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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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

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

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.



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.

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.

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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Stuart Barnes, interviewed by Daniel Young

Daniel Young interviewed our poetry editor Stuart Barnes for Issue Sixteen of the journal to celebrate the release of his debut poetry collection Glasshouses.


DY: Thanks for being a part of out interview series, and congratulations on the recent publication of your debut collection, Glasshouses. Could you start by telling us a bit about your background and how you started writing poetry?

SB: Thanks very much, Daniel. Chuffed to be here, chuffed that Glasshouses is out in the world.

I was born and grew up in Hobart, where as a kid I met poet and librettist Gwen Harwood, who encouraged me to read and to write poetry. In 1996 I moved to Melbourne to study a Bachelor of Arts at Monash University (I majored in Literature). Towards the end of 2005, severe anxiety and mild manic depression peaked; my boyfriend at the time gave me several notebooks in which, at his suggestion, I wrote everything that dropped into my head—none of it poetry. I started to write poetry seriously, i.e., confidently, ambitiously in 2009. I moved to Rockhampton in 2013, which is when I became Tincture’s poetry editor (thanks!), with three close friends who grew up here. In 2015 my manuscript The Staysails won the Arts Queensland Thomas Shapcott Poetry Prize, resulting in the publication of Glasshouses (UQP, 2016).

DY: Can you remember when and where your first poem was published? What was it about?

SB: 2009, in MCV (Melbourne Community Voice), in Letters to the Editor. It was a criticism of a very short-lived club that drew, in my opinion, a very pretentious gay crowd; somehow the men who established it monopolised Melbourne’s best house DJs! In 2007 the very long-running, diverse and inclusive Q&A (Queer & Alternative) closed and, much to my horror, Melbourne’s queer scene’s golden age disintegrated. In 2000, a kind of poem (three lines, not a haiku) accompanied my then-boyfriend’s RMIT assignment. In between this and 2009, I penned lyrics for an electronic ballad written by a friend of that boyfriend and me.

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Michelle Cahill, interviewed by Daniel Young

Daniel Young interviewed Michelle Cahill for Issue Sixteen of the journal. Michelle’s short story collection Letter to Pessoa was recently published by Giramondo and includes ‘A Miko Coda’, an earlier version of which appeared in Issue Seven of Tincture.

Michelle Cahill

DY: Thanks for being a part of our interview series and congratulations on the recent publication of your short story collection, Letter to Pessoa. Could you start by telling us a bit about your background and how you came to writing? Is it something you’ve always wanted to pursue, or something you came upon at a later point in your life?

MC: Thank you Daniel!

I remember when I was in primary school escaping into other worlds, aware of a ‘narrating’ voice that was not quite myself, though it was an intimate aspect of my experience. Growing up through cultural transitions, class and race anxieties, over the years, through books, across countries and interruptions, I guess that voice became writing. I wrote stories and poems in my adolescence but started writing seriously much later in life. At one point, I had wanted to become a musician; now I realise that writing is also an instrument.

DY: You’re a published poet. Have you always written short stories as well, or has this been an evolution from one creative form to another? Indeed, your prose is highly poetic, in terms of both rhythm and imagery. Does this come naturally as you write or is it layered into the prose through editing and re-drafting?

MC: I have been a prose writer for many years, experimenting in forms. Poetry and fiction are distinct processes. When I sit down to write I know whether I am about to write a poem or if it is going to be fiction, but I suppose my language is poetic; that is my natural style. The editing is not really layering but more about correcting the flow (as well as attending to plot and character and focalisation; the many technical aspects of fiction). The composition, the rhythm and auditory texture can allow variations, semantic liberties for the writer as well as malleability for the text. Of course, there is a place for stark, uncluttered sentences and there are passages like that in the book, for instance in its opening paragraph.

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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.