Short Story: Swamped

Final part of  SWAMPED

(JLeahy on Creative Writing with Isabel De Avila Winter ) ©

Public Domain image.

I remained standing at the T-junction and my attention shifted to where the two waterways met. I wondered where the birds were today. By now, the sun rays would have come through the leaves and woken the birds, causing an eruption of an electrifying orchestra. There was not a single bird-song. That part of the equatorial rainforest norm was missing.

My arms hung loose and lifeless, I could not feel them. I tried to, but I could not lift my arms nor move my legs. I was not terrified; I only felt stuck and this alarmed me a little because the mud was not deep. When I drew breath, it was slow, restrictive, and my chest was constricted. Something large of several layers like a heavy coil of thick, soft, rubber hung around my neck and shoulders. It weighed me down. I was tall for a teenager, but my thin, weak and small shoulders were crushed by this weight. I thought it was a heavy towel as we often hung towel around our necks to keep warm while fishing. I shut my eyes.

And then it moved, so suddenly. I realised this was not a towel. It was a large snake, a python! A different set of knots, the horrid kind, started tightening inside me. On me, I saw the coils move and could feel it tightened.

My eyes re-focused. The snake’s colour reflected that of the greyish mud, faint yellow like a banana skin, and the brown mangrove tree bark. I could see the diamond-shaped outline of each scale. It was detailed vividly in intricate patterns on its centre spine above my breasts and just beneath my chin. The scale patterns, beautiful and seamless, disappeared under the next coil. I became more aware, alarmed and numbed by the weight, closeness and firmness of its grip. I shifted my eyes ahead beyond the mangrove. It did not make sense to scream and it seemed too hard to remember how to scream. I refused to imagine where the snake’s head would be, I did not want to meet it nor look into its eyes. Now I remember how that poor pig must have felt when the python took it behind our house. Was this the same snake?

Timor Python: Public Domain image

I waited for a few more minutes and I sensed the snake was not trying to kill me. That was strange. It seemed comfortable the way it restricted and detained me, and I was afraid to move and disturb it. The dank smell re-appeared and honed the swamp stink. I could not feel the mosquitos. I wondered if that stink was the snake. Its weight became too much and I wondered how long I would be standing there in the mud, carrying the snake.

Then, a single call of a Sock-ngkwing bird, the spirit bird, pierced the silence and my eardrums. I moved to the bird’s cry. The python tightened its grip, and squeezing .. and I screamed just like the bird, feeling my body become alive. I moved my arms and legs. I flipped over and woke up with my bed sheet tight around my neck. It was THAT dream. Before I went to high school, in my early teens, I had this dream so many times. It was always the same dream. I shuddered. Still tense and terrified, I went to see grandma.

I re-told the dream to my grandmother; she looked at me for a long time.  Her eyes searched, speaking to my face, without words.

“There is a decision you have to make, a path you have to choose. What is stopping you from choosing, is your fear”, she said.

I looked at Tinang, afraid.

“Don’t be afraid” she said and hugged me. I shut my eyes and fell against her soft, tattered, spun rayon dress. Grandma’s scent of Chinese White Flower lotion, mixed with mustard and chewed betel-nut soon erased the swamp stink. I had thought about this dream interpretation often when I was growing up, and it always frightened me because I knew what it was, but it was not a single thing; it was many…

The Extraordinary in the Ordinary

An exhibition of images taken of the ordinary day-to-day things we use and see. It is best to watch this show on a full screen with the sound.

Tomorrow: Short-story, final part of Swamp.

Island Living in Papua New Guinea

I found this short documentary made by Planet Doc and presented in Spanish. I tried to watch it and work out what the narrator is saying (without the sub-titles). Don’t worry, for you, there are English sub-titles. There is a sequel to this film which I can post later. I believe a cultural heritage of a person can influence what they value is important and how they present that value in a story. There were certain practices of intangible cultures from Papua New Guinea island tribes presented in this film. It stretched from the Trobriand Islands to the islands of New Britain. I don’t understand what the language (Spanish) the narrator is speaking, but watching the pictures, and knowing the culture, I can see what he is trying to show. Perhaps some Spanish speakers here can figure it out what the narrator is trying to say about the shell money he is showing , from both island traditions.  

This is the magic of story-telling. Simply, what you can show your readers. As good writers, we need every possible word that can draw a picture well in our reader’s mind.

Sokushinbutsu: Mummified Japanese Monks

I have found these stories very fascinating. One story is about the Japanese monks and the other story is about ancient Chinese statues and an interesting discovery.


Scattered throughout Northern Japan around the Yamagata Prefecture are two dozen mummified Japanese monks known as Sokushinbutsu, who caused their own deaths in a way that resulted in their mummification. The practice was first pioneered by a priest named Kuukai over 1000 years ago at the temple complex of Mount Koya, in Wakayama prefecture. Kuukai was founder of the Shingon sect of Buddhism, which is the sect that came up with the idea of enlightenment through physical punishment. A successful mummification took upwards of ten years. It is believed that many hundreds of monks tried, but only between 16 and 24 such mummifications have been discovered to date.

The elaborate process started with 1,000 days of eating a special diet consisting only of nuts and seeds, while taking part in a regimen of rigorous physical activity that stripped them of their body fat. They then ate only bark and roots for another thousand days and began drinking a poisonous tea made from the sap of the Urushi tree, normally used to lacquer bowls. Read more

Here is another story relating to the same.


Researchers at the Drents Museum in the Netherlands made a shocking discovery when they imaged an ancient Chinese statue and found a nearly 1,000-year-old mummy inside.

Sitting in the lotus position, the mummy fits within the statue perfectly.

“On the outside, it looks like a large statue of Buddha,” the museum said in a release. “Scan research has shown that on the inside, it is the mummy of a Buddhist monk who lived around the year 1100.”

Read More

The Dance for Love

Here is a documentary (49 mins) by Tadashi Shimada about the Birds of Paradise, one of my favourite creatures on earth.

New Guinea is a true garden of Eden for birds. Some of the most unique are birds of paradise. With plenty of food such as nuts and fruits and very few natural predators, they’ve been able to leisurely hone their courting skills. The ribbon-tailed astrapia flaps its long white tail feathers, while the blue bird-of-paradise unfurls its feathers to create a pulsating eye-like shape. Since they live deep in the jungle, their courtship displays have long been steeped in mystery. Tadashi Shimada, a wildlife photographer who’s made numerous visits to New Guinea over the years, has for the first time ever captured images of the blue bird-of-paradise’s courting behavior. This program delves into the fascinating world of these beautiful and mysterious birds.

Published on Jun 25, 2014 – For more please visit NHK World.

Reuben’s Poetry in Kinetic Art

I really enjoyed this video and as one of the viewers, Bob Bobowiz commented, “Let’s face it. He’s a poet. He found another form than words but it still is poetry.”

Reuben is a very talented kinetic artist, who transforms solid mechanical parts into beautiful organic and fluid kinetic movements. In this PopTech presentation he shows his fascinating process with beautiful insight.

Blogging your book away – how much is too much?

Will posting chapters and parts of your book on your blog take away from your publishing success?


I have been told often that I should save more of my blog posts to include in my memoir. Usually this advice comes from people who love and care for me. I really appreciate that concern. I know this concern was not expressed for the fear of copyright, although I should be concern about that too; I am told I am ‘giving away’ a section of writing that may be building up tension or crucial to the climax of a chapter or even the memoir itself.

We choose what we share on our blogs. I know I could be just giving away the important parts in my memoir without realising it, but as I write the story evolves. I also feel the need to challenge my self even more by improving that story after I have posted it. Often I feel that if I re-write as much as I can, I like it more and the story becomes another story – an even better story. I remember things and add them. I show what I am saying better, with the right words. I enjoy details, sound, smell, how it feels and colours. When I re-write often, I speak the English word better, because it is not my first language and I need the practice. This may sound confusing, but it is about the evolution of the story and how the story journeys through its form until it becomes the one invention I and hopefully the editor is satisfied with.

I am grateful for the good advice, and without being too cocky, I must admit, my other fault lies in wanting to share immediately. My enthusiasm and thrill of a draft completion leads to, the need to read the story to someone. I want to tell the story.  This may not be what other aspiring authors do. And, I am not advising anyone on what they should do with their potential best-seller. I wanted to make a point that whatever bits and pieces you read of my memoir is a piece of the story. I hope by the time I complete the memoir, I would still offer you a whole story and not six chapters of what I have left – from blog posts. Perhaps some of the blogger/author friends can share in the comments, how they manage this issue. Now, I have another story to tell…..

Recently through my friend and fellow WordPress blogger hiMe, I found another Papua New Guinea/Australia woman writer, June Perkins. As we bloggers do, we socialise while we write. For me to find a wantok, someone from your place, it is quite special. Perkin’s work has been published on Australia Broadcasting Commission(ABC Open) that hiMe writes for.  Once hiMe gave me the link and I reached out, it did not take long for June to come to the meeting place – this blog.

I am very happy to get to know June (virtually) and read some of her stories. It is also wonderful to find stories between us that have similarities and that common place. Reading through June’s posts, I found this piece of writing and I was thrilled that it was related to my post tonight about how much is too much to share on blogs. I hope you enjoy June’s post and have time to visit June Perkins‘ blog in the future.

A possible cover for an upcoming book – bringing my poetry on Art and Spirituality together – June Perkins

My blog is the place where the journey to my books has begun.

I have fed them continuously like journals with drafts and polished works.

Blogs have helped me make writing, remembering, reflecting and imagining a regular practice.

Blogs have encouraged me to make photography a regular practice.

Through reading other blogs I have found storytellers, poets, writers, travellers, film makers, and people who want to bring peace to the world through art. These people have inspired me with their journeys, writing, and photographs in their blogs.

Blogs have helped me so much so that when I have lived in the outer/country, I sometimes felt cut off from this larger creative world.

Blogs helped me heal from the damage of a cyclone to my old home and become a community journalist.

My own blogs have become a resource, full of roughly cut books. They have become archives for my family and friends to search our shared history.

Now I begin another journey. On this one, I take the rough cuts and unstructured writings shared the blogs and begin to place them into book structures.

It is time for me to polish more.

I move beyond the relatively free form of my blog and start to create anthologies and memoirs with sections, and chapters, and titles. I edit my blogs and add and subtract from them.

I create new pieces to connect blogs posts, and put them in these books, and save up for when they go public. They are held back from my blog to be surprises. My blog increasingly becomes a place for sharing the process of what I am up too rather than the final product.

The most inspiring things about blogs are:

1- The way they can potentially connect with the writer with readers and invite an immediate response.

2- The way blogs can respond to national and international events in the moment.

3- Their cheap access to a publishing platform for many in the world.

4- Their global reach.

5- Their capacity to build an audience for an emerging storyteller.

The challenges of a blog can be:

1- Blogging becomes addictive. You keep feeding your blog and not get on with sending off works for publication.

2- You share work you could or should be publishing as a book or article.

3- Copyright protection.

4-Some blogs focus too much on sales and not enough on content or connection. These blogs concentrate more on sale pitches and some are scammers.

5-Blogging can be challenging to build a large audience for your blog, and requires time, good quality content and social skills.

I will still blog when I have something I don’t want to forget, or something that moves my heart, or maybe a photo to share, but now I truly have to share a little less on my blog, and make you some SURPRISES.

More soon…..

(c) June Perkins

Amputated Digits

I hear you..I like how you said this. That was my time in journalism – a third got chopped. I bet the editors love it.

Cor Novus

Besides my scribblings in Cor Novus, I also contribute to a Community Newsletter where I live.  For the very large part, the contributions to the newsletter are simply a regurgitation of stuff I already put in here. Like nearly all regurgitions, not everything comes back in the same form that it went in.

In the blog I am free to let my writing Muse roam and ramble at will. I DO edit for length and comprehension but for the most part I just let the inner-voice speak as it wills and wants. It’s a different story for the newsletter. Space is premium and I sometimes have to cut as much as a third from the original that you see published here.WritersBlock

A THIRD! Oh My God, the PAIN!

Every writer of any worth that I have ever heard speak will tell you that words and stories and articles and essays…

View original post 138 more words

Nothing Came With the Rain

The Family
First days in the family (Australian Wood ducks).

The rain eased at noon in Bellbowrie, Queensland today, but only for a few minutes. It has been storming for two days. The rain’s destruction was evident in washed garden beds and the main road overflows. I found some of my cuttings and seedlings floating in odd places, near the main road.

Yesterday, at the Coles Supermarket we were unable to purchase staple food like bread and rice. A Cole’s staff member said residents had a panic buy, stocking up in case it flooded like the 2011 Queensland floods. The supermarket was empty.

Several places outside our house were flooded. I had kept indoors and started a new artwork and read blogs. Only two days of wet weather and storms – yet there was too much water. On the news Brisbane was supposed to have 500mm of rain over the weekend. More rain will come.

In the distant, I heard a familiar cry that tugged at my heartstrings. I left the watercolour and went outside to the balcony.

“Listen!” I told my son Nathan.

We both waited and the cry was muffled by the sound of rain on our iron rooftop. It came again and I knew the cry was coming from the open field and then it moved around the back, near the duck’s nesting ground. She did come back. Her cries were strange, long and despondent. I knew.

“It’s her, something has happened”, I said.

I put my raincoat on and walked through the drizzle in the soft mushy flooded ground to her. The male duck, her partner was by her side, quiet. They made a striking couple. Her brown and white spotty breast and belly topped with deep brown-black wings, and he with a touch of spotty chest, blue-grey and black flumes. They stood on the fuzzy open plain of short stubby blue couch, Queensland’s native grass. The rain water was caught in the grass blades giving it a wet, fuzzy sheen.

I looked around the two ducks. The seven ducklings were nowhere to be seen. My heart sank. The inevitable had happened. The mother’s face was turned towards the pool, where she had hatched them. Her neck stretched forward and long in a breaking curve. Her mouth was wide opened, showing her pink insides as she wailed. Her cries were louder as I got closer. My eyes warmed into tears.

She looked at me and stopped crying. I stopped a few meters away. I wished I had some duck-words to comfort her. I could only offer her some food and walked away.

Love Is..


I believe love is the greatest and the most powerful emotion of all emotions we feel as human beings. Every person needs love in whatever form they can get. If we have love from our children, friends, lovers or partner, and some from pets, (or blog readers), love is the one thing that would make us feel good about ourselves. I truly believe love makes us better people. In this application, the love I am referring to is the romantic kind. I also hope I am interpreting this challenge the right way.

In a recent Valentine’s Day Challenge, my friend MillieThom nominated me to write ten four-word phrases about LOVE. The phrases must represent what I believe is love. Then, I must state one favorite love quote from a book, a movie or a famous person and then tag ten other bloggers to do the challenge as well. I have nominated a dozen. I believe that love is important to all of us – friends, readers and writers. It is a good challenge for poets and romance writers but as writers in general, we all would have or will experience and write about love at some point, so if I nominate you, have a go! as we say in Australia.

Here are my ten, four word phrases about LOVE:

Love is . . .

….. magic without spoken words

……a temptress at play

……an arrow of doom

……seeing quicksand at work

…….a work of art

….. soft strings in tangle

……knowing, hearts can open

……a devil in disguise

……a wild, crazy emotion

……soars when hearts entwine

…….a song of hearts

Image: Public domain


Now for my favourite love quote – (I can’t do a short phrase for love)

A love message from Bob Marley.

“Only once in your life, I truly believe, you find someone who can completely turn your world around. You tell them things that you’ve never shared with another soul and they absorb everything you say and actually want to hear more. You share hopes for the future, dreams that will never come true, goals that were never achieved and the many disappointments life has thrown at you. When something wonderful happens, you can’t wait to tell them about it, knowing they will share in your excitement. They are not embarrassed to cry with you when you are hurting or laugh with you when you make a fool of yourself. Never do they hurt your feelings or make you feel like you are not good enough, but rather they build you up and show you the things about yourself that make you special and even beautiful. There is never any pressure, jealousy or competition but only a quiet calmness when they are around. You can be yourself and not worry about what they will think of you because they love you for who you are. The things that seem insignificant to most people such as a note, song or walk become invaluable treasures kept safe in your heart to cherish forever. Memories of your childhood come back and are so clear and vivid it’s like being young again. Colours seem brighter and more brilliant. Laughter seems part of daily life where before it was infrequent or didn’t exist at all. A phone call or two during the day helps to get you through a long day’s work and always brings a smile to your face. In their presence, there’s no need for continuous conversation, but you find you’re quite content in just having them nearby. Things that never interested you before become fascinating because you know they are important to this person who is so special to you. You think of this person on every occasion and in everything you do. Simple things bring them to mind like a pale blue sky, gentle wind or even a storm cloud on the horizon. You open your heart knowing that there’s a chance it may be broken one day and in opening your heart, you experience a love and joy that you never dreamed possible. You find that being vulnerable is the only way to allow your heart to feel true pleasure that’s so real it scares you. You find strength in knowing you have a true friend and possibly a soul mate who will remain loyal to the end. Life seems completely different, exciting and worthwhile. Your only hope and security is in knowing that they are a part of your life.”
― Bob Marley

Image: Public domain


I have nominated a dozen love messengers. I could have done more, but I was told to do ten. Have fun!


Let’s Cut The Crap

Nomzi Kumalo

Jambo Robyn

Patrick Jones

The Big House and Other Stories

Chris The Story Reading Ape’s blog

Jack Henry Kraven

Love Letters to Spam

glimmer of happiness

Crime Fiction Writer Sue Coletta

Power Plant Men