The towering blaze of a bonfire, thick as hair, wind-driven,
flared and shone on the bruised Agame coins. The wind,
the coins, the smoky fume woke the messenger
as he drank wine and juggled twelve coins with ten fingers.
He slid his drunken feet, head light as water, he shifted
sand into the winged carpets of Khourri mystics.
And as he fingered the engraved chimera struck
by the Agame minter who’d knurled and hammered under
the lost pillars of Iram, his glass-coloured eyes magnified.
A rumour turned into a secret held between his lips, carried
on his hips, hidden in shoes had crossed worlds of oceans
and deserts. A message was a livelihood worth bread,
manna gum or a dagger, even a coat and a belt.
But a dozen Agame coins brought the Gods to his side.
New wealth had lengthened his neck, swanning him
to the point of oblivion, his heart roasted in the sweet tannin
of brewed grapes, and the rose coloured blood on his tongue
craved more. He tapped the winged-god on his lapel.
At the grey feet of the Sultan he knelt obediently. Her name
spilling from his lips when his forehead kissed soil.
He unsealed the message titled wrath: the wrath of the Lady
is unrivalled by any of the higher-gods; the seers warn
the angels, the gods warn the jinn that caves are turning
into tombs. The Sultan paid in full. A gut full. The messenger
emptied his pockets while wine and smoke cloistered
his breath. On his coin-freckled palms, he saw:
a herd of camels, topaz amulets, the blue dusk fragrance
of Yathroub, marriage to his Bedouin cousin, a stallion
with the speed of an eagle flying him to the oasis of Bakkah
where merchants from Damasq and Sanhara traded
their frankincense and silk with combs of rare ebony teeth.
- 102: GAMESUBMIT with J Maxwell and R Green 101: NO THEME 10COMING SOON with J Kinsella and J Leanne 100: BROWNFACE with W S Dunn 99: SINGAPOREwith J Ip and A Pang 97 & 98: PROPAGANDAwith M Breeze and S Groth 96: NO THEME IXwith M Gill and J Thayil 95: EARTHwith M Takolander 94: BAYTwith Z Hashem Beck 93: PEACHwith L Van, G Mouratidis, L Toong 92: NO THEME VIIIwith C Gaskin 91: MONSTERwith N Curnow 90: AFRICAN DIASPORAwith S Umar 89: DOMESTICwith N Harkin 88: TRANSQUEERwith S Barnes and Q Eades 87: DIFFICULTwith O Schwartz & H Isemonger 86: NO THEME VIIwith L Gorton 85: PHILIPPINESwith Mookie L and S Lua 84: SUBURBIAwith L Brown and N O'Reilly 83: MATHEMATICSwith F Hile 82: LANDwith J Stuart and J Gibian 81: NEW CARIBBEANwith V Lucien 80: NO THEME VIwith J Beveridge 57.1: EKPHRASTICwith C Atherton and P Hetherington 57: CONFESSIONwith K Glastonbury 56: EXPLODE with D Disney 55.1: DALIT / INDIGENOUSwith M Chakraborty and K MacCarter 55: FUTURE MACHINES with Bella Li 54: NO THEME V with F Wright and O Sakr 53.0: THE END with P Brown 52.0: TOIL with C Jenkins 51.1: UMAMI with L Davies and Lifted Brow 51.0: TRANSTASMAN with B Cassidy 50.0: NO THEME IV with J Tranter 49.1: A BRITISH / IRISH with M Hall and S Seita 49.0: OBSOLETE with T Ryan 48.1: CANADA with K MacCarter and S Rhodes 48.0: CONSTRAINT with C Wakeling 47.0: COLLABORATION with L Armand and H Lambert 46.1: MELBOURNE with M Farrell 46.0: NO THEME III with F Plunkett 45.0: SILENCE with J Owen 44.0: GONDWANALAND with D Motion 43.1: PUMPKIN with K MacCarter 43.0: MASQUE with A Vickery 42.0: NO THEME II with G Ryan 41.1: RATBAGGERY with D Hose 41.0: TRANSPACIFIC with J Rowe and M Nardone 40.1: INDONESIA with K MacCarter 40.0: INTERLOCUTOR with L Hart 39.1: GIBBERBIRD with S Gory 39.0: JACKPOT! with S Wagan Watson 38.0: SYDNEY with A Lorange 37.1: NEBRASKA with S Whalen 37.0: NO THEME! with A Wearne 36.0: ELECTRONICA with J Jones