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hardly recognise the trial—twenty-one cycles over the sun—but I know it wasn’t child’s play. ‘Are you—’ ‘Yes, Mum.’ ‘You’ll fucking die from AIDS.’ I apologise—I can only sympathise with the daily rain of brimstone, fire. In artificial air I lay on my side “I dare you to show me your palms” and scrutinised the waverings of your eye—sea-green, curious, terrified—and the contradictory Whys “What’s so scary? Not a threat in sight” and the cradle-to-grave compliance “I’m so bored of cowards”. Since Friday I’ve quantified kilometres—one thousand five hundred and seventy, precisely—on a diagram, in my mind. ‘This distance requires—’ ‘Pfft.’ Ripely decided. Stupid fruit. My spine’s weak also, yet I’m acquiring the art of ballooning the diaphragm. That terrible final telephone call. ‘I’d love to be in a relationship with somebody like’—which terrorises—‘you’. Crying. Mystified: ‘Are you all right?’ Dryly: ‘Yes, I’m fine, fine, fine.’ ‘Well then, bye, bye, bye,’ you recited. Poof! Fire, water: cardinal, fixed. Our rulers Pluto, Mars; our detriment Venus. How do you survive, bonsai? Why why why won’t you actualise oomph, do you simply ogle lives through that sea-green, curious, terrified eye.

note: includes three quotations from Björk’s ‘5 Years’

Stuart Barnes is a Tasmanian-born, Queensland-based poet and poetry editor of Tincture Journal. His first collection of poetry, an anthology with Robbie Coburn, Nathan Hondros, Rose Hunter, Carly-Jay Metcalfe and Michele Seminara, will be published by Regime Books in 2015. He blogs at and tweets as @StuartABarnes