Rebecca Jessen

(TWENTY-SIX) World Poetry Day 2017

In honour of today being World Poetry Day I thought I would share a little something I wrote for the now (in)famous QUT Z2 curlew.

(for the Z2 curlew)

I’m fine
I just like to stare at myself in the window

sometimes I want to scoop up every vulnerable creature that has ever wandered
and transport them to an alternate reality

I am a knight
with no armour

sometimes I want to make every baby in the room smile

I’m living in the future
according to my diary

sometimes I want to give everything I have to someone
who doesn’t want it

I am a curlew
with no call

sometimes I think my real self is trapped
inside my imagined self.





‘Some Days’ New Poem in Tincture Journal

Once again, the lovely people at Tincture Journal have published one of my poems. Many thanks to the wonderful Stuart Barnes (poetry editor) and Daniel Young (editor) for their continued support, not only of my own work, but that of many other wonderful emerging, and established voices.

My prose poem ‘Some Day’s features in the latest issue #17. I’m really pleased to see this poem published, the poem is somewhat of an ode to returning home, to the place you grew up. Partly inspired by the Nelson Mandela quote: ‘There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered.’

Buy a copy of Issue #17 to read the poem and many other great pieces of writing. Or even better, subscribe and get a whole year’s worth of wonderful writing for the price of a single book.

In Summary: 2016 Publications

A short summary of my publications in 2016, coming a little late into the piece I know! 2016 was a quiet year for me, writing wise, but I am pleased that I managed to break into three new publications that I respect and admire; Overland, Going Down Swinging, and Hecate. I also had work published in two of my favourite journals; The Lifted Brow, and Tincture Journal, both of which put a great emphasis on publishing voices that aren’t always heard in the mainstream. Below are links to either read or buy the journals. Happy reading!

November: The Small Violences published in Overland.

November: Why Do We Close The Door On Domestic Violence? published in Hecate 41.1 & 2.

September: Sometime Around Midnight published in Going Down Swinging #37.

June: The Art Of Breaking published in The Lifted Brow #31.

March: field officer no. 302 published in Tincture Journal #13.

The great news is, I already have three publications lined up this year. I think this is a good start to what I hope will be a productive writing year!

Find more of my writing under the ‘Writing’ tab.

(TWENTY-FIVE) the body has memory

‘The body has memory. The physical carriage hauls more than its weight. The body is the threshold across which each objectionable call passes into consciousness.’ Claudia Rankine, Citizen.

this is how days are spent. the briefest moments of hope. punctured by despair. can you despair at nothingness? can nothingness be a sign of despair? how often in the last four weeks did you feel hopeless for no reason. you would like to believe there is always a reason. but numbers aren’t a good measurement of pain. or experience. or despair.

it’s the memories that stop you. does the future have memory? is past performance an indicator of future performance? you never know you’re in it. until you’re in too deep. you don’t yet know when to fight. and when to walk away.

you are a self-fulfilling prophecy.

there are already others. circling. waiting to swoop. and you say there is nothing left. not even for me. but someone has found something. and my skin still smells like you. and you keep saying I’ll hold on I’m hanging on I will be held here.

this is how days are spent. each morning there is a torturous moment before consciousness. each morning there is a moment where nothing has changed. how often in the last four weeks did you feel hopeless for no reason?

every morning she said.




and on a scale of one to ten? always a ten. always.

these streets don’t exist without us. and last night I dreamt about our wedding. you wore a dress. but that can’t be right. can it? you took my breath away. and isn’t that how it’s always been. how do you erase the intimate knowledge of someone? is that what happens now? will the contours made for these hands wear away over time?

the body has memory.

and these streets. they don’t exist without you.

this is how days are spent. you are dressed for a different season in a different city. this city that was once your own is now the prickle of heat on your neck. and will it be yours again? and does that mean you’re no longer being held. just holding on. hold on.

there’s something comfortable about being in the crush of people. here in this space you are nobody. you are not the person who has lost everything. twice. you are just a girl in a stripy shirt wearing a banana necklace. here in this space you are nobody. and for a while. this is the best you can hope for.

and you keep thinking. but there was a ring. and you keep thinking. but we were making a dream home scrapbook. but you were a ghost. and now you’re ghosting streets that don’t belong to you anymore. these streets that belonged to the person you once were don’t exist in this time. these streets exist in the past.

but you say you’re holding on. just holding on for one more day. and you’re in danger of becoming a 90s pop song. but we agreed that life is a musical. so hold on anyway. just for one more day.

these bodies have memory. and mine will remember yours.

(TWENTY-FOUR) the chaos and the calm

you’re the kind of person who makes people lonely. you dream of five cats entering the house and watching you. you know it’s over when the cats have come. your mother’s psychic said this would happen. but you’ve only ever believed in magic. you wonder if you should tell someone about this feeling that won’t quit. 3am is for sobbing in your sleep and car alarms. every morning before consciousness you think. it’s all okay. and then you wake.

you’re the kind of person who makes people lonely. the receptionist says how can I help you sir. and you know you are invisible. you wish you were only invisible here. then it would be easier to move on. you make plans you don’t intend to keep. how can you tell them about this feeling that won’t quit.

you’re the kind of person who makes people lonely. when the cats come for you. you will be ready. you fantasise about how you will do it. you refuse violence and the implication of others. you’re so far from the sea here. in the morning a low moaning comes from underneath the house. you don’t need to check what it is.

you’re the kind of person who makes people lonely. you get desperate when you’re sad. desperation leads you to water. how long will they lock you up for this feeling. if it happens. they will never let you out. the most everyday outings were made magic with you. the streets are different now. and when you were lying under the sheet and couldn’t breathe. you thought this must be what it’s like. this must feel like dying.

you’re the kind of person who makes people lonely.

New Writing in The Lifted Brow #30

I’m really excited to have a new pice of non-fiction, ‘The Art Of Breaking’ in the latest (#30) issue of The Lifted Brow. Not only is it the Brow’s 30th issue, a great thing in itself, it’s also all-round, a pretty special issue. Have you seen the awesome wrap-around artwork? There is so much goodness to find in this issue, I set myself the task of reading a different piece every night before bed. Sometimes the strange and wonderful works entered my dreams.

I especially enjoyed the Advice Comics by Lizzie Nagy and Andy Connor, Madness and White by Anezka Sero, and Izzy Roberts-Orr’s poem Sometimes the Ocean Falls on You, Even When the Coastlines are Far Away.

The Lifted Brow do such an excellent job at welcoming and nurturing different and experimental pieces of writing, that may otherwise not find a home here. My piece ‘The Art Of Breaking’ is about a breakdown/breakup via Twitter and I’m really proud to have it published in the Brow. You can view a tiny excerpt of the piece here. You can also read short excerpts from all the of the pieces here. But really, the best thing to do is to buy an issue, or subscribe, and get it delivered straight to your door every quarter.


Happy reading!

TWENTY-THREE (Street Stories)

This is a tiny extract from my current work in progress.



Sometimes the only way to remember the early years is to trace the memories back to the streets they emerged from. There were so many houses early on, so many schools, so many new beginnings. Can a beginning be thought of as new if it starts and ends the same as all the other beginnings? Is this how other families work too, this constant shifting, but never starting over—just starting again, and again—sometimes only a few streets away, across a suburb line.

My family managed to find whole clusters of suburbs where time worked in the same way, always staying still, never moving. Suburbs where if you stayed too long you got a glimpse of the person you would become. I can see now, how easy it is to stay, how time and place can slowly wear you away, slowly permeate your sense of being, your sense of belonging. How you can wake one day and know without a doubt, that you have become this place where time is still, where people are worn away to their very shell, this place that you come to find you can never leave.

Some years there is more than one street, more than one house, more than one school, this makes it harder to remember. Some years my memories settle on other markers of time, of place. Some years the streets are all I have to remember them by, or the houses, the waking dreams, the nights I can’t forget.

TWENTY-TWO (Yesterday)

There was a time there all those years ago, in that old house, that old suburb, there was a time there when I saw you in everything. Wherever I went, wherever I looked, there you were. They say, after a person dies, it’s not uncommon to still see them, in places you might have once seen them, often in the most ordinary of places. Then it’s not uncommon to see you riding down the street on your bicycle. Then it’s not uncommon to see you in the supermarket, stepping off a bus, turning back and catching my gaze.

I don’t really know if people say this, but I imagine it to be true. Otherwise how to explain this seeing you, when I know you are gone. Of course, this was many years ago. I don’t see you anymore, not like that. I’ve moved away now, to a different city, with its own haunts and hauntings. But I still go back, I am always going back.

Ten years is a long time for someone to have passed. I remember it like it was yesterday. Isn’t that what most people say about the moments in their lives where grief is found balled up inside them like a fist.

If I don’t remember it like it was yesterday then there is the danger of forgetting. There is the danger that I could pass through time unmarked, unchanged. If time is not a construct designed to change us, then what is it? If time and grief are balled up inside you like a fist and you refuse change, what happens to that fist? Does grief spread inside you like a roadmap, unfurled, sprawling and unknown.

I remember it like it was yesterday. You were always leaving, even before you left for good. You were always leaving, on a Saturday evening, crashing forward into the night. You were always leaving, on a weekday afternoon, hiding in a nearby empty lot. You were always leaving and we were always left looking. I remember it like it was yesterday.


New Poem in Tincture Journal Issue 13

The lovely folk at Tincture Journal have once again published a piece of my writing. My poem ‘field officer no. 302’ appears in Issue 13 alongside many other wonderful pieces of writing. If you haven’t read Tincture Journal yet then this is a great issue to start with. There is a diverse range of quality content from – you guessed it – a diverse range of quality contributors!

If you’re looking for a taste-test then start with this ‘Two poems and an interview’ with Alison Whittaker, 2015 winner of the black&write! fellowship. Alison’s debut poetry collection Lemons in The Chicken Wire is out now with Magabala Books.

I also enjoyed reading Megan McGrath’s new column: Making Noise, in which Megan talks about early-career literary jealousy (I know plenty of writers who can identify with this – myself included!) and how to harness it in a positive way. Megan was a fellow winner of the 2015 QLD Premier’s Young Publishers and Writers Award.

Some other highlights in this issue of Tincture include David Stavanger’s poem ‘Life Is(n’t)’, Maria Arena’s short story ‘The Obliteration Rooms’ and Kathy George’s memoir ‘Read To Me’.

If you would like to support a wonderful literary journal (who wouldn’t?) then do consider subscribing to Tincture, or at the very least, grab yourself a copy of the latest issue here. Many thanks to Poetry Editor Stuart Barnes and Editor Daniel Young for picking up my piece and continuing to support great writing talent.

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