From here, look to the horizon. Across long grassy plains, over several seas – you’ll find the boy of the desert. Crawling, writhing but brave. The boy digs for his living and finds solace looking at the moon while listening to the crackling fire. Finally, he falls asleep to the last lullabies of the old tree he cut down in the day.
A river of ice split his dreams in two: revolt and fear. It’s winter. Wake up hungry, over the edge feigning for food as the sun drains out from a horizon, and up through the beach horizon sky. Buttered bread or wholemeal toast on cereal plus water and tea. Pulls in the stomach, twisting abdominals: noisy within. Nice sounds from the sky, from the birds; Ambient drones from the road from the cars.

“Cars, Cars, yes cars,” he judo rolled out from the bush and ran straight out on the road. Meanwhile, a pig farmer was driving his diesel-guzzling truck down the nearby highway. This pig farmer looked remarkably like his cargo, a short wide head accessorised with aggressive flaring nostrils – the type of look that was very popular in the fifties during the summer Pork Craze of 57′. However his heydey was over, now he was a bitter lonely man whose singular joy was pummelling kangaroos at 80mph. His wishful thinking caused him not to see the boy of the desert; but a misshapen kangaroo – an easy target for this sad excuse of a killer. He pushed the pedal. The pigs squealed in terror and his eyes rolled back in pure ecstasy.

“Daddy, daddy, yes daddy”–rolled under the blood laden tires– were the final cries of a boy drought bred in the desert, flooded in unnatural death. A legacy not known nor cared but by the few who dug to eat and sleep. Ree! Ree! Oink! Blasting Thunderstruck by AC/DC, smoking through a half-finished deck of a true blue Ozzy classic blue collar working man’s cigarette, Longbeach Gold. Powering down the Princess down the way to Adelaide to drop of a fatter than usual load of hogs. The man was a fucking legend and knew it. All day and night, sniffing the goods up his nose and in young Sheila’s pants. What was missing in empty his life was a son to love.

He pulled on the brakes and the truck came to a sudden halt. Half a jaw bone dislodged from the radiator grille and skittered over the dirt. But he took no notice of it, he had a long lost son to find. For the first time in his sordid life, he pondered what to do, “Find that of a strumpet ex-wife. Destination, Melbourne. Route, Highway to Hell.” He hit next track and launched his foot at the accelerator, kicking right through the floor. The engine roared with fury as Angus Young gave it all for the chorus, but the record started to skip. It looped Young’s screeching crescendo and had an identical effect on the man’s mind which started skip like a record. He looped a period of two and half seconds endless of inhaling a cigarette and squinting his eyes. Without exhaling he finished the entire cigarette and still powered on up the Princess to Melbourne. His vision narrowing, eyes still squinted to a narrow slit, he thought that this was death. In futility, he reflected on life but his brain had stopped receiving oxygen two minutes ago and was running on Longbeach Gold fumes, thus he began to function through a series of one-word associations:

Get Son. Wife. Rage. Misanthropy. Betrayed. Disappointed. Cruel. Murderous. Manic. Depressed. Anxious. Woman. Eve. Snake. Betrayal. Brutus. Dagger. Nicaragua. Scar. Kings. Hamlet. Consciousness. Bible. Ethics. Karma. Justice. Injustice. Child. Innocent. Lamb. Shepherd. Jesus. Love. Lie. Murder. Drugs. Guilt. Nietzsche. Pathetic. Half-formed. Fetus. Abortion. Hard Truth. PC. Social Justice. Virus. Parasite. Eggs. Breakfast. Most Important. Love. No. No. Father. Ghost. Hamlet. Revenge. Death. Sleep. Dream. Imagination. Balance. Dagger. Cut. Mold. Creation. Perfection. Love. No. Yes. Only. Answer. Love. One. Answer. One. Zero. One. One. Zero… 0 1 0 0 1 1 0 1 0 1 1 – ad infinitum.

Solutions to celestial questions of life and faith came about and became unstuck when at the wheel in a binary trance, half asleep; half awake: half conscientious; half dreaming. Life like cigarettes, burned out at the bottom end leaving only a tar filled host that supports the whole self. Trucks run road trains out into the desert, temporarily migrating into the hot heart of nature like the smoke from cigarettes migrates in and out the dry desert lungs. Humans if winged and birdlike would soar low to the ground, an instinct natural to a ground-dwelling ape.
No ape hollered here, only a man, a man like Pip of the Pequod. His soul had travelled down that infinite highway while his finite body had been left in its spiritual dust. Travelling down miles of mazelike roads he came up a shining beacon of a road stop, a sign promised food and shelter. He turned off and a tuckshop appeared in front, a tuckshop like no other. Gold-leaf trimmed Roman pillars adorned the entrance, marble walls were engraved with countless myths of adventure, betrayal, and love – among them was a carved advertisement for a $5 deal for coffee and a pie. “This is a trucker’s heaven!” he exclaimed – and he wasn’t far from the truth. He parked his sins out front and let his ethereal being pass through the front door with a ding.

A man leant against a counter while he spun yarn and flirted with one of the waitresses.
“G’day, I’m Pete. We’ve been expecting you for a while now, how’s the road been treating you mate?”
The trucker’s eyes went soft and he wrung his hat in his hands, “To be honest pal, it’s been a long road.”
“No point having a sook, you can rest now.”
“Suppose so. Something smells good, what’s cooking?”
“Oh that’s the big guy in the back, he makes everything – have a gander.”

Pete swung open the kitchen door. Less of a kitchen and more of an engine room, he saw the back of a powerful man who sat down on a plush chair. All was silent and then from seemingly empty space he opened a window and the universe was cast out in front of him like dice. The workbench became a dashboard, the window was a windshield. The trucker felt months went by in mere moments watching countless worlds and stars rush past. The wipers swung back and forth as they passed through HVC 127-41-330 plasma nebula – which is terrible this time of year.
“What’s He doing?” whispered the trucker.
Pete shushed him and pointed to the floor of the workshop.
The trucker saw God’s foot upon the pedal of the universe, and spoke it; “Fuck mate how fast does this bad boy go?” A bright flash of something inconceivable reflected in the rear view mirror.

The man made no reply and simply pressed his foot down hard. The noise of the whip, the noise of the rattling of the wheel, galloping horses, and bounding chariots! Pete wasn’t fazed but the trucker felt the acceleration pulling him backwards. Pete chuckled, “Looks like your roads going to be a little longer mate.” The trucker slipped towards the exit and he managed to grip onto a Twenty-twenty Pie Heater but he couldn’t hold it for long – those fucking cheap Chinese-made things are hot. With a yelp, he fell from heaven and plunged back to earth in a fiery descent.
Drooling and spitting up green bile: vision after vision. A normal man’s life might be changed by an encounter with the mystical and magical, in fact, it might not need speculation to assume that a normal man’s life would change. Must change! Must change, be moved by, and raised by an encounter with extreme forces of corporeal and spiritual nature–to this supreme degree. Must change? O, but what normal nature was the monstrosity which drove and drove? O Fie! And an instant of otherworldliness for a beast! A celestial spirit had possessed the wrong creature. A sex induced, wanting, egoistic, jealous, lazy, malevolent and fat man: cigarette in mouth, sweaty, cum covered and on the road to Melbourne.


This story was written in collabration with Anorliorpoq Avani.

The Phoenix (iii)

That isn’t to say this warfare is slow. A man’s life can be snatched before you’ve wiped the fog from your goggles – as I am a living testament to. After I shot down my first plane, I took the opportunity to get some distance and see if I could find a friend. There! Close to the ground, a daredevil weaved and dodged anti-air guns with the ease of a swallow. I took my plane lower and kept up with him, his tail was painted in French colours and when he also recognised me as an ally he made some sort of a frantic gesture with his hands. I rubbed my goggles clear to get a better look at what he was trying to communicate. As I lifted my fingers from the goggles and it was as if I had erased the friend’s plane with the condensation. There was no trace of him but a blinding red flash that passed with such speed and proximity that I hardly recognised it as a plane. My ally was sent in a fiery descent down to the craggy hillside with the ease of Pharaoh dashing a newborn against the rocks. And I, as helpless as my friend, somehow survived by inaction and used a gentle breeze to float away as Moses did down the Nile.

A red flash again. It must have been a plane, the only other alternative is that long ago vanquished beast painted in red for its never-ending rage – still searching for St George who cleverly had his tomb dug deep underground, hidden from vengeful sky-borne eyes. Forgive the romantics, I am getting sentimental in my old age. It was a red plane, though it may as well have been a dragon, I was petrified. My subconscious seemed to have made the connection ahead of my conscious mind – a red hot prickling ran down my back, itchy hives crawled across my skin – I was being hunted by the Red Baron. He saw the Frenchmen as the more experienced pilot and had left me, the baby bird, till later. Somewhere in this sky that bright red knife of his was floating and hidden but could at any moment plunge down into my flesh

<- Part 4 of XX ->

The Phoenix (ii)

The land grows old under me. As we venture to the front, the pastures grow sickly yellow in sparse patches, bomb craters pocket her skin and trenches wrinkle deeper the closer we get. These wounds will heal eventually but the land will be impossible to farm to decades – Mother Earth forgives but she does not forget. The front itself is horrific, for a moment I think that I must have lost my way in a cloud and accidentally flown to another planet. An otherworldly land sat below in stagnation. Only disease thrived here amongst the mud, death, and screams. Disease of the mind also grew on the utter boredom for the soldiers down there in the dirt, who sat, and did nothing but bide time by wondering when the call for the great push would come. When would the officer raise that bugle and watch others die? That bugle may as well be Gabriel’s horn to those poor souls.

Up in the air wasn’t that much better. The sky had its own ruined tinge, the clouds were famished, too thin and transparent to hide behind. I managed to stay in formation though my hands fluttered about. There was a slight shudder through the formation, something unseen was watching us. We could see no enemy planes and then the wind changed, a bad omen. A flash of light exploded to my right and a plane went down. Our formation was in disarray, panicked lambs running about an abattoir. The smoking wreck of my ally lay on the ground below. Did he bail in time? No time to think at all, the huns were upon us. I wonder if they cared about their Kaiser anymore than I cared about the King. I wondered if it mattered all. It certainly didn’t matter what I thought of those questions, I simply fought and fought hard because it was a game and some unknown piece of my soul wanted to win.

The sky was filled with packets of hot metal that burst and flew in every direction. My luck was running low, soon I would be plucked from the sky like the mallard I killed, a winged angel would guide a whistling bullet into my skull, a gavel strike for karmic justice. I couldn’t keep this up, every time I had a hun in my sights I would hesitate and pull away. Outnumbered and overwhelmed, I had to kill. A plane pulled in front of me, the pilot unaware that I was behind. Just as his parents were unaware, and his uncles, his aunties, his cousins, his friends, that stranger he met on the streets of Berlin last winter – they sheltered in a cafe while a blizzard raged on outside, they talked by the fire for hours and she made him promise to come see her after the war. It was a promise that I would make him break. I held down the trigger and a stream of bullets sliced through the rudder, up the tail, and splattering blade out the cockpit. My bullets made of mince of the pilot, the boy, the man, the son, and now the absent lover. If you’re as cynical as me, you will be asking “How do you know this about him?” Of course, I am lying. I don’t know anything about the man other than the fact I killed him over Vauz sur Somme. But the point is he could have been all of these things and more — as safe an assumption as the strangers you walk past every day having the same number of problems and joys as you do. Safe to assume that at least one person loved him even if it was just his mother – even if he was the most detestable person on Earth, I took him from her.

All that was left of the plane and pilot went spiralling down into the mud of no man’s land, another monument to man’s ingenuity and its depraved ends. In my last glance of the plane, which I will forever hold sacred and terrible in my soul, I saw an unholy union between, strings of meat fused into the blood-splattered glass and splintered wood. Not even Da Vinci, when he sketched the first flying machines, could have pictured the violently absurd nature of modern warfare. I’m no genius and I certainly don’t live in a renaissance but I predict warfare will become faster and more brutal than it is even now. Battles will last seconds, wars will be won in minutes. Never again will your noble king beckon you once more into the breach, there will only be the furious incoherent roar of metal and engines – a cacophony of motorised screams; begging to fight, yearning to die.


<- Part 3 of XX ->

1984: Review of the play



Bringing a familiar story to a different medium while both building on and respecting story’s original meaning is a challenge for even the most talented creators among us. It is a challenge that Headlong Theatre faced in their production of 1984 – and it is a challenge that they triumphed over.
1984 is the story of Winston Smith and his quest for truth and love in the face of a ruling totalitarian government known as The Party.

The Party control the people through mass surveillance and altering the past, Winston is tasked with rewriting history by deleting and altering newspapers articles with scepticism. This scepticism leads him having an affair with Julia, risking his life for the sake of love.

The adaptation of Orwell’s dystopian novel boasts an all-Australia cast starring Tom Conroy (Winston) and Ursula Mills (Julia). The performances of Conroy and Mills were dynamic and intimate, a worthy representation of Winston and Julia’s rebellious relationship – a forbidden love that could only be trumped by Romeo and Juliet.

In the novel, Orwell expresses his fears of life under a totalitarian state primarily through the inner monologues of Winston, which leaves the concept of a stage version somewhat difficult to comprehend.
However, not only does 1984 feel appropriate for the stage, the production even excels in ways the book does not. Lights and sound play a significant role, which Natasha Chivers and Tim Reid have used to simulate life under the Party; a jarring, noisy, and abrasive world that is particularly dangerous for “thought criminals.”
Visual media was also utilised with a huge screen towering over the stage projecting live video of scenes that take place off-stage. This technique was interesting from a technical point of view but, unlike the other multimedia elements, it ultimately reduces the impact on the audience.

The actors are also not afraid to break the fourth wall in bringing the audience into the performance, treating them as if they are “Big Brother” himself, with Winston shouting to the crowd, “I know you’re there I can see you. Someone stand up, please help me!”
A sense of déjà vu is achieved in early scenes by secondary characters who repeat the same motions every morning, causing Winston to question his sanity while a news bulletin announces “the chocolate ration has been raised to twenty grammes” for the third morning in a row.

The story of Winston and Julia still has much to say about the threats our civilisation faces, whether it be what Orwell saw in a post-World War Two Britain or in the increasingly globalised world we live in today.
In recent years, the novel has been referenced relentlessly by journalists, media personalities and politicians in relation to surveillance and privacy concerns worldwide. If Orwell could glimpse into the modern world he would likely be concerned at many developments that have been labelled as progressive.
In 1984 the concept of “Newspeak” – that is a constructed language where words are removed by the state in order to hold ideological power – can easily be compared it to the language restrictions being been introduced in the US under the banner of protecting pronouns of the gender neutral.
A move which has caused political rifts between those who see the move as protecting the rights of the oppressed and others who argue it is an Orwellian compromise of freedom of speech.
The popularity of ‘Alt-right’ and ‘Antifa’ movements would also concern Orwell, who famously predicted that accusations of fascism become “almost entirely meaningless” through constant misuse.

His concern would also be on the movements for equality which are becoming too fanatical, too hateful, and even if they do achieve equality — through their means of bastardising freedom of speech — it will be at the cost of two plus two equalling five.
As much as the current state of the world seems dire, there must be some hope for us if intelligent, entertaining, and unyielding productions such as 1984 can still be seen without penalty or censorship.

The Phoenix

“Get up,” said the chief quietly. We all jumped out of our bunks with no man hesitating to stretch or yawn. I smiled to think of how the drill instructor used to shout and scream to get us out of bed. Now our movements were almost mechanical in their efficiency: shirts, pants, and boots flew on with a flurry of movements trained over hundreds of early morning just like this one, though this early morning was special.

“We’re fighting for King and Country today lads, I’ll see you out on the strip.”
My arms and legs operated all the necessary movements by themselves, preparing for my first combat flight. My body’s preparation was automatic, the real fight was preparing my spirit for combat.  I mulled over the idea of king and country while I strapped on my leather helmet.

All I know of the King is his profile printed in the six-pence in my pocket, a noble profile but I’ve seen nobler in strangers walking London’s streets. All I know of Country are lines on a map and I have no pride in my lines compared to a foreigner’s lines. I’m sure there must be much more to it than that – what of our culture and tradition you cry out – well, to be honest, all I see when I look at a foreigner is two eyes, a nose, and a mouth. In simpler words; an ordinary man. That’s not to say all foreigners are ordinary, extraordinary people are rare no matter the country.

By coincidence, it happens that the most extraordinary gentlemen I have met happened to be foreign. The story of how I came face to face with him is equally extraordinary.

Sirens blared. We ran to our planes. The sun was creeping up at our backs, we felt exposed by its blood orange gaze and scurried into our cockpits. My ground crew were flustered and struggled with the propeller. I smiled at the young crewman who wore a tight grimace over his boyish face, I don’t know why he was upset – I would be the one flying over France, it would be me filled with bullets, charred in flames, ripped asunder in a crash. Only God knows why I was smiling.

The emotional whirlwind turned suddenly, the engine roared and I felt a deep dread building in me. I drove the plane to the main airstrip and prepared to take off. The pressure built and built as the plane gained speed. The familiar pull as I sunk into the seat, it felt like an uncomfortable throne, and I, like a common-born usurper would find either glory or death. The front wheels drifted off the ground and the back and I was free. My nerves levelled out as the ground became more distant as we escaped the chilly morning mist growing off the frosted pastures below. We passed above the clouds before the sun’s lingering kiss had left the horizon’s dew-dripped lips. It was a joy that wouldn’t last, I had yet another terrible mission, another burden to be chained to my tired soul.

You are a little soul carrying about a corpse, as Epictetus used to say. Then here we are, six corpses flying into battle, what does it matter then if I am shot down over a French forest, I am dead already. How do the dead feel joy as I do now? Perhaps it is a shared joy, the shadow of a joy cast by migratory birds who also sail above these pink trimmed clouds. Cotton candy. The country fair. Shooting tin planes for a prize. My dad lifting me up onto his shoulders. Strange vivid particulars come to me, moments of joy – which like all moments of joy have given way to pain. And the pain has given way to nothingness. And the nothingness gives way to joy again – and here we are still above the cotton candy clouds. Here I am still asking, screaming, begging for an answer:
“What does it matter if I am shot down?”

<- Part 2 of XX ->

The Mallard

I’ve never seen the world like this before. My father and I are sitting in a ditch by a marsh, it is just before dawn with only a sliver of light creeping up behind us, reflecting softly off the lake. The creatures shuffled and went about their business but in a manner I have not witnessed before.

Of course, I’ve seen animals and critters in the wood across from the paddock. Due to growing up on a farm, animals have been reduced to just part of the scenery, completely ordinary. But this morning I must have been feeling a wonderment that I witness in other children not used to see the grace of a horse’s stride or the quiet peace of a lazy eyed cow, chewing grass in the shade of an elm.

This morning we aren’t looking upon work animals but the wild untamed creatures. And I say I have never seen the world like this because in this moment I feel I am entirely absent from it. What a simple fact I’ve ignored all my life; whenever I have seen an animal they have always seen me. Now here I sit, where we have hidden for a few hours. The scene is free of any of that excited tension that homo sapiens bring to every plain, mountain, lake, or sea. Perhaps we don’t notice it because it’s constantly around us, the fear in every blade of grass we tread on, the horror in every patch of dirt we pry open and rape for its metals that we use for our machines of industry and war.

I would have felt at peace away from all that, here in the gentle marshes, if not for our terrible quest. I secretly hoped our prize, that yet lay hidden within the labyrinth of reed beds, still slept and would decide to sleep in today.

We watched the frogs hop out of the long grass for a morning swim, and the graceful waking swans who in lifting theirs head to the rising sun resemble white lilies. I could not focus on the beauty, for I was distracted by the ugly mission I would have to carry out.

My mission is the hunt, I already know its sequence of actions. My hands flutter – but as soon as my father places the rifle in my hands they are stone. Stone my hands may be – and if that is the truth then I must be a golem for they moved automatically as if enchanted. Muscle memory and practice operated themselves on my arms. I load it, cock it, aim, and wait for the duck call. My father holds the horn to his lips. Hoped not to see that brown dull looking bird, the dullness of its feathers only added to its innocence – it wanted no attention and meant no harm, yet here I was in its home murderous instrument in hand.

Oh God, give me a way out. In excitement, I thought a tremendous sound that blasted in my ear out was Gabriel’s horn and not my fathers. “My day of judgement is not this one,” I barely had time think before a flurry of wings took off from the reeds. I spotted my quarry, slower than the rest, its struggling wings seemed to claw at the wind rather than sail upon it. I followed it with my sight and pulled the trigger. The Recoil. The Release. Final Relief.

If for just an instance, the shot seemed to wound the blue yonder herself, sprouting a burst of bleeding poppies in the sky. The mallard flapped its wings a few times in defiance of Death before falling as a mess of feathers like Icarus. But the hubris belonged to me, I tried to feel bad – what right had I to snatch its life? My father put a hand on my shoulder and the look in his eyes seemed to say that he understood. In honesty, I enjoyed the experience. I loved it despite myself.

Looking back at that spectre of a childhood memory it seems that the apparent twists and turns my life have in reality been a straight A to B journey. Reaching now into young adulthood my mission is still the hunt, but my new quarry is far more cunning than the mallard, though both share wings. This hunt is more sporting for the bird shoots back – though what is far more unsettling is that what I hunt loves to kill just as I do.

I must rest, piecing together mangled memories has been tiring. As the captain says, a good rest should be a RAF pilot’s top priority, especially on the eve of his first combat flight. Goodnight.

Part 1 of XX ->