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Jesus wept, the saying goes, and there he was, on his crucifix, laid out on the unceremonious bench, cast rigid into a plaster block, laid to waste on the Swanston Street spine. 

The heat is searing, baking, under the transparent shell of the tram stop awning.  

Six minutes til my tram. I don't want to sit on the bench with Jesus. I observe the form with suspicion. But I dare to touch the crucifix, lift its weight, to test it, from the metal slats. Only just, do I dare.

INRI at the top of the cross: Iesus Nazarenus, Rex Iudaeorum: “Jesus the Nazarene, King of the Jews" (John 19:19) etched above the figure, carved into the wood of the cross, or in this case, dug out of metal.

But these two? These two travellers snarling at the edge of the stingy shade? They are their own little kingdom, with rules and overseers. His body, coiled, the stringy neck of an unwell bird, head shaved. On her lower leg, a square within a square, locked away, inked into her ankle, just above the bone. They…

Groyne Riders

‘Before Bells, there was Brighton’ wrote Michael Gordon in his book Bells. The Beach, The Surfers, the Contest. His story of Bells started with a tale of a break that no longer exists, between the Brighton Baths and the pier, where the grommets surfed in rude south westerlies. ‘There were a couple of peaks that broke more or less in the same spot and they were surfed with enthusiasm by a bunch of grommets, some of whom called themselves Storm Riders.’ These young surfers were the blokes who went on to make surf history in Torquay, after chasing waves ‘down the Mornington Peninsula to Phillip Island or along the Great Ocean Road, depending on the weather forecast.’

Bayside Melbourne seems an unlikely place to feature in the history of Australia’s iconic world surf league contest at Bells: the beaches along this suburban coastal strip are not known for their surf. But last weekend, it was Elwood’s chance to turn it on, with a decent southerly wind of fifty km/h which pushed the swell int…

Milk Thieves

It’s summer now, but in my memories it seems like winter. Cold glass bottles stand like sentinels on the gravel, and my milky memories smear across the years, back to the thought of fresh milk, delivered in bottles with foil tops. In this scene, I am watching through the leadlight window of my gabled-roof room. The slap of hoof on road floats up to my bedroom eyrie, as the milk cart delivers its morning load.

The bottles of milk would be set down on the edge of our driveway as the first light of morning was arriving. At times, the milk was a little warm when we brought it in, the icy coldness having melted down to cool. The cream at the top was sometimes a little clumpy, but a shake was all it needed. The pint bottles became 600ml bottles, but my memory of the foil lids has stayed the same.

At some point in our childhood years, our milk began disappearing. Not the lot of it, just a bottle or two. Most weeks there would be milk taken, and eventually a pattern emerged. Who was making off …

Spinning Out

A photograph of a new mum, squinting into the sun, shadows hiding her face, shrouded. Standing beside her, stationed on either side, a girl and a boy, aged 6 and 5.

They are all in front of a Hills Hoist.

Nappies flap, flannel sails fluttering over their heads, catching the November wind. The new baby’s head is bent into his mother’s shoulder.

It has been thirty seven years since our home had been sold. Here I was, standing outside it on a Sunday, taking photographs of my bedroom window from the park next door.

‘That’s quite a view,’ the man said, fresh from tennis at the club.

‘I used to live there,’ I said. Or did I say ‘I used to live here’ or ‘I grew up here’: is that what I said?

‘You should go and knock on the door, and ask to go in’ he prodded, but as he got in his car, I thought, nah, I wouldn’t.

Gum tree branches moving on the gravel, the sight of the owner moving in the garden.

‘I used to live here.’ Yes, I said it. ‘I grew up here.’

He watched me from across the property b…

The Hands of Thomas

Here are the hands of Thomas, delving deep into the belly of the fan, coils cast out, covers ripped asunder. They work amongst scattered mouse poo pellets and spanners. Discarded surgical gloves give the scene a slightly sinister air. But that’s before I have really settled in. 

I have entered a room packed full of workers, the repairers, and expectant repairees at the St Kilda Repair Cafe. Held at the EcoCentre on the second Sunday of each month, the repair cafe exists to promote repairing and recycling of household goods, to foster an appreciation of ‘making good’, repairing to restore functionality, rather than throwing away.

Thomas picks up a mouse poo pellet using a scrunched up latex glove: it looks like he’s holding a tiny turd with a condom. Flick. Away with you, mouse poo! A necessary output of the disassembled toasters, brought to bare their innards to a community of fixers. Fixer-upper-ers. Or nerds. Earnest workers. Carers. People who care. Possible carriers of genius.

Men pe…

Coming of Age

The bricks were always cold underneath my bum. Cold and hard. I could feel their sharp edges. In the nights we sat and talked, my brother and I and the neighbourhood boys. The smells of sour smoke and saliva on one, body odour on another, and menace on the other. The fluorescent globes hummed from the train station platform across the road, and the street lights pooled at the corner.
Inside was out of bounds to these boys, so we met on our side stairs. The frosted glass door between us and our home. These were the kids we didn’t trust, the boys from the wrong side of the tracks. Where were their parents? Absent fathers, unsighted mothers, these boys roamed the streets and set me on edge. The attraction to the dirt, to the smell of one’s mouth...I can still feel it now. It was an urge, but not an infatuation. 

The hearts of these boys remained hidden. It was as if they walked in costumes, played their parts, and kept their distance.

One day, my mum greeted me at the side door with these w…