writing by joshua oxlee 2009-2012


small animals generally have a large concept of equality

(although they are not strictly egalitarians)

it is easy to imagine walking past apartment buildings and seeing a blue, flashing light

considering what was on the occupant’s television

perhaps fairly “bleak” cheaply produced dramas

(it is never assumed that they may be watching for example a documentary on the plights of certain people or species, no)

generally it is easier (doctors would recommend) to think about beaches or eyes that are of your preferred colour

or a neat, well appointed home


3x poetry


i want to explode continental europe
with intense focused anxiety

the ripple effect will cause the people of eastern europe
to intensely focus their anxiety on the people of central america
who will in turn
due to anxiety
explode the people of asia

i hope the combined force of this destruction
and the subsequent shifting of ‘tectonic plates’
will bring our homes 1-2 inches closer together


listening to music through headphones in a supermarket
is kind of a ‘post modern experience’
i accidentally made a really annoyed face
at a woman who was shopping for eggs
because she bought caged eggs i think
something smells like burning
kind of feel like everything probably doesn’t count in the end


is the stupidity of ‘robert forster’ being ‘billed’ second
for an opening concert
for a bridge that is named after his own band
something that is ‘universal’
or is it a more specific anger
like opening a cd case
and the cd not being there
or something

Winning August 2009

Joshua Oxlee

“I am going to play loud norwegian death metal outside Society’s home and then drive away at the speed of light.” Clark messaged Julie at 4:15pm on a Friday afternoon. He then checked his emails. A student drama club wanted new directors. He deleted the email and thought about making coffee and destroying society. It would be hard to destroy society and he would have to do it quickly. Consumerism. Fake tans. Politicians. Coffee.
“We should do it together. We can be each others alibis. Are you going out tonight?” Julie replied.
“Yes the chinatown rooftop with the usual gang” Clark said.
Coffee. News reports. Indie bands. Economic meltdown. He felt illogical as he poured the coffee from the plunger into a ‘congratulations class of 08’ mug. He would pour hot coffee on society, then away quickly, ducking through back alleys.
“Can I be a part of the gang?” Julie wrote.
“Of course.” Clark replied, spilling coffee on the carpet as he walked. He would send a mass email to society asking for new directors and society would apathetically delete it.

A brightly lit billboard for a new burger was the only light as Clark stared into the one third full bottle of sickly sweet liquor.
“I really feel like that burger,” Julie said, pointing her beer in the direction of the sign, “maybe I should stop being a vegetarian for it”.
“Really?” Clark replied, “Looks kind of like a bad place to start.”
“I wasn’t being serious. You always think I’m being serious.”
“You seemed serious, I don’t know.” Clark says, pulling the label off the champagne bottle.
“I’m really cold.” Sally said, wrapping her black cardigan around herself. Sally was Morgan’s girlfriend, they were sharing a bottle on nine dollar champagne.
“Drink more champagne.” Morgan said as he checked his email on his phone, he did not have any new emails. Clark felt warm. He wondered if Julie was warm. They had met through other friends a few months earlier, she was an art student and he had spoken at great length about the artist Harvey Darger because aside from Klimt, Darger was the only the only artist he knew anything about. Clark was an advertising student at a different university. After that they started going to shows and parties together.

Morgan had started talking about the band The Hold Steady. Clark started singing the lyrics to one of their songs and felt that the champagne must be kicking in. He noticed that he felt happy and wondered if anyone else was happy. Julie looked disinterested. “We should throw these bottles off this rooftop onto the lower rooftops” Clark said to her. They both walked to the edge of the rooftop and threw their mostly empty bottles off the edge. In the split second before the crack of a bottle breaking Clark thought about Kevin Spacey. “I wonder whose bottle that was. There was only one smash?” Clark said but Julie was laughing and did not hear him. He slowly walked over to Morgan and Sally. “I think I’m peaking” he said.
Morgan started laughing, “Peaking?” he asked. Clark laughed and realised Julie was next to him. They all shouted “Peaking!” loudly at the sky.
“Do you want to go somewhere that is not here?” Clark asked Julie. She replied that she did.
“We are thinking of going to Ric’s.” Clark said to Morgan and Sally.
“Do you think they will play Frightened Rabbit?” Sally asked, “Morgan has been waiting for a bar to play Frightened Rabbit for ages.”
“Maybe, I think it depends on the DJ, some DJs are sad like us” Clark replied. As they walked down the six flights of stairs to the ground floor they kicked down cleaning signs and shouted loudly. As they did this the word ‘catharsis’ floated out of their heads and drifted back onto the rooftop.

At the bar they danced to an old rap song Clark and Julie both loved. He did not know where Morgan and Sally were. The bar was busy to the point of barely being able to move. A song by Beyoncé came on. Clark gave a thumbs up to the DJ. The usual crowd of girls with blunt fringes and skinny guys with thick rimmed glasses were shuffling aimlessly more than they were dancing. One of his friends ex-boyfriends came up to Clark and ruffled his hair in a painful way, “Hey bro.” Clark said to him and was pulled away from Julie. A short guy in a suit approached Clark and said “can I buy you a drink?”.
Clark looked around, “I guess so”. The short man bought clark a lemon lime bitters and vodka.
“Umm. Thanks” Clark said and quickly drank the drink, “I have to go”. The short man looked sad. Suddenly everything was blurry and happy and loud. Later he requested the song First Date and the DJ played it, Julie smiled and they danced some more. Clark did not feel self conscious.
“I’m so drunk I feel like I’m traveling through time” shouted Clark. Julie did not hear and left to go to the bathroom. Clark danced on his own. He noticed an asian couple standing on chairs against a wall were taking photos of him.
“Hey, Hey!” he shouted at them. The asian man turned the camera around so Clark could see the photo of himself. “Never raise your arms above your head” he remembered. He waited outside the bathroom for Julie and they left the bar.

The pedestrian mall outside the bar was filled with buskers and a man in a Bon Jovi shirt and cargo pants asked Clark if he had a lighter. He said he did not.
“Are you hungry or do you want to leave?” Julie asked him. They walked to the McDonalds. Clark ordered a cheeseburger and Julie ordered a cheeseburger without meat.
“Does that count as a cheeseburger?” Clark asked her as they sat down.
“Yes, it has cheese in it still.” she replied.
A man in a toga made out of a bed sheet stumbled for a few seconds before falling down. Some of his friends stood around him but did not do anything. Clark imagined them picking up and carrying the man in the toga as if in a funeral. The McDonald’s security guard said he would have to call an ambulance if the man didn’t wake up. Julie and Clarked joked as they drunkenly read a newspaper together. They then spoke about music for awhile. “We should make a band that only sings about cats existentially struggling with their existence after seeing their reflection for the first time.” Clark says.
“I wish I could have cat at my house.” Julie replied, staring intently at the man in toga.
“You should buy one and hide it when they inspect the house.”
“Like in a cupboard? Under my shirt?”
“I don’t know it’s really late. Do you want to get a bus?” Clark asked.
They walked to the bus stop. A girl Clark went to school with walked past dressed as a playboy bunny, she did not recognise Clark and he was glad. Their bus just arrived as they reached the stop. The driver was in a hurry and they are waved on without having to buy a ticket. As the bus left Julie fell asleep with her hand on her chin and and her arm on her thigh, as if in deep thought. Clark stares at her for a moment and feels sad. The woman in the car driving next to the bus was drinking whiskey from an oversized bottle. After an indefinite amount of time he taps Julie on the shoulder, “This is my stop. I have to get out now”.
Clark got off the bus and walked to his home. As he walked trees bent down to his height and shouted inspirational slogans like “Keep your chin up buddy!” or “You can do it!”.

A few days later Clark was lying on the couch with his Macbook, “What is the answer to all this psuedo romantic late-teens/early 20s struggle?” Clark’s friend Greg asked on Facebook chat.
Clark thought for a few minutes and considered all the films he had seen and all the books he had read.
“Luck” he replied.
“So I guess there’s no answer?”
“I mean. Consider the chances of you being attracted to someone, based on genetic and social factors. Divided by the chances the other person being attracted to you (based on the same factors). Then there’s the chance of being in the same place at the same time. The chance of having food on your face. Do you have any idea how many great relationships have been stopped by someone having food on their face?” Clark typed this very quickly.
“Is it a large number,” Greg replied, “is it ‘a fuckload’ “.
“Yes a large number, we’re screwed. At least you have life prospects. A tour with your band”
“You had your internship. You have your online identity. We are ridiculous talking about this. Our lives are good.” Greg replied, adding a smiling face emoticon at the end.
“Yeah I have too much time to think. I should get a job or something.” Clark says, “I am staring into the cold dead eyes of your emoticon”.
“I was at a christian friends house the other day. He seemed happy. His wife seemed happy. They have friends who are nice and that they see all the time.”
“Yeah. I was reading about transcendental meditation the other day. Something to believe in.“ Clark had a focused expression as he typed this.
“If it wasn’t for the whole suspension of disbelief thing I could probably be religious or something.” Greg said, “I have to study now, you should come to that house show tonight.” Greg was offline. Clark got up to refill his glass of six dollar black-current juice. No one was home except for his cat who was sleeping on the dining table. “You are a cat” Clark said to it. He realised this is the first thing he had said aloud all day.

something about an owl

soaring through the sky i really wish i had a slurpee from 7-11
hunting mice with my large eyes i really wish i had a greater concept of ‘love’ or at least attachment
ripping apart meat with my strong talons all i can think about is ‘selling out’

i thought about the sound of the earth exploding as audible from the moon
whether it would be an all encompassing deathly roar
or a slow sad inaudible ripple

space is a vortex
where can i find a 7-11?
i have to go

it is really warm today, how are you?

i am touching my face
are you touching your face?
what is the chance that you are touching your face at the same time, statistically?

in the context of the rest of your face your eyes are good eyes
i feel that context is important in life
context and statistics

if someone threatened to kill me in a new and exciting way each day
i would make better decisions
can you pay someone to do this for you?

there are many coffee rings on my desk
there are many sticky notes on my desk
one of them says “try harder” in three different pen colours

sometimes i feel as if there is a tightly closed, severely nervous and embarrassed oyster inside of me
are you touching your face?
i am touching my face


i can’t even remember how to do anything
like make facial expressions
or move my eyes to look at fast moving animals
i want to be a sloth on the back of a gazelle
being chased by three lions

I want all of my failures to come crashing down on me
like stones
so i will remember next time

i want you to be here
entangled in fairy lights

i will close the blinds
so you can be my stars

i feel like i could fast-foward through the next few weeks and probably not notice

i made a fort
out of five dining chairs
three bed sheets
two camping mattresses
five pillows
and five blankets
if you come inside there are enough snacks to last around three weeks
we can discuss the relative merits of different animals
that we could ride into battle

i will ride a jaguar
you can ride giant lynx
we will fight famous celebrities
the news will say
“a great tragedy has occurred today…”
and we will laugh

i want to be a doctor’s certificate
i want to be 18 confused leaves
i want to be an important document that creates international tension
i want to be a bomb threat that evacuates a major city
i want to be the moon when the sun expands and destroys the galaxy
i want to be an insect helping to construct something bigger than myself
i dont know

a job application asked me to rate myself out of ten

i wrote ’11’

and then my feet turned into rockets

and i flew to your house

and my feet turned back into feet

can i organise your belongings into how they make me feel?

are you ok with that

let’s hide under your bed and live on the moths that walk by

i want to take out my organs and fill my body with oragami models of everything i’ve ever seen

everything is fucked up i am going to punch you in the foot

chris martin is standing in his kitchen

chris martin opens his fridge  and examines its contents

chris martin grabs the orange juice

chris martin thinks about how many orange foods there are

chris martin thinks about religion ‘in the scheme of things’ then laughs to himself

chris martin cannot find a clean glass

chris martin writes down “buy new glasses”

chris martin decides that sounds too much like eyeglasses

chris martin remembers he needs new eyeglasses

chris martin realises he has sold ‘probably millions’ of albums and thinks ‘why am i doing this shit myself’

chris martin thinks about his career ‘in the scheme of things’ then laughs to himself

chris martin drinks the orange juice ‘out of the thing’


talking to you
is like navigating a raging flood
whilst being pursued by a large underwater monster
and being constantly hugged
by tiny rabbits
wearing matching bows

talking to you
is like being inside a pillow fort
and the power is out
and it’s raining outside
and being unsure whether anyone else in the world is even alive anymore
and not caring

i wish i could turn you into an abstract notion
and carry you around in my mind