New poetry by Julia Kaylock

Memories of Us

History has no consideration
For motive or design,
Although it will apply its own

Weaving together a tale
That may inspire, delight,
Shock, or dismay.
Our lives are thus adjusted,
Transformed even

Into a remnant of what we once were,
Alive, fluid, changing,
Never static;
Yet as our bodies turn to ashes,
Our stories will become
An obituary, a page, a book
With a finite beginning and end.

But this is not our story;
Our stories will live on in the hearts
Of those who loved us;
The good, the bad,
The mundane, the imperfections;

That’s the truth of us,
The core of our being,
The life inside our light.

The Drive Home

We buried my mother yesterday.
Ashes to ashes, said the minister
as her coffin ferried
what was left of her body, mind and dreams
into the dark abyss,

Along with things never told,
questions never answered;
the final door of a life
closing with the thump
of wood hitting paydirt.

A few months shy of her ninetieth birthday,
she left us;
now the ground has accepted our offering.

No cremation for her: ‘I’d hate to be burned’,
she once said so violently, I never forgot.

Heading home to Melbourne next morning
the news was full of Black Saturday –

Was it just three days ago
that the plane I was in took off
through hotheaded northwesterly winds
Hell-bent on destruction?

Crossing the border into Victoria
The fires that had decided
not to travel north of the Murray
fuelled our impatience with each other
after almost eight hours of enforced closeness,
consolidating into a one-ness of pain;

Events of yesterday forgotten
as our eyes drank the smoke
and scanned the rushing ruins.

One lonely house intact
among half a dozen razed to the ground,
unrecognisable, blackened remnants of trees,
jagged needles rising from ash-grey earth.

Refuelling outside Wangaratta,

we all emptied our wallets into the tin,
and wondered about life, and death…

Ashes to ashes.

Nowhere to Hide

Innuendo spirals upward
Seeking a partnership
With rampant chaos

A fury of discordant chants
Forms into vocal emetic;
Creation of the void

Consuming bitterness in bites,
Bolstered with the pill
Of twisted truth,
Sliding down the throat
Like a molten ball

Spewed enigmas
Merging with vented spleen
Into flawed disposition

Fire in the gut,
Belching stomach acids,
Nauseated bowel movements
End in a torrent of expletive.

Ready for the master touch,
Acrid smoke screens cover much

The doctor’s here: carve!
Add a generous amount of gravy.

The scent of roast human is –

Take a bite, let’s taste.

Three Words

Piece of work.
They warned me –
But I didn’t listen.

They didn’t say
He would carve pieces
Out of me,
Slowly, deliberately,
With his knife-blade tongue,

They didn’t say
He would wring my words
Until all the juice
Had been extracted,

They didn’t say
He would recreate me
Into something
Even my mother
Wouldn’t recognise.

They didn’t say
He would leave me
To cope with
His tortured words
That sat heavily on my shoulder
In flashing lights

They didn’t say
I would lose myself
To the wolf-world
And be devoured
In tiny aching bites

They only said
Three words

And I wouldn’t
Have listened


About the contributor

Julia Kaylock is a professional writer and editor who lives on the Mornington Peninsula in Victoria. In addition to operating her own consultancy, over the past five years Julia has devoted a significant part of her life to creating poetry, and is currently co-editing Messages from the Embers, an anthology of poetry from the Australian Bushfires 2019-2020.

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