Becoming Mud


The flood has returned. It’s been seven years since I last smelled the unmistakable scent of silty water. My nostrils flare, filled with the pungent aroma. Old women are crying, their shrill ululations cutting the stillness of the air. As I step outside I am greeted by the sight of the transformed delta: no longer a parched and blistering scar, now a shimmering brown floodplain. Birds flock by the thousand, seeking the insects driven out by the waters.

Fertility has returned to the delta.

I stretch my arms above my head and peer up into the clear sky. The rain must have fallen far to the west, for many days, for we’d seen no sign of clouds. We were resigned to yet another dry summer, eking out a sparse existence on infertile lands. For as long as our old women could remember, the delta flooded each summer, bringing thick mud full of nutrients to revitalise our soil. Seven years ago the water never came, and we’ve been surviving as best we could since then, hoping that, one day, they would return. Continue reading



Nara Dreamland rollercoaster from

Nara Dreamland rollercoaster from
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Pea soup. That’s what Momma calls it when the fog rolls in over San Francisco. Thick enough to eat, she says. The smell here is different. All of Japan smells different to San Fran. Doesn’t make sense to me. It’s the same air, ain’t it? Just further away.

It’s green. That’s what makes me think of pea soup. The fog in San Fran ain’t green. When I get home I’m gonna tell Momma that the fog in San Fran ain’t pea soup at all. This here, this fog is pea soup. Continue reading


Your skin is brown, leathery.
Your hair brown too,
pulled back in a long ponytail.
Rough, I think. Tough.
The kid beside you
is maybe eleven,
skinny and full of energy.
He brandishes a water bottle.
“How far to the train station?” you ask,
Your voice soft,
Horse whisperer, soothing.
I shift impatiently in line.
We are going to be late.
The baby will start screaming.
Hurry up. Continue reading


Parts of this image by Rémih from Creative Commons / Attribution / Share alike

The trucker yawns, rubbing his eyes with a rough hand. Warm wind gusts through the open window as the countryside slips by, yellowy green against red dirt, blue sky, white clouds. The engine rumbles—the weighty bass the only music he can listen to. The radio conked out hours ago, and boredom threatens to send him off to sleep.

Pressure builds in his bladder. Phil looks for a likely spot to stop and take a piss. He eases the semi to a halt on a long straight stretch of road in the no man’s land of the Northern Territory. Engine still running, he climbs out of the cab and aims for a ghost gum growing by the worn bitumen. He whistles as his bladder empties and wishes the radio wasn’t stuffed.

As he climbs back into the truck he checks his watch: 1500. Renee would be at school picking up the kids. He smiles in anticipation of seeing her tomorrow.  Over the vibrating engine he hears a sound—singing? Like those Muslim prayers. A frown crosses his face as he looks around.

Nothing but road, savannah, and sky.

He glances at the radio and fiddles with the dial. The singing grows louder. His frown deepens. He turns the engine off, and as the truck settles into silence the wailing voice dominates the cabin.

“What the fuck?” Continue reading