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Leyla Neilsen

Mammalian – Xiaole Zhan

By | 2019 award winner | No Comments


mamma, your back is flowered dark red and purple perfect circles, mamma, fleshy hills along the road
of your spine, your blood suctioned to the surface of your skin, you tell me it helps with your pain,
paints you the colour of tender bruises, blisters oozing with yellow liquid along the rim of each cup,
too much moisture in the body, you say, I imagine the body as a dark cave, bones dripping stalactites,
corroding canals and canals, there seems to be such a fine line between hurting and healing, mamma,
remember sleeping in the summer, mamma, the mosquitoes plodding down on our wet skins, bellies
fat with the mingling of our blood, the watery softness of your flesh in the dark startled me, mamma, I
imagined you old and soft and dead beneath my arms, remember when we made tomato soup together,
and I couldn’t cut a tomato without the insides pulping out, red, red, the raw warmth of it round in my
belly, remember when you told me you’d never be able to hate me, mamma, and I’m sorry for all my
livid love, mamma, all this tender violence, and you’re doubled over dripping snot onto the road,
sobbing how could you do this to me how could you do this to me, and I was the size of a kitten, you
say, when I was born, and when I mewed for you in the dark you thought you’d imagined it, you say,
you thought you’d lost me, lost me, and they say the heart is a muscle the size of a fist, mamma, your
nails are bloodied with the seeping bruise of my heart, mamma, and there’s all this blood between us,
mamma, all this blood because of us, mamma. there’s such a fine line between hurting and loving


Portrait Xiaole Zhan
Xiaole Zhan
Year 13
Westlake Girls’ College

Old man – Sebastian Macaulay

By | 2019 runner up | No Comments

Old man

I’m sitting and I watch the old man from the street rest and unfurl from his linen
a pack of Dunhills.
He twists off the cellophane and eyes his catch with thatvintage gleam
of noon-stripped old lowlifes, naked,
howling at their cigarette moons.
Cars and their drivers blur on by, each turning their heads as if to say
yes man, light that cigarette for all you’re worth.
Yes, man lights it.
Draws each drag out long like a bones player shifting keys.
He exhales each time only
a whisper of thin smoke-suns that twist, convulse mid-air.
I have a moment when I think of my father and I
driving along an afternoon’s length of country road; we could’ve been both fifteen
and I feel as if right here and now I’ll weep watching this old
new nomad smoke,
pulling our car breakneck along the asphalt,
filling the valleys and valleys and valleys,
hauling us through them,
here to someplace to every place,
maybe, most likely, somewhere unideal,
where infants are born dead but still live.
My father and I, our cities become flame, the skyscrapers strip the blue skies,
haul from the seas
an urgent thunderstorm now upon us all and still.
The old man smokes.
Almost at the filter now.
Watching our cars roll on by.
Looking with those eyes at each and every person as if to say
yes man, go on your way, go on your way.



Portrait of Sebastian Macaulay
Sebastian Macaulay
Year 12
Wellington High School