First person

One afternoon in late July 2003 I turned up at a café in Brunswick Street Fitzroy to have coffee with a man. I carried, for reasons still partly obscure to me, a small orange case – a child's reinforced cardboard 1950s school bag – and arrived several minutes late. – Assemble at home, Griffith Review

I am in a small tent somewhere on the southern New South Wales coast. It is night, and beyond the pitched nylon skin is – or must have been – the scrape of eucalypts and the push-pull of the ocean, wind, moon, stars etc. I don't remember. What comes instead, when I reconfigure this particular memory, is the sound of sex. – The summer I didn't kiss Mal, The Age

Driving through a public car park one afternoon nearly 10 years ago, I saw a car pull out suddenly in front of me and I slammed on my brakes. There was a brief silence, during which I bit down on the expletive that had made it almost to my lips, then from behind me a small, clear voice said, "Cheeses Christ!" – My precious burden, The Age/ Sydney Morning Herald

We are drifting. Sideways. In a small boat down a large river. I am in the rear, supposedly steering and he is in the front yelling, "Left, left!" Or "Right, right!" I'm yelling back: "Which would you actually prefer?" And: "If you're not actually going to use your paddle, at least don't leave it dragging in the water." Stuff like that. – Holidays from hell: close encounters with hippos, The Age

Jimmy Savile loves me. So does Bill Oddie. At least he used to - these days it is harder to tell. – Signature pieces, The Age/ Sydney Morning Herald

Poem: Caritas Christi



third person

I was well into the book before it fully sunk in that, while the focus is on abortion, the fundamental concern is with choice. Specifically, who gets to make that choice when it comes to women’s wombs: the bearers of those wombs or the society within which those wombs bleed and/or breed? – The desperate, secretive drama: ‘Choice Words’, edited by Louise Swinn, The Monthly

It began not with a sound but with pressure. A great pulse or force that pushed him backwards away from the oven and into the kitchen bench. All around him he could see flying fragments “like little mini jets or something whirling past my ears.” – When sound becomes pain, The Monthly

"We think of our bodies, including our brains, as a kind of machine that needs to be tinkered with or have parts replaced, rather than a really interesting finely tuned instrument that can manage itself in ways that we don’t give it credit for." – Patients have more power than they think, even when unconscious, Globe and Mail

Two weeks before his death in August 2015, Oliver Sacks outlined the contents of The River of Consciousness, the last book he would oversee, and charged the three of us with arranging its publication.” So begins the foreword to the acclaimed neurologist’s most recent book. – The shape of a generous mind, The Monthly (PDF version)

Each day, specialist doctors known as anaesthetists put hundreds of thousands of people into chemical comas to enable other doctors to enter and alter our insides. Then they bring us back again. It is mind-blowing. But quite how this daily extinction happens and un-happens remains uncertain. – (edited extract Anaesthesia: the gift of oblivion and the mystery of consciousness) Sydney Morning Herald/ Good Weekend

Paste-up art by Phoenix the Street Artist found under a bridge on the old Kodak estate, Coburg

Caritas Christi


My mother has fallen

from a plane. She is












we cannot tell what

she is saying. Her body sends

stray signals


she says  I was in Darwin buying drugs

she says (waking)

I was on a train    

my mother was born in a carriage


she says

my mouth

is so dry


 By Kate Cole-Adams