My Suspect Friend, Anxiety (Joel Ephraims)

The Pharmacy on Hospital Hill

I observe the surroundings of this place where I come to make sense.
The colour opulence of the glittering cars of buyers of subsidized drugs, long blacks, affogatos and back-pack tents.

My drug, which is a nice white oval and increases my serotonin levels after breakfast, is given to me by a girl who is a whole universe in which more than three million children die of starvation every year.

Their deaths were under the umbrella of a joke on a late-night TV show:
‘What am I meant to live in a box because of poverty?’

A girl is a cross between a hamburger and a long winding gate.

It is closing time. A chronic diabetic in a reflector vest places a dragon emblazoned Chinese ceramic pot as well as a plush Russian doll head on a plush stick on the counter along with her insulin.

I can’t stop thinking about this doco I saw on SBS about how our ability to socialize is largely enabled by the release of dopamine.

Outside there is a hazy blue creature casually trying the doors of the bright cars with pin-prick eyes like red tail-lights. It and others like it played their roles in mashing together the buildings we see around us from muck.

The buildings that carry us around.

My Suspect Friend, Anxiety

It’s always the same.
Everything’s working or nothing’s working.

The trains take off their mirrors
and rush shrinking into the rails.

There’s always more to be.
There’s always more to do.

Train boys and girls
are bounced inside double dribbled lakes.

Centrelink 3:00p.m
Reschedule squash with Lew
‘The Death of Neoliberalism’
Alien city specializing in manikins
Long tracking shot of an extra-terrestrial
Literary funding, prizes and the capitalist system
Houthi rebels, famine

A train boy tries to pawn the scented cupboards
in which the ghosts of his grandparent’s funnel-webs
continue to seek sustenance.

He sees a fragmenting wrestler
and the fragmenting wrestler’s fragmenting birds
inside his silking and crawling mirrors:
‘The rats of the sky are iguanas.
What did you tell them? What did [          ] them?

I love them all equally.
Please leave them [         ] door next time.
Now we eat!’

The grip patterned, conglomerated
Cola Hubba Bubba pieces
stuck to the left sole
of the Occupy Movement’s slippers start up:

‘Instead of blue printing ocean horizon their voices tangle with face lights. We smoke sometimes when we drink but later on we always regret it. We just want to recline in the onboard bar and relax for once while we contemplate. Urgency can be another world’s problem and to survive it can learn from us. Our dialectics humming, we take urban myths kicking back to our fuselage. This plane is ours and we’ve become watchful of rosed tickets. For instance, is this one yours? We drowned our strung together capitalisations in a pearl grower’s bathtub many kilometers back. In business and economy class both upstairs and down sit a paired Grasp and Gaze. They all fight over peanuts and window seats. Out there lie the cities, more reachable than the girls of our childhood dreams, we hope. The Grasps have on the Gaze’s headphones as the girls of our dreams tap against the windows with video cameras made of kangaroo hearts.’

Magic paces in my platitude pen
like a hormone fed chicken on ice.

My friends perish behind my breath.
I still miss the skaters.

Skewered behind its badges
the Earth is made up of more than
seventy-one percent
deflated, grasping jumping castles.

In a distinctly frosted,
pixel-veined window
two white manikins stand.
One with arms akimbo and
the other wearing a khaki backpack.
Their eyes are identical impressions
left by an alien machine’s thumb.
It seems like there is more difference
between the mall palms
than the fizzing dark-lensed,
hard-brimmed people.
An Asian couple walk by.
The girl in white parachute pants,
the boy sporting a red, retro sports jacket
emblazoned with the words ‘Bathing Ape’.

Day jumps from its image-nebulous:
‘Every time a star shoots,
whether meteorite or satellite part,
a stone gargoyle is born.
For many sex, for others instruments.
Originality is falling.
The cores of the buildings drip
like watered moles
on the tongues
of old, wandering, rapidly teething dogs.’


Joel Ephraims is a NSW South-coast poet. He has won two national awards and has been published in many Australian places including OverlandAustralian Poetry JournalGriffith ReviewThe Australian and The Red Room Company. He is currently working on four full-length poetry books.