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 or subscribing.

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 or subscribe today.

phonto

Midnight

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.

 

Brunch

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?

 

Otherworld

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.

 

Later

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 or subscribe 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

Huh?

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

Marvellous

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

Exactly

Who doesn’t?

This girl

Right

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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Issue Fifteen Table of Contents

Issue Fifteen is now available. Subscribe to save on the cover price or buy a single tincture here. Here’s what’s inside:

cover

  • 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