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HEAT Series 2

Mourning a Breast

HEAT Series 3 Number 8
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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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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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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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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Mozart to da PonteWords and Music

HEAT 12. Ten Years
2006

Da Ponte, dear friend and collaborator, finder of words for me, this is the letter I shall never write and have always been addressing to you, my side of a conversation that has been in progress since we first began, always faintly to be heard under the music I found to fit your words, or rather, in the gap, which is not always silence, where words and music fail, and must always fail, to connnect; in our case an attempt to move between Italy and our more sober North as if there were no Alps to cross. 

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If on a Winter’s Night Some Travellers…

HEAT 18. The Library of Fire
2008

I was re-reading Calvino. That is a pleasure of mine, re-reading. I like the surprising newness in familiarity. And very early on I came upon something that astonished me: the description of a railway station café and all its vapours, the smokiness, the befogged glass, the cloud of steam from the coffee machine; the regulars looking sideways at newcomers, the customers at the bar, the haloed lights, the odour of train that lingers after the trains have left.

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Four Poems

HEAT 17. A Dodo Idiom
2008

Dodo / Okay, so we’re famous for all the wrong reasons, / Our ancestors shed their energy expense & settled / On Mauritius – selection did the rest & our wings / Pared back. Portuguese found us, forest dwelling.

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We Want Our Dealer Back

HEAT 17. A Dodo Idiom
2008

When the pub became overcrowded with tossers from North Sydney, we’d head over to Spanky’s with a case of beer and settle in for the rest of the night. He had a huge plasma TV and a lethal sound system. He’d pass around joints like he was dealing out poker cards, even when we couldn’t afford to buy anything. He’d let us use his computer to surf porn sites and to download acid jazz. 

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Two Stories

HEAT 11. Sheltered Lives
2006

Today my Auntie Lien and I are appearing on the television show of the famed psychologist Dr Phil. The Dr Phil episode we are appearing in is titled ‘What are you really mad at?’ and Dr Phil is asking Auntie Lien and me about how we deal with anger.

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learning english with fatimah  

HEAT 14. Cartoon Ducks
2007

I think: the sugar’s hit the brain / when she’s finished / she slurps the rest of her tea / and says / ‘australians only believe in fark’ / ‘what?’ / ‘you know, fark – that’s all they say around here: / fark fark fark why do they have to say / that / all the time for?

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Meal Tickets

HEAT 14. Cartoon Ducks
2007

Jola and Mirek are generous, hospitable, and the only remotely bourgeois people we will meet for the entire two months we are in Poland. After a forty-hour journey from Australia, a sumptuous meal and wine, the talk flowed, and I learnt my most enduring lessons about Poland. The Jewish question is vexed. The Polish Pope Jan Paweł II is sacrosanct; by extension the current German Pope Benedict XVI is highly regarded. And, as Mirek said, I have gay friends, but I do not want it rubbed in my face.

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The South

HEAT 1. Fire & Shadow
2001

On a soft, sunlit morning in March 1959, just a few days before my twenty-fifth birthday, I stood at the rails of an Italian liner, the Fairsky, and after a five-weeks sea-voyage that had taken me via Singapore, Colombo, Bombay, Aden and Port Said, saw the Bay of Naples open before me, and utterly familiar in the distance the dark slopes and scooped-out cone of Vesuvius – all just as I had always imaged it, like the breaking of a dream.

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A Script With No Words

HEAT 1. Fire & Shadow
2001

Several years ago, a group of Canberra sex-workers applied to the Australia Council and were granted $6,280 to write a film script. The organization WISE (Workers In Sex Employment) was involved. A local writer ran some workshops, characters were developed, a plot outlined. But the project caused a stir, and resulted in a good deal of bad publicity, most of which used the argument that funding prostitutes to write a film script was a waste of public money.

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