Dante's Inferno ...

“A mighty flame follows a tiny spark.” 
[Dante Alighieri]

Yesterday* the sun blazed down from a flawless blue sky and life in the 'wet' tropics continued to be contradicted by the persistent dry winds that have licked away any trace of excess moisture the abundant rainforest foliage of the region had managed to hold on to... 

Djarragun, which dominates every view point from our home town has grown progressively craggy, as the receding vegetation acknowledges the folded strata lying just beneath its veneer of green.  Daily I have been relishing this paring back, the slow revelation of the mountain's skeletal form...

As the day went on blazed the sun and the wind and then Dante came to the mountain; the spark fanned by the winds soon became a flame, then a force, and the day was dominated with observing the steady progress of fire and smoke ascending the spur.  By sunset the view was striking, but the real joy came after the sun had set; we took to the car to see the angry mountain - now with lava, all red aglow - flowing down [?] the spur... 

Dante in the back of the car exclaimed 'Oh my goodness!!!' at the beauty of it all ... 

or so we thought...

only to be corrected as she repeatedly exclaimed...

'Oh my goodness - FLASHING LIGHTIES!!! OH MY GOODNESS!!!' ... 

... her attention altogether taken by the new and overwhelming experience of Tropical Christmas Bling readily on display throughout the suburban streets on which we travelled to find our perfect Djarragun view...

'Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it...' 

*As I am posting this tonight there is a steady line of fire now high up on the ridge climbing, climbing... 


artful [mis]adventures...

“Every day is a journey filled with twists and turns. Every day, if you smile, you will feel alive, my son.”
[Santosh Kalwar]

The Ponciana's won't let me divert my attention.  Peeping through cracks between old Queenslanders, contrasting their orange red flames against distant prussian mountains, glowing in the first light of day, striking dramatic silhouettes at sundown.  Their persistently photogenic nature delightfully distracts me throughout the day. They command my vision, and last week* they caused trouble...

After a recent morning of play at a friend's house in Wrights Creek the poets had quickly fallen into a collective deep sleep in the back of the car.  I found myself in a rare parental moment of air-conditioned silence and space.  The usually short drive between Wrights Creek and Gordonvale took on epic meditation-retreat-like proportions as I luxuriated in the capacity to hold an uninterrupted thought for more than a moment-and-a-half...

Then the epiphany! While the children were sleeping, why not allow myself a now all-too-rare creative indulgence - and stop to photograph a few of the sites I had been driving past each week, thinking of all their visual potential - without being able to act...

So, with poets soundly sleeping in their air-conditioned capsule, I stopped and snapped away happily beneath the blazing midday sun [and my rather generous sunhat] to my delight, delight, delight... Approaching town, with still not a single utterance from the back of the car I decided to extend my profligacy - driving through the traffic lights and out to a series of blazing Ponciana's I knew would be at their best.  Now just past midday, the sun was high and hot - but the children slept on happily impervious to the heat.  More snaps; delight aplenty.  Then satiated, I returned to the cool of the idling car and took a moment to scroll through the images I had made.

I took a moment too long.  With no warning the car engine shuddered, made what I can only describe as a little yelping noise - and died...

Que numerous attempts to restart car [none successful].
Que memory of my justifying why we no longer needed to be members of the RACQ Roadside Assistance - [I can't remember the actual justification - only how financially liberating it felt - at the time...]
Que [recent and repeated] reminders that the car was now thousands of kilometers past its service date and desperately in need of repair... [ouch...!]
Que the daunting  estimates of what it would cost to have to pay for the car to be towed in lieu of surrendering our RACQ assistance...

In the silence that ensued I heard myself make a little yelping noise as I assessed the gravity of what I was now re-labeling my 'creative frivolity'.  Fortunately I was still on the part of the road where I had mobile reception - and my phone was [miraculously] still charged.  Seeing the perspiration quickly beginning to form on their little foreheads, I knew the poets would not be sleeping much longer and that two hot unhappy children waking to find they are stranded roadside in the heat of the day was going to be ugly, no matter how picturesque the surrounds...

Then the second epiphany!
Scrolling back though months of iphone messages as the perspiration on the poets grew, I found a text containing the number of the man who just might save the car, the children and my creative a%se...

Our local mechanic Troy is something of a car whisperer.  A humble man who I suspect sings to cars rather than fixing them via any conventional method. And by some good fortune our car had broken down on his road [well - not quite on his road - but on the road that leads to his workshop some ten or so kilometers away]. He answered [Que palpable relief!] and YES! he would be happy to come and collect the car - although his afternoon was full already - could I find a way home in the meanwhile? 'Sure!' I answered confidently, 'there are any number of friends I can ask for help.'

Que numerous phone calls to local friends and neighbours who, for various [understandable] reasons were unable to assist.
Que poets, stirring from their slumber and starting to moan...
Que iphone battery... dying... followed by another little yelping noise...

At this point - blissful surrender...! I laughed under the blazing sun like a mad woman [which I am sure to the man mowing his lawn across the road I must by now have appeared!]. I again donned that generous sunhat - and resolved to carry the children and our bags home on foot.  It wasn't really that far - just a few kilometers - although I had [mistakenly] made a decision that morning to break with usual habit and rather than wearing my sturdy [but rather 'nanna'] hiking sandals - opted for the far more stylish, plastic ballet flats [still yet to be worn in]... Wincing as I guessed the number of blisters about to grace my feet I set off for home, with Dante on my back and Rumi cradled in my arms ...

There is something particularly satisfying about rising to an unexpected challenge - but the real surprise on the hot walk home was just how well the poets handled the heat, the sunlight, and the regular jeering from passers by [who seemed to think we were out in the heat of the day by choice and not chance!].  Dante chattered away about flowers, clouds, houses and anything else she had the nouns to describe; Rumi snuggled into my chest, meeting my eyes regularly with his and widely smiling his partially toothy grin.  The poincianas were glowing brilliant, the sky - high - open - blue, the air still and quiet. It was for the most part a surprisingly pleasant experience.  Blisters aside - the shoes are worn in now, the  car is back on the road [thanks Troy] and it is finally serviced and running better than ever ...

Oh, and I am rather pleased with the pictures that started the whole [mis]adventure ...

“When your efforts run in the face of conventional wisdom and accepted mastery, persistence can look like madness. If you succeed in the end, this extreme originality reformulates into a new level of mastery, sometimes even genius; if you fail in the end, you remain a madman in the eyes of others, and maybe even yourself. When you are in the midst of the journey…there’s really no way of knowing which one you are.” 
 [Hilary Austen, Artistry: A Guide To Pursuing Great Performance In Work And Life]

“the most important reason for going from one place to another is to see what's in between, and they took great pleasure in doing just that.” 
[Norton Juster, The Phantom Tollbooth]

“It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.” 
[Ernest Hemingway]

*time-frame alert: the events of above happened some weeks ago now - it has [as usual] taken longer than anticipated to unite the [many] moments required to jot down this story... 


spark* [Adenium obesum] ...

Everyone who enjoys thinks that the principal thing to the tree is the fruit, but in point of fact the principal thing to it is the seed. -- Herein lies the difference between them that create and them that enjoy.
[Friedrich Nietzsche]

*It's been more than a little while since I have been game to attempt taking a photograph with anything other than my iphone, but this freshly opened Adenium obesum [Desert Rose] pod simply screamed MACRO!!! So, with curious toddlers underfoot - each vying for the prestige of being the first to swing naked from my camera strap; I attempted to regain my ability to focus my lens... and my creative attention...! 

and speaking of creating... 

I had the pleasure of attending the opening of a sublime exhibition at KickArts in Cairns last Friday night.  Seed to Seed is now showing and features the work of Claudine Marzik and Tijn Meulendijks.  Thank you both for such striking, sensitive work, and congratulations to KickArts on turning twenty and for another great year of visual feasting - lots to hip hip hooray about!     


royal blue - a small [faecal] matter of alchemical beauty...

[indulge me a short mothering anecdote and a picture or two...]

After your two and a half year old daughter swallows a 5 cent coin in the KickArts car park on the way to her Artbabies class, it will take approximately twenty four hours to 'pass' the coin through the digestive system.  During this time you will worry; and she will continue, as usual to thrive...

Note: The 'retrieved' coin [once cleaned], will have changed colours from silver to bright blue and copper...

Fascinating, beautiful alchemy - not for the faint hearted...


Talking of Michelangelo and the Art of Mothering*

[Michelangelo The Pieta [1498-1499] click here to view this image in original context]

Talking of Michelangelo and the Art of Mothering 


‘Oh, do not ask, “What is it?”
Let us go and make our visit’  [i]

I am thinking of a moment in the Vatican, 2009 
standing in front of Michelangelo - the Pietà
Thinking of how days before 
I had stood beneath David  in Florence
admiring those huge, gentle hands, 
mannerism adding to his infamous contrapposto                                                                                                                                                
Where is the mother of this sacrificial lamb – poised, pubescent 
David - on his pedestal, stretching high up into the ceiling of the Accademia
the underdog? 
Of what scale then Goliath!

Back to the Vatican -
I am standing in front of the Pietà
I have almost fallen upon it 
No David - it has not been relegated to it's own cavernous display;
It is set amongst others 
It is set behind bullet-proof glass 
It is set amongst the many who - like me - are vying for their close encounter
It has flashes of cameras illuminating the glass that surrounds it
It has signs saying 'do not photograph with flash'
It has everything going against it that a work of art could have 

and yet

it glows forth [no - not with camera flashes] 
with such tenderness, such affection
and the scale - is our scale 
Not the mythical scale of David's battle
but the human scale  - the battle of love and loss

and flesh!
How be this marble? Where the limp skin of the just departed son 
meets the grieving fingers of his mother's final hold   
and she does hold, so tender - and with such grace
Her youthful face is bowed
One hand supports, the other surrenders
but it is her legs that lie beneath her flowing robes 
that take the weight of her son - of her grief
Those legs that will keep on walking her through her life - her loss 
Which she will not live through - but live with

So many images of this son - larger than life 
a David - a Goliath, of symbolism and faith 
But here, so small in death - he is a beautiful child
a slight delicate form  - just exhausted of breath


What is in a name - the Pietà
the pity [ii]
1. 'the feeling of sorrow and compassion caused by the sufferings and misfortunes of others'
2. 'cause for regret or disappointment'
'feeling or sorrow for the misfortunes of'
from latin piety [iii]
'the quality of being religious or reverent'
from the latin pietas
'devotion to religious observances'

Our pity
Her piety
Again - those legs
suggested by folds of cloth that at their ends become rock
The rock that is her faith
Her support 
Her obligation

I am standing – not in front of the Pietà
but an enigma of love and loss
‘Virgin mother, daughter of your son’ [iv]
Mother of your father
This is a death you have born
to give life

‘it is the Father who generates,
the Son who is begotten,
the Holy Spirit who proceeds’ [v]

and the Mother, who grieves

[more’s the pity]

[i] T.S Elliot The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock, 1920
[ii] Oxford Dictionary
[iii] Oxford Dictionary
[iv] ‘Vergine madre, figlia del tuo figlio’ trans. ‘Virgin mother, daughter of your son’;
  Dante, Divina Commedia, Paradiso, [Cantica 33]
[v] Lateran Council IV (1215): DS 804.

*A reworking of a piece I first wrote for my blog over a year ago...

[text by bek misic - copyright 2011-2012]


drawing in the light of the present moment ...

I'm still tingling all over...

It is not every day that a total Solar Eclipse tracks right over your house; but today we won the natural phenomena lottery...

The alarm went off at 5am. After days of debate as to where one can best go to see an event that has overwhelmed our region with national and international visitors, it was hard, even as a local, to know where one was best to be.  Yesterday afternoon I arrived at the contented epiphany that the place I really wanted to be was home.

Well, five hundred meters from home to be precise - our chosen location to experience Totality was the Gordonvale Golf Course at the end of our street.  We headed out at dawn, two sleepy children in the pram, with picnic rug, coffees and snacks hoping that the forecast poor weather would hold off.  Moments later, picnic rug set out we found we had a perfect [almost entirely] uninterrupted view east of the eclipse - flanked by the stunning silhouette of Djarragun/Welshes Pyramid and the vermillion glow of flowering poincianas.  It was the dream location and it was entirely ours; with the exception of one jockey training a horse, and the caretaker of the golf course.  GOLD!!!

One of the most magical memories I have of my childhood is of watching an eclipse with my father in the backyard of our home in Victoria when I was little more than a toddler.  Being the 70's, it was a 'lo-fi' era - and rather than watching the eclipse through glasses special made for the occasion, we used a simple pinhole in a piece of card that projected the path of the moon onto paper held by my father's hands...

This morning I was ready to go 'hi-fi' with four pairs of 'Totality Appoved' glasses ready to position on the eager eyes of myself and my loved ones. However, in my pre-dawn excitement I forgot to pack the aforementioned spectacles into the pram - and although we realised with plenty of time to dash [those five hundred meters] home, nostaligia happily won out as we four delighted in the magic of observing this phemonenal and beautiful event using the most basic of tools - a pinhole though a piece of paper...

It was one of the moments I will cherish as a parent; my daughter Dante standing naked in the pre-Totality twilight holding our pinhole veiwfinder in her hands as she learnt out how to correctly position it to see the path of the eclipse:

'Do you know what you are looking at Dante?'
'Yes - that is the Sun mumma;
And the moon!'

Then Totality.  To experience this in such isolation was incredible.  The dawn chorus - only just completed, now seemed to be playing in reverse. Then silence and darkness and cold ...

Rumi wept at the strangeness of it all.
Dante noted 'mumma, it's sleeping time again...'

Darkness and silence - and the soft voice of my father guiding me and for a moment I was as a child; though his words were quickly overwhelmed by the re-commencement of Drongos, Friar Birds, Starlings, Fig Birds and a rather baffled Kookaburra...

A few days ago a dear friend of mine posted on facebook a fabulous picture of a rainbow ending right on top of her house.  In 'comments' friends hoped she 'found the gold' - I offered that the rainbow was actually a reminder of the 'gold' she already has in her family.  And, further again, thinking today on chasing rainbows and eclipses -  seeing the incredible delight that today's events have brought to so many unfolding online - these artful performances of light and life are golden themselves - precious, ephemeral, perfectly unobtainable

they are the ultimate 'present moment' ...



eye see beauty ...

'In the right light, at the right time, everything is extraordinary...'

[Aaron Rose]

I captured the image above a little while ago whilst driving home from an afternoon playing in the sun at Brampston Beach. It was one of those rare moments when the clouds over Mount Bartle Frere had parted enough to reveal the silhouette of the summit, but here it was not the mountain which caught my eye - rather the firery beauty of a line of sugarcane in flower, so strikingly illuminated by the sunlight.  

Looking at this picture I find myself reflecting on how it is that I have come to live not so much close to - as enveloped, by sugarcane.  This is a barren crop that offers little to the native fauna of the Far North and that has given rise to some of our nations greatest environmental catastrophes - the cane toad was first released just meters from my current home. The cane dominates all low lying areas between the mountains - thick with world heritage rainforests and the Great Barrier Reef - but the land that lies between [which should be pandanus and paperbark swamplands] has been mercilessly cleared and replaced with this sweet stable monocrop that stretches its way along the coast to Cape Tribulation. 

I have spent many hours lamenting the loss of the paperbark and pandanus and many more hours daydreaming about how this landscape would appear had these wetlands continued to thrive. Lately though I have resolved to take a different approach - a partial resignation/acceptance, if you will, of that which I cannot change -  to attempt to find the beauty in what is here, rather than fighting against it ...  

Yesterday whist on a morning run [pushing Rumi and Dante in the double pram], my journey was halted for some fifteen minutes by cane trains blocking the road as they shunted a long line of carriages laden with freshly cut cane.  Rather than striving to find the beauty - the beauty found me...


were it not for the sugar train
cutting my track
eye would not have seen
a merry finch 
weave through the cane 
his crimson song 


- and so it was that I found myself happily awakened from the ordinary into the extraordinary... 

“It never failed to amaze me how the most ordinary day 
could be catapulted into the extraordinary 
in the blink of an eye.”

[Jodi Picoult]

[text & images copyright Bek Misic 2012 - unless otherwise attributed...]


my son and the moon ...

standing in the pre-dawn chill of my birthing day
bare feet wet with dew
beneath pleiades delicate shimmer
beneath the setting moon
I cradle in my arms a shining son
who has already risen to welcome the day
the light of his eyes glistening in the darkness 
as huge and beauty full
as the orb he wonders
it is my privilege to say 
'that is the moon'
smiling eyes open ever wider

and we stand there glowing
Rumi, the moon and I 
buffered by light winds 
that come down each morning from the valley
to kiss your body and your senses awake

with love 
with light 
with life 



I just CAN'T DO Campbell's...

I just CAN’T DO Campbell’s.  Sorry Mr Newman, but I cannot digest the LNP’s offerings of the last one hundred [or so] days you have been in office; beginning with the cancellation of the Premier’s Literary Awards,  your inhumane stance on  Gay Surrogacy, the axing  of the Fanfare biennial music festival for Queensland State School Bands, and voting to end Abstudy.  Each passing day it seems I read of another new policy direction we ‘have’ to take to reduce our 'budget deficit'.   But to what end Campbell? At the expense of our creativity, compassion and humanity?

I arrived in Queensland less than two years ago as an artist, educator, and mother to a growing family. In spite of my newfound State experiencing a cruel and relentless series of natural disasters I felt a sense of community, stoicism and optimism amongst this place and its people.  I was proud of how people rallied together to look after family, friends and strangers in need. Suddenly all of this seems in jeopardy as your policies begin to divide and isolate.   The LNP Government has come to power with a Tsunami-like majority and seems hell bent on eroding the very qualities that inspired my family to build our lives here. 

But Campbell, it is not too late for you to prove me wrong.  I am really hoping that in the next 100 [or so] days you will find the ingredients required to make a future in Queensland a lot more palatable.    

Oh and I hope you like the picture; something I cooked up on Photoshop for you...

[image + text by Bek Misic (and Andy Warhol) copyright 2012] 
Related posts: Driving with Richard Flanagan


flying kites ...

Today the brown kites are flying high in the clear skies
In their dozens they circle, perfectly composed
rising to great heights with such grace and perspective
these massive brown birds that spin slowly around
then land firm on the ground,
confident of their magnificent potential

Days earlier; our rainbow kite danced on a string
to the sound of children, laughing with delight
the kite flying higher – and I - running in circles to keep it aloft ...

Sometimes life’s winds lifts us effortlessly; sometimes we have to work hard 
to rise above the world
Sometimes life’s winds beat down upon us, and we search to find shelter
Sometimes the winds are too strong to bear;
But there - flying high above - are the memories of kites,
of circling rainbows; and large brown wings - perfectly engineered for the kill -
and the insects they prey upon; flying through the air on their own life’s journey

delighted and impervious, as they fulfill their destiny -
to be consumed …

[text & photography by bek misic - copyright - 2.7.12]