When there’s nothing left to burn,
you have to set yourself on fire
—Stars, Your Ex Lover Is Dead
The one thing you’ll regret is not
setting the world on fire yourself.
Here we are, young and attractive,
poetic, even, with steam curling
from the tips of our fingers, searing
scorch marks on asphalt roads, fire
smoldering at the tips of our tongues.
If we wanted to
we could speak flame,
set whichever body ablaze with our lips,
raze this city down with our touch,
melt another skyscraper in the CBD,
another gas station, another plastic factory.
The bones of this city are kindling
we need only breathe
Piles of dead bodies, the gas tanks of cars,
oil sheens slick on water trickling through
gutters, money wads in casinos. This swamp
of concrete begs for a spark. Everything
is tinder. Watch: this house
of matches ignites when I
You do not.
30 years from now, your skin
mummified against your bones,
nothing but the buttresses
of your vertebrae remaining
as your throat, your last phalanx
desiccating at the end of your wrist,
you will sit against
what was once a tower of glass,
when all the forests are cities
and all the oceans are cities
and all the cities are desert and ash.
You will try to speak then
but the wind will grind into your bones
and your wrist bones will shatter
into rubble beneath your tailbone.
It won’t even rain. No vultures.
No mushrooms blooming in soft earth.
There will only be melted glass and twisted
- 99: BROWNFACESUBMIT NOW with W S Dunn 98: SINGAPORECOMING SOON with A Pang and J Ip 97: PROPAGANDACOMING SOON with 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