Stained Glass


Rose lens / Halcyon

Days gone / Better then
Past lies / Future dry
“The present is best!” the hubris decry

A muted sorrow
Continues to follow

Rose lens / Halcyon

Rain begins / Once a friend
Now volley and strike; wrest and rend
Always a stranger
Never alone
Reasons for joy
But never my own

Rose lens / Halcyon

Advertisement

Birds of Paradise

Lek ‘fore a bower
Beetles and coins
Dance in a whirl of leaves

Blood on a cross
Crest for a plume
Dream until I believe

Watch with a magpie fascination
Warble her name and squabble for fame
Top of the tree only reaches so far
And I’m just one other star

Please see me please
Do what I want
Please see me please
Tell me I’m enough

– 2022

Christmas Letter 2021

Global pandemic year number two has gone, and perhaps the next 12 months will see some sort of return to sanity. As we wearily reach for a normality we’ve all missed, let’s reflect on the year that has been and remember that kindness is free.

In all honesty, I’ve had a fantastic year. Yes, despite being in a lockdown for 4 months; despite being separated from family for yet another Christmas – I owe it mainly to a shift in attitude as I move past my personal dark ages of 2019/20. This year saw a lot of enjoyment and optimism for what’s to come, and my usual default of rumination has instead morphed into a sensible reflection that doesn’t hold me back as it used to.

So what kind of good stuff happened? Well, plenty of writing – January saw me release an anthology of my best poems: Vignettes – An Anthology (shameless plug), and my ongoing new novel was fleshed out further with some good stories. I am wondering whether I compile the last 5 years of work for this new novel and release a ‘part 1’ – maybe? Or wait until I’m finished, however much longer that could take? I don’t know, maybe you readers can let me know. It has a code name at least – Verdigris – stay tuned.

2021 saw a return to some old hobbies that had dwindled somewhat in my busy life of fathering two children; I played a lot of guitar this year, bought some great records, joined a touch football team, re-joined my church band, and celebrated 10 years of marriage to my wife. And of course there are the books – I read plenty of good stuff this year, despite the COVID-19 related disruptions, and here are some of the best in case you were after a recommendation:

The Eye of the Storm (Patrick White) – Must be in the name. Kidding! Australia’s Nobel Prize winner writes some incredibly detailed characters, and this tale of a callous old woman on her death bed – frail yet still so powerful over her underlings, was an uncomfortable but beautiful read that peeled back the layers of disturbing humanity and laid bare our awful natures.

Ghosts (Cesar Aira) – This was a strange one that probably needs a second read to pick up on themes I missed. However, I thoroughly enjoyed this mysterious little book detailing a single day on a haunted construction site in Argentina where a family is squatting. It’s as bizarre as it sounds!

By Night in Chile (Robert Bolano) – Another strange South American classic; I went through a bit of a phase this year! This one detailed a death bed ramble of a simple man that flows between scenes in a dreamlike trance. What is life’s value to ourselves, and what is one man’s value to others?

Piranesi (Susanna Clarke) – This one was a real surprise. It begins as a whimsical fantasy story in a setting that begs to be explained, and then slips into a compelling mystery with a satisfying conclusion. A real page-turner complimented by Clarke’s colourful writing style.

Nat Tate: An American Artist (William Boyd) – A clever little fake biography about a fictional artist, yet presented in such a way that you’d think it was all real. The story of Nat Tate, an unknown artist who died young, was in fact all a big hoax to make comment on the modern art scene – even David Bowie was in on it.

Notes on a Nervous Planet (Matt Haig) – I’ve had a profoundly insightful year in regards to my own mental health, and this self-help book was relatable to me in more ways than one. A personable muse on how to navigate our increasingly fast, digital world.

I truly hope you have a lovely Christmas break, wherever you are in the world; be kind to one another, we’ve all been through a lot in the last two years. We can choose to to cranky and snipe one another with misery, or we can take a deep breath, feel that air in your lungs and realise you are alive, and such is our blessing; our problems are only as big as ourselves.

Speak soon,

PSC x

Wax Lyrical – Women in Music

Today being White Ribbon Day here in Australia, I thought I’d do something a bit different and rattle off my ten favourite female musicians and celebrate their contribution to the music industry. These are in no order and are completely my own opinion.


Hope Sandoval – The Mazzy Star vocalist is a rare gift with an ethereal quality. Her partnership with guitarist Dave Roback delivered three excellent albums throughout the 90s, each one a dreamy, shoegaze musing. Hope’s vocals floated on top and took the listener to the darker reaches of introspection, but never abandoned us there, merely guided us through. Unabashedly shy, Hope often performs in darkness – I was lucky enough to attend a concert at the Sydney Opera House in 2018 – it’s certainly an odd experience to attend a concert where all the lights are out! It was to promote the Vivid Light Festival, no less; there’s some wonderful irony in that.

Essential listening: She Hangs Brightly (1990), So Tonight That I Might See (1993), Among My Swan (1996).


St. Vincent (Annie Clark) – known better by her stage name St. Vincent, Annie is a breath of fresh air in the overproduced popular music scene of the 21st century. In these musical dark ages, she dares to sound unique, and like any great artist, is constantly changing things up and producing one excellent album after another. I feel that the best is yet to come with Annie, despite her already impressive discography. She plays her own instruments, sings her own songs, writes her own ideas – I reckon many will agree, that’s a big deal in these days of trap-beat autotune bullshit.

Essential listening: Masseducation (2018), Daddy’s Home (2021).


Patti Smith – Proved that the girls can match it with the rougher side of contemporary rock music. Patti’s punk-infused musicianship made a good mix with her skills as a poet, lending her to become a staple of the art rock scene. Also a fine writer, Patti has several books including the brilliant Just Kids. Her 1975 album Horses stands as one of my all time favourites, which opens with the loud brashness of Gloria, and never misses a beat after.

Essential listening: Horses (1975), Wave (1979).


Siouxsie Sioux – The dusky jewel in the crown of new-wave and gothic, Siouxsie is iconic in more ways than one, be it her spider-like hair and heavy makeup, or the tortured anguish evoked from her music with the Banshees. She bashed down the door that stands between all of us and our deepest insecurities, our ominous thoughts, and brought them to the forefront – nobody dares to say what we all think sometimes, nobody but Siouxsie.

Essential listening: Kiss in the Dreamhouse (1982).


PJ Harvey – I feel Polly Jean is often underappreciated for what she’s contributed to the modern music scene, from her early days rocking out in a trio to her many excellent solo albums. Taking the over-sexualisation of female musicians and completely owning it for herself, PJ adds bite and dares anyone to challenge her. This best exemplified on the album Rid of Me, where the lyrics talk of twisting off the heads of her wrongdoers, or becoming ‘man-sized and being skinned alive’. Visceral stuff. My personal favourite album of hers is 2011’s Let England Shake – a dark folky romp that talks of the horrors of war.

Essential listening: Rid of Me (1993), Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea (2000), Let England Shake (2011).


Grace Slick – Vocalist for Jefferson Airplane, and a poster girl for 60s psychedelia, Grace had a beautiful free spirit that gave Jefferson Airplane an edge over their contemporaries. It says a lot about her ability that the band really took off once she joined. Whether she was singing lead or providing perfect harmonies, her voice soared. Her song White Rabbit became the anthem of hippie culture, building constantly in one long crescendo.

Essential listening: Surrealistic Pillow (1967), Crown of Creation (1968), Volunteers (1969).


Breanna Barbara – The next three entries here will take us to some of the lesser known but no less excellent indie musicians of today. I can’t exactly remember how or when I first listened to Breanna, but her 2016 album Mirage Dreams is utterly brilliant, carrying a tinge of psych rock mixed with the blues and some awesome slide guitar. Her singing is soulful and perfectly suited to each track, best heard in her unrestrained coyote howls in the title track. I truly hope to hear more from her in the coming years.

Essential listening: Mirage Dreams (2016).


Tess Parks – Another hidden gem of the modern indie scene, Tess has a beautiful huskiness in her voice that carries well over her spacy psychedelic guitar work. Somewhere between Patti Smith and Hope Sandoval, but no less unique, Tess has collaborated extensively with Brian Jonestown Massacre’s Anton Newcombe, and the two have produced some great stuff I can’t recommend highly enough. An absolute breath of fresh air in today’s music scene, she is equal parts classic throwback and pioneer, and like Breanna, I hope to hear more music from her in the future.

Essential listening: Blood Hot (2013), I Declare Nothing (2015).


Warpaint – The ladies from Warpaint have put out a number of great albums and have developed a beautifully plaintive sound that begs for long listening sessions across their entire discography. Their songs are often moody dirges to get lost in, as I feel their transcending of multiple genres results in something unlike anything else you’ll hear. Emily, Theresa, Jenny and Stella certainly deserve credit for their great synergy.

Essential listening: Exquisite Corpse (2008), The Fool (2010).


Joni Mitchell – What else can you say? She’s the queen. From her deeply personable songwriting to her truly unique guitar style, Joni Mitchell has pioneered for many musicians that have come after her. Also a skilled visual artist, Joni had to learn guitar while suffering from polio, which led to her tuning her instrument in odd ways to compensate. The result is a distinct sound that has endured for many decades. She had often been referred to as a female Bob Dylan, but that ain’t it – she’s Joni Mitchell.

Essential listening: Blue (1971), Hejira (1976).


From the White Ribbon website: Men’s violence against women is a social issue. It’s everybody’s issue to help end. Did you know: on average, one woman a week is murdered by her current or former partner. You can help change that statistic by raising much needed funds for White Ribbon’s important primary prevention work in schools, workplaces and communities around Australia.

Visit whiteribbon.org.au for more information.

Stand up, speak out, and act to prevent men’s violence against women.

Free Reads for Halloween – Available Limited Time Only

Tenebrae Manor and The Will of the Wisp are free to download on Amazon Kindle from 27 October to 31 October; just in time for a Halloween read!

Click the book covers to go to the purchase page.




Have a frightful Halloween….