Monday, November 11, 2013

Postcards from Bali

Writers Journey's Backstage Bali retreat attracted some wonderful writers again this year. Below are some of their contributions...

Michelle Leber

The Worship of Flowers

Can you hear the sound of a leaf
my friend? The one that dangles from
the great blue cup we know as the sky.

The Goddess of Hanging Gardens casts leafage
with the skill of a fisherman. She’s learnt
her aim from the Lazy God of Swishing Fish―
the one known to capture more than
stillness from a pond.

Her rod is neither predictable in form,
nor a weapon of hunting, but a verdant
festoon of flowers. She captures the aroma
in evening air, pigeon’s haunting solo,
the floating mood of a passerby.

Can you hear the sound of a leaf
my friend? The one that dangles from
the great blue cup we know as the sky.

 Michelle Leber is a Melbourne poet whose work has been published  in Best Australian Poems 2009 and 2013 (Black Inc), The Age, Meanjin, high school texts, environmental bulletins and on trains. Her current manuscript, The Yellow Emperor, is a mythography in verse exploring proto-historic civilization in China.

Peter Bishop                             

The mist has lifted now as I sit on the terrace of Lakeview Hotel—Batur has emerged in all her magnificence, as if to say—did you doubt?
And the trucks are grinding up the flanks of the crater that surrounds her.

It is a relentless, remorseless extraction of her congealed blood—the black basalt flow that has  frozen on her southern hip, and it goes on all day, every day, year after year.

Batur  is not dead.
She slumbers with one half-open eye—occasionally she exhales a little sigh.

She is young in geological terms—although of course she is much older than the houses that dot her flanks, the machines that pick at her scabs, the people who pester her.

One day she might decide to shrug them off.

You can see the ring of escarpments around her that her mother built when she was born, and beyond that a second ring that might have been her great great grandmother—ancient beyond comprehension.

And yet, even so, Batur and all her ancestors are infants in the scheme of global geology. This place and everything about it captures me. It has a monumental and awesome beauty on a village scale—Batur has an intimate grandeur that I have not seen elsewhere.

 Busloads of people arrive during the day when she has withdrawn her splendour like an anemone withdrawing its tender tentacles. 

They wear shorts and socks and sandshoes and loud shirts and they have their photos taken against her sleeping head and they eat their lunches on the balcony with their backs to her, and they leave. 

In their buses, their fleets of numbered hire cars—they are in a hurry— there are sights to see, schedules to keep.

They did not see her rising naked from her bed of mist and clouds, they did not see the shimmer of the early morning in the lake at her foot, the skim of hungry  herons, the drift of dugout fishermen, the gathering of  workers wrapped against the cold— except for their thonged feet.

I sit here on the cusp of her cradle, sipping her thick dark coffee, wondering if that murmur was the pulse of her unguessable heart.

Peter Bishop a short story writer whose award include: The Australasian Short Story Award, The Banjo Paterson Literary Award, The Fellowship of Australian Writers Short Literary Competition and The E J Brady Short Short Story Award.His first published anthology is Black Soil.

Julie Freeman

The Bird's Journey

The bird twittered, flapped its wings and flew out the window. Over the trees and valleys,mountains and rivers it flew until it reached the end of the world. There it found a dog.

“Woof!” said the dog. “Welcome to the Underworld. State your business.”
“I've come to deliver a message” said the bird.

The dog considered.“Choose wisely” said the dog. “You may enter but I cannot let you leave.”

The bird twittered and flew in small circles then past the dog and through the door to the Underworld. The walls were dark and damp and an earthy smell permeated the tunnel. Soon a feeble light appeared, seeping in from small openings high up in the walls. The bird did not know the way. It came to a frame on the wall and looked at another bird, very like itself.

“Where am I going?” asked the bird and flapped its wings.

“Where am I going?” asked the bird in the frame and flapped its wings.

They looked at each other for a moment. The bird flew directly at the frame and through just as the other bird flew towards it. They met and crossed.The bird from the frame tweeted happily “I have escaped at last!”

The bird with the message flew on finding itself in a barren, deserted world populated with grey stone buildings, mostly ruined, and large red stones. Flashes of lightning and sudden peels of thunder inundated the scene. Sweeping heavy rains caused the bird to take shelter behind a rock to save its fragile wings. The rain slowly eased. The bird saw a light in the window of one of the grey, stone buildings high up above. It flew upwards and through the dark window towards the beckoning light.

It found itself in an old old room with a writing desk made of dark wood. On it were a quill and a half empty bottle of ink. Cobwebs furnished the room, the desk and the chair. There were rows of glass bottles stoppered with corks on a shelf in the corner. These were somehow important, the little bird didn't understand. It shook the remaining rainwater off its wings and sat down at the desk to write.

Julie Freeman lives in Perth and is currently working on a novel

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