Kate Maxwell

Kate Maxwell is a Sydney-based writer who has been published and awarded in Australian and International literary magazines for many years. Her work has appeared, or is forthcoming, in journals such as fourW, Hecate, Linq, Swyntax, Verandah, Cordite, Meniscus, Brilliant Flash Fiction, and Blood and Bourbon.


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Crossing Borders

Past Dead Man’s Hill
we follow a petrol tanker
into flat brown and grey
where power lines
stretch like spider silk
across this never end.

Caught in the driver’s window
white muscular clouds
paint a silver-edged halo
about your nose and jaw.
Right now, I’d drive with you
into forever.

360 degrees of sky
and the sun blazing
like the blinding eye of God;
too bright
too beautiful
too painful to meet.

Over ragged scrub
prey birds glide
scouring the map of earth
for hidden life.
We stop by the skeleton
of an old stone house

where I stand lookout
for snakes
watch fence wire shake
as you wade into
dung-coloured grass
to get a better photo.

Back in the car, with nothing
to say, we flow through
an un-peopled panorama
still and unswerving as patience.
This blue-domed church
presses silence to the windscreen.


Never Good at Maths

In your algebraic mind
my little looks or tilted chin
are recognised and given symbols;
that colour in my sigh
the warmth of a whisper
on your cheek
and patterns in my palms
that pulse upon your chest
in coded script.
You’ve kissed these hands
in shortened breath
and called them, God.
Noting acquiescence
and frequency of smiles
you’ve formulated a system
of relationships, measured
the angle of an eyebrow
length of silences
or heaviness of your name
dropped from a mouth
explored and classified
as positive or negative.
Cupped into the flesh
of your sleep
I’ve watched numbers
change on the bedside table
a kaleidoscope of you
tangling through thoughts
as minutes slowly drip
into long nights.
You’re content with tested
calculations, yet
I’ve noted fear and confusion
in the furrows of your brow
the grey flecks of your eyes
when equations crumble.


Heroine’s Edge

Take away one letter and you’re left
with the fastest acting opiate drug
often blamed, for siren singing souls
to a lustful watery doom:
even our best, named after vice.
Ever cursed in myth and legend
as serpent-haired monsters
or beauteous bewitchers
who launch a thousand ships of war
with their fatal faces
we shoulder centuries of suspicion
that no Saint of Calcutta
or martyred Joan
can ever take from us.
So we stand or kneel
in whichever pose is allocated
until some bastard sneers
‘You fight like a girl’
as if we had a choice.
That’s when I catch my breath
shake the snake strands from my eyes
and hiss in softest deadly voice
these breasts are made of marble
and I’m used to bleeding
so, stand aside and call me Pandora.

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