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Updated: Feb 8, 2021


'Double, double toil and trouble,' the barista said, making yet another coffee in my local cafe. The cafe table and chairs were all stacked up against a wall, I saw, as I waited for my coffee. I was next in line, standing on a red taped 'X' on the floor. He looked older than me, perhaps in his fifties; he was operating the machine in a slow mechanical way as if he was sleep-walking.

'Double, double toil and trouble.'

'What’s that you’re saying, mate?' a male voice behind me asked. I didn’t look around but from the direction of his voice I could tell he was standing closer to me than the one-and-a-half metre indication on the cafe floor.

'Double, double toil and trouble,' the cafe barista said loudly now, with a trace of annoyance, steaming the milk.

'Just a hello would do,' the man behind me said.

I turned to look at him as I stepped forward, off my red tape floor marking and towards the cafe counter. I figured this would at least give me a one meter gap each way, between him and the barista. He wore a cap on top of his un-brushed hair, and his tracksuit top was stained with what might have been his breakfast.

'It’s Shakespeare!' I said.

'Oh, I see,' he said as he walked up to the counter to stand beside me, scratching his head underneath the hat where his hair stuck out.

'Fancy, for this time in the morning! Just a “hello,” mate?'

'Back to your spot,' the barista said, slamming down the milk jug on the counter.

The man sighed, shrugged and walked back to his designated position in the queue behind me. 'Christ! What’s the world coming to?'

'Double, double toil and trouble,' I said under my breath as I picked up my coffee, which the barista had placed on the counter, and went home, back into isolation.

Elizabeth Marcano


It was that time of year again. On the night of the waning moon at the summer equinox, the G8 summit of the Crones of the Underworld gathered at Stonehenge for their annual meeting and grumbled and mumbled at each other in greeting. Each sat and rested their bent backs against an ancient pillar of stone, all 1.5 metres apart. The Hag of Glastonbury commenced proceedings.

‘Greetings fellow hag sisters. May the bats of hell lead you safely in these troubled times. First, we will hear the summary of evil events throughout the last year and hear what impact it had on those human mortals and our precious planet. I call on the eminent Hag of Beara to give us the summary.’

All listened while the Morrigan, in her cracked voice, listed the events that had come to pass:

‘ITEM 1 Our sister Erzulie from Voodoo land in Benin witnessed the plague of locusts in July and the pestilence devastated the harvests, withering all in its wake. Farmers in the region didn’t listen, changing their farming practises, and many are abandoning their lands and fleeing for the promised land of Europe.

ITEM 2 The Hag of Sicily has reported that Stromboli vented her wrath in the spring, spreading ash far and wide as massive corruption continued in the echelons of power and the general populace consoled themselves in the fruit of the vine.

ITEM 4 The Hag of Nimbin in the lands downunder and her sister on the island of Alcatraz had a common problem to resolve. The advice to switch from fossil fuels to green energy went unheeded and the fires of hell burnt swathes of forest and all in its path.

And finally, fellow crones, the wild animals of the earth live unnatural lives with their habitat endangered and this new virus is wreaking havoc and chaos, causing pain and suffering world-wide. So to conclude, fellow crones, there is no alternative now but to act and help humankind in their struggle with this new potion our sister has produced.’

Each member was instructed to pull her cloak tight and don a mask as The Healing Crone of Amazonia approached the central cauldron of dandelion broth bubbling on the peat fire. She opened her hessian sack and threw in the bark of the baobab, the scales of the viper and some potent ayahuasca.

And the voices of the crones called to the heavens as a lone raven screeched, ‘Double double, toil and trouble,’ and the droplets ascended heavenwards on the four strong winds, scattered worldwide. Soon the dark earth awoke to a New Dawn.

Gerdette Rooney

Double double toil and trouble - or is it triple by now?

Double, double toil and trouble

I feel like I’m stuck in a bubble

Covid crisis, lockdown sting

Don’t feel like doing anything.

Wool of bat and tongue of beast

Shelves are bare of flour and yeast

Eye of Zoom and toe of Skype

This is all I can be asked to write.

Marjorie Banks

Copyright Elizabeth Marcano,

Gerdette Rooney & Marjorie Banks.

Photo credits: Wix & Pinterest

SSOA writers' blogs are made possible through the support of City of Sydney grant assistance.



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