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Animal Poems

HEAT Series 3 Number 8
April 2023
The Leech / You’re a sycophant, repugnant. Vile bacchant— / you suck and glut, fill like a slimy phial. No denial / of the claret in our veins. Fat phlebotomist, / yes, you were used to treat ailments—fevers, gout, / haemorrhoids, headaches, clots, bleeding wounds / and gums—you thrived, made doctors rich.
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Three Poems

HEAT Series 3 Number 14
May 2024
8) he followed me on Instagram, I followed him back / just to be kind, and he introduced himself as a physicist / building a time machine and asked if I / was interested to go back to the precolonial Tapanuli / because he had the white man’s guilt, / the Dutch person’s guilt, the coloniser’s guilt, / but also the urge / to verify if my ancestors were really man-eaters, / ‘Aren’t you at least a bit, teeny, tiny, curious?’ / he replied, ending it with a chicken leg emoji
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The First Minute After Midnight

HEAT 11
1999
Through all the months of chemotherapy, what Rachel focussed on was reclaiming herself. Her hair came off in soft and strangely frightening clumps in the shower as if it had no anchor. Nothing whatsoever kept it where it was supposed to be, where it had always been. Her hair said more clearly than anything else that Rachel’s world had come unhinged, that her own personal physics had cut loose and was headed for parts unknown.
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Mourning a Breast

HEAT Series 3 Number 8
April 2023
The pitter-patter of falling water echoed in my ears, as though I could hear the squelching of soap on women’s skin. Supple flesh, water, the sweet scent of soap. When could I go swimming again? I didn’t know. I had no way of guessing, understanding, exploring, or predicting my fate. My mind swam with question marks, the answer to all of these questions the three words ‘I don’t know.’
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Two Stories

HEAT Series 3 Number 4
August 2022
I was sitting on a park bench in winter waiting for my spine to register the chill. The sun was on the side of my face, and I could hear a soccer match. I tried to follow each player without looking at the oval; the players scattered and flickered, and I wanted to be the literature, the story – was sick of merely gusting at the side of it. I figured the first step would be to get cold, to be still, and yet activate a thought. To run my fingers.
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The Cuckold, and Me

HEAT 19. Trappers Way
2009
Cameron called speed the laureate’s drug. I think Alan liked the connotation and he would not stop anyone from calling him The Laureate when he was running around bent and on speed. He even started promoting himself as The Laureate. Only when he was on speed though. When he was sober he was ironic and very modest.
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‘La Poesia è Scala a Dio’On Reading Charles Wright

HEAT 6
1997
When [Charles Wright] calls poetry ‘this business I waste my heart on’ (WTTT, 38), he is not merely making an elegant bow to an eminent rhetorical figure but acknowledging having followed a seductive and fatal path in life. And it is with this thought in mind that we notice that his relations with spiritual masters are not always ironised.
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The New Violence

HEAT Series 3 Number 13
March 2024
It is autumn when László sends his introductory message on the dating app. Seasonal is gripping on to their job while their life falls apart in a foreign country. They are not sure that talking to the world in this state is a good idea, but they don’t know what else to do while they are in free fall. They try to trust that this breaking apart is also a coming together.
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That Oceanic Feeling

HEAT 2. Fitzroy to Freo
2001
Above all other obstacles, it was fear that had held me back in surfing and later, kept me out of the water. Fear of failure, fear of being an imposter, fear of being out of control. All these fears coalesced in the tell-tale corrugations of a big set looming out the back, that unstoppable phalanx of pure, liquid energy from which there was no escape.
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Moonflowers

HEAT 1
1996
The literary world prefers its daytime rose, / sweet and thorny, seasonal, blown. / You open only at night, on the ledge, / stepping from your continent’s shelf / like Houdini on a tightrope, flesh tensed, / gazing in all directions at once / like Titian’s triple portrait beasts, / or your own words, pointing and warning.
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Epimetheus, or The Spirit of Reflection

HEAT 1
1996
We have all heard of Prometheus, great rebel against the gods and bringer to earth of a commodity, fire, which we have depended on from earliest times for much of what makes us human: campfires, cooked meat, the forging of iron into ploughshares, horseshoes, swords. What is not so well known is that Prometheus had a brother, also a titan and demi-god, but as his name suggests quite opposite in nature and habit of thought.
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Blue MaxW.G. Sebald: A Tribute

HEAT 3. I Have Never Worn Sunglasses
2002
Later, at a reception given by the Goethe Institute I was finally introduced to Sebald and was somewhat taken aback by the warmth, the quiet laughter behind the spectacles, the ingenuous manner. ‘Call me Max,’ he suggested, when I struggled with his initials, and I believe that was when I gathered the courage to make a small medical diagnosis of the narrator in The Rings of Saturn, whom I recognised immediately as one suffering from a slipped spinal disc...
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