Cory’s Isolation Pie

Rake surface of flat rock with feet. Preheat to forty degrees C. Spread grass seeds, mixed grain and insects evenly across rock. Screech while stomping on ingredients to form bottom crust. Crack remaining seeds with beak. Wing-beat cracked seeds in bowl with koel eggs, butter and milk. Pour on preheated rock. While pie is baking, don covida costume. Invite dinner guests to perform thirty to forty acrobatic tricks on telephone wires while waiting. Rip and chew masks. Toss hot pie with dandelion and grass salad.

– Julie Chevalier

FIFO

We did long distance from the day we returned from our honeymoon. With Paul’s fly-in-fly-out gig in the Pilbara, and my shifts at the hospital, we reckoned we’d have our deposit within a year. Short term pain. Running up hours on video calls. Glorious weeks, between the absences, of voracious passion.

But that was before the virus. People started turning into birds. Some just a little, then back through the suffering into close to what they’d been – though never unchanged. Others, like Paul, the changes were unstoppable, coursing through them. Breathless metamorphosis. He should have stayed in the top end. No cases there.

We said goodbyes while he still had words. Words like I’d never heard them. Sweet and tortured, in a voice no longer human.

Rainbow Lorikeets lived among the palm fronds in the street planting in our suburb. We knew from his colouring, that he would become one.

I hung out a bird feeder. Fashioned a birdbath from a chipped enamel dish.

Then I waited. One morning a single bird flew into the yard. It perched in the white cedar looking at me.

As I was about to call his name a second bird arrived, then a third. Another went straight to the feeder. Hung upside down seeking the honey-sweetened grains.

Soon I had a small flock, returning each day, keeping me, in their noisy, comical way, a little less sorrowful. Scrapping and squabbling at times. At others, in pairs, grooming each other’s bright feathers as the sun went down.

– Richard Holt

enough

so it comes
to night time curfews
morbid counts
on hours and days
creeping stains
on linen
masquerades
and blame
joy in short supply
hope alike
in bleaker moments
undiminished by comparisons
until this
sky shaken down
cloud ball spreading
slo-mo
then rocket speed
across another metropolis
taking all in a moment
a moment of silence
a stillness wake
then wailing
and I in screenbound
isolation watching
at safe electronic distance
knowing
I would be infected
in preference
to that
even lost
be made
a bird
to never kiss again
with soft lips
on unfeathered skin
would fly to such
other place
as the disease
might take me
rather than
be caught in that
unimaginable confusion

what though
if I called
that city
home
would I shudder long after
the shudder of the blast
and think ‘enough’
then find
against that wish
another heartbeat
a ceaseless diaphragm
dragging smoke
into reluctant lungs
the great filter
of my being’s body
distilling from the toxic haze
sweet oxygen
enough
and in
a number
not so great
of breaths
be digging
with bare hands
in rubble
or find myself
hardly knowing how
carrying
a shredded stranger

– richard holt

 

Playing through

– the very great leader counts only what he thinks worth counting – marks birdies as eagles – eagles as albatrosses – he has few bogeys – as if he would – grinds out another sub-par round – accepts sychophant accolades – the chicken flu thing can wait – 19th hole – maybe one of the secret service boys will have a useful angle – a way around – a hacker’s slice skirting a water hazard –

– Richard Holt

The Laboratory

There’s a crystal ball, rockpool, water cup, advice from Mt Olympus, a velvet medieval hat, a cape, old maps, flying cards, black cat, the promise of a cure extends for a million miles. Is there time before the parking runs out? The numbers are tremendous! Colours are dirty greys. Douse the bugs in lemon juice and Clorox, then ring the cathedral bells. Draw a door to walk through to the vaccine lab. On a table a petri dish slips and slides, testing safety, efficacy, side effects, add liquids plates troughs, plasticware to the robots and away we go, a saucer to cross contaminate the spills. The politics of seeking a cure are harder to manage, Kayleigh speaks meta, meta twitter feeds, briefings, rallies, rebuilding economies, ‘Awesome’ she says walking past the room pushing a stroller, more in touch with hype than science, centrifuges the whole experience into focus with social distancing. You can argue about god, you can argue about politics, pipette tips, dogs, clowns in masks, oysters, anything but Fauci. Floors swept, walls scoured, probed and primed, the place slick, windswept as the graves in parklands. New principles emerge white out of black, nothing can bleach the world back to naïve. What about plagues not even thought about? Never met a virologist who believes we won’t encounter another one. Hide in the hallways of each house marked with a red cross, good and invisible, watch a living corona on a see-saw in the gloom and them getting busy with their unique genetic codes.

– Linda Godfrey

Linda Godfrey is a poet, writer, editor. She is using this corona time to write, hang out in the sun and keep in contact with friends and family. She misses yoga classes and her writing group.

Somersault

Races have started, the usual half-pissed conversations, hard to concentrate in here even with covid spacing. A row of corellas on the power line outside. They were there last Saturday too. Regulars. Haha. Your throat tickles, another sneeze coming, you’ll be kicked out before you’ve finished your first drink. Wipe your eyes, pretend something went down the wrong way, a bit of hay fever. Phew. One of those smart-arse avians dives into a somersault, comes up crest first, wings out, bullet eyes blazing, beak open. Beat that. You imagine them nudging each other, laughing at the human condition. They’re probably right.

– Hilary Hewitt

Hilary Hewitt is an inner-Sydney based writer of microfiction. She is using covid time to finish reading Volume 4 of Proust. On the whole she prefers watching corellas.

captain corella

on covid eve i wash the windows
fern tree fronds make shadows on the dusk wall

tendrils of arabic script
harmonious loops clinging to the line

a child writing below the line
washing pegged to a hills hoist

an asylum seeker learning english
might note the harm in harmony

might sense danger everywhere:
the fronds might rain down barbs

through the clean windows captain corella
& his border patrol watching waiting

      – Julie Chevalier

Home

This better be good, Bev, says Rocket. Essential business.

Don’t shit me, she says. I’ve just lost every booking for eight months. And now I have to tell my permanents to go.

Rules, says the Constable.

Yeah rules. I got two with nothing, and with nowhere to go…

Dot and Carl.

I’m letting ’em stay.

Shit, Bev.

Shit nothing. I need your word.

My blind eye.

You said it, not me.

Or some kind of exemption

Yeah. Maybe. But if you go official on me and fuck it up…

A blind eye. Look the other way. Bloody bureaucracy.

Thanks Rocket.

I didn’t say…

Thanks Rocket.

 

By the time Bev gets back to the caravan park the redgums along the creek have filled with corellas. Thousands of ’em maybe. Even more than usual. Bev doesn’t mind the reviled birds. They make their presence felt. They understand they’re strength is collective. Maybe she wouldn’t feed them old bread the way Dot does, but right now she has other things to worry about.

      – RH

Passing. Not passing

The old Rigley Building is prime real estate, as grand as it gets in this town. A run of seven Victorian terraces, it sits just up the hill from the park, so even now there is passing foot traffic, admiring as always, at least until the signs come into focus – the feathers pinned to front doors, as is the new custom. Three on Number-7, one next door on ‘9’. A gap then four, then one again.

Leonora hustles little Orla across to the other side of Garden St. Her promise, that they’ll come back to look at the beautiful blue bear in the window of Number-11 later, rings hollow to her even as she says it. She hates this fucking lockdown.

 

Richard Holt, July 2020

Ditty

(to the tune of Rockin’ Robin)

He stomps in his Tree House all day long
Praising all the birds who sing along to his song
But many other birds can’t stand his beat
They’re sick of Cockatoo going tweet tweet tweet

Stop your tweeting (tweet, tweet, tweet)
It’s irritating! (TWEET, TWEEDLE-LEE-DEE)
Hey, Cockatoo, are you ever gonna get it right?

Ev’ry little sparrow’s got a song to share
The forest can’t be GREAT if you don’t truly care
Disease is among us, nothing’s under control
Your lyrics are poisonous, they’re taking a toll

Stop your tweeting (tweet, tweet, tweet)
It’s irritating!! (TWEET, TWEEDLE-LEE-DEE)
Hey, Cockatoo, are you ever gonna get it right?

Seetha Nambiar Dodd