A Sequence by Timothy Ogene

Born and raised in Nigeria, Timothy Ogene has since lived in Liberia, the US, Germany, and the UK. He holds degrees from St Edward’s and Oxford Universities. His first collection, Descent & Other Poems, appeared this year from Deerbrook Editions.

This poetry sequence first appeared in Issue Sixteen of Tincture Journal. Please support our quest to pay the writers by buying a copy.

Every work of this kind is necessarily a cry of anguish—of the root extending its branch of coral, or corals extending their roots into each living hour; the swell of the silent sea, the great heaving dream at its highest, the thunder of splitting pods—the tears scatter, take root, the cotyledons broken, burgeons into laughter of leaf; or else rot into vital hidden roles in the nitrogen cycle. The present dream clamoured to be born a cadenced cry: silence to appease the fever of flight beyond the iron gate.

—Christopher Okigbo, from the introduction to Labyrinths and Path of Thunder

On chance occasions—

and others have observed this—you can see the wind,

as it moves, barely a separate thing,

the inner wall, the cell, of an hourglass, humming

vortices, bright particles in dissolution,

a roiling plug of sand picked up

as a small dancing funnel. It is how

the purest apprehension might appear

to take a corporeal shape.

—Geoffrey Hill, The Triumph of Love, No. IX


Sometimes, not sure what to say,

I sag my lungs, my vocal chords,

I count the bubbles on my tongue.

There’re words that thrust, roll themselves,

like tines of quick snakes;

those words I’ve heard, hauled,

held dear as joeys

in a pouch.

But this day, frail, I let them drop,

hit the ground. I hear them raising dust

as they race the streets

of this cold void.


I prefer silences and sighs,

have been made to prefer both;

for this caprice, what to say, where to start,

ensures a crash of the lungs,

of my vocal chords.

The flesh is avuncular, cut from the same sheet.

The fate of speech, spiced

or lacklustre, ends

with a putrid dash on granite floors.

If this then is hell, the worst of your youth,

this lash, unease,

why ask for rum

when you can run through woes

with your tongue?

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Issue Sixteen Editorial, by Kirby Fenwick

Hailing from regional Victoria, Kirby Fenwick is an emerging writer and editor currently studying at RMIT. Her work has appeared on Writers Bloc and SPOOK Magazine. When she’s not reading submissions for Tincture Journal you can generally find her on Twitter @kirbykirbybee.


Australian literary journals live a precarious existence. They stand at the edge of the precipice, digging their toes into the soil in an effort to stave off annihilation. Staffed mainly by volunteers, running on the smell of an oily rag and dependent on the support of a community often hanging out near the edge of that very same precipice, they somehow still manage to produce excellent and exciting and thought-provoking and provocative and necessary work. They somehow still manage to nurture emerging writers and provide a crucial training ground for editors—have a look through any Australian writer or editor’s resume and you’ll probably find a literary journal or two. They also manage to contribute to our national conversation and participate in the creation of our continually evolving national identity. They are the little engines that could of the literary community. But there is something else that literary journals do that makes them increasingly vital. They offer space. Space for dissent.

In a session at the Small Press Network’s Independent Publishing Conference in Melbourne in early November, Adelaide writer, editor, critic and academic, Patrick Allington spoke about literary journals as a place of dissent. Allington put the idea to a number of editors of Australian journals—including our editor, Daniel Young—and there was a mixed response. Some not willing to enthusiastically embrace the lit journal as dissenter while others, like Daniel, more than happy to make that claim.

When I talk about dissent in this context, I’m not talking specifically about the taking of an opposite position. I’m talking about the very act of writing and publishing and doing so at the margins—close to the edge of that precipice. We dissent by simply existing. We dissent by embracing complexity and messiness and experimentation. We dissent by refusing to leave the conversation regardless of how close we are to the edge. We dissent by ensuring that there will be another generation of writers and editors and that they’ll be damn good at what they do. We dissent and we do so even as the soil stains our skin and buries itself under our toenails. And as the world becomes ever more complex, that dissent becomes ever more important.

I hope that you will find something of that dissenting spirit in this issue of Tincture.

Perhaps you’ll find it in the poetry of a.j. carruthers or Timothy Ogene or Mary Chydiriotis. Maybe you’ll spot it in the work of Alice Whitmore or Moll Green or Cameron Colwell. You might even see it in the two special interviews we have for you in this issue, one with our poetry editor, Stuart Barnes, and the other with Michelle Cahill, whose piece ‘A Miko Coda’ appeared in Issue Seven.

Wherever you find it, I hope you enjoy it.

Yours in literary dissent.

Issue Sixteen Table of Contents

Issue Sixteen is available now. Grab a copy from our website, Kindle, Kobo, Tomely or Google Play.


  • Editorial, by Kirby Fenwick
  • re: flux, by Rob Walker
  • The End of the World, by Moll Green
  • Would Kill for a Massage, by Stu Hatton
  • Istanbul: A Tryptych, by Kelsey Dean
  • Interview with Michelle Cahill
  • Requiese, by Rico Craig
  • The Caves of Blanes, by Adam Ouston
  • Selected Landscapes (In Memoriam Robert Southey), by a.j. carruthers
  • Love Has Nothing to Do with It, by Alice Whitmore
  • An Autumn Stroll through Vigeland Park, by Eduardo Frajman
  • Two-Headed Lamb, by Ivy Alvarez
  • Counting Kangaroos, by Stephen Samuel
  • Interview with Stuart Barnes
  • Thirteen, by Cameron Colwell
  • The End of the Pier, by Louise Slocombe
  • Replanting, by Jane Frank
  • Examined Heads, by Mary Chydiriotis
  • Hector Fucking Katros, by Belinda Rule
  • Local, by Mark Ward
  • I’m Always Going Somewhere, by Joshua Baird
  • A Sequence, by Timothy Ogene
  • A House of Means, by Lucille Bellucci
  • After the Beep, by Adam Ford
  • Enormous Distance, by Simon Barker


Carnival Flesh, by Elisabeth Murray

Elisabeth Murray is a writer from Sydney who is interested in all things feminist, queer, and mental health-related. Her work has been published in Verity La, Fields Magazine, Tincture Journal (Issue Seven), Contrapasso, Voiceworks, dotdotdash magazine, and several University of Sydney anthologies. Her novella, The Loud Earth, was published by Hologram in 2014.

This story first appeared in Issue 15 of Tincture Journal. If you like this story, please consider buying a copy.

We are a crush of bodies, but the calmest kind of crowd. Smoke and sweat is everywhere. I am far from everyone I’ve known in my life but this crowd knows me more intimately than the earth does when you’re dead, without any skin to put up a barrier.

I am standing in front of the speaker but I am standing everywhere, I am the light that smashes through blue to yellow, I am the night coming through the back of the tent, through the gaps between people, so there’s no space anymore. My body takes the force of the music like the ocean when you use none of your muscles against it. There is the cold metal railing against my arms and my skin is good now, no longer a barrier, and my eyes are shut and the strength of the earth is inside me, all the time it has lived in my bones.

I open my eyes to a girl so close she seems part of my own strength. Her hair is like ochre and she is wearing a skirt the colour of the centre of the continent viewed from so high it is more like the idea of red.

She is yelling something, her mouth hardly real. But it’s all real, just a kind of real I’ve never known before. We are jumping with the rest of the crowd, and on stage everyone wears a smile like the girl, they are jumping with us, cajón, guitar, bass, flute, djembe stronger than an ocean.

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The Holy Foolishness of Punk, by Susan Bradley Smith

Susan Bradley Smith began her professional writing life as a rock journalist but has also worked as a waitress and teacher. Her latest books are a novel-in-verse The Screaming Middle, the poetry collection Beds for all who come, and the memoir Friday Forever. An advocate for Arts and Health, Susan is the founder of the writing and wellbeing consultancy Milkwood Bibliotherapy, and Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing at Curtin University. Her secret ambition is to swim every ocean pool in Australia without writing a book about it.

This poem is from a sequence titled ‘A Short Cycle of Regret…’ and first appeared in Issue 15. Please support our work and buy a copy today.



In these swindling times, I don’t care that

you are married. It is exciting to be bad

and also right. We are in the middle of a

miracle, away together for a weekend riffing

on stolen time pilfered from real life like money

from a mother’s purse. Even though you look

well-loved there are violet bruises beneath

your eyes. You’ve been speaking in your sleep.


You take a call. I read the paper. Those

Pussy Riot girls are licking salt in Soviet prisons

just because of their band’s faultless, unforgettable

name and their splenetic racket and their unlicensed

occupation of public places. Meanwhile, you sit there

and persist with the theatre of your own concerns.

You ask me to pay attention. When I look up you are

so beautiful I can barely believe you exist let alone

love me but you said it: I am your ground zero;

you are my vanguard.

You pause. Today, without your bragging

suit, you look like you did when we were

young and stripped-down and our whole life

only knew three chords. I might as well

complain rain is wet as say please don’t go,

I think, as you take her call again. Some

poseur is fighting another to run the

country. The mafia is at it again in the

suburbs. Mainstream fashion is the new

fringe. It all crackles at my touch. I listen

to you talk, and read the paper, and although

I am one of misery’s best graduates, your

news still shocks me. Just as I had stopped

sliding clichés like thermometers into my

declarations of love—I am your ticket, you are

my collector—you tell me we’re through.

In the café by the harbour we have the kind

of conversation that happens to all lovers

sooner or later—last line: it’s over. I would

have liked to have left the past alone, but as

you talked about the failed philosophy of us

my shock soured to a bitter glandular juice

making quick work of all sentiment, like

camphor on the mouth of memory. It’s true,

I’d been monothematic this is not a love song

but before ‘us’ you were anhedonic, split in half

from the very idea of who you once were.

Are. Remember Hastings? The Sex Pistols

gigography was once also ours. What can

anyone possibly say anymore that is novel

enough to warrant imprisonment?


The seagulls are not my friends and their

eyes marbling my toast are also yours. I am

limp with terminality. At the table opposite

a father is busy being humiliated by his wife

who is documenting his failings in the presence

of their son. How utterly cruel it seems. The café

table is smiling at me with sun-kissed woodshine

and spilt sugar as gay as Christmas. I am

spoiling the scene with my tight, peppered

offence but my love will not quiet. It will

not hurry like inspiration to the end just

to suit you. Sluiced in sunshine or not,

I remain a citizen in a closely beleaguered

city and within the citadel of us things

could still go either way.

Utopia now

We are so old, yet you have turned me

into a pop song, into someone you used to

love, a hangover that creeps up on you

before you’ve even finished drinking.

Marriage must be a first-rate thing

for you to sing its tune despite your

antidisestablishmentarianism blues but

seriously: love as anthrax? No one really

wants to catch that again. The knowledge

of us is cream in my bones. Green, I am, and

dreaming again of your strum. You wrote

me love letters in invisible ink but they

still hum. And hum and hum, like the

soundtrack for a revolution.


You walk away from me across the airport

terminal, the floor glittering like a crushed

disco, towards the record shop where all

the songs of us are on sale. And machines

to play us too. Before you make it home

I will be arrested for collapsing hysterically

in public places. The cause: no marrow.

Only the concealed heroin of you, wrapped

in the bone of me. Outside it is a gutsy,

sunlit day. Despite the lunatic soak of

needing you, the creep of seizure, the

godly rant of my blood, I turn away.

I let you go. It’s not my day.

Any fool would say.

Hindsight will be Satan.

Saving Daniel, by Lucie Britsch

British born with Germanic roots (very different from Jamaican roots in the fun stakes) Lucie Britsch fears her writing career peaked too soon when she won a poopscoop slogan contest as a child. Her writing has since appeared in Barrelhouse, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, This is Pinball, The Millions and Catapult Story, and she has gained an honourable mention in Glimmer Train. She says she is working on some books but is mostly reading other people’s and realising hers is rubbish in comparison.

This story first appeared in Issue 15. Please support our work and buy a copy today.

Image By Original works: Vegas Bleeds Neon Derivative work: FRacco [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

What’s so funny?

This girl


So I was looking at getting this make-up

You don’t need make-up

Ha ha

Anyway, so I was looking at this make-up and looking at the reviews and it went great, great, then an OK, another great, a love love love this stuff, a marvellous

Do people still say marvellous?

Apparently so


So then another great, one girl really really liked how it made her eyes pop and you know how I feel about the whole eye-popping thing

You like yours staying where they should be


Who doesn’t?

This girl


Anyway, so we have a lot of greats, an OK and an awesome then this girl says it should be banned

She shows him the screen

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Last Night in Tokyo, by Kali Myers

Kali is a Perth-born, Melbourne-based writer, researcher, blogger and occasional ranter. Her work concerns violence, fairy tales, power, and representations of women. Her writing has previously appeared in FeminartsyOverland online, and on a number of other blogs and scholarly journals. You can tweet to her @pickwickian36.

This story first appeared in Issue 14. Please support our work and buy a copy today.

Last Night in Tokyo

“What’s that noise?”

“An alarm.”

“An alarm?”

“Well yes I assume so.”

“So there’ll be someone here soon then.”

“Maybe, maybe not.”

“But there’s an alarm.”


“So… people. The alarm will… raise the alarm. You know; someone breaks in, alarm sounds, cops; all that.”

“Security alarms are usually silent.”

“What are you talking about?”

“They’re usually silent. Why would you give someone you want to catch advanced warning?”

“What? Alarms are loud and noisy to scare people away. The alarm at my mum’s always brings the neighbours running.”

“Does this look like a house to you?”


“Does this look like a house to you? It’s not—it’s a government building. Government buildings don’t make noise. They have those silent alarms that just make the buzzing noise in the security room so the guards know something’s up.”

“Umm… OK. So then Dr Professor…”

“Dr Professor?”


“What’s a Dr Professor?”

“Fuck, I don’t know. Smart arse then. Captain Fucking Brilliant. Einstein. Take your bloody pick.”

“My pick of what?”

“Gah! Of nothing. OK.”

“OK… were you asking a question?”

“Yes! Yes I was asking a question.”

“What was it?”

“About the alarm.”

“Ah yes. That. Still going. What about it?”

“Well if it’s not a damned burglar alarm and there’s no cops coming—we should totally be hiding though—then what the hell is it?”

“Oh, I don’t know. Fire?”


“Yeah could be.”

“Fire? Fucking fire? There could be a fucking fire alarm going off and you’re just standing there.”

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Issue Fifteen Table of Contents

Issue Fifteen is now available. Buy a tincture here. Here’s what’s inside:


  • Editorial, by Daniel Young
  • Making Noise: Part Three, by Megan McGrath
  • Saving Daniel, by Lucie Britsch
  • Slingshot, by David Adès
  • I Dream of Marie, by Christina Tang-Bernas
  • Fragment: Tuesday Evening, Waitan, by Ella Jeffery
  • Whale Song, by Ben Armstrong
  • Bonbon, by Joe Baumann
  • Chiang Mai, by S. K. Kelen
  • Too Big to Hold in Your Heart, by Rachel Watts
  • Carnival Flesh, by Elisabeth Murray
  • The Wild West, by Anthony Lawrence
  • Seventeen Ruminations About Bottles and Other Matters, Some Weighty, Some Frivolous, by David Murcott
  • Ethic, by Chris Lynch and a rawlings
  • The Lollipop Lady Who Liked Order and Balance, by Martine Kropkowski
  • Confusion and Showgirl Tunes, by SB Wright
  • What Happens in Indiana, by Ellie White
  • The Holy Foolishness of Punk, by Susan Bradley Smith
  • The Juniper Tree, by Vivien Huang
  • When I Meet the Zhou Family, by Mindy Gill
  • Roadrunner, by Liam Lowth
  • Fullas, by Ramon Loyola
  • My Boy Dalya, by Jov Almero
  • Morphology, by Scott-Patrick Mitchell
  • The Gift of Books and the Night, by Lachlan Brown

Making Noise: Part Two, by Megan McGrath

Megan McGrath is the author of the novella, Whale Station, and winner of the 2015 Queensland Literary Awards Premier’s Young Publishers and Writers Award. Her acclaimed short work is published in literary journals and anthologies including Griffith REVIEW, Meanjin, Seizure, Tracks, Writing Queensland and Tincture Journal, among others. Follow Megan on Twitter @megansfictions or visit her website megansfictions.com.

This is the second in a three-part series of columns on literary jealousy. This part appeared in Issue Fourteen and the rest will appear in the journal throughout the year. Please support our work and buy a copy today.

The Paper-House

I’m pushing along with the novel at a rate of two thousand words a day, buoyed by a weekend writing retreat that unlocked a few plotting secrets and changed the way I’ll write forever. It helps too that I’ve been reading rubbish books. Popular books by mid-career authors who have found a way to publish their mediocre writing about mediocre characters in mediocre towns, and I think if I can just keep going I might be able to break the back of this stupid long thing I’m trying to write. I think that if I can finish, maybe, I’ve got a shot at being ordinary, too. Somehow I’ve managed to make myself believe that being just OK and published is good enough.

But then I realise I don’t much feel like settling anymore.

When has OK been good enough for me, or for my writing? I realise I have 30,000 words of rubbish writing and an express ride back to uncertainty.

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from ‘The Ghost and The Machine’

Catherine Vidler’s poems have appeared in journals including Sport, Turbine, Quadrant, Blackbox Manifold, Antipodes, Takahē and Southerly. Her collection of poems ‘Furious Triangle’ was published in 2011 by Puncher & Wattmann. A chapbook, Canberra Poems, was recently published by Ginninderra Press, which will also shortly publish another chapbook of her trans-Tasman poems, The Window and the Tree. In October 2016 a chapbook of 28 visual poems made out of and in response to ‘chaingrass’, a word from Bill Manhire’s poem ‘Falseweed’, will be published in electronic form by Jazz Cigarette. Further chaingrass work, in the form of chaingrass ‘patterns’, appears or is forthcoming in The New Post-literate, Otoliths, Overland, SCRIPTjr.nl, RENEGADE (an international anthology of visual poetry and language arts edited by Andrew Topel) and on Catherine’s website chaingrasspatterns.weebly.com. A large collection, including both chaingrass patterns and the original set of 28 visual poems from which they were made, is to be published by STALE OBJECTS dePRESS. Catherine is editor of trans-Tasman literary magazine Snorkel.

This sequence of poems first appeared in Issue 14. Please support our work and buy a copy today.

By sammydaviddog (Flickr) CC-BY-2.0

the ghost wanted more than he expected


to write a book

the exact opposite

to be acknowledged and/or released

to get married

to marry her

none of that early pressure

a birthday cake

a particular cake

to see him just once

fresh breath

to be in the group photo

to dance on stage

to share these memories

your house

a new place

true love


a halloween costume


his love to join him in the castle

to play poker

to talk to me

to play with them

my attention

to frighten me

to talk to him

her as a replacement

to repair and heal

to talk to everyone

to have a sleepover

some pie too

to be captured on film

everyone to leave

to let us know that it left us the tiny flowers

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