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 or subscribing.

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 or subscribing.

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 rorykennettlister.com.

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: http://woollahra.nsw.gov.au/library/whats_on/digital_literary_award. 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 or subscribing.

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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Issue Eighteen Editorial, by Stuart Barnes

Stuart Barnes is the poetry editor of Tincture Journal. His first collection Glasshouses (UQP, 2016) won the 2015 Arts Queensland Thomas Shapcott Poetry Prize, was commended for the 2016 FAW Anne Elder Award, and was shortlisted for the 2017 ASAL Mary Gilmore Award. He’s translating Imma Tubella’s Un secret de l’Empordà into English. He tweets @StuartABarnes.

In last issue’s editorial, Daniel Young wrote about his “recent preoccupation with landscape metaphors”, and while writing this editorial it was impossible for me not to be preoccupied with landscape: Tropical Cyclone Debbie made landfall as a category four system on 28 March near Airlie Beach, approximately 480 kilometres north of Rockhampton, where I live. Subsequently, the Fitzroy River flooded, peaking on 6 April at 8.75 metres.

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Moederland, Part Two: Memorable Humiliations, 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 johannesk.com and he tweets @johklab, is on Facebook @johkla and blogs on Medium @johannesk.

Johannes Klabbers is thinking through what it could mean to write postfiction. This is the second of four postfiction pieces to be published in Tincture in 2017 (the first is available here). See also postfiction.space. Please consider subscribing to Tincture to support our work.

Of all the exotic and unusual cities in the world that I could have moved to, I find myself in a place with which I am intimately familiar while at the same time being disconcertingly strange.

It is strange because it ought to be familiar—and then it can be suddenly and unexpectedly familiar when it should be strange. It is familiar because I was born here, almost sixty years ago, and I lived here until I was fourteen. Since then I have visited briefly a few times while learning how to be an adult in England and then Australia. It is strange because half the town is no longer there. It was demolished and rebuilt and now it is being partially demolished again and refurbished to make it look more like every other big shopping mall in the world instead of some dreamy Dutch architect’s imperfectly executed vision from the sixties when town planners predicted that no one in the twenty-first century would be riding bicycles.

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Some Days, by Rebecca Jessen

Rebecca Jessen lives in Brisbane. She is the award-winning author of Gap (UQP, 2014). In 2015 she won the QLD Premier’s Young Writers and Publishers Award. Her writing has been published in Overland, Meanjin, Going Down Swinging, The Lifted Brow, Tincture Journal, and many more. Rebecca blogs at becjessen.wordpress.com.

This prose poem first appeared in Issue Seventeen of Tincture Journal. Please support our work by buying a copy or subscribing.

Photo by Danny McDonald @fibrotones

it’s like the sun never sets here. endless horizons scarred pink. home is a big screen TV and a three-tier cat scratcher. Mum is always on high terror alert. March mornings are for scraping ice off the windscreen. I don’t miss the morning cold. or the way the wind always blows in my hair. people feed the birds here. day old white bread strewn across public lawns and private parks. do you ever notice the way Mum never stops at roundabouts. or the way your little sister dances. like she’s an extra in a music video. when she grabs your hand to dance suddenly she’s eighteen and hitting the clubs with her girls. do you notice the way it makes you feel. like the daggy older sister who wears her hair too short and worries too much. do you notice the stale acidic scent of cat and cigarettes. that is distinctly Mum’s place. the way you can miss people even when you’re with them. the way that visiting home can take you back a decade. you see not how this place has changed but how you have changed. do you ever notice the way Mum’s place is like a time capsule. yet to be sealed. never buried.

 

 

Issue Eighteen Table of Contents

Issue Eighteen is available now on our website and all the usual e-book stores. Subscribe now and or buy the single issue.

Here’s what’s inside:

  • Editorial, by Stuart Barnes
  • Moederland: Part Two: Memorable Humiliations, by Johannes Klabbers
  • Volta do mar, by Felicity Plunkett
  • Political Reflections: Part Two: Trump’s Inauguration, by Alexandra O’Sullivan
  • Ode to Mortality Composed on the W90, by Jill Jones
  • Mounting Sexual Tension Between Two Long-Time Friends; Tom Knows That Ant Is A Spy But Ant Doesn’t, by Elizabeth Tan
  • Apology, by Liam Ferney
  • The Real Ryan O’Neill, by Dave Drayton
  • Judith Arundell Wright, by Dave Drayton
  • The Waxworker, by Nick Marland
  • Interview with Cher Chidzey, by Cher Chidzey and Daniel Young
  • Queen Victoria Market: an extract from Ken’s Quest, by Cher Chidzey
  • Beetroot, by Irma Gold
  • The Lady in the Bottle, by Rozanna Lilley
  • Mother Tongue, by Eda Gunaydin
  • Reality Check, by Peter Bakowski
  • The Back of My Father’s Neck, by Anna Ryan-Punch
  • Portrait of the Artist Dressed as His Mother, by Craig Billingham
  • Conjugate, by Mark Ward
  • Silly Money, by Craig Burnett
  • Corymbia / Evergreen, by Andrew Galan
  • Cul-de-sac Back, by Kevin Del Principe
  • Property of Holloman Aerospace Medical, by Benjamin Dodds
  • Beijing, by Stephen Smith
  • Objects, by Catherine Vidler
  • Candle in the Wind, by John Sheng (translated from the Chinese by Ouyang Yu)

 

Venus, by Grace Jarvis

Grace Jarvis is a second year university student in the throes of an arts degree based existential crisis. She was the recipient of the Queensland Theatre Company’s Young Playwright’s Award in 2015 and feels she needs to mention it constantly as it’s the most impressive thing she’s ever done. You can find her on Twitter @grace4jarvis.

This poem first appeared in Issue Seventeen of Tincture Journal. Please support our work by buying a copy or subscribing.

There is a very beautiful girl sitting opposite me on the train. I am openly staring at her and she looks uncomfortable. I don’t mind. Locks of purple hair fall unrestrained onto her forehead as her eyes restlessly sprint around the carriage, looking for something to land on besides my beady gaze. I am almost pleased when she chooses the chipped remnants of black polish encrusting her jagged nails. Her lipstick is bleeding. There is a thick layer of grime coating her cuticles and her nervous fiddling continues to distress an already significant hole in her tacky fishnet stockings. I picture my mother scolding me for wearing laddered tights under my godforsaken school kilt and I picture this girl’s mother: dead somewhere, a gutter. My attention, much to her chagrin, returns to the girl after the train’s sudden stop nudges my briefcase against the scuffed toe of her dilapidated Doc Marten. I scowl at the girl and she tucks her violet hair behind her punctured ear and seeks refuge behind a battered copy of The Bell Jar.

I wonder if she knows she is a cliché.

I wonder if she has a boyfriend.

I wonder if she looks this terrified when she fucks.

I get off the train.

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The Need for Poetry, by Mindy Gill with Jeet Thayil

Mindy Gill is a Brisbane writer whose work has appeared in Australian Poetry Journal, Voiceworks, Hecate and elsewhere. She writes for Peril Magazine.

This poem first appeared in Issue Seventeen of Tincture Journal. Please support our work by buying a copy or subscribing.

 

is old, very old, though not venerable. Imagine

a picture of an old man, his shirt open,

his big belly full of pork and rice wine,

asleep on the road, scars all over him, his hands

for a pillow, imagine the untended whiskers

on his face, his staff thrown some distance away,

not yet stolen, his dirty feet, now imagine

the moon above the man, the chaos it bestows

on the ocean, which could pluck it like a pear

from the sky in one cold metallic wave,

and in that wave imagine the fish discovering

the myth of the other world, a world not preserved

by salt for air, without the elegance of jellyfish,

and here is where they realise how our sky

begins with black while theirs begins with light,

now imagine our sky sliced from a bigger sky,

a universal sky, tiger-striped with planets

and space stations, now imagine the scientists

on those space stations using equations to find us

another, gentler star to call home, and what

are homes but places to keep things we love

that we destroy and leave? Now imagine

the man who drew the picture, who waits

for the old brawler to awake so he can tell

another one, a quick story to start the day.