my first blog award: the versatile blogger

It’s always a joy to be nominated for any award, but I was particularly chuffed to receive a nomination for my blog. Considering I only created ‘bruises you can touch’ about a week ago, I’m especially thrilled and have found my groove for 2012.

Nominated by Cauldrons and Cupcakes – a most comforting blog that celebrates all things I love – treasured recipes, spiritual guidance, meditations, musings on life, kindness, self love and food for your soul. Please visit Cauldrons and Cupcakes – wrap yourself in its blanket of words and wisdom. Massive fuck yeahs yay!

The Rules for the Versatile Blogger Award are:

1. Thank the award-giver and link back to them in your post.
2. Share 7 things about yourself.
3. Pass this award along to 10 recently discovered blogs you enjoy reading.
4. Contact your chosen bloggers to let them know about the award.

Seven things about me:

1. I believe that Batman, or some other superhero lives in the Gotham City building in Brisbane. I am absolutely certain about this. Watching his tower from where I live, it comes alive at night while he fights crime in the city. Having said that, I also believe that the moon is a living, breathing being. For one reason or another, I am always searching for the moon.

2. Nothing pleases me more than a bouquet of freshly sharpened Lyra pencils.

3. I love to dance – anywhere, anytime with anyone. I could blame my mother for accidentally taking me to see ‘Flashdance’ when I was six, but I’ve always loved to move. I think movement feeds the soul and even when I was too sick to dance before my transplant, I’d ‘sit dance’. My friends would form a harem-like circle around me and while I grooved in my chair, they’d gather around me, blow me kisses and give me lappys dance for me when I couldn’t.

4. Despite my health trials and my life being characterised by death, I feel like the luckiest girl in the world. I have wonderful friends who have been and will be with me from womb to tomb, inspiring and hilarious parents who have been next to me on the myriad of journeys I’ve travelled and a sister who, if there is a crisis, will drop everything and be there with me and for me. I love my four nephews to smithereens – Tim-Tam, Mooie, Danno and young Samson.

5. I believe in angels and fairies. Yes, I do.

6. For me, music is life. Without it, I can’t function, but I also thrive in silence. I have a soundtrack playing in my head whether there’s music playing or not – it’s just always there.

7. I could easily work with the dead. Being a mortician would be fascinating, but I want to help the dying. I saw my first dead body when I was eleven. It was a friend I had helped nurse when she was dying of the same dis-ease I have. Death and dying is all very normal to me and not a lot can shock me. I believe it’s just as important to die a good death as it is to live a good life.

Recently discovered blogs:

(in no particular order – just following my passions)

1. Cauldrons and Cupcakes – A food, soul and wisdom blog by Nicole Cody. Words and wisdom from the heart.

2. Zenquill – A beautiful writing and illustration blog by Lynn Priestley. Lynn literally helps heal broken hearts in her work as a cardiac nurse.

3. Cody Phillips – Up and coming blokey blog. Think Aussie Clive Cussler.

4. Christine Bongers – Fiercely funny writer who’s Y.A fiction makes me ache and laugh.

5. Word Search – I aspire to write like Adair Jones. Her blog has a steady flow of book reviews, personal essays, brilliant short stories and essays rich with the history of etymology. Everything Adair turns her hand to is superb.

6. Furious Vaginas – Brisbane’s Krissy Kneen began her erotica blog in 2008 and the next year she published her sexual memoir ‘Affection’. Nothing is off limits here and her writing is breathtaking and often soul shattering in it’s nature. Furious Vaginas has also been banned in China – no mean feat.

7. Trent Jamieson – Another Brisbane writer, this time of speculative fiction, Trent Jamieson’s knack for darkness and hilarity often have me thinking he’s Australia’s answer to China Mieville. Warm and evocative and a true sweetheart of a man.

8. Hexebart’s Well – Official blog of Kim Wilkins/Kimberly Freeman, Kim is the hardest working writer I know. She’s a fine teacher of the craft of writing so if you get the chance to ever learn from her, do it!

9. Girl on Raw – Robyn Law’s raw food blog is inspiring reading, cooking and eating. Ever wanted to bake a raw chocolate cake? Well, now you can!

10. Black Rider Press – They publish like thieves in the night! Kick arse words from brave writers (including yours truly). Real fuckin’ cool cats 🙂

 

‘how I am feeling’ haiku

I wish that you would

just fuck off with your fuck up

of an ego. Fuck.

*

you self-indulgent

wanker, go drown yourself in

your trite fuckery.

*

leaving you behind,

I sweep up Ganesha love –

where I need to be.

*

choking on the oil –

a slick of love; puffs of sound

pull me back from fear.

*

fat green frog – wide load

retreats into a thicket

of late night silence.

brand new day, brand new year

‘seventeen has turned thirty-five; I’m surprised that we’re still living’

‘Cherry Bomb’ by John Mellencamp

I have fond memories of sharing earphones with my friend Amanda, listening to ‘Cherry Bomb’ in hospital when the lights were out. I never thought this song would have such literal meaning for me. Thirty five. I find it hard to believe that I’m here and most of my friends are not. In 2011, the number of friends I have lost to Cystic Fibrosis rose to 62. Some were the greatest loves of my life and Amanda was one.

I spent the day yesterday in a beautiful space, both physically and spiritually. A dear friend invited me to her farm in northern New South Wales and last night we feasted, laughed, drank lots of tea, demolished a cake and a tiramisu drenched in so much alcohol that I would have been over the legal limit; we waved sparklers among the fairy lights we strung up in the afternoon, popped party poppers and spent quality patting time with the two pups. Here’s what I woke to this morning. May 2012 be kind to you 🙂

first day at possum creek

Loose udders and mucus plugs

signals new life on the grass and clods of dirt.

Lilies dance on water the way flies hover over fresh meat.

A heifer drops its snout into the trough to drink –

not greedily, but more delicately,

sucking on the water in a docile way – surprising for a beast.

Pebbles, clumps of wild grass and cow shit

pattern a track to the paddock where a sabre calf

feasts on the edge of the grid;

lifts its head, turns towards its tail, then stares at me.

Unsteady of his feet, he runs to his mother

whose cries echo through the valley –

carrying that sound like some heavy burden.

From the verandah, I hear the shaking of wooden spoons in pots.

It’s time for breakfast – sweet, sticky black rice.

sacred places

In May 1999, I lost one of my dearest friends to Cystic Fibrosis. Her name was Meagan Walker and I thought I’d best provide some back story for you, so here’s a post from my memoir about beautiful Meags I wrote back in 2009.

the brave one

A decade seems a long time, doesn’t it? Try telling a family who have lost their child such a thing.

Today is all about Meagan Walker.

This day ten years ago one of the most beautiful people to grace the earth lost her fight with Cystic Fibrosis. There are only a couple of people I can say are truly perfect and beautiful. Meagan is one, while another is a friend who also died from C.F in 1988. In fact, Meagan and Ineka share many of the same traits – both tiny in stature, but giants of courage, beauty and spirit. They are the brave ones.

Meag’s died about ten months after my transplant. The guilt was tremendous, simply because I had survived and she had not. Meagan grew up on the land in Barcaldine and we had both always wanted to spend some time out there together. I had heard of this ‘Barcy’ place, but it was only after Meag’s death that I was able to get out to Cumberland – the cattle station where she had been raised with her two sisters. Like many people from the city, I had never been to the outback and while I wasn’t – and never have been – hit with culture shock, everything changes when you leave the city. The silence really is deafening, as hackneyed as that sounds and I soon discovered (and have to remind myself every time I head out to Barcy), that it takes a week to settle into the moods and layers of the land.

Meagan’s family welcomed me into their home and into their lives. I was introduced to the terrain and so began my love affair with the outback. I rode a horse for the first time and rode on horseback for the annual Meagan Walker Mini-Marathon which Meagan’s Aunt Midge created to both raise money for C.F and to celebrate her life. I sure as hell wasn’t going to walk for eleven kilometres and despite being unable to move the next day because I was on a horse for two hours and only for the second time, every trot and every stinking turd Sally the horse dumped on the road to Longway (Aunt Midge’s place), was all worth it.

I galloped through the gates of Longway like I was chasing down the dawn, knowing Meag’s was looking after me as my tits nearly popped out of my singlet. I can imagine her giggling with her hand over her mouth saying, ‘oh my god, Carly!’ which is exactly what her Mum said. I’m not sure whether it was the threat of flying breasts or that it looked liked I had a death wish. I was flying, and not just because I hammered my feet into Sally’s flanks. I felt I was setting my grief free with every single beat of a hoof that stomped the rust coloured dirt. I sent my regret over choosing to not see Meagan the day before she passed away, out into the void where it belonged. I was no longer tied to it, yet I felt closer to Meagan.

When I am at Meagan’s resting place which is where she grew up, I go on a writing bender. I’ve written some of my best work out there. For the final unit in my undergraduate degree, I was the only (idiotic) person who decided to write five thousand words of poetry. So I did. The poetry peeled away the layers of grief and cleansed me of the stink of the city. The poems covered all manner of terrain – pastoral themes; loss, hope, gardening, roo shooting, regret, trees, children, grief, string bikini’s and Fleetwood Mac. Some of these poems have been published, as well as some of the non-fiction (which I will endeavour to post) I have written over the years while ‘stationed’ at Cumberland. Today has been hard to swallow. It is all hard to swallow. Meagan will never be far from me – mind, body or spirit. How I loved her.

some writing from 2001—

Bulls with clotted horns and loose balls fossick around the fence with faces like forked cheese. I’m swimming, watching them from the water. They don’t know I am there until I paddle to the rim of the water, sink under and push with my legs from the wall of the pool. I lean into a curve; arms out and feet pointed, slicing through the water. When my body slows, I jump up and they stop eating grass and snorting dirt; dropping their heads so their forked cheese faces won’t be scratched by the overhang of trees. You don’t get that in the city. You can’t get that in the city.

*

When I went out to Barcaldine for the first time, waves of words crashed into me, and the next time and the next time I visited Cumberland, the same thing happened. ‘The Garden’ is about her dad Jay, who dedicated his days to a garden that he created for his daughter.

The Garden

Stops his ears,
taps his eyes
slanting into a mulch of memories
to space a burrow where the orchid will fatten.

Marigolds work well with hay.
Bougainvillea’s burst holes through plastic pots,
prodding out of the earth, up to the terrain –
biting their nails, crowning their thorns.

Picks at the stones that pull the roots,
ploughing his senses like a father would.
One daughter short with the pair of size five boots
sitting by the helmet she wore on the horses;
jodhpurs and sticky reins,
trotting around barbs, cantering around the source.

She’s gushing from her chest, barreled with blood.
He sees her teeth – stained red looking like humans do
when we bleed from our mouths or after too much red wine.

Thoughts of her hold him to ransom
so he squats in the garden with no moments to give away.
Picking at the pitiful soil,
crumbs of humble pie,
the sheep that has no mother
strides by him for good measure.

Dusk now, and he stops picking at stones.
Flicks the lighter, the cigarette offering hope among
the darkness of a western sundown where he
dismisses the loneliness and balks at a sitting crow.


transplant: a little detour from life

‘thrown’

 

When you’re thrown back into life,

you’re thrown from a moving train.

That first thump and roll; the aches and bruises that follow

untether you from your carriage.

 

Going from an empty husk of a woman – all lily-white like a hollowed out cockleshell –

empty but for the roar when you nurse it against your ear –

that was me.

My tender armour covered a pod of barely working organs

where there was a flicker of movement in the rattle of wet lungs and a clogged throat.

*

I would see things from my bed because I couldn’t walk anymore –

muscles melted into pockets of goo.

I’d bend my head to see the leaning moon,

so still on its haunches – lazy, laconic and deathly still.

 

I had always shunned the sun and walked to the moon.

 
Silently I would call it; aching for it to speak with me or move just a little,

 

but there it sat like a mute friend – giving me the answers I needed –

a silent partner to ricochet off my rattling chest and bag of bones

where I’d reach into sapphire skies and pray for Bedouin.

 

tied up on the wrong end of the dream, dripping time like Dali’s clock

 

My chest cut open and sewn back together like a clam – a cautious cut.

Hurled back into life – that rattle now silenced and replaced

by the pulse of machines breathing for still bleeding lungs,

taken from another who was now dead,

and lowered into me like the hull of a virgin ship into water.

A rekindling; the universe wanted to keep me.

 

In the daytime, I would wake up

with eyes like a hunted here,

knowing I was alive because I could feel

that hose in my mouth and its slink down my throat.

But more, I felt the fire beginning to burn on my chest.

I’m at the coal face of my body,

wondering how I came to be here – alive and hurting –

all dry lipped surrender.

 

Mad as a circus cat,

it was an exercise in patience until the next time I woke up –

snapping and grabbing at the tube

until a milk filled syringe was emptied into my neck and I knew the fight was over.

 

When the tube was pulled, my cough was a projectile.

A triumvirate of doctors, gathered in the corner like vultures,

laughing about some dialectical shit.

My first words – ‘get the fuck out of here!’

I was crying and trying to shout with my wretched vocal cords.

They moved to the desk and I shouted ‘you disrespectful cunts!’

I never saw those doctors again and that was probably best – for them.

 

This was the first time I’d been thrown.

Thrown onto an operating table, flung into recovery,

sucked back into the furnace of theatre and ferried out again.

Funnelled into a solitary pod, the hose wrenched from my raw throat

and then I – throwing doctors out on their asses.

 

I was back.

 

bruises you can touch, tears you can taste

I have always written poetry, but in the last few months it has become my prime focus for a couple of reasons. Back in November, I was asked to do a reading as part of ‘Spoken’ – a monthly event at the State Library of Queensland. I threw myself at the opportunity to read with three other mega talented poets – Alicia Bennett, Sarah Langston and Brendan Lindsay. Esteemed company indeed.

Around the same time, I applied for a position through Australian Poetry through their Cafe Poet program and my application was a success *cue mass excitement and hysteria* From January, I’ll be poet in residence at Blackstar Coffee for six glorious months. I have a tonne of ideas with how I’m going to share poetry (both mine and others) and engage with my community. So, if you’re around West End, please drop in and we can talk about all things poetic and solve the problems of the world while drinking the best coffee in Brisbane.

Here’s the link from the night of poetry that was the first ‘Spoken’ event – http://slqcafepoet.wordpress.com/2011/11/22/spoken-goes-off-wi/

And here is a snippet of what I wrote on the first day of December while throwing back a luscious long macchiato at Blackstar. I hope you have a blast with me on this journey for the next six months and beyond.

drifting customers

Swag on his back

in that camo print no one wears much anymore.

I had shorts – blue and green – when I was a bag of bones.

They were long and I’d roll them down at the waist

so it looked like I still had hips.

Ropes fall down his spine and brush his rucksack

like the over hanging branches of the poinsettia across the road.

A big juice bottle hangs from some part of him –

it flops around as though wanting to be unclipped from its anchor.

Cigarette mouth,

flint in his hand –

a warm reminder for him –

probably hungry as a lamb.

*

Skater boy – ink on his arm, cap on his head with

sweet, long tendrils poking out like pampas grass.

He’s in a hurry – the wheels on his deck scrape the bitumen

as though trying to scar the warp and weft of the road.

Thomas Street is:

respite care

halfway houses with lingering men

a concrete square of a locksmith

a coffee house and it’s orange snooker ball on my table.

*

Unwelcome smoke snakes through the slipway and into my hair.

I chew on the fetid taste, wishing I could spit it out

onto the footpath like tobacco.

People suck in poison, then release.

It is an ugly habit and a waste of air that burns my lungs,

like I’ve been stuck in a motel room for three days with Hank

who I would’ve held the line for and breathed in every mouthful of.

If he’d slapped my wet thighs, I’d clutch at him as if

heaven were descending on hell –

my flesh burning his tongue.

*

I don’t feel so lost since I tied a string around my wrist this morning,

anchoring it with a double knot, my mouth pulling on one end.

As I sat on my bed having trouble with my coordination,

M sat next to me.

‘Here, let me do it,’ she said in her gentle way

and before I could pull the knot in my mouth again, it was on.

Peace washed over me, knowing she was there to help.

But now I sit at the back of the cafe, eyes all blurred,

nose aching and wanting to cry.