October 2023. After seeing an Australian Museum exhibition of the Scott Sisters' nineteenth century paintings and descriptions of moths, I wrote this piece, out now with EcoTheo magazine. You can read the piece here, or order a copy of the magazine here.
"In their wattle-and-daub living room, father and daughters glance across the candle-lit room at each other; the nib of Walker’s fountain pen disturbs the silence as Hattie washes out her brush in a jar of water, then continues painting the green-winged male moth, with its transverse streak; the flame-red females with jagged patches on each forewing. She shows the moths as adults, ready to lay their eggs, to continue the never-ending cycle over again, as though – seemingly – these transformations, these small insects flying about Ash Island, have no other purpose than the astonishment they might bring to a pair of teenage sisters."
October 2023. I've always been fascinated by Fastball's song The Way. It's based on the story of an old couple, Lela and Raymond Howard, who were found dead in their car soon after setting off for a drive on 28 June 1997. The god of bike bells is a (a personal) riff on this story. It was published by Apricity Magazine (University of Texas at Austin).
"Bill knew Chris had Stage Two liver cancer, and that never ended well (he’d had an uncle who’d lasted three weeks post diagnosis). So when the call came, when Bill heard the Grandison’s car had been found at the base of Mount Berryman, he’d said to Gennie (waiting for her coffee at The Proprietor), ‘Accident, my arse.’ She’d said, ‘What do you mean?’ He’d told her about Chris, and his cancer, and Gabby, everyone knew Gabby, her scones, her old hands, her big eyes, her Parkinson’s."
August 2023. After a visit to Sweden, I wrote this essay about what (I think) makes good education, and why Australia is getting it all wrong.
"The thing, so often in Australia, we start with, aged four or five, and abandon a decade or so later. Or if not abandon, structure out of existence, purge of flavour and risk and curiosity through a combination of over-regulation, vested interests, all the time, forgetting the wonder, the magic of coming to know what it is to be a human on Earth."
April 2023. I wrote a short story about photography, memory, and death. Our Chemical Art appears in Volume 6 of Spare Parts Lit.
"Just remember, Thomas, if not you, then who? Twenty years work and my boys arent interested, Bessie’ll sell the whole lot, the cameras, the paper and chemicals, the cart and Mavis (as you know, just point her in the right direction) to the highest bidder. So its just you. And now youre saying well, he chose, he did it, what do I owe him, and youre right, you owe me nothing, except perhaps the memory, the times we spent photographing those mountains, those fat families and their harmoniums and dead children and the ocean and square-riggers and when you said, Mr Trent, Mr Trent, look at that! don’t we have a spare plate?"
February 2023.The Budgerigar is about a boy who sells J.D. Salinger tours in his hometown of Cornish, New Hampshire. "As he looks up, sees a tall man, a long, box-shaped face, like his head had once been full of groceries but now is just a head. And a nose like a boxer’s nose, like it’s been hit once too often. He watches this man coming towards him, and he watches how he’s staring at him, interested in something. He seems familiar. Why does he seem familiar?"
January 2023. The Dogs is a story about truth, plagiarism, the value of words. It follows the last days of Walt Whitman, and an awkward conversation with a friend. "A pneumatic drill started out on the street, coming up through the foundations, the walls, the floor, their feet, and the old man said, 'If I could write another poem, I would. But everything is working against me, us, all of us … the idea that we’ve got something worth saying.'"
"Four boys dead, but only two fell through the ice, and the others went to save them. Like, in numbers, things would be better, everyone could be saved, this aspic, this silver nitrate moment that always had and would be, leaning on the everlasting arms that were flung open in 1956, billions of litres pouring into the valley, as the boys reached for the surface, the sun, the voices above them."