Kim Waters | The Builder
Sometimes I hear the scaffolding strain,
his whistle through the plasterless rooms,
and I’m there again, seven-years-old,
watching his hands cradle a brick,
set it square, remove a spill
with the point of a diamond-shaped knife.
I remember his hair flecked with paint,
a nail purse belted around his waist,
a flat pencil, fold-up ruler
and a packet of Bex in his overall bib.
The way he’d hammer a nail, his gaze
a spirit level of concentration
as he zithered a wedge of wood with his saw.
How he’d jam one knee up against a horse,
shaved timber falling in curls
around his hobnailed boots.And the times
he’d lift me onto his rafted shoulders
and we’d move through the whalebone rooms of a house,
him sure-footed, walking the line
of his tight-roped years and me reaching
into the open-roofed sky.
Rob Wallis | The Priest
You take the steps down to our front door
one at a time, as if your knees
buckle under the weight of prayer.
The small bag you carry
for an overnight stay, clinks.
It doesn’t sound like pyjamas,
a change of underwear, a stringent
volume on the lives of the saints
you’ve struggled, for years, to emulate.
You greet both of us with a hug,
cling on much longer than we wanted,
a candle lit for an urgent need.
In the kitchen you open the bag,
produce two bottles of wine,
a bottle of whisky. Nothing else.
This is an act of generosity.
Or it measures the religious life,
the toll it’s taken on your sexuality.
You begin our meal with a prayer,
celebrate friendship, proud, and envious,
of us, a pair of beads on your rosary.
We are reduced to a congregation.
Your sermon, eased with the blood
of Christ, is a litany of anniversaries:
the day you first met my partner
in a church. The year that he left
the seminary. And after ordination,
the stations of your cross, a thorny journey
through promotions to smaller, and smaller
parishes, a snide excommunication.
You have devoted your life to Jesus,
now you admit you wish his name
had been Damian or Angelo or Ben.
We listen in silence to this disclosure,
not surprised, but not comfortable
in this confessional, our roles reversed.
No amount of Hail Mary’s, no blessings,
no forgiveness of sins, can compensate
for the years of sacrifice, and denial.
You leave the next morning, each step
a retreat back to seclusion, each
intake of breath a whisper withdrawn.
Jhermayne Ubalde | Mother
there are flowers in my head. they bloom between spiderweb cracks with a psychedelic sheen. honey pouring into my dreams. pollen falling onto my shoulders. you sowed weeds. little black seeds. scattered among the flowers. poison ivy. brambles. their pollen left angry red marks. they tasted like black jellybeans. like liquorice. or aniseed. you shovelled it into my throat. there was the heaving of lungs. they sprouted from my ears. they formed a noose and
whispered things. they burned my eyes so i couldn’t fall asleep. i can’t fall asleep. there were flowers in my head.
Jhermayne Ubalde| Flowers
Disha Awashti | Two Worlds
Which dimension do I fit in?
The new one or the one of my kin?
I wanted the blonde hair and white skin
Like two armies raging inside of me,
Not able to decide,
Am I Australian?
Am I Indian?
Who would I be?
My roti discarded,
Because it wasn’t what the other kids ate
My name made fun of,
Because it wasn’t something like Kate
Was there something so wrong with speaking my language?
People looked at me as if it was sacrilege
I had an Indian accent
Because I sounded different
Now, I look at myself in the mirror
And I think I can see myself a little clearer
Thongs and butter chicken
Barbeques and Bindi’s
I am Indian. I speak Hindi
I am Australian. I speak English.
I am me
Jasmin Yaxin Wu| The Princess
i want to set the record
straight about the princess.
in this story she does not
run away with the prince.
she is nine and carving initials
into the trees around the palace garden
her mother, the queen asks her
which noble prince, lord or knight
she has fallen madly in love with
and a few white lies make her so sure
it was a boy that she was thinking about
she is eleven and has begun to notice
that couples are always a pair of opposites
her mother, the queen thinks that
the princess is far too young to
understand the ways of the world
but the princess knows she is old enough to
realise why it was a girl’s face she dreamt of
she is thirteen and can say the word ally,
so she is adjacent but not part of anything
her mother, the queen believes that
the princess will soon find a gallant prince
to sweep her off her feet
however, the princess is too busy thinking
about kissing her best friend
she is fifteen and the drawbridge lowers,
as her true feelings come out
her mother, the queen considers the
rainbow to be just a phase, but surprisingly
accepts the princess’ identity all the same
the princess now understands why she
had always felt different from everyone else.
because she doesn’t want a castle
or a chest of silk gowns
she doesn’t want a kingdom
or even a golden crown
she wants to hold your hand
where everybody else can see
she wants to love without fear,
judgement or scrutiny
the word ‘gay’ begins to roll off her tongue,
and it is whispered and spoken and screamed
to make up for all those lost years
the princess doesn’t want a prince
2020 Awards Ceremony
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Competition Opens | 3rd July 2021
Competitions Closes | 5th September 2021
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