Moederland, Part Four: terra in/cognita, by Johannes Klabbers

Johannes Klabbers is a Dutch/Australian writer and posthumanist therapist, currently living in Europe. He is the author of I Am Here: Stories From A Cancer Ward (Scribe Aus/UK 2016), which tells the story of an academic in the Australian outback who takes a voluntary redundancy and reinvents himself as a secular pastoral worker in the largest cancer hospital in the southern hemisphere. The Australian described it as “wonderfully insightful”. His website is and he tweets @johklab, is on Facebook @johkla and blogs on Medium @johannesk.

This piece is from Issue Twenty of Tincture Journal. Please support our work and buy a copy today.

Grenswisselkantoor Centraal Station Utrecht, The Netherlands, 1967. Photographer: L.H.Hofland. Used by permission. Copyright: Het Utrechts Archief.


The country of my childhood lives within me with a primacy that is a form of love. It lives within me despite my knowledge of our marginality and its primitive unpretty emotions. Is it blind and self deceptive of me to hold on to its memory? […] All it has given me is the world but that is enough. It has fed me language, perceptions, sounds, the human kind. It has given me the colours and the furrows of reality, my first loves. The absoluteness of those loves can never be recaptured: no geometry of the landscape, no haze in the air, will live in us as intensely as the landscapes that we saw as the first and to which we gave ourselves wholly, without reservations.

—Eva Hoffman, Lost in Translation

In speaking of this desire for our own far off country, which we find in ourselves even now, I feel a certain shyness. I am almost committing an indecency.

—C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory



i can’t work.

i can’t write.

there is nothing i can do.

i have to write something for tincture, they are waiting for it, my last piece for the last issue of tincture, the last episode of moederland. the deadline was wednesday. but i can’t write. can i write that i can’t write? can i write this? maybe this is the only thing i can write.

i go for a long walk.

it’s so beautiful. the autumn air is soft.

there was a death in the family, unexpected, violent. the funeral was the day before yesterday and all of a sudden i am here. i was never there before. for all but one of the major life/death events that occurred in the circle of family and friends over the past forty years i’ve been in australia on the other end of a phone, saying … what?

what can you say on the phone?

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Issue Twenty Editorial, by Daniel Young and Stuart Barnes

Death Note

Tincture Journal has been running for five years now, and the December 2017 issue will be our twentieth, so it’s with very mixed feelings that we’re announcing that this issue will also be our last. Some of you may have seen this coming, since we quietly removed the ability to purchase subscriptions from the website a few months ago; some of you may be surprised we lasted this long (I know I am!); and some of you may be disappointed at seeing an Australian literary journal fade away into history.

On a personal note I’m pleased and proud of everything we’ve achieved in the past five years, but this begs the question: why end it? I wrote back in the beginning that I’d basically started Tincture Journal on a whim, with no idea of the quantity or quality of submissions we’d be able to attract, how many readers there would be for an Australian e-book literary journal, or how long it would last. I’m pleased to be able to say that Tincture Journal has surpassed my expectations on all levels. While it started as a whim, finishing it is not so easy, and it is still difficult to put it into words. Let me try.

Tincture Journal in its current form takes an immense personal toll: time, emotions, brain-space. Financially, over time, we’ve managed to keep things running and grow and maintain a healthy subscriber base without any external funding support. However, the reality of this is that it discounts the many hours of volunteer work from myself, our poetry editor Stuart Barnes, submissions readers Kirby Fenwick and Michelle McLaren, and our former proofreading and editorial assistant Jessica Hoadley. To be clear, we’ve all been very happy to do this work: it has been rewarding, joyful, and has given back to us immeasurably. I’ve had the opportunity of working with writers of all levels, all of whom I respect dearly, and I’ve had so many talented people trust me with their work. So while there are sacrifices, they come with rewards; but short of scaling back my day job, I didn’t feel like I had the time to continue for another five years.

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Issue Twenty Table of Contents

Our last hurrah! Available now from our website and all good e-book stores.

Cover photo: Leigh Backhouse, Untitled, 2011

  • Editorial, by Daniel Young and Stuart Barnes
  • Political Reflections: Part Four: Charlottesville, by Alexandra O’Sullivan
  • Moederland: Part Four: terra in/cognita, by Johannes Klabbers
  • On the Proper Disposal of Limbs, by Shastra Deo
  • John, by Tristan Foster
  • She Dreams of Leaving His Country—1963, by Jane Williams
  • Hijol Trees, by Laura McPhee-Browne
  • We Cannot Trust the Subtitles, by Carmen Leigh Keates
  • Chumi Falls Out, by Barry Lee Thompson
  • The Common Sense of Bats, by Paul Scully
  • Livin’ on a Prayer, by Yen-Rong Wong
  • Gone to Mexico, by Alice Allan
  • Alternative Rock, by Nigel Featherstone
  • Drive-reading Dorothy Porter’s ‘Foggy Windows’, by Luke Best
  • Decompression sickness and other ways to pass the time, by Aidan Tan
  • Fluted Bone, by Steve Toase
  • incomprehensia : an instruction sheet for post-verbal poetry, by Scott-Patrick Mitchell
  • Scientist versus Writer, by Maria Saba
  • colour différance, by Alison Flett
  • The Last Day of Spring, by Peter Ninnes
  • Catafalque Party, by Jennifer Compton
  • The Escalator, by John Potts
  • Barren, by Rachael Guy
  • The Magpie Game, by Wayne Marshall


Moederland, Part Three: Stolen Property, by Johannes Klabbers

Johannes Klabbers is a Dutch/Australian writer and posthumanist therapist, currently living in Europe. He is the author of I Am Here: Stories From A Cancer Ward (Scribe Aus/UK 2016), which tells the story of an academic in the Australian outback who takes a voluntary redundancy and reinvents himself as a secular pastoral worker in the largest cancer hospital in the southern hemisphere. The Australian described it as “wonderfully insightful”. His website is and he tweets @johklab, is on Facebook @johkla and blogs on Medium @johannesk.

Offices of the Coöperatieve Raiffeisenbank, St. Jacobsstraat,  Utrecht, The Netherlands by night in 1957. Photographer : L.H.Hofland. Used by permission. Copyright: Het Utrechts Archief.

Johannes Klabbers is thinking through what it could mean to write postfiction. This is the third of four postfiction pieces to be published in Tincture in 2017, all available in the journal and online. See also

When I was thirteen I thought being Dutch was really crap. So boring and useless. We couldn’t stop our country being invaded by the Germans. And we couldn’t beat them in the World Cup final either, even with Cruijff and after being 1-0 up within the first two minutes. We made one ugly little car called a DAF that no one wanted, and everything had an old people smell. We spoke a stupid language which you could only use to communicate with other boring Dutch people. Things and people from England and Amerika, on the other hand, were exciting and interesting. When the opportunity came to go and live in England where the Beatles and the Stones (and the Who! and the Kinks!) were from, I couldn’t believe my luck. But the harsh reality was that the life of a fourteen-year-old schoolboy in the outer suburbs of London in the early 70s was no picnic. And I was still Dutch!

What would have happened if I’d gone to New York, or for that matter, LA, or Berlin? But I didn’t. I went to London and, eight years later, an Australian woman I met there, bought me a ticket to Australia.

A fragment from an old song drifts up from the unconscious. The voice says:

You stumble, sometimes fall.

Pick yourself up!

Hold yourself up to the light!

Duck your head!

Watch for the blade!

If you could pick any time in history after 26 January 1788 to arrive in Sydney, Australia, what would it be? I’ll leave that hanging for a moment but I bet you know what my answer is going to be.

Which Australian band would, in time, become the subject of a Belgian Trivial Pursuit question?

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Issue Nineteen Table of Contents

Issue Nineteen is available now! Take a look inside…

Here’s what’s inside:

  • Editorial, by Daniel Young
  • Political Reflections: Part Three: Mother of all Bombs, by Alexandra O’Sullivan
  • Moederland: Part Three: Stolen Property, by Johannes Klabbers
  • Vase of Gerberas, by Lisa Brockwell
  • Disappearing, by Myfanwy McDonald
  • Tēnā Koutou, Tēnā Koutou, Tēnā Koutou Katoa (Greetings, Greetings, Greetings to You All), by James A.H. White
  • The Nesting Pair, by Ramon Glazov
  • Snore, by Ella Jeffery
  • Middle Distance, by Kate Lansell
  • A Tragedy in Four Hundred Parts, by Angela Gardner
  • We Are Water, by Wang Ping
  • Goddess Distemper, by Gavin Yates
  • Lunches and Liability, by Lauren Floyd
  • Baggage, by Amir Safi
  • Under the Rip, by Regan Lynch
  • beau pres(id)ent for George Washington, by Dave Drayton
  • Directions, by Sarah Hoenicke
  • Baby Doll, by R.M. Fradkin
  • Get out as Early as You Can, by Kevin Brown


The Waxworker, by Nick Marland

Nick Marland is an award-winning writer of fiction and non-fiction who has appeared in Tincture JournalGoing Down SwingingSeizureThe Lifted BrowGriffith REVIEWVoiceworksStories of Sydney, the UTS Writers’ Anthology and ABC’s The Drum. He once tripped up Woody Allen and spent three days as an illegal alien in Belarus.

This story first appeared in Issue Eighteen of Tincture Journal. Please support our work and buy a copy today.

All images: Collection of the Museum Rietberg Zürich

Helen Bao-Jin Lei was sure the attaché, who never introduced himself, frowned when she introduced herself in fluent Mandarin. He definitely gave the translator who stood next to him a bemused look, as though a grand joke had been played on the whole of China. I thought she was from Australia? he said in his native tongue, as though Helen wasn’t there. He was young, aloof—aloof? no, snotty, self-important, someone’s nephew—and barely gave Helen a second look. He thumbed at his phone while the translator, a small diffident woman with long straight black hair, stepped forward to help the new arrival with her luggage, asking in English her about her flight. Why had they bothered to assign her a translator? The name hadn’t been a giveaway? Although she spoke to them in Mandarin, Helen’s ancestral dialect was Cantonese. This was her first trip to China but it felt like a homecoming—that was, if you lived in the kind of home where you suspected people were crouched behind the furniture listening and watching. The whole flight from Honkers she’d been wondering why she’d taken the job. Well, besides the ridiculous money. There was that.

From the back seat of the town car she watched the city fringe ooze across the tinted windows. Inside the bounds of the Fourth Ring Road, in a thick clot of crawling traffic, the car repeatedly overtook and was overtaken by a man on a bicycle with a pyramid of mangoes teetering on its back pallet. Rickshaws disappeared down alleys into the slums that someone such as the attaché would inform you didn’t exist in Beijing. There he was still thumbing his phone, crushing candy at dizzying speeds. It didn’t quite look like the official, Western version of the game: a crow kept flapping across the screen dropping more infuriating candy, and clusters of hanzi characters keep popping up proclaiming things like EXCELLENT or FAILURE. The translator looked to be browsing a homewares website, via a browser Helen didn’t recognise. Out on the street low-slung powerlines lashed to buildings that looked as though the bricks had fallen out of the sky and landed by chance in passable structures. People could be glimpsed cooking outdoors on grills and in fire pits. Inside the car, she noticed now, the air was lightly scented with fake lavender.

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Mounting Sexual Tension Between Two Long-Time Friends; Tom Knows That Ant Is A Spy But Ant Doesn’t, by Elizabeth Tan

Elizabeth Tan is a West Australian writer whose work has recently appeared in Best Australian Stories (2016), SeizureOverland and Pencilled In. Her first novel, Rubik, was released by Brio in 2017.

This piece appears in Issue Eighteen of Tincture Journal alongside much more. Please support our work by buying a copy.

Collages by Elizabeth Tan, from little punchclock

—I wish you would just tell me.

Ant gazes up at Tom, who is still sweaty from his morning run—tight jaw glistening, white earbuds hanging over the darkened neckline of his t-shirt. Tom tips water into his mouth from a crushed Mount Franklin bottle, and Ant watches Tom’s nervous swig slide down Tom’s throat. A hard lump of tension, tangible as an egg.

—There’s nothing to tell you, Ant.

—I won’t be mad. I promise. I wasn’t mad that time you ditched my phone into a storm drain.

Tom snorts, like can you believe this guy, but Ant continues:

—It wasn’t an accident. I know because you received a text on your phone and then you snatched my phone out of my hand and threw it down the storm drain. That’s a difficult thing to do not-on-purpose.

—You’re still mad about that?

—No, I’m not mad. This has been well-established. And now you’re trying to derail the conversation, but this conversation is about me asking you to tell me the truth about the matching Glock pistols in our respective underwear drawers and the identical emergency briefcases of cash in nine different currencies sequestered behind secret panels in our wardrobes.

—How did you even get in here, Ant?

Again, you are trying to derail the conversation, but the answer to your question is that I know how to pick locks. Did you know that I know how to pick locks? I certainly didn’t know that I knew how to pick locks, just like I didn’t know that we had matching Glocks and briefcases, which is the topic of this conversation.

—I replaced your phone with an even better one and your new phone number ends in ‘268’ which spells ‘ANT’, which you admitted was convenient.

—Are you in the same conversation that I am in, Tom? I wish you would join me in this conversation that I am having about the Glocks and the briefcases and your unwillingness to be forthcoming.

Tom drops his Mount Franklin bottle in the kitchen bin.

—Ant, I can’t do this right now. I need a shower.

—And I need some fucking perspicuity, Tom.

Now Ant gets out of his chair. He walks towards Tom until they are almost chest-to-chest—close enough to smell Tom, damp and tight and pissed off. There is a soft tinny song spurting out of Tom’s hanging earbuds.

Tom swallows. Ant leans in.

—Stop trying to protect me, Tom. It’s getting old.

Tom groans. He takes a step back, but it’s too late; the moment has twisted like a screw. Ant’s expression hasn’t changed. Tom bravely affects a laugh.

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The Back of My Father’s Neck, by Anna Ryan-Punch

Anna Ryan-Punch is a Melbourne writer. Her previous publications include work in WesterlyAntipodesThe AgeIslandOverlandSoutherly, and the anthology Prayers of a Secular World. Her work has also appeared in issues Four, Six, and Thirteen of Tincture Journal.

This piece appears in Issue Eighteen of Tincture Journal alongside much more. Please support our work by buying a copy.

There was no way I was going down to breakfast. Even school was looking unlikely, but having to trudge through cornflakes while my father efficiently dispatched his own meal was out of the question. He’d always start with coffee (instant, cheapest available; it smelled like Weetbix). Stirred the cup five times round, then dinged the spoon on the rim of porcelain twice. Ding ding. The noise of an angry tram. Ding ding. Such an ineffective sound, like a fairy stamping its foot. Ding ding.

Then came toast. Every day he was Grandpa Simpson: “I set the toaster to three; medium brown”. He smeared exactly 15 grams of butter across his bland bread and topped it with a flitting scrape of Vegemite. The butter was always right to the edges, but the Vegemite left a one centimetre border of yellow. Cut in half (always rectangles). The whole family would pause as the butter oozed between his wide-set teeth. Then he would smooth out the already-flat newspaper on the table, frown, and begin to read.

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Terrain: An Exploration in Two Parts, by Rory Kennett-Lister

Rory Kennett-Lister is a writer of fiction, creative non-fiction and essays, as well as a creative in advertising. His work has been featured in SeizureThe Lifted BrowOverlandScum Magazine, the Australian Book Review and others. A selection of his writing can be found at

This non-fiction piece has been shortlisted in the Woollahra Library Digital Literature Award for 2017 alongside a whole bunch of other fine writing. Check out the full shortlist here: This piece originally appeared in Issue Eleven of Tincture Journal.

Image By Peripitus: Xanthorrhoea semiplana or Yakka near the top of Anstey Hill Recreation Park, South Australia [CC BY-SA 2.5], via Wikimedia Commons

“We need the tonic of the wilderness… We can never have enough of nature.”
—Henry David Thoreau, Walden

Part One

We rattle off the bitumen and onto the rutted dirt road, stones blasting against the underside of the car. It’s a mid-90s Citroën, effortlessly, incrementally disintegrating after years of subtle neglect, paint disappearing off the bonnet and roof, slowly offering itself to year after year of summer sun. And though the airy, French suspension is still a dream on covered roads, as we plough through potholes using the middle of the road to keep clear of the thicker gravel, it’s clear that the car is a long way from home.

In reality, my co-driver, Billy, and I are only one and a half hours outside Adelaide, near Rapid Bay, South Australia, on the western side of the Fleurieu Peninsula. We’re making our way to a plot of land—48 acres of untouched coastal bush—owned by a mutual friend, Björn, the idea being to help with the ongoing construction of his homemade shack with whomever else Björn has invited. Truthfully, Björn in no way needs our help; a transnational upbringing spanning the deserts of Africa to the ice of Northern Europe has left him a hands-on savant. But he’ll know how to put extra limbs to use and, to be honest, there’s something intoxicating about the idea of helping to construct this Crusoean outpost. When I was invited I agreed without hesitation.

Up to this point Billy has been charting our progress, the stuttering movement of a blue dot on an iPhone screen, giving directions as subtle forewarnings—“In about a k you’re going to need to turn right.”, “We’re going to be coming up on a T-junction.”—ensuring that I’m prepared for what each turn brings. But as we bounce along this final stretch, the directions become less certain, the car floating unpredictably over the vagaries of the road.

“Coming up on a right.” I can see the beginnings of the arc, but a patch of scrub obscures the rest. As I direct us around, keeping clear of the sharp elbows, a hill rises before us. Sealed it wouldn’t present much of a problem, but the wheels begin to stutter underneath us. Rectal tightening. I drop gears as we slow, trying to keep the revs up and the momentum forwards. If we had any illusions before, we can see clearly now: this is four-wheel drive territory. I seesaw the accelerator, feeling the tyres slip and grip, hopping from one hold to the next like stepping-stones across a rushing stream. We are delivered over the crest of the hill. Nervous laughter.

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The Real Ryan O’Neill, by Dave Drayton

Dave Drayton has not been heard from since January 2017. Police are appealing for anyone who knows his whereabouts to come forward.

This piece appears in Issue Eighteen of Tincture Journal along with a poem by Dave Drayton and much more. Please support our work by buying a copy.

Reading a review of Ryan O’Neill’s Their Brilliant Careers published in The Saturday Paper, I felt like a bobble-headed Jesus giving thumbs up from the dash of an old bomb with shot suspension, nodding vigorously in concurrence: here was a great, (un)ashamedly Australian metafictional satire; a page turner in the sense that each of its vignettes rollick along at a compelling speed, but also because its intricate web of self-referentialism will have you thumbing back-and-forth through pages, dog-earing, marking margins, triple-checking half-made connections, hanging red twine from thumb-tacks holding bumf to walls…

So wholeheartedly and emphatically was I agreeing with this reviewer—an anonymous scribe known only by the initials JD—that on first reading I simply skimmed their closing statement: “If Ryan O’Neill didn’t exist, someone would have to invent him.”

However before long I began to suspect that what on the surface appeared to be a tongue-in-cheek attempt to compliment the author in a manner that acknowledged his own methods was in fact something so much more, a key to understanding the increasingly slippery separation of fact from fiction.

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