I like nothing better at night or on languid afternoons

than to curl up on the couch with Tessa Hadley

reading me one of her tales,

familiar yet fresh, cozy yet curdling at the core

like a Victorian murder mystery

Will It Be Painless?

Is it any good pleading? Thompson says.

For your life? Not really.

But you can’t just toss me aside like a dog carcass, not after all I’ve done for you.

You were more than serviceable, Hunter admits. But you’ve served your purpose. You can’t argue with me.

Will it be painless?


Well, get it over with then.

One minute, Hunter says.

He reaches into his satchel and pulls out his laptop.

Finish your drink, Hunter says. Out with the old and in with the new, he smiles, keyboarding fiercely.

He taps the delete button.

And with that, Thompson is gone.

Who Would Do That?

Who would do that?

Creep up in the middle of the night

& drop a dead pigeon

in yr rubbish bin?

If it was good enough

To put in my bin

Why wasn’t it good enough

To put in theirs?

O the stink,

The weight of it!

I shovelled it out of the bin

And tossed it,

Neck all crumpled,

Into the far right hand corner of the garden

Where it could decay

In dignity

Among the cluster of leaves.

The only good thing is

It’s given me something rancorous

To write about.

Moments in Literary History 1

In the late Spring of 1891, Greenbough Smith, the newly appointed literary editor of

‘The Strand’ received a submission of two handwritten manuscripts.

Forty years later he described how he reacted on that day—“I at once realized here was the greatest short story writer

since Edgar Allan Poe, I remember rushing into Mr. Noames [publisher ] room and thrusting the stories before his eyes ….

Here was a new and gifted story writer; there was no mistaking the ingenuity of the plot, the limpid clearness of the style,

the perfect art of telling a story.”

The two stories that excited Smith’s interest were ‘A Scandal in Bohemia’ and ‘The Red-Headed League’

Five Seconds

We were speaking about the disproportionate

use of force by the Allies

during World War Two

esp the fire bombing of Dresden

when he brought it up

to the present

& personal:

when after an eighteen years’ cold case the police

finally caught up with him

& he was sentenced:

just think, he said, shaking his head,

fifteen years

for five seconds of madness

No !

I’m sorry I said NO

to you

& you

& you

all those times

diminishing yr world

I could have done better

withholding affection is a crime

against the human heart

You See Things


You see polio.

You see the boy down the street locked inside

an iron lung.

kids in callipers.

You see the abducted children from your home town —

Joanne Ratcliffe and Kirsty Gordon from the Adelaide Oval

and the Beaumont children taken from Glenelg Beach

on Australia Day ’66 who are never found

& the parents who die not knowing

& you witness the epidemic of fear that keeps yr children

in lockdown

& your own daughter whose boyfriend is taken off a suburban street

and killed by an infamous child abductor

and there are more: the Truro murders and it never stops.

And Debbie Anne Leach who you taught in Year 11

murdered at Taperoo Beach after school with her dog.

And the drug deaths and the suicides

and that lovely Year 9 girl who found her inner poet

And the darkness that swept the world after 9/11

But you’ve seen nothing like this.


Irony Side Up


Would you bring my boxer shorts, mate?

You mean the ones with ‘The Most Perfect Man in the World’ emblazoned on the butt?

Yes, those, he chuckles.

I go into his room.

A half eaten meal, a stubbie with some beer in it, the radio still on.

A damp towel on the bed.

Signs of a quick exit.

A bit like the Marie Celeste.

Ahhh, I say as I fumble through his drawers.

A few minutes later I head off to The Remand Centre

Where TMPM has just been charged

For a cold case murder

18 years ago.

Beside me are the boxer shorts, neatly folded,

Irony side up.

Read the Tide



Read the tide.

Don’t hide.

Don’t bury your head

In the sand.


The hand that thrills

Is also the hand that kills.

Leave nothing to chance.

Randomness is not your friend.

Know what comes around the bend.

Be ready.

Rock steady.

The promontory erodes.

Even the longest roads

Come to an end.

Randomness is not your friend.