I will tell you now what I didn’t have the courage to say then: I was awake the whole time when you pressed my glassy palms against the soil, let loose a wild animal inside my mouth I’ve always had the teeth to bite back but didn’t, how it dug its nails, savored the sweet nicotine infestation on my purpling gums as it crawled down with the intent of slitting my throat from inside. I know to cough something out when it is unwelcome; fervent, aching—even the newest of bodies learn this out of instinct: Bitter gourd. Asbestos. A lock of a lover’s hair. I take the shape of a hairless spider to ward off anything that will devour me and call it mercy, which is to say, I have arrived—here, with a gratitude for all things that have not succeeded in killing me long ago, when I exiled my lungs to the depths of the ocean, it found in the chasms and interstices the secret to my survival. Somewhere, a lost city plunged underwater throbs harder than it did alive which my father calls cowardice, even with his body fit more for flutter than for flight, and so I learned to surrender with cupped hands, like feeding water to a parched mouth, my long-held secret; a kind of weaponized submission (or omission?) that’s kept me alive. In the factory of alleged virtues, I learned to swim without my lungs. Surrender, it persuades. Learned to fight not out of need but out of will. This is the only way, I am told, where bent-backed roses bloom thorn-less in a garden full of sin, I linger a coward still, forgoing even things not mine to surrender.
- 96: NO THEME IXSUBMIT NOW with M Gill and J Thayil 95: EARTHCOMING SOON with M Takolaner 94: BAYTwith Z Hashem Beck 93: PEACHwith L Van, G Mouratidis, L Toong 92: NO THEME VIIIwith C Gaskin 91: MONSTERwith N Curnow 90: AFRO AUSTRALIANwith 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