Andrew Sutherland


Andrew Sutherland is a Queer writer and theatre-maker working between Western Australia and Singapore. Theatre works include Poorly Drawn Shark, Unveiling: Gay Sex for Endtimes, Baby Girl, and Chrysanthemum Gate. He was awarded Overland's Fair Australia poetry prize 2017 and selected as a poet for Westerly’s Writers' Development Program 2018. His work can be found in various publications including Visible Ink, The Suburban Review, Muse/A, and Bosie.

Siglap Centre (East Coast Road)

Is now an appropriate time
to admit I never felt much
of anything at all? Obsession
looks better in a frame on
the wall. Those dead-eyed stills:
him on the beach, and her in
my hand, another him out
of reach. All of them toys
to Lexapro power; Xanax
flowers – just the off-
cuts, cuttings, and thanks to
these white walls for humouring
the idea of pain. I wore my
purple jumper; got a perm
from the auntie next door, and
once I was done feeling pretty
matted dirt through my black hair.

The walls were blank enough to
see the shades of smaller frames;
where I named my pillow
Antigone, held cage fights
with Norwegian mates, where
camped out on the front porch, and
taught me that I could be wanted,
if only to tick off some
personal KPIs. Where
I listened to Shpongle, but
always three hours at a time.
And if this is clinical
depression, sign me up
for another couple years.

Last time, I went to stare at
the façade. Couldn’t even
recognise the place. I sat
in Macs; thinking of the ones
who’d left (all of us); and made
my descent. I did three laps -
and just as white and just as
blank, and all the shops had closed.
I can’t really blame myself
(would things have turned out different
if I’d bought a violin?) but
the last little trace of sick-
soul loves the thought of drawing
the life out of a place when
I depart.


Her name translates to:
one who brings grief
alternatively –
she who offers sorrow

and lately, I’ve been having this dream.
I am walking through the streets, but
the buildings are wrecked and deserted.
The whole city is ruined. Nobody walks
these streets. Nobody lives; and nobody
switches on a light, or laughs, re-builds.

It is terrifying, but I can’t help but think that it is so much more beautiful than normal.

And then I can sense something behind
me. Following me. I look down at my
feet, and I’m already running. I fall –
and I turn to see a great giant looming
above me. She lifts me up – and with a
disgusted look painted across her face

she puts me between
her teeth. She breaks
me in two.

Her teeth translate to:
I did everything I could
alternatively –
I couldn’t protect you


         i.   wet

it’s very long
big, big, life’s
so long – and
your pythonic
yearnings take your unwrapping
basic needs
no thing be-
tween; care-
less by design

yes squeeze
that growing
length and fling me far beyond
what I was
taught, what
un-fun brains
no longer care
about unfurl direct inside

yes: that growing length.
okay: take your unwrapping.
and still: to fling me far beyond.


and as they
into thin air –
it’s like no-
body else
was angry and
if they were what
did it matter –
just no malice
parts of machines
that could no
longer run – they
pulled away just
pull away not out
but flinging far
in slow slow
motion; vacuum
it was always
meant to be. and

you: you’re
kindling – you,
you represent
(yes you’re
a sign) all
things that could
be set ablaze,
but wet, so
purely wet,
0.001 to 100%
of wet, damp
centring like
a universe
of orbits, nothing
orbiting, like
cruelty, praying
for a world rammed
back and forth
the axes; I’m
the centre slip it in 

        ii.   whimper

you know the wolf
is first made of a mouth
that never can be filled?

not completely. always
there is room for more.
you’d better drop your jaw.

but I’m a talker: beg, narrate.
paw feebly at the door
just half a step behind,

still waiting to roll over.
a bad actor, though I love
to play a role. and as a whole

damp declarations voiced in
pants and pitches from some
other world are barely worth

a variation. hunger is
a solos cycle, written for
a choir. words spent for you 

alone repeat into a rumbling
moan, a bound-mouthed thunder;
forever calling for the next.

my lips speak muzzles, little licks,
but wolf grins have no sound,
unless you hear a scraping

of the teeth. don’t I deserve
my whimpers be believed? 
these open jaws I’ve wettened

are to prepare you for
what’s yours – inside of me.
I like to think I’m sure I feel

a howling; you bury yourself deep.

        iii.   waste

cruelty lives
at the core of
the earth. at
the root, and
in each branch.
cruelty makes
the gears turn;
the time go by.    

i need time
to stop on
that kiss. for-
ever on that
kiss. please
take me back
there. i need
to go back there



cruelty lives.
root, branch.
turn the time

i need time
to kiss me
back. i need

cruelty. turn.
time. back – 

But I was meant to be happy, you
know? I was meant to be so happy.
And the only light – the only light –
the light! the light! the light! the light!


I remember the day you turned into a fish. We went down to the river; it was sunny, and so beautiful. You grinned at me and dived right into the water, and when you came up you were a fish, darting so fast into the stream. I thought, you always do whatever it is you want. People don’t worship that trait the way they ought to. I wanted to jump in after you, but I’d never have kept up, so I cut open my chest, scooped you up and let you swim through my veins. My heart is beating like a river.