Stephanie Markwell




And so,

I spend my life

rolling a boulder up a hill

A futile attempt to free myself

from organic shackles


A punishment for defying the will of some

incomprehensibly divine being

whose thought processes I cannot begin to understand

yet still resent


Trying desperately to gain knowledge

that others have had a twenty-year head start on

My father taught me how to shave my face

but my mother never taught me to shave my legs

so I climb this mountain

with razor-torn knees

and blistered toes

and bad eyeliner


A thought and a hand

both slip






My boulder comes

crashing down

A lifetime of work

gone in an instant


I sigh

Bundle up my things

and trudge down to the base of it all

Preparing to start my task over

one more time


And so,


To the Core


There is an apple

rotting in the corner of my room

Summertime palette reduced

to a sickly autumnal shade of brown


Monotony at its grimiest


It sits on my desk

and spreads its corruption

Indiscernible, foul-smelling liquid oozes from a half-chewed core

giving faux birch panelling a chestnut stain


It was February when I left it there

It is April now

and the apple has become an ecosystem of its own

A relic of my short-lived intentions to get my shit together

Reboot my life

with sit-ups

and self-help

and fresh summer fruits


I have been staring at it for the past hour

desperately willing either party to move

It doesn’t matter which

Both outcomes are equally likely


I will get my life together once this apple is disposed of

I think to myself


But getting my life together

entails a lot more

than taking an apple from a desk

and putting it into a wastebasket

where nobody has to see it.


After all

if you can’t see it, it’s not there



There is only so much you can do when your brain

sits in the corner of your skull

spreading rot through synapses

One bad apple

spoiling the bunch


A Fetish for the Life Unobserved


I am acutely aware

that I picked a boring name

but normalcy for me is a rare treat

that I yearn to indulge in


I am rarely afforded the privilege

of being perceived as normal

or boring

or plain


My existence is a talking point

used by daytime TV panels and formerly beloved authors

to drum up easy outrage

regarding my right to piss outside of my own home


Normalcy is my ultimate fantasy

A suburban kink

A fetish for a life unobserved

that I indulge in so rarely


When I daydream, I dream of boredom

A boring name and a boring body

Living in a boring home

Going about my boring day

with my keep-cup

of Herbalife tea

that says #girlboss on the side


I picked a boring name so that on paper

I look just as normal as anyone else

Normality in anonymity

the closest I’ll get

to the real thing


Memento Mori


My father smiled gently when I asked where my grandfather was buried

and told me that we could go together some day

to pay my respects to a man who I’d never met

A bonding activity between three people

who never truly knew one another


I told him that I had no intention of paying my respects

and his brow furrowed slightly

Contentedness shifting to confusion as he asked what I meant


No, I said

I do not want to pay my respects

I would like to piss on his grave


His face fell

and his brow lowered further

and he told me that that was a disgusting thing to say

and to this day

I’m not sure I understand why

It’s not like it was his father I was talking about


I do not want to pay my respects

to the man whose anger still runs in mine and my mother’s veins

A spectre that haunts my genetic history

Nosferatu shadow

looming against the walls of my skull


I would like to defile his grave

I would like to do what I could not do to him in his lifetime

I would like to shake my skinny fists at Him and God

and yell Why?


I know that I won’t get answers from either party

Both are long dead

and so I take it upon myself

to salt the earth under which he resides

I will ensure no grass, no flowers

no signs of beauty

grow over the rot

that has seeped its way from his heart

to the surface of his skin


A One-Sided Letter to a Dead Friend


I didn’t cry

when I got the call saying that you were dead





I understand

Yes, an overdose


It wasn’t intentional

which is maybe the worst part

because there’s something to be said for the finality of a suicide

The taking of your life

into your own hands

But it was an accident

so I know you died alone

and scared

and surrounded by people

and I’m so sorry


I didn’t cry

when I got the call

but I did cry three days later

at a party

under the influence

Don’t worry, I see the irony

I hope you do too

or would

I suppose


There was no logic to it

No stilted comments

No composure

No holding back

Just the act of locking myself

in someone else’s bathroom

and sobbing

while people banged on the door


When I cried

I cried alone

and scared

and surrounded by people

Stephanie Markwell is a Meanjin-based artist, writer, and creative, currently in her final year of a Bachelor of Fine Arts (Drama). You can find her on most platforms under @assnailant.