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The Open Doors

Maree and I hopped off the bus and flitted up the hill to the hospital entrance. We were enchanting elves buzzing in fairyland since last night, off our faces on mescalin with our mates.

After Roger said Maree’s face was turning green, the five of us had a simultaneous silent vision where we were ripples on the surface of life and death was when one slipped down to the depths below. Roger had freaked out at the magical communion and hidden the knives.

“Noone can have a shower, it’s too dangerous,” he’d ranted.

I’d grinned at Maree who followed me outside. In the yard, hibiscus flowers glowed and shimmered. Plants flaunted their vivid inner lives to us and I never looked at them the same way since. Back inside, I found a pen and paper and invented a new language which made sense at the time. No words existed to describe the raging gamut of unfiltered experiences so I created my own.

Over brekkie, I’d persuaded Maree to visit my grandma with me. In our elevated state, this had seemed like an excellent idea.

The hospital foyer was oddly empty, though we spotted a large crowd seated outside nearby.

Upstairs we found my grandma, in there for tests. We gave her the flowers which had adopted us from various gardens on the way.

“What’s with all the people outside, Grandma?”

“Oooo, didn’t you know, Prince Charles is here, he’s reopening the hospital. They’re changing its name to his.”

“Has he given it any of his loot to deserve this?”

Being stolidly Scottish, Gran was no royalist and she smiled at my cheek.

“I don’t know, dear, why don’t you go down and ask him?”

We all laughed.

“OK, Gran, we’ll go and have a look. See you in a minute.”

Through the hospital labyrinth, we wandered in the general direction of the grand event.

“Maybe if we find the right route, we can sneak up behind him,” Maree suggested.

Entering a glassed-in area at the end of a corridor, we spotted the Prince’s entourage, fierce looking blokes in dark suits who were probably MI6 and a couple of heavily made-up blonde women squeezed into tight Dior jackets and matching skirts, along with some press photographers and journalists straggling about.

All eyes were fixed on an open door through which we could hear the Prince’s speech indistinctly. We were invisible.

“Hey, it’s February the 29th,” I whispered, “isn’t there an old tradition if someone asks a bloke for their hand in marriage on a leap day, they have to accept?” I stifled a snigger.

“Oh yeah, please, let’s do it.” Maree was my besty and up for anything.

“Hey if I distract them, you can just walk up to him and give it a go, Maree. What have we got to lose, we’re just two ditzy sheilas. Noone’s going to mind.”

Yeah right. The inflated sense of invulnerability from the opened doors of perception hadn’t worn off.

We moved closer. Noone noticed us.

Then I saw him. Or rather I saw his ears which stuck out like ping pong bats on each side of his long head.

Forget the title and the easy life a prince could offer. No way was I going to propose to that.

“Hey, Maree, imagine waking up next to those every morning.”

Too late, she was heading for the verandah and the Prince.

He’d finished his speech and everyone was clapping. Maree ran toward him, tripped over and slid into an ungainly heap at his feet.

“Goodness, dear, are you alright?”

The Prince grasped her arm and pulled her to the vertical.

Maree was speechless. Come on, say it, say it.

Nothing.

She turned beetroot, stammering sorry noises as he led her back inside.

“It’s OK, she’s with me,” I volunteered, unable to wrench my eyes off his monstrosities.

“I’m Wendy and this is Maree. You have to be Prince Charles. We’re here to see my Gran and found out you were here too. We’ll just go back to Gran’s ward now.”

Maree had lost her tongue still. The Prince looked at her quizzically.

“Come on, Maree, looks like you won’t be royalty after all,” I said.

Then I addressed him.

“Charles, is it true if we propose marriage to you on a leap day you have to accept?”

The Prince guffawed.

“Are you British?”

“Errr no, your Earness, I mean, Highness.”

“Only British commoners may apply.”

Common? he called us common!

“Come on Maree, we’re out of here. Now.”

We beat a hasty retreat up to Grandma who cackled so hard at our fiasco, she upset the rest of the patients.

“Thank goodness you couldn’t propose and be accepted. I couldn’t bear those parasites in the family. You know they stole our family’s estate outside Edinburgh centuries ago. The sooner we’re a republic here, the better, I say.”

“Damn, Gran, I forgot to ask him whether he donated money for the privilege of naming the place after him.”

Gran passed away a few months later. She showed me how to die well, with our royal adventure providing her with a good laugh till her time came. The night after she died, I saw her in a dream, dressed like a duchess on an ornate balcony above a Venetian canal, smiling and waving at me.

Jinjirrie
April 2021

COMMEMORATIVE HAIKUS

Colonizer dies
Servile press feasts on carcass
Chucky takes the spoils

Queen dead on Day 2
Turn on the TV and yawn
Not this shit again

Chucky the Turd drools
elevates Willy of Wales
bye Mummy and thanks

Chucky inherits
Britain’s imperial loot
Time to pay it back

Coronation glee
Aussie Parliament
goes on holiday

Two weeks holiday
For bludging Aussie pollies
One day for voters

White supremacists
Flying colours on Day 4
Lambie loves Hanson

Relief on Day 5
Back to normal programming
The Rabbitohs won

Protest monarchy
In “democratic” Britain
And you’re thrown in jail

No truth to power
Permitted in the UK
Dissent is silenced

Slick role of the Crown
Uniting supine peasants
to serve ruling class

Caitlin Moran breach
Bow to the coloniser
Or pay settlers’ fine

F*ck imperialism
Abolish the monarchy
Crush the ruling class

Nine million is
Funeral money well spent
To conceal the poor

People freeze and starve
While lucky Chucky 3 skips
Inheritance tax

British monarchy
Still miscegenation rules
Absolute whiteness

Distracting freebie
Coffin queuing for twelve hours
Forget power bills

Today’s top idea
The little Aussie bleeder
On the pink snapper

Return the jewel
Apologize for empire
Theft and genocide

The ABC sends
Twenty-seven journalists
to bootlick England

Under Ita’s reign
Public broadcaster becomes
Women’s Weekly drool

Even Stan Grant is cross
Aboriginal people
Silenced by settlers

Royal death orgy
Media funeral feast
Orgasms today

The cortege commences
Time to watch horror movies
And sci fi instead

Lisa Millar drools
Outside Westminster Abbey
toxic royalty

Another day bored
By slathering media
Forcefed royalty

Interminable
Grovelling sycophancy
To unearned loot

Meghan Markle shines
Racist royalists demand
White supremacy

Public holiday
To be flooded by deluge
We may as well work

In memoriam
Of her complicit silence
With empire’s foul crimes

No holiday here
Just solemn contemplation
of Frontier Wars

Ghoulish media
Gobbling scraps of royal corpse
Winter is coming

#QE2Haiku
#ChuckyHaiku
#NotMyKing

Deep Retreat

The Frangipani Path

At the top of the hill, twelve white-robed women filed into a clearing in the forest. In the centre grew a frangipani tree in full bloom, emanating elegant fragrance. On the other side, veiled by a pink thicket of quisqualum, a dark entrance was barely visible.

“Wait, my sisters, and anoint yourself with the sacred oil,” said Elysia, the group’s leader. “We have arrived for your ascension. You first, Arcolia. Your vibrational energy is exceptional.”

Through the hoop pines, the solstice sun flickered its morning rays across the clearing, illuminating the mouth of the cavern. Arcolia smiled serenely at the other women, knowing her journey to the photon band had succeeded. Finally, she was to be initiated into the Frangipani Sisterhood.

Grasping her carved quartz sound bowl, Arcolia followed Elysia to the secret sanctum of the High Priestess Frantia.

….

“Just smell these high frequency aromas, Wendy, absolutely spectacular,” Carol gushed and beamed.

I had to admit they were delicious.

Carol had always loved yoga classes. She stumbled across the Frangipani Path through a goat meditation yoga workshop at Byron Bay. On her return, she paid up eagerly for the introductory 12 week online Franginitiate course. A cool thousand seemed like a lot to me for a couple of zoom sessions a week with Mother Frantia. And the scented oils and lotions to complement the meditation exercises cost a mint too, as did the Frangipani chakra toning tapes.

After the sixth week, Carol was hooked.

“Mother Frantia tells me I have perfect potential to become one of their best teachers. During meditation, she introduced me to my Archangel guide Razeel from the Pleiades. He spoke to me and promised to reveal all my past lives and merge them into me. First I must achieve the ceremonial initiation into the Frangipani Sisterhood.”

“What do you mean he ‘spoke’ to you. Did you actually see him?” I struggled to conceal my mirth.

“I saw a golden cloud in the zoomroom and his voice came from the cloud. They call it sound alchemy.”

Sounded like a lot of hooey to me.

“Where does the money go, Carol?”

“The Frangipani Sisterhood has a wonderful network of retreats, oracles, sound healers and spiritual trainers. It’s really exclusive. They only take women who are truly suited for the holy tasks. Because of my potential, they’re giving me a really big discount.”

Four weeks of arcane ministrations and meditations at these retreats would still cost her $60,000.

“Nothing but the best, look at the gorgeous website, Wendy. The High Sisters can levitate. I’ve seen them in my net sessions.”

“Carol, anything can be faked over the internet. More likely they lift your bank account and leave you with a credit card burden.”

“No, my darling, these are holy women who have gained their knowledge at the best ashrams in India and Native American sweat lodges. Mother Frantia even met the Dalai Lama and stayed in a real ancient Egyptian temple of Isis near Cairo. The sisters have thousands of years of experience with only the best mystic guides and past lives from all over the world and time. And their Archangels visit from throughout the galaxy. We come from the stars and return to them eventually, you know. I’m longing to bathe in my Archangel’s divine energy.”

None of my sensible questions could divert her enthusiasm, not even when I told her if she could prove any of this, the Australian Skeptics Association would give her a cool million.

“It’s not about the money, don’t be so crass, Wendy. These are sweet, loving, enlightened women!”

In a month, Carol had finished her course and attained her Franginame, Arcolia. She received a plaque of commemoration recognising her candidature which she displayed proudly in her tasteful meditation room.

The retreat itinerary was frantic. First, some Maori chanting with taonga puoro communication with the deities, then chakra tonings, frangiopathy, a didg and drum circle, frangireiki and a variety of yoga styles, karanas and kahuna massage. Set in lush rural seclusion, the lodgings seemed very luxurious, clean and white on the web, with shining devotee faces grinning ecstatically at each other as they carried scented candles through aisles strewn with frangipanis. The food at least looked interesting – a panoply of exotic oriental menus, with frangipanis ever present in the food or as decorations.

Still, I was worried. What if they wanted even more of her hard-earned savings? I searched the net and located the company which owned the web site in Sydney. I rang the number, pretending to be an Ayurvedic artisanal frangipani oil maker.

“Oh, we’re just an accountancy firm,” a woman’s efficient voice replied. “You will want to speak with the company direct. They are based in the US. We just handle their local branch business. You can email them from their site.”

I was running in dwindling, swindling circles.

In case, I kept a careful record of the information and took screenshots of the Frangipani site.

Next week, I farewelled my friend as she flew down to Brisbane to begin her adventure.

“Email me, Carol, let me know how you go.”

“No phones on this trip, darling, the G vibrations interfer with the cosmic floral light codes and disrupt my DNA transformation, but there’s net access at the retreats. Can you make sure you cuddle Pussums every day for me?”

Every few days I received another happy note from her and my fears began to subside.

At the end of the four weeks a longer message arrived.

“We’re at our final retreat now, somewhere near Bellingen, darling. It’s so gorgeous here, and the guru, Swami Bababaa, he’s a dream boat. He stands in the temple of the Goddess and sees women as they truly are. His Arcturan tantric techniques are out of this world. I’ve never experienced anything like it. After my ascension to immortality tomorrow, he says I can stay on and teach. He is sure I have the gift. Please look after my cat till I can pick her up. Sunshine and celestial moonbeams to you.”

Sadly I stared at Pussums. The grey cat blinked back at me. Though I trusted she was well, I missed my friend.

After that, I received short emails sporadically about her wonderful new life embedded in the Frangipani Path community, the glories of psychometric angelic instruction with new initiates and the sublime wisdom of Bababaa. Yet Carol never asked about Pussums and didn’t respond to my questions about her exact location. One of the emails hinted she was considering a mission post at a new floral ashram in Bali.

Months passed. Then one year. My curious concerns transmuted to unease and I began considering a jaunt to the covid-ridden Northern NSW wilds to search for my friend.

Then, out of the blue the phone rang. It was a mutual acquaintance, Lucy, another yoga enthusiast on whose husband Carol once practised her new tantric skills. Whether Lucy knew or cared, I’d kept my mouth shut.

“Quick, turn on the news, they’ve found Carol!”

At the bottom of a mineshaft around two hundred women’s bodies had been discovered by bushwalkers, who’d smelt something strange above and beyond the sweetness of a frangipani grove.

Immediately I checked the Frangipani Sisters website. It had vanished along with all associated social media.

I collected my saved information, copied it to a USB stick and headed to the police station. Though I may not be able to bring Carol back, I could pursue justice for her and the others.

Yet it turned out the Australian retreats had been sold and they never found the Frangipani grifters who’d completely emptied their victims’ accounts as well. FBI corporate searches hit a dead end since the parent structures had dematerialised along with their fraudulent progenitors. Perhaps they’d ascended to some far flung tax haven in the West Indies, or had set up another sting for gullible fools elsewhere. Like their floral namesake, also the emblem of Palermo in Sicily, the scammers were great survivors even under extreme heat.

Today I can’t look at or smell a frangipani blossom without feeling nauseous.

Jinjirrie
December 2021

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Shattered

MotherLeaves from the past swirl about my shattered country

Phoenician glass cuts deep
within the wall to end all walls
My heart is occupied with grief of ages

Living when there is no hope
too hard to bear
the purple calling in my body is despair
my womanhood, logic and future denied

Oppressor and oppressed bound
and bloodied by hate

Like a beautiful, fragile tea set, the elegant device she’d made lay upon the table. Amirah scooped it up peremptorily, for it was deceptively sturdy, fastening the webbed belt about her body beneath her loose cotton blouse.

Plenty of time. Into her pocket she placed her folded poem, hoping to finish it on the bus during the interminable hot, angry checkpoint waits. The guards knew her well, they would smile lewdly at her and joke about her flashing dark eyes.

‘Amirah, princess of the territories, give us a kiss’, they would laugh, swaggering with their Utzis.

At first she ignored them, yet later, as her plan evolved, she would smile shyly in return, to build their trust. After months, they would not search her, even when all others were pried and poked when the enemy rampaged in revenge.

For three years following her degree’s completion, she had settled for a menial maid’s job in Tel Aviv, studying for her PhD in physics at night and weekends, her ticket to freedom – perhaps even to America. Then her mistress’s husband began to seek her out. One afternoon while the mistress was out with her rich, gossiping socialite friends, he had forced her to the bed and taken her. She had to trash the sheets and endure a scolding after she told her mistress she had burnt them whilst ironing.

And then, her uncle was captured, implicated in a tunnel building project to smuggle in food and medicine to the sanctioned, beleaguered city. The enemy had arrived at her parents’ home and bulldozed it whilst she scrubbed the enemy’s pots in the pretty modern villa by the glistening sea. Gone were her thesis notes and her computer, buried in the pitiful rubble of their lives. Her wise grandmother was nearly killed by the cruel, inexorable blades, hounded and taunted by the soldiers as she fled, hobbling down the street. The oppressors had everything except peace. Amirah wondered if they had ever really wanted it.

At university, Amirah had spoken against violence.

‘We are bound by violence, we are chained by it to them and we must break the cycle,’ she argued. ‘Resistance is legitimate under international law, yet violence will not work. They use it against us. Don’t you see?’

She had not despaired, although her brother still walked with crutches from the blows he received from the enemy when five years old. A stone he’d thrown at a tank missed and hit a soldier. With an education, she would be able to pay for him to walk again.

Nearly everyone had lost a relative, or knew of a house that had been crushed, sometimes with people still inside. The collective punishment was a brutal, never-ending scourge. What else was there to do but fight, to wear the enemy down with a despairing reaction to the oppression, to never let them know security whilst they denied it to others. Responsibility was never taken by the powerful and the weak were blamed for objecting to their punishment, justifying more delays for peace settlements, more land thievery for more enemy settlements and their hideous ghetto wall.

Amirah did not know whether the wall was to keep the horror in, or to keep it out. After her parents’ house was demolished and her future along with it, she too saw horror everywhere.

Amirah left her flat and caught the bus. The guards winked at her at the checkpoint.

‘How are your studies, Amirah?’ ‘When are you going to America, Amirah?’

Amirah smiled at them, her tears held captive by resolve. Today at the final checkpoint, it was a short wait, a miracle.

Palestinian women protestThe ancient bus lurched its winding way to the leafy, well-to-do suburb by the sea. She walked to the plaza and sat on a bench. Amirah pretended to examine something in her satchel as she set the timer.

Within, she could feel the enemy’s baby move, and she gasped. From her pocket, she took the half-finished poem, scrutinising it carefully before screwing it into a ball and tossing it behind the bench. Tears threatened to erupt, and Amirah clenched her fists. Not long to wait now.

‘You dropped something’, a kindly voice spoke in the enemy’s guttural tongue.

‘It’s nothing,’ she replied, ;just a poem’.

‘May I read it?’ The interloper was a young pregnant woman in her late twenties or early thirties, with a guitar strung across one shoulder. She flattened the sheet and began to read.

‘It isn’t finished’.

‘I know,’ said Amirah. ‘I can’t think of an ending. It makes me too sad.’

‘It is very good, perhaps we can finish it together?’

‘But you are the enemy,’ Amirah whispered. Two minutes and there would be no more broken promises, no more fear and hurt.

‘I’m Danish, here to study archaeology.’ The woman smiled.

Amirah looked at her, saw unexpected warm eyes and her heart leapt.

Then she thought of her unfinished poem and in a blazing torrent, unannounced, the final words came.

Even in the silence of the desert
my soul knows no peace
it must walk this land forever,
free, yet within your reach
where you are not my enemy
and revenge is washed away
by joy.

Pass the Bubbly, Darling!

‘Another glass of bubbly, darling?’ Of course she would. And if her prim mouth was sipping on delicious Taitinger, I might squeeze a word in edgeways.

‘I was going to tell you about the absolutely best thing that happened last year – while you were in Iran.’ My niece Emma is a foreign correspondent for one of the better daily newspapers. She peered at me over her flute and grimaced. I pushed on before she could interrupt.

‘Malcolm asked us out on his yacht. Just a day out round the harbour. John and Peter were there too of course,’ I said.

Scowling, Emma interjected, ‘I bet no one mentioned the latest wealth distribution figures’.

Emma could be a real darling, but really, when would she grow up and forget her quaint socialist ideals? We all voted left in our twenties of course, yet there’s no excuse after one is over forty and successful for not supporting those who look after us. Emma liked to retort that people vote for the tories in their elder years because of neurological degeneration caused by too many alcohol-drenched cocktail dos.

‘What’s that you say? Not the P word! My goodness, John and Peter have run a very tight ship and you should be grateful. You know, darling, the poor are looked after as we become richer! Between you and me, the poor only deserve the scraps anyway. In these days of full employment, you must admit all the evidence points to the fact that they are genetically deficient and chronically lazy. They’d never make crew on Malcolm’s lovely super-maxi’.

Emma snorted.

‘As a matter of fact, there was a young thing on Malcolm’s yacht, a relative of Peter’s, I think, her name was Beth, who was moaning about the P word. I told her over drinkies “The poor will be cared for if us capable captains of industry are rewarded with lots of incentives for our expertise – more chunky remuneration packages, lovely options and rights issues – after all, we make the important wealth for ummmmm … everybody. Trickle down economics work, you know. More for us means more for them.” She was quite taken aback I think, because she began to look at me very strangely. More foie gras for you, sweetie?’

‘No thanks’, Emma replied stiffly.

‘Don’t clench your teeth, darling, it looks so unattractive,’ I cautioned. ‘Anyway, Beth said to me “You must admit that long term unemployed people need support – think of the soaring crime rate if they have nothing.”‘

‘Pull the other one, darling, I laughed at her. You know it’s their own fault. Lazy mental deficients who should be purged before they breed more like themselves, darling. They’re not worth worrying about. I know it sounds awful, darling, but really we should chain them in the mines along with their tawdry offspring from age five as they did in the good old days! Goodness knows we need more mine workers at the moment! Forget about them and concentrate on the Sydney to Hobart and your next fabulous allotment of free entitlements, darling. We’ve worked hard for all this.’

‘Really, Emma, her face was turning a dreadful shade of puce’. I giggled. ‘Please pour some more champagne, darling, I’m so glad we managed to close out our last company when we did and can still afford the good stuff. Pity about the shareholders but they should have taken more care – caveat emptor as Daddy, and you know what a successful property developer he was, well until those ghastly green bans, used to say’.

I pursed my lips. ‘Then Beth started in on Johnny’s media laws, defending that dreadful leftie ABC that *our* taxes pay for. She had the gall to insist that Johnny’s government is the highest taxing government in Australia’s history!’

‘Well, Emma, I put her straight.’ I smiled at Emma triumphantly.

‘If you are having tax problems, dear, I said, you should find yourself a new accountant. Pay taxes … you must be joking! none of our companies have *ever* paid a cent! yet look at all the jobs we created with the help of those wonderful government subsidies – six months of them, then when they run out, fire the little dears and take on new ones with new subsidies. Full employment is good for us all!’

‘When our last company went under … poor shareholders again, but there you go … the trainees were up for replacement anyway. In our next venture though, we’re going to import foreign workers … they’re all the rage, you know, they work for peanuts and don’t complain like the ungrateful local refuse.’
Howard grants to private schools
‘Meanwhile, we don’t want all our lovely tax money spent on no-hoping, genetically modified, bone-lazy, bludging dead weights … when it *should* be spent on making life easier for those who deserve it and who have the social qualifications – us, and our gifted, rich children, like you, darling. Private education costs the earth these days, you know.’

‘”And what about education for everybody?” Beth asked me’.

‘Well, I had her there, sweetie. “I’m sure dear Johnny would provide more funding for education of those disgusting long term unemployed menaces and their fifth rate offspring if he believed they were capable and willing. But they’re not, are they. They are just trash. It’s *their* fault and like breeds like, darling. We’re not responsible for their chromosomal failures. Obviously, we need more funding for *private* schools … because it’s people like *us* who were born to succeed. We must invest our money where it will do our country the most good.”‘

‘Well, Beth began yelling at me. “I expect you think disabled people are on the take too!”‘

‘”Well, yes actually, dear,” I replied. “Let’s not forget about those gouging fakers. Their lack of conscience and the way they pool their far more than generous allowances is dooming Australian society and our way of life.”

‘”I know people who could work a computer with their left foot if they wanted and who should be working right now! there’s plenty of work if only they’d try, but they just don’t seem to want to work, do they. Let’s take away their wheelchairs and catheters and see how they like it then.”‘

‘Well, dear, at that point, Beth began to move toward me with a look of total fury And right at that moment who should walk between us but dear John and Peter. Well, she bowled into them, the clumsy wench, didn’t she’.

‘Into the drink they went, both of them. Politicians overboard! John seemed to have trouble keeping his head above water, and between you and me, I could have sworn Peter was really trying to keep him under. Of course we contained our laughter – it wouldn’t do to upset them – threw life buoys, hauled them out and everyone swore to keep it out of the papers. Beth was posted to Swaziland not long after, I believe. Later, over canapes, John promised to look into an investment subsidy for our new company venture on the q.t. too – so thoughtful of him.’

‘Hahahaha, great story’, laughed Emma. ‘Don’t suppose anyone took photos?’

‘Not quite sure, darling, but Malcolm was snapping away earlier that day. Anyway darling, you must remember, dear, to trust the super-maxi you know, where we who deserve it are assured a place on the crew. After all, *we* are the captains of industry and backbone of this country and deserve every drop of this delicious champagne! Now would you please pass that bonus rights acceptance form if you wouldn’t mind? Emma … Emma?’

Through the window I watched her stalk to her car, mobile phone in hand. Oh dear. Surely no one would possibly believe her!