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image for Landscape Photography With Dogs Landscape Photography With Dogs
by Coral Hull

DOGS & GODS

in the city botanical gardens i placed myself in
the company of unleashed dogs/ & as the dog turned
its cheek to view the blue sky so my cheek was
turned/ a shadow from its jaw bone cast across my
cheek bone/ then a flock of tawny birds fluttered
up from the grass & garden sprinklers/ & i soared
within their flight & was on fire with their wings/
wings which cast a shadow before the sun/ & so i
knew of birds/ their lighter spirits within the
heavy breast of flight/ & so i became a flightless
bird in the eyes of god/ what do dogs dream?/ in
the rise & fall of breath/ a twitch of soft tan
bristles, back pads trotting & a deep inside woof?/
do my dogs dream about me?/ if i were to disappear
would i live on in the eyes of them?/ would i be
reflected in the purpose of their wandering?/ in
their legendary search for origins?/ i have heard
that it is best for dogs to view the body as its
spirit passes on/ so like anger or fear it can be
passed through the heads & hearts of dogs/ & our
emotions pass through dogs like the open hands
of god/ they are not held nor trapped nor stored/
they are grasped & then gladly let go by the dog
who gladly loves you/ if i were to commit self
murder who would look after my dogs?/ they are the
reason i exist/ i was going to cut my wrists/ but
i had to get their dinner/ take them for a walk &
scratch them under their chins


 
ROSE STREET FRONTYARD VISIT


beneath the overgrown garden of rose bushes
planted by the newcomers/ i found the old
jagged pieces of concrete aligning the fence/
like grey shark fins burying themselves
into the ground/ & one side trellis still
intact & the 1960s backyard concrete cracked/
every crevice jammed with the metallic pulp
of insects from rainy weather or garden hose
drownings/ overall the house was still the
same/ but it was like trying to find life in
a dog that has died/
                             the peaceful brown eyes
like windows looking back upon its past/ &
for a while we linger by those soft brown
windows as a way into the dog’s stillness/
& we hang onto collars until hours or years
down the track/ the dog becomes deader &
appears to take on its own death in a more
final way/ we are left holding nametags or
small portions of fur which we put into
paper bags, cotton or plastic/ everything
must move on as we all must bury our love
& lose balance/
                      i crept onto the newly tiled
verandah & touched a concrete box where i had
played with my plastic animals & planted
sunflower kernels/ which bloomed into bright
yellow flowers reaching up into the blue
light of childhood & as big as the sun/ i
found the box empty with a memory of the
yard in the age of the sunflowers/ then i
came like a child to the front door & the
old steel doorknocker was still attached to
the wooden rectangular panels/
                                             i knocked on
the door of something that could not answer
back/ like stroking the head of a dog above
its blank windows & whispering all the things
you would miss doing together into the space
of its ears/ & so i could hear the sound of
all the times our door was knocked on by the
outside world in the age of the doorknocker/
& the red brick fence was so much smaller
now that i had grown bigger like a shadow
absorbing the yard/
                            the people inside did
not hear my trespass/ as i looked into the
damaged back latch of number sixty-six in
the age of the letterbox/ mr poulton waits
for me & lights up a smoke in the overcast
twilight/ i turn away from the house unable
to bury it/ if another dog died i could not
throw dirt onto its clear brown eyes, drying
black nose & fiery mane/ i would turn away
& leave the body behind/ so it could fend
for itself & stink away to bones beneath
its cycles of weather



 
LANDSCAPE PHOTOGRAPHY WITH DOGS


the park is inside my dogs/ we hop out of
the holden on the edge of a picnic area/
ignoring the signs that prohibit dogs to
run without leashes/ kindi & binda release
themselves from the hot back seat to bound
through grasses wallaby related/ to vanish
above & below its tracks of dry waves as
though it were flowing/ past the flaky
grey bases of gums & old ten gallon drum
bins toppling over with drumstick wrappers/
the calm gradient of city parkland carries
their bellies along to the creek’s hidden
edges/ i want my dogs to experience many
landscapes/ as dusk nuzzles up to my ankles
& to my dogs’ noses turning damp & cold
fogging up the camera lenses/ they will
swallow or be swallowed by foreground
objects like barbecues or boulders/ they
will fade out over the round cupped edges
of hills into clouds that sink behind
themselves/ & appear like black specks on
the watery grey endings of dirty rainbows/
or disappear completely before emerging
again from forest darkrooms/ my dogs will
be unleashed so that they may contain the
landscapes inside themselves/ in australia
shadows of blue heelers, red kelpies &
photographers ignite along its huge crust
& vanish in an instant/ leaving behind
projected movement & dust-filled film
equipment/ & they may have left a passing
footprint in the sand/ & they may have left
a story for the rock


 
THE CHILDREN & THE DOG


mark carried the cardboard sign beneath his arm/ it
read: PUP FOR FREE/ ‘do you think this will work?’
angela asked, looking up into his face/ ‘yeah, it
should,’ he said/ this is a very busy road/ cathy
held the plump tan pup close to her chest/ ‘he’s
bloated,’ she said/ ‘you shouldn’t have fed him all
that weetbix angela/ i’m gonna get into trouble when
mum finds out’/ angela said, ‘royce made me give it
to him’/ ‘he was starving,’ said royce/ ‘he might have
been lost for days’/ mark turned to royce/ ‘we’ll
stay here with the sign/ you two girls go further
up/ that way passing cars will see the sign first
& then the dog’/
                       the big sky was forced westwards
with clouds like white sheep grazing towards the blue
mountains/ with sun & wind flying like kites/ the
patch-em-up dog caught cathy’s eye & licked her
throat/ her cargo of fears contained within cars
speeding along the road/ the clouds could look
like children or dogs on some days/ many hours
passed/ royce got tired & lay down on the grass
near the gutter/ ‘i have a bad feeling,’ said angela/
‘i feel sick’/ ‘it’ll be all right,’ said cathy/ kicking
tufts of clover in a little centred heap/ ‘someone
will take him’/
                    ‘but your dad says he has to go to
the pound or you’ll be in big trouble’/ ‘we’ve still
got until the end of the day,’ cathy said/ late into
the afternoon every car shot by like a bullet/ no
one slowing down/ royce said, ‘they’re not even
seeing us/ i have to go home soon’/ angela prayed
into the dog’s floppy ear/ hoping an adult in the
traffic might hear her/ the patch-em-up dog was
curled up in the grass/ ‘they’re all pricks,’ cathy
said/ ‘they don’t care less about dogs/ & do you
know what a prick is?/ it’s a man’s cock’/
                                                            angela
said, ‘i’ve seen a man’s cock/ i watched it on a
movie at home/ a woman was biting it/ & the man
said, "suck on it like a lollipop bitch!"/ then he held
her head down & her arms were flying everywhere/
like she was a bird flapping her wings/ & her hair
was all messy like a bird’s nest/ then white stuff
like cream came out of the man’s cock & he let her
go/ & her eyes were rolling backwards & she couldn’t
breathe properly/ & the man kicked her away & said,
"choke on that bitch!"/ do you think she died?’/ ‘no,’
said cathy/ ‘that wasn’t cream/ that was sprog/ you
should know the right words’/
                                          do you know what fuck
means?’/ ‘yeah,’ said angela/ ‘it’s when a man goes to
bed with a woman with no clothes on’/ ‘& then what?’/
angela said, ‘& that’s it!’/ ‘right’, said cathy/ ‘& do
you know what rape is?’/ angela said, ‘yeah/ a man &
a woman go to bed naked/ & then the man gets a rake
& rakes her’/ cathy sighed/ looking down the road
into an adult world/ ‘i don't believe they will take the
dog,’ she said/ ‘because they’ve got shit for brains
& they hate dogs/ my dad said, "what’s the use of
dogs?/ you can’t fuck ‘em & you can’t eat ‘em"/ ‘i
don't eat animals anymore,’ she said/ ‘i could be
eating someone’s relative’/ she looked down at angela
lying in the clover/
                          ‘you must never get into a car
with anyone/ particularly a man or a sharpie’/ ‘what’s
a sharpie?’ angela asked/ cathy said, ‘it’s a man who
sticks safety pins through his nose & through his
ears/ who eats flies & cuts his hair with razor
blades/ anyway, best not to get into a car with
anyone’/ ‘even my parents?’/ ‘no silly, they’re all right/
i mean strangers/ relos are okay/ but maybe not aunts
& uncles/ neigbours are no good/ never get into a
car with them/ they’ll take you out in the bush &
strip you naked/ you will never be seen again’/ angela
pointed to an old car that had slowed down near the
boys/
        ‘what about patch-em-up dog?’ she said/ ‘he will
have to fend for himself,’ said cathy/ ‘none of us are
allowed to have any more pets/ but i can communicate
with him psychically/ so we’ll know where he is/ i
hope the boys don't get into that car/ we best get
back to them’/ an hour later the children & the dog
were outside the gates of the local pound/ cathy
lived up the road from it & the dogs yelped all
weekend when no one was there/ & they yelped on
week days during pound hours/ sometimes she couldn’t
sleep on late summer nights/ because she thought
about the dogs/
                      mark led the others onto the council
grounds/ ‘i’m afraid,’ the dog said/ its head stretched
back on the collar/ ‘don’t be frightened,’ said cathy/
‘someone will buy you & take you home’/ & angela added,
‘or we’ll meet you in a better place where children &
dogs can live’/ royce took out his puffer & inhaled/ a
cloud passed beneath the sun/ his eyes searched his
feet for his own shadow but all the ground had
become darker/ ‘we have no shadows, he said/ i’ve
got an aching leg & my bones are tired’/ mark being
the eldest, took the dog into the pound/ then the
sun came out & the council tree shadows spread &
shook at the grass/ & the childrens’ shadows stood
beside them/
                   & everywhere a shadow was cast as if
the dog’s absence was about to become apparent/ later
angela would fret/ not eating her tea for a fortnight/
& the dog turned & saw the children/ & the children
swam in the brown eye of the dog/ & it resisted its
leash wanting to spend the rest of its life with them/
‘i want to grow old with you,’ it said/ as it was taken
into the pound reception/ its four paws scraping
along the cement/ its tan neck wrinkled up from
looking back/ ‘pounds are where the good dogs go,’
mark called out, ‘because there are no bad dogs’/ a
year ago mark had gone to the r.s.p.c.a. at yagoona
with his father/ to do a school project on desexing/

& this is what he remembered seeing/ twenty-eight
soft paws in a wheelbarrow & loose necks with
UNWANTED written on the collars/ barrels & bins
of patch-em-up dogs to be incinerated/ & a house
sized pile of shadow dogs beneath thick plastic/ &
hundreds of closed & opened eyes in bags as high as
animal shelter walls/ dead dogs in truck loads to
the rubbish tip/ or blocking the drains beneath
suburban houses or stopping the waterflow of slow
creeks/ almost five years later, mark told a high
school counsellor/
                          ‘i could not comprehend dogs
stacked as high a a building/ malformed faces &
lost histories sweating beneath layers of plastic/
why were they ever born?/ this adult world building
its cities of dead dogs/ if i couldn’t save the pup
what chance have i got to tear down the structures
of dogs?/ i have nightmares of being preserved beneath
the plastics/ the hot weight of squashed fur & gaseous
bellies taking my oxygen/ i am the dogs crying out
to a human society where no one will listen’/
                                                                & the
moment before the dog was taken cathy broke down/ ‘i
don’t want to live here anymore,’ royce said/ ‘maybe
it’s the wrong place for children’/ mark said, ‘i will
never leave you royce’/ & the dog’s eyes said, ‘i will
never leave you children’/ ‘i think we might meet patch-
em-up in another place,’ said angela/ ‘or on another
planet or in another time/ do dogs go to heaven?’/ it
was as though there was a child inside the dog/ &
the child had four legs & a coat of fur instead of
clothes/ royce picked his nose & wiped it on his grey
shorts by the pocket/ ‘i’m not gonna live to be an
adult,’ he said/
                     his pale face & large black eyes like
a bat confused beneath the sun/ ‘my mum & dad are
separating/ mark, have you ever been a victim of
crime?’/ ‘no,’ said mark, ‘have you?’/ ‘yes,’ said royce/
‘i walked into a shop when i was five & i was raped/
anyway, what football team are you barracking for
this year?’/ ‘easts,’ said mark, as he left/ royce
hovered around the high walls outside the pound/
too light for the earth’s gravity & withdrawn/ his
skinny white legs growing on the gutter’s edge like
roots/
        cathy said, ‘those pricks have shit for brains/
they can only kill the body/ but patch-em-up is
inside all of us’/ ‘i‘m cold,’ angela said/ ‘i want to
go home/ it’s getting late’/ cathy threw a rock up
the street & it hurtled crookedly along its own
scuttling shadow/ ‘i don’t like the dark,’ she said/
‘even in daylight/ tree shadows don’t bark or wag
their tails/ & the shadows of flowers don’t catch
a ball/ & they don’t look back at you in the same
way that a dog does/ shadows don’t require love/
nothing replaces dogs’/
                                 mark came back from inside
the pound/ ‘the dog’s gone,’ he said/ if you could
imagine a young dog being led into the pound by a
stranger/ & away from the children who loved it
holding skies of tears inside/ then you would see
the back legs & long tail touching up & down on the
concrete & the lonely belly swaying with weetbix/
you will not want to see the dog’s eyes or the cages
of yelpings before it/ an enormous blue horizon rolled
over into late afternoon/ lifting its mauve
blanket saturated with stars/ large streetlights
flickered orange to white on their splintery poles/

& five shadows fell down along the road towards the
dog pound & the sunset/ five shadows minus the patch-
em-up dog stopped dead at the brick/ four children
watch the skies of childhood diminish into adolescence/
they retreat to broken houses with pocket diaries &
chemist calendars/ where months hang from the walls
rather than in the sky/ where seasonal insects &
birds only reach as far as the flyscreens on the
wiredoors/ watched from inside the sky reddens & is
extinguished as fast as a match is lit & blown out/

tell the children to bury themselves/ to dig into
the soft earth of council gums & oleander trees/
as the wind comes to collect them like dandelions/
when the wind comes to their street to hurtle them
through time so that they must lose footing/ so that
they become birds thrown backwards or bees with
broken wings/ so that they must be shot away from
the street of childhood lawns & away from the dog
pound like five stars/ the children will become
exquisite light like sun behind sun showers & long
lines of rain pelting down/ the remnants of the
cardboard sign half buried in the ground


 
DIESEL


on the road from carins to normanton we picked
up a dog/ a couple of travellers told us to go back
down to charters towers/ & to take the one-lane
highway across to mount isa/ there had been rain/
but we chose to risk the section of unsealed road
along the bottom end of the cape york penninsula/
to view the queensland peppermint & river red gum
landscape/ & its constant expansion into kilometres
of giant plateaus & underground lava tunnels from
extinct volcanoes/ we chose to widen our knowledge
of roadside brolgas & dumped dogs like hitchhikers
waiting for a lift/ after light rain the normanton
road had expanded out into side lanes/ into large
bottomless pits deep & soft with mud/ new bitumen
strips stood high & dry in the middle/ with access
to them blocked by roadwork signs/ a couple of
tourists from holland took the detours & ended up
bogged up to the windows/ their white arms waving
from cars with mud pouring in/
                                            on another lonely
stretch a man was trying to gas himself inside his
old bomb car with his german shepherd/ the dog’s
horrible barking brought us to a halt/ i got out
to see what was the matter/ & his car door flew
open & he took off into the bush with his german
shepherd following him/ the dog’s hysteria being
released like exhaust fumes into the stunted
growth/ on a very muddy section on which the e.h.
holden was skating/ we came across a muscular
black dog sitting on the side of the road/ it watched
us pass noticing our dogs in the back/ we slowed
down without stopping & i pushed my door open with
my foot/ i called out: come on come on/ & the big
black dog slid through mud/ it jumped onto my
lap/ its wagging tail slapping my chest & face/ the
bright orange clay flicking up onto the vinyl
ceiling & interior light/
                               adrian said: perhaps we
should go onto some properties & try to look for
the owner/ i said: no/ as harshly as if i had slammed
my foot onto the brakes/ there were hundreds of
properties out there hidden in the scrub/ amongst
drowned coolibah trees & sharp topaz jutting out/
i suggested we stick to the road & drive straight
to croydon/ when we got into town we filled the
tank with petrol/ then i went to the local shire
building & the town clerk tied the dog up to the
flagpole/ then a carload of locals drove past/ two
wheels of the mud splashed ute jumping up over the
gutter/ ripping into the sprinkler greened lawn/
the full round spotlight dangling crazily from the
roof & the wire caged section on the back mingling
with lunatic dogs/ in the front were thin-lipped
australians with deep squinting eyes, checked shirts
& dusty hats/ the chain rattled on the flagpole as
the dog began to gyrate/ diesel, one cried out/

so that the dog stood to attention & became darker/
then he hopped out of the ute & came up & shook my
hand/ the others observing me through the window
glass/ i could tell he would be the type to keep
his distance under normal circumstances/ but he
offered me reward money/ i didn’t want any/ i saw
diesel washed clean by a brief shower & enthusiastic
stroking from her owner/ then her black shining
loaded into the back with the other dogs/ he said
that she had been missing for two days/ & that they
were heading back out into the scrub/ these men are
pig killers, i thought/ & compared my dogs’ lives
to theirs/ i was pleased to have found their thick-
jawed dog/ but i thought of the dead black pigs
torn at the throat/ out there behind the bloodwood
& paperbarks in the queensland scrub/ tusks turned
upwards drinking in rain/ dried blood & the long
lashed eyes half-buried in mud


Coral Hull was born in Paddington, New South Wales, Australia in 1965. She is a full time writer and the Editor of Thylazine; an electronic journal of contemporary Australian art and literature on landscape and animals. She completed a Doctor of Creative Arts Degree at the University of Wollongong in 1998. Her work has been published extensively in literary magazines in the U.S.A., Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom. Her published books are; In The Dog Box Of Summer in Hot Collation, Penguin Books Australia, 1995, William’s Mongrels in The Wild Life, Penguin Books Australia, 1996, Broken Land, Five Islands Press, 1997, How Do Detectives Make Love?, Penguin Books Australia, 1998, and Zoo (with John Kinsella), Paperbark Press, 2000.

Email: coralhull@thylazine.org
Website: http://www.thylazine.org/


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