Eon II: Sail Into Light

Elius Ten is dark. They said it would be dark, but The Academy never told them what the dark could do. The cold, deep, creeping darkness that seeped into every disquiet, every   restless space inside your head. The dark made you feel lost – disconnected: not knowing where you or anyone else were amongst the infinite expanse of space. Like sailors overboard adrift in the black of night on a strange and foreign ocean. The monotony of repetitive tasks edging into a suffocating meaninglessness. A tightness that would gather in your chest at times from this boredom accompanied by a teasing despair. That is what the dark could do on Elius Ten: the unsung Geo-lab/space Lighthouse stationed off the Kuiper Belt in the farthest reaches of the Milky Way.


Few people held this post for more than two rotations. The small crew it did keep were aptitude tested yet that is, of itself, indefinite. Too many causes for the mind to become unhinged closed in on those prone to the symptoms of working deep-space deployment. Even with specialist military training, rumours of ghosts in the galley and crew losing or misplacing time were common. Most adapted to the forty-eight-hour deep-space cycle: thirty-six hours’ waking time with twelve hours sleep. Days bled into nights strewn into weeks that yawned into months. Before long, a rotation had passed and you were a year older. Deep-cave dwellers of Earth were perhaps the only ones who could compare their altered sense of time.

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The Mist

In the beginning
Bitter air pushing against laboured lungs
Forcing themselves apart
In angst
Against the grain
The Middle.
Mist; rising to meet its ally in the sky
Of silver-gray basket weaves
Tying knots in our minds eyes.
The End
Mist; rolling off rolling out
Squeezed between layers of mud, memories, hopes
And dreams
Escapes unscathed.

©Cath Piltz 2017

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Review: Nathan Curnow: The Right Wrong Notes

Nathan Curnow: The Right Wrong Notes

Published 2015 ASM & Cerberus Press, with Flying Island Books

Reviewed for The Rochford Street Review: A Journal of Australian & International Cultural Reviews, News and Criticism.

This is a collection of 59 selected poems from previous and recent publications including No Other Life But This, The Ghost Poetry Project, RADAR, with recent works appearing in The Rialto, Meanjin and Land Before Lines.

Curnow displays an interesting ensemble of moments, memories, and experiences through prose form, traditional stanza and some nice extended prose like Gently Against the Grain (pg 76). There are some very tender moments in the poems dedicated to his daughters, his wife and his father – an overarching theme as he reflects on fatherhood, or the implicated fatherhood, family and life. I particularly enjoyed Goal Cat (pg 32) for the characterisation of the cat in question. As a performance poet you can feel the message in a lot of Curnow’s prose. His pacing and rhythm delivers a sound punch and gentle ebb purposefully placed with such gems as Broadarrow Café, Port Arthur (pg 49), The Doctor Asks the Elderly Poet to Read the Eye Chart, and Norman Lindsay upon visiting the Ballarat Art Gallery to discover that the entire family room he grew up in has now been donated and is now on permanent display (pg 74). Curnow’s writing is skilful and fluid, organising imagery so much without trying. His observations in Violent Light (pg 78), Slip Ice (pg 76) and I am the lion on the edge of your bed who has come to eat your heart (pg 72) delivers fascinating insights and snapshots surmounted into a short, sharp glimpse of the individual’s lives he portrays. An honest, reflective account of moments, memories, and experiences. Thoroughly enjoyable.




Fact vs Fiction

Fact and fiction in: The Hours, by Michael Cunningham and Joe Cinque’s Consolation, by Helen Garner.


Fact and fiction are two distinct concepts used to define and analyse texts in a nonfictional literary context. Issues pertaining to fact and fiction include concepts of identity, authenticity, truth, objectivity. Fiction, in a nonfictional context surmounts to creative writing strategies that are relevant insofar as readers of biography are greedy, with an insatiable appetite for detail and [story] (Lee 2005). Modernist discourse contributed to literary techniques of stream of consciousness writing, interior monologue and free indirect style. For the scope of this essay the abovementioned elements will be discussed with reference to Joe Cinque’s Consolation (Garner 2004) and The Hours (Cunningham 2006).

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The Secret Castle

An abandoned Castle lies on the mountain peak a mile or so from the port village of Shoalhaven. It is surrounded by a Pine forest with thick Birch and Spruce trees. From inside overlooking the eastern balcony is a steep ravine that leads into the Mediterranean Sea. Outside, its bent towers skew into a turquoise sky. It has missing shingles that poke light inside its vast caverns like a kaleidoscope of what it wants to reveal. The interior of its many rooms and halls expand into what was once vast opulence. There are hidden stairwells that ascend and descend deep into the mountain. At the bottom of one, a large dome yawns over a platform where smaller boats can moor. There are openings in the rock where the ocean swirls around large boulders and amongst thick sea grass. Large fish from the Atlantic skulk past. Sometimes she stops to look at the fish; big, big fish, larger than her mother’s trawler. The ovals of their eyes shimmer and she sees her reflection in them.

She wanders upstairs in the tower rooms, with their desks and bookshelves.  One has many intricate glass ornaments. Another, large wrought iron lounges are covered in thick sheets. She picks up a brass goblet. Daylight glistens across its eight faces. She muses into the milky glare, twisting the goblet in her hand so the reflections animate. She sees reflections of her Mother and then her Father, an older man she later thinks was Grandfather. The goblet is returned and then the rank of fish scales in her overalls reminds her of the shimmering eye of the giant cod from below. She has left work undone back on the docks.

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At Your Service

Twilight in Nightcap National Forest had passed when I first saw him on the fence stump in my front garden.  He wasn’t trying to get my attention, though plonking my teacup onto the kitchen sink with a clang didn’t stop the strong feeling of presence. Something in his eyes made me look, and then again. He perched upon the old stump demurely, his scruffy thick fur and whiskers gently shimmering in the underexposed picture I was staring at. How did he do that? There were no stars, moon or magical tripwires set out tonight. Cats cannot glow in the dark. I blinked. He was grooming himself, the shimmering gone. I was reaching for another teabag when a deep, well spoken voice asked me if he could come in, if I would be so kind.  I peeked around the breakfast bar. The TV was on mute. I stole a glance out front. A swift glimpse into the swirls of my seeing-bowl. Nothing. I backtracked to the laundry to scan the yard. All was quiet. The Tom sat proud upon the stump, his brilliant black fur draped about his shoulders complimenting his white undercoat. He was very handsome. We eyeballed each other. Then he leapt from the stump and stood up on his hind legs. My mouth agape he swaggered on over to my door. Dumbstruck, I unlocked it. This night was most peculiar.

‘Felix, at your service,’ he announced with a bow, continuing right into my lounge room.

*                                                                      *

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The Butterfly Girl


MAGGIE: 6yo ghost: frilly pink & white dress, open top black shoes with white socks. Blonde piggy tails platted and held with bright coloured ribbons. MARCUS’S daughter.

MARCUS: 40 something medium build collar length bed hair, 5 o’clock shadow, chino’s, polo shirt, rykers sneakers. Rolly hanging out the edge of his mouth. Associate Lecturer Science, divorced. MAGGIE’S Father. Rather Introverted.

SUSANNA: Late 30s, self-employed, stylish. Business dress. MAGGIE’S Mother. Quite extroverted.


Maggie’s bedroom: federation style timber room painted pastel lemon with large sash windows (white architrave), lace curtains, polished timber floor (light). A dbl base single bed adorned with a thick white doona with a gumtree print pattern across one end is made neatly. Two big pillows rest against a white bed head with a large fluffy stuffed teddy bear in the middle. A white dressing table with a mirror hosts a ballerina music box, a brush and assorted clips – all neatly in their place. Glow in the dark butterfly stickers are stuck around the edges of the mirror. There is a similar desk, with shelves containing photos, fluffy toys, trinkets, pencils, paper. A hanging mobile with brightly decorated butterflies hangs above the bed. A large rug with cartoon butterflies lies in the middle of the room. A butterfly theme is evident in the room with decals on the walls, trinkets on the window sills and shelves. A small chest of drawers next to the bed has a butterfly lampshade on its light. A wind chime with small butterflies hangs in one corner of the window.


SUSANNA is selling the house after a bitter divorce where we find MARCUS who has come to collect some of his deceased daughter’s belongings. MAGGIE’S ghost is in the room.

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The Speculum

It wasn’t in the mirror this morning. It had been cleaned out. The sponges and spray bottles were still on the sink, that’s what was odd. After the nightclubs had closed and all the drunks had meandered into the deadly blackness the cleaners came in to mop up.

A few regulars went missing some time ago. If it was just one drunken sod the tales probably would have stopped. Yet next week Sam Bates vanished. Then the rum loitered in the glasses and lips smacked about monsters.

Returning from the ladies I jumped at Sam’s face screaming in the mirror.

© C. Piltz 2014




What strange sorrow should befall this fine morning,

As an imploded star’s deepest blackness should seek to draw out

all of life’s joy from me?

And what sealed box that no key would unlock

Should steal my heart

that forever yearning could never touch

nor hope to possess?

Her eyes her eyes her eyes.

©Cath Piltz