Slug addicts are welcome
come nod off and on again in our sterile aisles
begging for stock checks on human heads and liquid sugar
you’re sweet enough already but why not stir the pot
just a dash of casual cash
carrots, sticks and a donkey costume
you’ve made an ass of yourself without our help
now collapse into a quivering quibbling heap
only to ignite like gelignite in a Minion-shaped jelly mould
dignity forgone for the sake of a dollar off.
Forged in finest plastic
or stitched together under sweating duress
we have full inventory of human misery
and seasonal clearance prices.
Your illness just needs a little fulfillment
foam packed mystery wrapped treasures
glittery sands to dazzle the eye and line the lung
breath deeply, pray meekly
at the altar offer up your hearts and your cards
indulge your burning urges
spend yourself better
and purchase a path to salvation.
Where are you? Call out to me
if your eyes cannot perceive
or reach with your arms
if your voice is broken
but don’t hide from me you scoundrel
you hateful bastard, you haven’t the right
to scorch my earth and ignite my life
only to dissolve into mist
haunting my waking thoughts
with stories untold
and those awful fishhook truths
wrapped tightly in a twelve bar blues.
Remorseless skulking eternally sulking
mercurial monstrosity in spectral swaddling
I feed the ravenous beast, or bargain
with the petulant child
climbing the tower of my tantrum
ascending to the pinnacle of rage
unstable with hate as morning breaks
throughout the day.
I attend to you, tireless
my pitiful inner freak
I care for you
like a pointlessly fragile vase
that once overflowed
with words and volatile visions
and I keep you in trust
that a day will come
when life becomes you again.
The old suburb has been buried
choking on dust, rock and rubble
tunnels gouge beneath deserted streets
stone-chewing merciless drills
pulse with subsonic vibration
and they strip the words from clay brick walls
high pressure hoses and chipping chisels
crumbling rotted mortar falling
pulling every stone apart
with fingernail and incisor
a century of ubiquity and urban mystery
under the tread of mechanical caterpillars
history is in the air.
The morning jumps, skips and kick starts
my panicked heart
with a low key moan restoring
resinous flow to numb extremities
and I struggle, heavy eggshell head
dropping in and out of reception
aware of my own painful deception,
morning aftertaste rasping like a lathe on lumber
breaths caught between
I have never felt worthy
to put your name to page
yet my hands are tied, tangled
caught up with strands of hair
that once collected like tumbleweed
and even now
it refuses to leave.
Half a lifetime ago, the light was fading
the ferry and the old beat-up wharf
lit up with orange and white
your lips tasted like vinegar chips
and that hair, it knotted in my grasp
binding sugar sticking fingers
whispering long good-nights.
Collected by birds to make their nests
or swept into spiders’ webs
wrapped around filters in the washer
the dryer, the vacuum and dangling
in clusters down every drain
there’s something of yours in every room
I can feel my heart ossifying
with every obfuscation
foggy headed on a clear day
stoned before lunch drunk before dinner
with a brain like birthday cake batter
I shall never be worthy
to put your name to page.
A rainbow of diodes strung across the wall
illuminated your room with subtle warmth
as I collapsed like molten wax, wick extinguished
pooling limpid in a fold out bed
eyes wired inward, replaying the escape
our desperate dash
along unlit back road rat runs
turning me inside out on the roundabout
in your car spilling my heart like a tin of beans
all across the passenger seat.
Each recall had me jumping with electricity
as you began hurling pillows to centre my reality
and with each tectonic impact, the earth shrugged
side-slipping by another degree
“Did I speak or was I loudly thinking?”
your laughter enveloped me
and I basked in the joy of shared company
yet so delicately I balanced on the precipice
-that curved edge between consciousness
and the dark ravine of sleep-
that I wasn’t even aware I had fallen.
Nine deep shades of blue
palette dripping lapis slipping
your brush like a viper’s tail
darting deftly around
light and shadow
summoning a storm
with your patient spell.
Leave behind the chaos and lies
woven multidimensional schemes
that could only be perceived
in the rear-view mirror
from a safe distance
and with a hollow heart.
Rise above the thoughts composed
abandon reasoning to the stream
conscious in appearance only
binding a puppet with string
stuffing straw into your head.
Strange are the creatures who reach across the barrier of time
fumbling shadows confounded by the experience of becoming
flashing claws and daggers drawn
every well chosen word intended
to grip and grasp with flailing clasp
to seize your hope in their talons
and to dash it and damn it
to water cold and memory forgone.
Turn the blinding white on your life
and burn your shadows with the light.
Fight yourself and win.
There’s a white wine waiting on the kitchen bench
collecting humid condensation
and attracting wandering nomadic beetles,
there’s a moment I was trying to grasp again
and instead I squeezed tightly and crushed it
to an awkward mess, there’s very little left
to remind anyone of the life time of nonsense I lead,
inhabiting an old memory, complete in my futility
conceited and concealed
silence is silver in this garden of gold.
Nicotine and Thorazine speaking through your nervous gaze
hooks in your skin from decades of song, and nothing
holds you closer than these thoughts, you are treasured
on this battlefield, my mind smoking and ravaged
under an artillery barrage lambasting with prejudice
extremities aching with a four four beat manifesting
as the music swells and washes over us, becalmed
patience as we wait for the words that will condemn us
to pushing up daisies and pulling down empires
a dead weight of piled nobodies, zero sum sons of bitches
scattered like confetti splattered like pancakes
sweet and colourful and broken with precision
eliminated and expelled with a last gasp, rasping
as your voice breaks on the words you hoped
never to utter and yet always rehearsed.
Long years have passed
like water under the bridges
since I traveled up my final river
woven between those green reaching arms
and bulging white cliffs every turn of the way
leading deeper into the somnolent embrace
of the thrumming cicadas among swaying trees
and the steady throb of a four-stroke scream.
In that heat-sink sun-baked basin the water curled
like a blue green vein running right through
recalling the place where the sun lays down to rest
beyond the red sand expanse
a hidden furnace
that burns those lands to cracked and shattered clay
sandstone and fossil bones hidden underneath
a layer of dead white leaves and carbon ash
a compost heap midden steaming in the Summer heat
spontaneous ignition and vague recognition
speaking for itself and yet forever mute
those broken lands
with mountains like scabs and valleys like scars
so dry and yet the river runs so deep
brimming with serpents
and submerged tunnels.
I suppressed all impulse and surrendered
to the rhythmic waves
slapping the sides of our boat
metallic footsteps vibrating
through the rusted hull like tap dancing
to the circling bull sharks
pulling on lines of invisible string
hooks and blades awaiting either way
whether fallen overboard
or netted and dragged to the surface
struggling like a baby
emerging into the sunlight for the first time,
white grey with stained scales
and mouth caught in a voiceless wail.
And then I fell.
I descended into a trench filled with the living dead
meaningless and mindless
no place nor purpose
no structure nor statement
no sense and low rent
swaying with play of the delta tide
where snow-melt dissolves in sea salt
wearing a crown of waving weeds
the coming going ebbing flowing
a vow of silence in the wake of violence
I was crucified but I have forgotten why.
I became the submerged man
the sinking feeling in the pit of your being
that lurching sensation when your line snags
and your hook bends
and you wonder what lay hidden
by layers of sandy sediment and sand
where I have rested, festered, and suggested
many thoughts to the fishes and hawks
scrambled with the brown swimming crabs
and got wrapped up in the details
with lampreys and eels
and those monstrous fantastical forms
without name or shape or thought,
or slumbering in numbered boxes
arranged in a row on a metal shelf.
I yearn one day to return
to the river’s familiar embrace
to supplicate myself
and prostrate myself
and expel my last breath
and even then I shall continue to exist
as a conduit, a broken circuit, a closed loop
or a torn up book, my words remaining
by the order that compelled them
but the structure that animated
the context that gave meaning
are lost in those obscure depths
and without I am bereft.
You don’t want to be written, do you?
Must we fight at every step of the way?
Locked in contention
blocking up the windows and pushing
shirts under door frames
air thick with artificial mist
thumping that one song from years long gone
thrashing every line with a doubtful mind
pulling words apart
and stitching together abomination.
And so if you labor under that same hateful yoke
take my love and my silent respect
as you attack your blasted craft and slowly carve
the world inside your head.
Getting pensive over my expenses, I’m a spent force
a dead horse flogging outside odds and uneven spots
retelling stories that grow taller every year
harvesting a garden of home-grown emotion
digging deep for foundation creep
encasing the past in insta-fossil concrete
creating a strata of wire frames and week days
holding it together with white knuckle strength.
In a lonely chord you find the middle note
the point where major slips to minor
where a scrap of holiness may be snatched
from the chaos of those subliminal depths
sacred smoke and a perfect tone demanding
nothing more than an eternal loop
repeating unbroken until the sun returns
and mumbling your words in my sleep.
As the sky turns to egg yolk, my scrambled head
hangs heavy over dry retching toast crumb collections
wondering how I can slumber yet never awaken
with dawn fresh made and breakfast just broken
letters begin to align in awful designs
and I can’t remember which tablets I’ve taken
until you find the middle note
and pluck the strings of my heart.
This would be easier
if everyone would stop writing songs about you.
I hear your name in every refrain
sodden with barfly sentimentality
paralysis grasping with uneven hands
(blackout is still the fastest way out of town)
I see your shape among the crowd
or a glimpse of faces not-quite-wrong
looming from induced-stasis dreams
and sometimes nothing
can turn the volume down.
If the musicians would only resign their craft
and the poets forget their dreadful tasks
(and the novelists all give up and go back to accounting,
if the painters were blinded
and the sculptors were broken
and the actors were all forgotten)
every song would still be a story
told in your voice
and every word a piece of yourself.
Thoughtlessly under my breath
dripping constant consonants
of crippling discontent
in loving reciprocation.
In disguise and on fire
towering abyssal wrath
fierce and insurmountable
or cowering crushed in misery
one moment to the next
splitting hairs and mixing drinks
and then collapse.
Under the influence of excess she begins to digress
no longer sure what to suspect
shifting the scales of the serpent’s tail
hitting the hammer on the head with a well placed nail,
and as the cosmos compresses into the dressers
and the zeroes win at noughts and chequers,
she folds up the heavens into the kitchen
and sings as she stacks the satellite dishes.
(note- this is a repost from some years past, title is ‘borrowed’ from an old comic)
Clearing skies confound the eye with diffusing light
wet highway glaring with tiny rainbows
dancing white pinpoint galaxies rising
as the late and fading day gilds the road before us.
One last glance contains all that sustains
one last moment reclaimed against time,
only to plunge once more into the flow
heavy traffic heady static automatic
clamped against one another, jostling
for jockey’s rankings among freeway bandits
or bagging bragging rights on the old highway.
Cracked brake lights loom, encroaching night
as the shadows gather and grow taller
the road winds down by hidden waters
restively nestled between stone cliffs
and dynamite drifts, hacked through ridges
with nail and claw and diamond saws
“A new way to waste time in every lane”.
Ascent at last, through the mountain’s veil
a cotton shawl of clinging mist
plunging into soup-thick ignorance seeking
the enticing mile-stone, the eternal next bend
around every corner, another barren stretch
where nothing changes and nothing remains
brushing dust from the final page.
Forever and throughout the night, driving in silence
over the horizon and into the shrouded distance.
I had attempted to learn
from your efficiency with words
yet bewildered I found myself
unable to progress
torn to shreds by four walled cement
I left home no direction in mind
aimless and caught in silent alarm
as streetlight split through perspex frosting
made shattered shadowed flashback patterns.
I walked into the street
“You’re beyond compare,”
words snagged by the wind and left trailing
caught by the eaves and in the falling leaves
your voice was clear
even as your expression clouded
you shimmer in plastic and nylon
gone in a moment no more.
As the evening settled I found my path
back towards my concrete nest
and the vision faded, so quickly spent
yet I sought words no longer
for they had found me
and tonight there would be no rest.
Rise! Animate and replay, one more time
I summon you, spectres of years gone by
by song and solemn contemplation
I call on you, remnants and revenants
with lasers aligned to invisible designs
pulses of electric messaging
popping and fizzing into existence
fragments of spirit and lighting in a jar
momentary perfection transcending time
and forever again on the rewind.
Rise! Through technomancy and insolvency
I demand of you, death cannot let you rest
while your songs play in Celtic knots
I command of you, colour my lines
fill my life with your being, your lovers
your sad ballad of spent sentiment
captured in codes of ones and zeroes
your soul compressed and exported
across every ocean, you live in the sky
you are wired into heaven’s hard drive.
Rise! Return all those moments
that I had thought were lost.
Rise! Bring me back in time
that I might better the past.
Rise! Download! Shuffle! Rinse and repeat!
Sing you bastard, you belong to me.
Waiting for that animation to arrive
the slight currents that bring us to life
creating a tap dancing clattering that fills a small hazy corner
bordered by books, surrounded by artificial light and colour
and there it was, or maybe not? And they’re off again!
Chasing dust mites and gathering starlight seems easy
in comparison to hunting these metaphysical beasts
through a labyrinthine forest in the deadly night
binding a dragon with a ball of twine
or drowning the Kraken in a bottle of wine.
Silver mottled blue bottle submarine creatures deceive
swarming schools of basking shark stealth bombers
sixty four humming hulks of black invisible oblivion
small scale tactical obliteration
casually parked on a tarmac
or hovering backwards and upside down
swimming in the watercolour seaside sunset spectacle
as the lemon flavoured rays surrender to the taste
biting without teeth
bitter and yet sweet
graceful in victory or beer battered defeat.
Since we last spoke the world has burned
my friend what were we ever going to do?
Against this tide of foul aggression and self-possession
besieged on all side by mutants of every degeneration,
I know you would have fought well,
I pray that somewhere you still do,
while my coward heart writhes in shame.
Devour the memory
starve the soul.
You walked out with barely a glance, muttering my name with hesitation
taking with you all the silent appeal of long glances and concealed intent,
smiling with the light of the youth I had forgotten, voice sweetened
with refined sugar and tooth-whitening paste, half-formed ideas
littered around your head like my bedroom floor, a labyrinth
of discarded skins and a maze of mania, my face hangs like a door frame
unable to process the regrets that have hardly boiled to the surface
unknown affairs heavy in the air, codes and signals and crimson flags
and nothing to show for all this angst but for the crumpled raffle tickets.
A crucible bubbles in my shrinking chest, indigestion and infestation
rattled by a rat nest backyard shed made from rust and iron and spite,
I resumed my contemplation of nothing and nowhere, dislocated
and percolating like a volcano, roiling discreetly and falling completely
I looked upon you like a sign from the divine, a message from on high
only scattered when the mirror shattered and I beheld myself in truth.
You have my number, you have my cash, you saved me at the very last
as my heart paused and my head crashed and my sight went black
you rebooted my brain with an electric jolt, a word never heard
and a thought never spoken, just wordless eyes and sweet surprise
you’re gone, I’m forgotten, and everything is as it should be.