‘You, the Artist’- Poems by Leeza von Alpen

you are colour

this life is a canvas

and we are all artists

but I often stop and wonder

why we dare would choose to squander

our ephemeral moments by never, or barely ever,

staining our brushes in paint pots at all;

doing nothing to fill in the shades of grey

You, the Artist’

you are colour

this life is a canvas

and we are all artists

but I often stop and wonder

why we dare would choose to squander

our ephemeral moments by never, or barely ever,

staining our brushes in paint pots at all;

doing nothing to fill in the shades of grey

but you

oh you

you who splatters hues

leaving paint smears on your shoes

because you wander through the world

wearing as many colours as you choose

with a laughter tainted yellow

and an old temper tinted black

using charcoal and pastels with tones so mellow,

and graphite pencils, oils and ink

that attack

the senses

you add texture to the world

with the way your mind can think

because you paint pictures with your mind

and I do so hope that in time

that you will see, how clearly,

that your heart is full of colour



Our Silent Language’

I’ll utter nothing with my lips,

but I’ll keep speaking with my eyes

as I try to come to grips

with what I’ve suddenly realised

how surreal, this thing I feel

all contained within my chest

buckled down behind my breast

as I endeavour to conceal

but then instead you nod your head

yet not a single word I’ve said

because you heard every word

in our silent tongue through which we talk

so side-by-side we’ll pace, we’ll walk;

and I can’t explain, though try I may

how your grin makes the planets spin

how it makes the sun hiccup flares that

stretch out to lick the milky way

but still I simply cannot say

these heart whisperings to you

but I don’t think that I need to;

so I’ll mutter nothing with my lips

but I’ll keep speaking with my hands

as I try to come to grips

with what I still don’t understand

it’s breathtaking, the way your raking

of your fingers through your hair

can stop me still and make me stare

and smile even while my heart is quaking

and I turn to you, those blue eyes in view

and release a sigh in relieved reply:

I don’t need to speak or sing or sign

(which is good, because I’m shaking);

we don’t need the words to reveal

the sheer extent of love we feel.

Leeza Headshot

Poems by Leeza von Alpen

Leeza is a writer and poet (both written and slam), and an English and History high school teacher. In her spare time, she treks through rainforests and star watches. She loves paperbacks, Hayao Miyazaki movies with milkless tea, and puns. You can follow her on Twitter @Leeza_Jayde

If you would like to see your work featured for Fiction Friday make sure to check out our submission guidelines and send us your stories and poems. Genre fiction is most welcome.


The Hearth: Of the Night

In the last few years the creative writing community has retaken the night with a range of creative reading and poetry events popping up all around Adelaide. The Hearth is one such event, run by Flinders University Alumni Melanie Pryor, Alicia Carter, Lauren Butterworth, and Emma Maguire.

Words by Kayla Gaskell

In the last few years the creative writing community has retaken the night with a range of creative reading and poetry events popping up all around Adelaide. The Hearth is one such event, run by Flinders University Alumni Melanie Pryor, Alicia Carter, Lauren Butterworth, and Emma Maguire. Providing an outlet for creatives to share their work, The Hearth runs four themed events each year. The final event of 2017 was themed ‘Of the Night’, allowing several writers the opportunity to respond creatively to this theme.

The Jade has proven an excellent choice in venue with friendly staff and a stage for readers to present their work. While Thursday’s event was delayed due to another event having run before The Hearth, there was an excellent turn out of people wanting to support their writing community.

Readers for ‘Of the Night’ included: JV Birch, Marina Deller, Andy Lee, Lisandra Linde and Melanie Pryor.Music was provided by Dee Trawartha leading up to the readings, and between sets. The readers presented a mixture of poetry, personal essay, creative non-fiction, and fiction all with the common theme of ‘night’. This diversity in creative writing was excellent to see and kept the audience engaged throughout.

The Hearth Collective: Alicia Carter, Lauren Butterworth, Emma Maguire and Melanie Pryor, Photo: Brendan Davies

Lisandra Linde was the first reader; a creative writing honours student at Flinders University with a background in forensic archaeology. Lisandra presented a creative non-fiction piece dealing with her thoughts about her own mortality and her first experience confronted with death—encountering a corpse in her previous field of study.

Andy Lee, an environment student at Flinders, shared three of his poems, all written for performance. His work is heavy with naturalistic imagery and considers the world around him, how he views it, and how others view it. Drawing on his studies he is a able to bring in environmental concepts such as the twenty-ninth day in order to promote environmental awareness.

Marina Deller is one assignment away from finishing her degree and presented a moving personal essay about finding herself again after a terrible period in her life. Marina is a highly engaging speaker and held the audience captive as she spoke about her life experiences and how losing her friend and, shortly after, her mother changed her outlook on life.


Melanie Pryor, a PhD candidate, presented a piece crafted from three memories given to her in a previous project in 2013. These memories, together with some haunting music, inspired the story of a boy whose neighbour’s little girl disappeared. A captivating story, Melanie used the memories of people living with dementia and turned them into a story of her own.

JV Birch is a poet who moved to Adelaide from London five years ago. She claims to have the concentration span of a goldfish and says that is why her poetry is so short, although it seems more likely that she dislikes excessive verbiage. JV presented six short poems each revolving around the moon.

Q&A 2
Q&A Panel at the Hearth, Photo: Lauren Butterworth

The Hearth, as well as providing a place for writers to share their work, also invites audience engagement with a Q & A session following the readings. In the Q & A, the audience, as well as the presenters, are able to ask questions about the writing process and the pieces and ideas presented.

The Hearth was involved in the 2017 Adelaide Fringe Festival and has just announced their continued involvement in 2018. The theme for their next event, this coming March, is Masquerade, and they will soon be on the lookout for pitches.

For more information on The Hearth and upcoming events check out their Facebook page. Tulpa would like to thank The Hearth Collective for providing the photos used in this review. 

Photos by Lauren Butterworth and Brendan Davies

Review by Kayla Gaskell


‘This Type of Exchange’ by Jess M. Miller


London Bridge is down.

That’s what they’ll say when the Queen dies. He’s read about it online. Couldn’t get the image out of his head. It ought to be something similar, over here. Eagle is down. That’s what they say in action films. It was Clinton’s code name, and it works better than anything. It works so well that he barely remembers the actual code. But this is not an action film; there is no script, and they have no other selves to escape to when this is over. Alice has been his secretary for seventeen years. Her face is blotched and gushing, ugly in the way that on-screen women rarely get to be.

‘A sniper, Ted. A sniper.’ She talks to him in the way that she builds his schedule, in bullet points which live up to their name, words that carry death.

Secret Service men spill in behind her, black and slick like ravens. ‘Come with us, sir,’ they say. But his brain is sludge. He can’t remember how to work his legs.


Slowly, he peels back his cuff to look at his watch, at the engraving on the other side facing his skin. Gratias ago. Thank you, in Latin. An inauguration present, the precursor to this present, he supposes—and for a moment he is a child at Christmas. Bleary and confused under wrapping paper; not sure if this present is the right shape, whether it matches what he asked for. But this is not the kind of present you scrawl down on paper. He unloops the watch from his wrist, lies it face-down on his desk. Not his desk anymore. He looks straight at Alice, takes her all in. This type of exchange is almost as heavy as she is. The next one will be different. The next exchange will not recognise the one now.

‘Sir, we have to move quickly.’

Eagle is down. He nods. He stands.


Alice steps towards him but the ravens push her back, lead her to the couch. An agent’s jacket catches on his holster. The momentary glimpse of a Glock 9 mm. Has he ever used it? Will he need to use it again? Does he ever think about it, on nights when he can’t sleep?

‘You think too much.’ Eagle’s words, just the other day. ‘You think more than all of Congress put together.’ It had been meant in affection. Let go in those few precious moments of exhale between the 8.45 and the 8.50, on a day still too young for malice, a day they’d let sleep in while they’d worked. Their own staff bleary-eyed since five thirty; their wives recently left for that peace conference in Geneva.

Hazel. Does she know? Has she seen it on the news? He should call her. But he’s left his phone on the desk, and they won’t let him turn back now.


These portraits on the corridor wall have watched him trudge by for two years and nine months. They’ve seen his bad days and his good days, his wins, and his losses. This convocation of eagles. Their faces stretched across time, across bank notes and history books. His Eagle looming at the end of the procession—the man with the shoes that will be the biggest to fill.

Ted’s own feet are two full sizes smaller. He is two inches shorter, twenty pounds heavier. They will have to expand the nest, add sticks and twigs and shiny things.

The corners of the painted man’s mouth are turned up in a smile. Tobacco has crinkled him in real life, but they haven’t painted that, of course, they haven’t. Smoking is a bad habit. And the President doesn’t have bad habits. Eagle told him that once, four moves from checkmate, ash collecting like dust on the shoulders of his knights. Both their ties dangling from the Deputy Chief of Staff’s office lamp. There was a man outside their door, but they liked to imagine that no-one knew about them here, playing chess in this deliberately abandoned office.

‘I don’t smoke,’ he’d said, and tapped his cigarette. ‘There is a reason, Ted, why your title includes the word vice and mine doesn’t. Ask the press. Any decent reporter will tell you that what you’re seeing now is an illusion—and the press only prints the truth. We all know that.’

He looks at the empty space on the wall. His own portrait will hang there soon. He wonders what they’ll paint out of him, to make him match the others. He lingers. And then the ravens carry him away, around the corner, and there it is. His oval office. His nest of shiny things. He looks once more around him. And then in his head, he says, action.


Cameras. Click, flash, click, flash. Like an old movie. He is photographed into being. The Secret Service steps away. One by one. Click, flash. His first captured moments. Frank walks over. Holds him by the shoulders. Click, flash. Everyone is there. The leaders of the free world. Of the saved and the damned. The ravens, the vultures. All the other birds. The Chief Justice picks up her Bible. He is sure to take short, sharp breaths, to paint shock and grief in nuanced layers onto his face. He’s been practising.

Networks will broadcast his moment across the world. Across time and bank notes and history books. And the press only prints the truth. We all know that, don’t we, Eagle? We all know you do nothing wrong, and when you do it’s either left out of the painting or passed on down, to the Vice President, because there’s a reason the title is called that, there is a reason these four letters distinguish the eagle from the crow. Because the Vice President will take your punches for you, won’t he? He helped you get here and asked no questions and certainly won’t ask any questions now. But your Vice President thinks too much. You told him that yourself. Gratias ago. Thank you, very much, for the advice.

‘Sir, please raise your right hand and repeat after me.’

Click, flash.


Written by Jess M. Miller.

Artwork by Rhianna Carr.