A moment for confession.

A moment for confession.

I used to be fairly good at rap, and I guess I grew out of that.
And I was never amazing at free-versing, so I suppose I wasn’t really good at rap.

But I’ve always had a bit of a penchant for writing poetry.

Not that most even notice, nor do they notice the symmetry of the lines. Not in rhyming scheme, though I’m fairly deft at turning phrases. Because it’s mostly all about the rhythm and the cadence. Sort of like you read it in phases.

I guess not practicing my talents is a waste of my mind. And they say it’s a shame to waste a mind, but the waste of mine would be spending time on trying to form a rhyme that works.

Daily. 10/04.

506 words, as written in 22 minutes.


The crisp mountain air fills my lungs, the same scent as vanilla – the way the flowers bloom. Lush green grass unrolls before me as the train comes to a stop at a small station deep in the heartlands.

Spring blooms pop up amongst the sea of yellow-green, bright pops of pink and purple, a scattering of blue like a modern art piece. I imbibe my energy drink and make my way from the carriage onto the concrete platform. Behind me a small grey town with brightly coloured tiled roofs rises up from the steppes.

Tonight the skies will be clear enough to see the stars. I slowly look upwards at the deep blue horizon, the almost navy above me. It filters through with streaks of cloud that leaves a powder-blue aurora hanging over the fields.

In the distance, a single tree rises up from a single stand-alone hill. It’s thick branches reach out to vein the horizon with the skeletal white of its bark. A brief wind kicks up, rustling the grass and grazing through the leaf-less limbs of the tree. It catches me unready, the sharp ice of it draws away my breath.

I step from the platform, into the grass. The tips of each blade caresses me about my knees, a few flowers scatter before my advance as I make the long walk towards the tree. The sea parts around me, the wind kicking up against my skin. The closer I get, the harder it fights me. Land, air and over-head sea push back.

The aurora shifts with the drifting atmosphere, the floral scent changes to rain and lightning. A small drop splashes on my nose, a dozen more follow against my arms and chest. I pull over my hood to protect my face, though it is only cotton. The rain is only light, a drizzle that is washed away by the breeze. It comes from behind, pattering against my back with gentle but noticeable prods.

The tree looms up ahead of me, its skeletal arms outstretched in an embrace. I mimic it, stepping closer. The bark peels at its base, the crack of lightning overhead makes me wary of approaching it. Looking backwards I see a sheet of rain, thick white around us in all directions.

I approach, the face of it, the eyes in the wood. The branches seem to close around above me, the knots in them follow my movement. One hand against the bark, the smooth paper of its skin surprises me. I lean in closer, it smiles and the branches no longer seem so menacing. They’re shaking in the wind, the eyes in them looking out in random directions.

I sit at the trunk, looking out over the field the tree surveys. The rain is moving away from us, washing over the grey and colourful town. Ancient protectors of this steppe, lost in the fade. My head rests against the wood, arms wrapped around my chest. I dream beneath the tree for the second life in a row.

Daily. 05.04.

Want to help me out? Tell me what information of a larger story you glean from this chapter fragment from a novel I’m working on. I’d appreciate it.


Gentle waves of blue, rolling in against the soft sands – washing it away. The red sky bleeds down across the horizon, paint mixing with the sea into a tide pf pink and orange. Sand sticks to my skin, the weight of salt clings to my lungs.
You sit next to me on the beach as we watch our fathers standing waist deep in the surf. Fishing lines in hand, a strange kind of a feeling to know their fun is a life or death struggle.
“You think we’ll ever come back here?”
You ask me.
I lean in a little closer, your red skin peels back from me, raw and unengaging. I lean a little harder.
“I hope not.”
I glance down at the sand, “Why?”
“It’s boring.”
“But, I’m here.”
You shrug, “Yeah.”
I sit back, plant my hand in the sand to keep my balance and watch the sea-gulls swoop deep red water. The tiniest specks of blue glimmer out at sea, jewels as bright as the setting sun.
“But it’s still boring.”
Your hand slips down along mine, coming to rest against my forehand, fingers curling around my palm.
I glance at you, my skin turning violet. You look at me, and smile. I look away, your squeeze my hand tighter. All the blue in the ocean has stained red, the gulls have flown away, full bellied and satisfied. A shift in the wind stirs the waves in at odd angles and our fathers are starting to haul up from their wading. Neither of them have fish, for that I’m thankful.
Sand scrapes against my legs as I shift uncomfortably, the wind blows it against my face but not enough to even make me blink. The salt in the air lightens, the heat of the day shifts tolerably into the heat of the night.
Your fingers uncurl from around me, you jerk your hand from mine as our fathers approach with fishing rods and bait boxes.
“Come on girls, we better stop by the chip-shop on the way home.”
We get up and follow my Dad to the car, they talk as they pack up their gear and we sit in the car next to each other in the back seat.
You hold my hand until our father’s rush to the car.
“You’ll be right mate,” my Dad tells your’s, “We’ve got a proper kit at the house.”
We both try to sneak glances around the sides of the front car-seat. You see something, “Dad?”
“It’s alright honey, I just pricked me’self with a hook.”
“Don’t worry girls,” Dad reassures us, “A little blood, he’ll be right.”
Your father chuckles, “Easy for you, John, you’re the one who forgot to pack the clippers.”
Your father holds his hand the whole way back to the vacation house. A nice little home someone has rented out to us for the summer.
I head into our bedroom and crash against the bottom bunk, it smells like you. Salt, sand and skin. The red sheets curl up around me like your fingers, dragging me in. I shut my eyes and hold my breath. I know what is happening, but I’d rather just let it take me. There is no point in struggling.
I was damned the moment I met you.
I roll onto my back and look up at the wall, a tiny man on a cross stares down with pity in his eyes. At least he isn’t real, I wonder if you know that.

Daily. 28/03.



From the ground it seemed unbelievable. Floating overhead lost in the blue of the sky. A slight glimmer of light reflecting off of a white painted hull. A pillar of white clouds rose up from the sea, carrying upon it a rocket soaring for the light – reaching up to caress the soft powder blue before disappearing entirely as it pierced the void.

It was as though time stood still, because for that briefest moment it did. It was a memory that she wanted to keep in mind as she stepped into the shuttle a month from then. It was a memory she wanted to keep in mind as she slipped into deep cryostatic sleep for a six century voyage.

Truth be told, she could have stayed awake. For her only a year would pass if even that. Her destination was a meagre two million lightyears from home, and from the moment they engaged the initial interstellar jump and skipped across the dead space between galaxies, only six centuries would pass back home. But time was a strange thing – had she been awake she could have watched decades disappear in a day. What would have been a year to her, would be six centuries to everyone outside.

And then, she woke irrevocably separated from everything she could have ever known. Everything she had once seen, was no doubt gone, washed away by time. She woke not even knowing if Humanity still existed outside this tiny cluster of a new and alien galaxy.

Doctors woke first, then the engineers needed to resume maintenance, then essential military personnel. A new galaxy meant a new series of potential threats, but it almost meant there was plenty out there to explore. She woke as one of the Pathfinders – a group of people who would help find a new home amongst these distant, cold stars.

It wasn’t until a minor disaster had been averted that she finally got the chance to look out at those new stars. The familiar sparkle of nebulae and the deep boding abyss of black holes. It seemed so familiar, a constant reminder that no matter how far she travelled – everything is made of star dust.

She wondered idly what music the cosmos played out here, if it would be a different tune, or if the entire orchestra was connected even through the dark space between galaxies. And if when Andromeda where she stood and the Milky Way coalesced together, would it bring the music together, or simply change it entirely. The strings of the universe were plucking along all around her as she watched the gentle radiation of a star through her shielded bedroom window. Aboard her ship, out in the middle of a new, unexplored star system.

If these new colonies succeeded, would they ever make contact with home again? Or would they just reunite one day in billions of years once the galaxies became one? If so, she hoped it was in peace.

Daily. 27/03.

Couch. Dream. Bloom.


Moonlight bled in through the window, through a small slit in the curtains and parted the room into two seas of primordial dark. Across the lounge lay a dreamer, their thoughts blooming in their sleep, bisected by that gentle silver light.

Deep asleep, down in a world twisted by imagination into something sweet. The Dreamer wrestles with a beautiful sight.

Surrounding her is a liquid sea, made of stars, that gently laps at the side of her boat. She rests against the cool metal of her ship, leaning against the side with her hand trailing through the quicksilver caressing her boat.

Each drop that touches her skin is a star, a tiny glistening light that twinkles as if it were still lightyears away. The sea is warm, like a bath – gold sparkles in an endless stream of silver moonlight.

A sharp ringing breaks the gentle embrace, the real world blossoms into sight and she snaps awake in her lounge-room. With a sigh she hoists herself up from her lounge, the slightest hint of daylight sneaks in through the curtains. Her legs shuffle her to the bathroom where she showers amongst the mold and bleach white tiles. Then she dresses in red and black, before heading into the kitchen to eat. Fluorescent light stains radiation into her skin, hard white furniture keeps her off the dusty floor.

She heads to work, a dull buzz and static of ghosts follows her along the subway into the city where she’ll tap at a keyboard all day.

She heads for home, stopping on the way in a dimly lit little grocery store. She buys a can of soup and a bread-roll, a bottle of water and the daily newspaper. She eats the bread on the walk home, and takes a sip of her water before walking up three flights of stairs to her apartment.

She heats the soup up in the microwave, washes a bowl with her bottle of water, and dries it on her shirt.

After dinner she sits back down and stares at her television’s screen. Imagining what must be on right now. Eventually that gets too boring for her, so she goes through the paper, looking for work. Circling things with the pen she stole from her day job, then does the crossword.

Finally she falls asleep on her couch. Moonlight bleeds in through the window, bisecting the room and casting the Dreamer into a deep sleep. She dances her fingers across a moonlight pool filled with stars. A planet rising over head, ringed by magnetic rocks clinging together in a thick red and blue display.

Deep in sleep she drifts across a silver and gold expanse. The blossoming unexplored space before her ringing in her blood. Her first deep breath felt more real than anything in the world above. One day she wouldn’t wake up.

But not today. The shrill discordant tones of her alarm dragged her back into the world above. She rubbed her aching head and stared down at her coffee table. A ring of red filled her eyes, agonizing her. A headline.

“NASA seeking colonists for Mars.”

Daily. 24/03.

Robot. Shipping Container. Sunrise.


It is a little known fact that nearly half of the world’s shipping containers contain robots. Or at least this is what Luke had told her. The sun was coming up, and Stef waited on her perch in a hotel roof overlooking the docklands.

The giant container ships slowly drifted into port, Stef watched as sunrise struck, the cranes and trucks swung out the leviathan boxes over into neat piles away from the waterfront. And as the last of the first ship was stowed the workers left to start on the next while managers inspected manifests along the metal boxes. She spied on them through her telescope, barely able to make out the words on the manager’s little phone-tablets.

Luke had also told her that sneaking into a shipyard was super illegal. But that didn’t stop her. The hard part was getting in over the chainlink fence. She had been casing the place for days, right near the carpark was the employees building – where she could pinch a hard hat and a safety vest. No-one would stop her if she looked official.

She remembered the numbers on the containers she had spied on. She had them on her phone. A shipping container headed to Darwin was bound to have some bots in it.

She found it, sneaking past a group of workers. It was locked, but a padlock never stopped her. It popped open after a little fiddling with a hairpin and she opened the doors.

She wasn’t prepared for what was inside. It exceeded even her expectations. It wasn’t a robot though, so it doesn’t really matter does it?

Daily. 17/03.

Post Office. Rain. Graveyard Shift.


Graveyard shift down by the old Post Office. Rain pinged off their shovels, drenching them and turning their freshly dug hole into a pond. The headlights of a car their only illumination, the growls and moans of the nightlife beyond the fences growing louder as they dug at the earth and bailed out the water the best they could with flat spades and a single bucket.

Sam supervised, sitting on the back of the ute’s cab, watching the one weak point in the fence surrounding the Post Office.

“Fucking hell.”

Sam snapped to attention, the gravediggers were squabbling again.

“Watch where you throw that shit.”

Sam glanced over the fence line where a single shadowy figure loomed.

“Cool it you lot,” Sam raised his rifle, “just watch each other’s fingers. We don’t have time for a hospital trip.”

Hell, they hadn’t last time either. It was torture hoofing it down the motorway at two in the morning with four whiny civilians.

The shadow was looking for a hole in the fence, but Sam didn’t take a shot, it was a fair bit off getting through and gunshots only drew more in.

The rain was starting to get heavier the closer it grew to one AM. The shuffle of shovels in wet dirt was lost in the patter of raindrops against the ute tray. Sam stood up, alert now that he lost sight of the looming predator on the edge of the fence. A few others though had appeared, prowlers stalking towards the gate. Only a small lamp illuminated that direction, it was getting washed out and shadows scattered everywhere through the chainlink.

The Post Office was looking more comfortable the longer they lingered. The crumbling storefront was cleared out, indefensible with only one rifle and the processing area where they were busy digging would be too easy to break into with large rusted roller doors.

“You guys anywhere near-“

He snapped silent, the gate’s chains rattled. He raised his rifle square at it, flicked off the safety and fingered the trigger ready.

“We’d be much fucking faster if-“

He waved behind his head with his free hand, the digger shut up. He could barely see the gate, he stepped a few centimetres closer, steadied himself.

“Bury the fucking shit already, we need to leg it.”

The diggers stopped their slacking and raced into gear, grabbing the coffins by the side of the ute and nearly throwing them into the dirty-water pit they had dug. A few of them continued to try and shift the water so they could lay down tarps but there was no use, the rain was too heavy.

They covered it up with almost a metre of dirt, just enough to cover it, then jumped in the car just as the first of the shadowy predators slipped through the gate.

Sam opened fire, clipping one, taking down a second.

The grim faces of the undead, painted up in off-orange light. Teeth bared, they crouched under the chain and pushed through. Sam chewed through them, but every carefully aimed shot drew his magazine closer to empty.

“Leg it, come on!”

The engine churned before ticking over, purring to life. The ute sprung to life just as the undead broke into a rush, chasing them down as it peeled around the corner and erupted out through the side fence.

Sam fired off his last few rounds, clipping some of the faster ones still running after them. There was no way they could catch up as the ute turned out onto the main street, but fuck them. Sam slumped down into the ute tray so they could peel away, his steady feet no longer holding him up.

“Nice shooting, Sam.”

“Cheers,” Sam reloaded ready for the next site, the graveyard shift was a long one and it had only just hit half-past-one. At least the rain was starting to ease up.

Daily. 16/03.

Tunnel. Water. Petrol.


In the crumbling ruins of Sydney, death lingered around every corner. In the darkness, lurking… prowling. Sam had avoided it for five long years, growing up in the aftermath of the Fall – and until today, he had avoided the tunnels like the deathtrap they are.

“Are we really doing this?”

At the entrance of the Harbour Tunnel, fences, wire, cinder-blocks had been piled up in front of the opening. It was impossible to get into apart from a heavily locked maintenance door a few metres down the street. The entire suburb surrounding this entrance was a green zone – almost no outbreaks in two years – and was heavily fortified because of it. One day the tunnel would need to be cleared, but today there was something more necessary.

“We’ve got to.”

Petrol. The lifeblood of human civilisation, the only thing keeping the power running where it was needed most – the Randwick Hospital, Star City Processing, Darlinghurst Manufactory.

“The wind turbines aren’t cutting it, we can’t put ‘em far enough off shore and the storms are fucking with our panels. It’s petrol or nothing.”

“Isn’t there some other way?”

His companion wasn’t nearly so brave. Perhaps because Sam was reckless, even for a pathfinder. Even for someone whose only job was to go out into the still infested ruins of Humanity to scavenge shit no-one really needed any more.

“Sitting underneath us is a treasure trove of petrol, all we gotta do is check it out and see what the situation is down there.”

Sam ignored their complaint, whatever it was, he made his way down the road to the nearest maintenance door. No-one guarded them, they were thick metal, locked up and boarded over with steel reinforcements. Even then, it only took a bit of thermite to carve off the locking mechanism.

“Shouldn’t we tell someone?”

“I did,” Sam applied the messy gluesque concoction to the door’s lock, “They okayed it, but look around us.”

All around them, the barricades of a half-decade’s work keeping the tunnels contained. Concrete roadblocks ringed the street, blocking off anything that might escape. Each end had air-lock style doors, so even if something did happen, it was no big deal to escape.

“You’re overthinking it.”

Even so, Max, his anxious guard friend, only had to keep the flashlight up.

“You just follow me with that light, alright? I won’t let you get eaten.”

“A-alright. You’re still a crazy bitch, for doing this.”

Sam scoffed, then pushed them back away from the door and removed his gloves. A single spark from a match was all it took for the thermite to melt through the steel and let them through with a stiff kick.

Sam raised his rifle, an old M4 with a duct-taped together barrel guard. It was a poor choice for a confined space like this, but it was all they had.

“Quiet, after me.”

Max held up their pistol, crossing their arms for support. Max followed him in so closely he could feel their breath on his neck. The stairs down were concrete but they had started to crack and crumble. Every step was careful, but everything was still solid.

He reached the landing where another door was shut on them, this one was rusted, all it took was a gentle bit of wiggling to get the lock mechanism to snap open and he opened the door quietly inward. Max shone the light around, first at the floor and then over the rusted remains of cars.

“Shit,” the entire tunnel was flooded.

They pulled up their face-masks, the air inside was rancid, a toxic soup of fetid water and decaying flesh. The walls were covered with molds, mosses, fungi.

“We’re clear… nothing would stick around in this shit.”

He stepped in towards the water, Max shone the light at the water. It was muddy, rusty, there was a fine sheen on it – a rainbowish tinge across the surface.

“Don’t light a match… or I guess you could, we’re not gonna be getting that petrol.”

“Fuck,” Max moved in along the ledge, the water was up to the edge of the platform.

“HQ is gonna be pissed, but just to be sure we should head down the tunnel and see if the water hasn’t hit some cars.”

They ventured down the tunnel together, following the natural incline up away from the water. Neither of them particularly wanted to fall in, and the ledge had started to wear away but Sam could see down the inky dark tunnel somewhere relatively dry. He pulled out his own flashlight from his belt.

“Stay here.”

Sam inched along the edge, carefully avoiding touching the walls, but also attempting not to fall into the water just one wrong step from ending him. It wasn’t particularly deep, maybe waist-level, but falling into that stuff would get you sicker than the guys that died down here.

He finally made it, touching down on dry ground and pulling on his combat gloves again.

He nearly cursed himself for forgetting them, but shit happens and he had bigger fish to fry. Down along the rusted rows of cars, he kept his rifle by his side and aimed his flashlight through every nook and cranny of every car he passed. Drier ground might keep something alive, but the thick air was nearly drowning him, so he doubted it.

A few hundred meters along the dry-zone, something big caught his eye, a truck. No, a tanker.

He raced towards it, crunching mushrooms beneath his boots, then he saw the faded letters on the side. Caltex. A petrol company, a petrol tanker.

“Holy shit, Max!”

Max was too far away to hear, or too scared to call back. Sam nearly fell to his knees and kissed the ground, then remembered what he was standing in. So instead he climbed over rusty cars, risking tetanus to examine the tanker. Not a single dent in the smooth, mossy metal. It rang full when he tapped against it.

Luck had saved Sydney again. Pure, fucking dumb luck.

Daily. 21/03/2017.

Prompt: Lit Up by The National.


I press myself against the wall. Try not to stand out.
You stand there in all your friends. Laugh at something dumb.
I dream of being here all the time. The best part of sleep.
I’ll be dreaming a while longer.

Sand blonde hair gets me going. I can’t even tell you.
You’re like an angel amongst demons. So lost and afraid.
I dream of being with you, always. The only dream I have.
That might be a little sad.

I slip of the wall and creep over. I try to blend in.
Everyone notices immediately, I’m fucked. But you smile real nice.
“Hey, where’ve you been all night?”
My heart skips a beat.
“I’ve been here, just chilling, you know?”

They all look at me like I’m crazy. I’m so goddamn fucked.
But you just laugh and shrug, like no big deal. I almost die.
“I’m glad someone can have some fun.”
I don’t get what you mean.
Your friend starts saying, “So anyway.”

So, I’m in? Am I? Really? Fuck me. I never even really expected I’d get along with your friends. I’ve got… nothing. Nothing. At all. I’m doomed.

But then I start thinking of how I was just myself, just like everyone is always telling me. I spent so many years just trying to be cool, trying to be in my head and thinking of everything. I know you’re just another human being with like thoughts and dreams and shit but… why did I spent so god damn long trying to impress her if. I can just be myself – fuck… those afternoon specials I always laughed at were right.

Then you catch my attention with a wink. Is that to me?
My mind is racing again and I try not to let it. But I’m still here. Stuck in a crowd I have no clue about. And I’ve missed half the conversation. At least no-one is expecting anything from me.

“Him, really?” “Yeah, him.” “Why him?” “Dunno.”
You are talking about someone with a sly grin on your lips.
“I mean…” “Come on.” “What?” “Seriously?” “I like him.”

I realise you are talking about someone else. But that’s alright. I still want to be friends, you’re cool. Then again, your friends… I wonder what they’re into, how I can connect. Is that stupid of me? I mean, look at them all fancy and shit.

Meanwhile, I’m in my head and I’m thinking about trying to make friends with people. If I don’t I get so twisted up that I can feel myself choking. Like, anxiety hits me so hard that I freeze up mid-sentence. And that’d just make me look stupid, oh shit, I look stupid don’t I? “Hey, Luke, right? You coming back to my place for the after party?”

I snap up. Her name… Wanda? Maybe. I don’t know her name, shit… I struggle to think of it and nothing comes to mind but fucking Ws. Wendy? Wenona? Whitney? Wilma? “Uh, can I?”

I resist the urge to run away screaming. She smiles approvingly. “I’m Karen by the way,” she tells me. I turn my head away. “It’ll just be a few of us, nothing too big.” She smiles again, melting. “You know, if you’re keen.”

“Yeah, I am.” I am. “Sweet then.” “Yeah, sweet.” A few hours pass as I blend in, Karen hangs out with me all night as you fade into the crowd. I’m cool. I’m chill. Relaxed. Calm as. Calm as fuck.

Then we head over to Karen’s place for a little while longer. Midnight goes and we’re out in the backyard. One AM hits and it’s just me and Karen while everyone is inside asleep. I’m glad I’m so in my head, because this’d be fucking hard.
“This was cool. You’re a cool guy. Like, real chill.”
“Yeah, uh thanks. This was pretty nice, you’re pretty – nice.”

She just smiles. Leans in. Kisses me. On the lips.
I cup her cheek with my hand, she is deep cold from the frigid morning air. So sweet. So clever. So pretty. I’m swimming. In my anxiety.


A fragment.


Dreary days rarely entertain inquisitive minds. Kept inside by watchful parents and the intermittent storms, the children cuddled up around the glass doors watching the rain as their father watched the cricket on the tiny portable TV. It was plenty hot to swim, but the beaches were all closed and the caravan park didn’t have a pool.
The rainforest surrounding them dripped, wild green of an untamed place deep inside her heart. Or, any of those old cliches she loved. She had never been much for originality – she surrounded herself with children, a loving husband, did housework even on holidays.
She made them all lunch as the cricket took their break. Down south where there wasn’t rain to sully the heat-wave, the men gathered around to bat around balls with sticks and call themselves great Aussie heroes. Her husband rose from his chair just as lunch was done, the tiny tin-box had reeked of fried fish for an hour but still he claimed innocence and said he would have gone out and bought something.
Tomorrow he’d probably go out fishing again, leaving her alone with three fidgety children in the rain. Today he was a doting father, ignoring the predictable cricket match to entertain the girls – playing Uno and Monopoly until it was time for dinner. Again she cooked, this time sausages for him and chicken for the girls. After dinner she joined them for their games and slowly forgot the rotten day she should have spent on the beach.
Finally the girls went to bed, she was alone with him. He turned on the TV and managed to find some old movie that was already half over before falling asleep part way drunk.
She moved herself from the lounge down to where the children had been sitting – her shoulder pressed up against the glass. It was raining again, gushing from the skies – slightly silver in the dim light of the caravan park’s lamp-posts. They were the caravan up against the fence, raised on bricks and facing the rainforest surrounding the park. The thick trees of green and rust, nearly disappearing into ink as the light against them faded into the feathery leafs of ferns and gums. What caught her attention most through the chain-link fence was an ancient lantern hanging from a low branch, chipped white paint with patches of moss and rust. It seemed to have grown into the tree, that ancient lantern which must have run on whale oil or barbarism of some sort.
The thoughts of that rotten lantern simmered in her mind long after she fell asleep against the glass. In her dreams it burned, bright light illuminating the wild green forest for all to see – an ember in the darkness slowly spreading warmth through the rainy world until everything was bright orange.
The children woke her and the lantern outside was dim – the forest untouched. It was raining again and once she rose to do her motherly duties the children took her place to watch the rain trickle down through the canopy.