that my space in the world became curtailed. Boundaries …



Halloween in NYC,
crossing of souls
to saints
if you swallow
that crap.

From hotel
to deli, hire car
to terminal
to terminal
LA phone line 
to father.

a mystical communion
a union 
across continents
and seas.
Time running out
still more phone calls from the runway
plane taxis,
plane leaving.

‘I’ll pray for him’
says the flight attendant
and though
I don’t believe in prayers
I’ll take them this time
bank them.
‘He’ll be there’
she says.

‘Take your seats’
and weep
and read
and sleep,
rise above the clouds,
cross datelines
time switching
and twitching 
turning in on itself

to resolve.


above the clouds
awake to the feathered edges
of a dream.
It is the time of his passing
not known then,
just an image
an eye
from the edge
of a photo
with that wrinkle
that twinkle
that wry
As I frame objects
in the dream
and he sneaks in to be seen,
magpies call and sing
from the pages on my tray table,
a chorus
a farewell
a gathering around.
My sentinel birds
singing their welcomes
and farewells…

Growth Plate Fracture

In the days straight after the federal election, I stood in a doctor's waiting room, with a sad, soon-to-be panicked child. As I looked around the reception area for notices regarding bulk billing eligibility and restrictions, I had the strange realisation that this small regional medical centre did not bulk bill. Not for kids or pensioners. It seemed, not for anyone.

The election had brought Medicare into sharp focus, and here we were, city dwellers, usually with a choice of medical services at our doorstep, at a small town GP, shelling out $80 for a consult. A consult which had been conducted by a nurse, in fact, with the GP doing only a brief pop into the procedure room. $80.

Money wasn't the main focus for me, luckily, but I was aware, in this post-election mess, that for many, such a trip to the doctor for a kid's school holiday injury could break the weekly budget. After the GP, there was the X-ray in a neighbouring town ($90), a return to the GP, and the instruction …

The Receipt

Reading Patti Smith. M Train. In a cafe. Wearing a suit jacket, jeans and a beanie. Channelling, in a semi-ironic way, the image of Patti from the cover. 

Dark light, panelling, window light. I choose the seat by the window, triangulated with glass and plaster, softened by cushions, soft feather, rough fabric behind me. Panelling, channeling, there’s poetry hiding in strange places and emotions to tunnel, tunnelling though the cracks. In armour, in walls, in defences of solitude, behind a hard back book.
Patti reads and roams, into the images, creating new paths, melding the imagined with the real imagined. The voices of departed friends, William Burroughs being the flea, drawing blood, mining for words and meaning. The image of her lost Fred, hovering in shadows, light beams, objects in daily crypts, inside the desk drawer, a guitar pick, an old photo.
I leave the cafe and make my way to the butcher shop, Gruner’s. The only person there this morning is old Mr Gruner, Peter. Give a littl…