listening to doof doof cyberpunk music
and I saw you cry for the first time,
at four in the morning
bottle of ice tea and vodka in hand
I saw your real face and something changed.
Back in Melbourne some strange anxiety
compelled me to walk to your house
returning your books Equus, and
Diary of a Schizophrenic Girl,
and a men’s jacket I once borrowed
to walk home in. You said:
‘You can stay here tonight.’
Offered me Lipton and McCain’s fish fingers
and lying on separate single beds,
we shared sleep noises in the night.
In the morning, you said:
‘I have a lion mask for you,’
fetching it out of the cupboard
placing it on the back of my head:
‘Mine is the pig mask, yours is the lion mask.’
As if now some animal pact is made.
I am seeing red. Bright red nail polish
on my toes as they stick out from your doona.
War-time red lipstick brightening my mouth,
smudged now from your urgent kisses.
There is brownish red blood all over the sheets.
I warned you about it, but you still wanted
to fuck me. I said, don’t go down there,
but you ripped my stockings off anyway.
I was only going to give you a blowjob
and then go home, but you didn’t take that for
an answer. So now I am lying here, seeing red.
My eyes are pinkish red from lack of sleep.
When I went into your bathroom, there was
a big spa bath and I imagined it full of vermilion water.
I must have been tired, seeing things that were not there,
seeing things red tinged around the edges.
As if to put to rest any misgivings I had of you,
you kept offering me water all through the night.
But it didn’t stop the blood from spreading all
down my thighs and across your pelvis.
In the dark, on your balcony that smelled of piss,
street lights were a warm orange red, red reflections
in pools of water on the road, car lights hitting their
ruby red tint across bitumen. I said I had to go.
When will I see you next?
When do you want to see me next?
Right now, and for a couple more hours at least.
I stayed, in your stained bed with the glass of red wine
on the bedside table. And in the morning, when I gathered
up my red high heels and sexy red dress to leave,
you didn’t even ask for my goddamn number.
He pauses to belch before worming
the key into the ignition.
Outside the pub they stumbled
into stained bucket-seat relief –
skins safe against seats.
Two years they’ve been going there,
every Saturday night,
still he stirs up trouble.
Now the highway –
relief has long since sped away.
He fumbles to change the station to classic hits.
Her vodka-softened eyes camp on the ripped vinyl window-frame,
taking in the dim-lit road, lightly wet
the white lines that appear, disappear
the forested edges that come close before swerving away.
A moment of lurching light-pole fear.
He doesn’t notice her jump
but grips the wheel, straightening up,
frowning with the effort to focus.
She clutches her seat-belt and thinks
about self-respect and whiplash,
jealous of the car in front holding the road steady.
She moves with rhythm
through the special confusion
reserved for housemates
who develop affection at different paces.
They sit outside playing cards
as the jasmine infuses a pristine evening.
They are playing with options
like juggling over-ripe plums.
Her chair has smooth castor wheels but
she feels stuck, scared
of moving off into mosquitos.
The table bubbles rust
and it’s hard enough just to hold the cards
close to her shallow chest.
An eyelash, heavy
with unnoticed mascara,
limbo for a few seconds past laughter …
and the rum consumed consumes.
Next morning they brush
hips in the kitchen
as they make lunch.
She wants to cry:
talk sense, make sense
She resists suggesting
he put her into his purple lunchbox
to resolve a different type of hunger.
All the blond Jesuses (intriguing new poetry from the extra-clever and wonderfully unique
You see them wriggle free of windows,
lithe as silver fish, but golden-haired.
These Jesuses, blond sons of blond Marys,
head out the door to play cricket,
with leather and willow in sudden whites.
St Dorothy joins in, and its all fruit
and flowers and UK May, as Jesuses
bloom like jonquils on the soft field.
Sometimes a Jesus will stop for a while,
and an almost-frown appear. He recalls
another day, when he was darker skinned,
darker haired, and his reaching hands
caught iron, not the ball flicked to slip
like an idea. Oranges smile like cut suns.
The stumped Jesus reconciles himself
to this easier gig, amongst teammates
all as blond and as quick as wit itself.
He scampers between wickets, wood kinder
than when he cried, and slumped and died,
before the dark cave, and its inconstant rock.
Humpty Dumpty rocked on the well,
Humpty Dumpty tumbled to Hell.
The King’s twelve fledglings, the King’s four colts
couldn’t put Humpty together, the dolts.
‘Baa, baa, outcast,
own you any wool?’
‘Vâng sir, vâng sir,
ba boats full:
một for your Harpy,
một for your Fool,
and một for your vagrants
flailing in your Forty Rains.’
Fat Mary had an ugly Lamb,
Her fleece as bleached as snow,
and everywhere Fat Mary hammed
the Lamb was sure to go.
She chauffeured Her to school one day
and broke the teacher’s rule;
the persecutors stamped and brayed
to see that Lamb at school.
And when the teacher turned Her out
She sought the water fount,
then sadly sat upon Her rear –
Fat Mary – ‘Hallelujah!’ – appeared.
‘Why’s the Lamb love Fatty
M?’ the persecutors bleated.
‘Mary loves the Lamb, you sheep.’
The teacher fetched her burlap sacks.
It’s raining, it’s teeming,
the white-haired Father’s wheezing
(He bumped His head beneath the bed);
He shan’t survive the evening.
‘Who killed Rockin’ Robin?’
‘I,’ said the Doctor
Bird. ‘With benzos and Propofol
I killed Rockin’ Robin.’
‘Who saw him die?’
‘I,’ said the Fly.
‘With my little eye
I saw him die.’
‘Who wiped his face?’
‘I,’ said the Fish.
‘With my tail’s swish
I wiped his face.’
‘Who’ll make the veil?’
‘I,’ said the Beetle.
‘With thread and needle
I’ll make the veil.’
‘Who’ll dig his grave?’
‘I,’ said the Owl.
‘With pick and trowel
I’ll dig his grave.’
‘Who’ll be the parson?’
‘I,’ said the Rook.
‘With my little book
I’ll be the parson.’
‘Who’ll be the clerk?’
‘I,’ said the Lark.
‘If not after dark,
I’ll be the clerk.’
‘Who’ll carry the glove?’
‘I,’ said the Linnet.
‘Give me a moment,
I’ll carry the glove.’
‘Who’ll be chief griever?’
‘I,’ said the Black Dove.
‘I weep the world’s love!
I’ll be chief griever.’
‘Who’ll carry the coffin?’
‘I,’ said the Kite.
‘If not by night,
I’ll carry the coffin.’
‘Who’ll bear the pall?’
‘We,’ said the Wren
(both cock and hen).
‘We’ll bear the pall.’
‘Who’ll sing a psalm?’
‘I,’ said the Tailor-
bird (from her diamond cradle).
‘I’ll sing a psalm.’
‘Who’ll toll the bell?’
‘I,’ said the Stag.
‘‘Cos I can drag,
I’ll toll the bell.’
And all the birds of the air
fell a-sighing and a-sobbing
when they heard the bell tolling for
poor Rockin’ Robin.
vâng: yes; ba: three; một: one (Vietnamese: English)
It came rushing toward me across the paddocks
all I had to do was stand—the moment roaring
silent and ancient, collapsing into bloom.
How it called to no one, especially me, beyond
Ages and years to come, turning a germ
inside my chest into a vast and intimate riddle.
I carried it with me along the fence line.
I shared it with a line of ants. I followed them
down to a baby bird that had fallen from its nest.
And it suddenly seemed so cruel to me as they laced
across its veins, martialling through its open beak
to feed upon its eye. That none would protest
the injustice of it and refuse to eat the meal,
that life could be such a cheap award—wings so
easily broken. I cursed the unrelenting wind
that blew with such neglect, the infernal pitch
beneath all silence ringing like a grating laugh.
I tried to bury the blessing of existence there
but sometimes it rushes back—answers in harmony
with perfect questions, rhyming without a word.
Like Sunny the old horse who I tempted with apple,
although he never took a bite. He would just look up
then stare at the horizon. Sunny never spoke.
The last shadow left quietly, almost without personality, flickering as it left like a movement from a horse at the far end of a paddock caught in the corner of your eye, far away under the gigantic pine trees that ring the property, trees so old now that their limbs are tearing loose from their trunks and collapsing hundreds of feet at a time, tearing away at the tree itself as they fall. Those fallen branches are images of sound. Above is a sky that the trees can never fill, though with all their vegetable guile they try to fill that sky with pine. The horse will come up despite all this and stand in the dusk in the paddock, like the beginning of something.
In my tomb of words
built by the sentences
that didn’t make sense
Typing errors line my coffin
burying me in out-of-place punctuation
Every grammatical mistake
on display for people to recognise
Surrounded by mixed tenses
for people to read
Judging me on how it is written
With critical grin on their faces
when the wording changes
The meaning of the line
In my grave
I wished I knew how to critique
How do we rule?
In words derived from Latin?
Whispers from a dead tongue?
Rolling with the punches,
crippled by the lunches,
feasts of fat men
suffering in splendour,
on their wheels
and dreaming their
trying to escape.