“You will be required to do wrong no matter where you go. It is the basic condition of life, to be required to violate your own identity. At some time, every creature which lives must do so. It is the ultimate shadow, the defeat of creation; this is the curse at work, the curse that feeds on all life. Everywhere in the universe.”
-Philip K. Dick
“Australia is a lucky country run mainly by second rate people who share its luck. It lives on other people’s ideas, and, although its ordinary people are adaptable, most of its leaders (in all fields) so lack curiosity about the events that surround them that they are often taken by surprise.”
Plans had changed
we arrived late
those grand schemes
oh my splitting seams
“We lay the floor today
and raise the roof tonight!”
So with the confidence of our inexperience
we attacked the timber with blunt implements
like a parliament of plastered bastards
we argued with ourselves and cursed
the fools who built these uneven walls
until the afternoon had washed away
and saddle worn from straddling the sawhorse
with hands raw from scraping the lathe
these city boys in this carpenter’s war
we declared a truce and I succumbed
to heady dehydration and intoxication.
Half drunk in a hydroponic haze
surrounded by a cloud of digital mist
my boots clattered on wooden stairs
and instinct guided my stumbling gait
toward the stone cut seawall
to stand against the Easterly flurry
and precariously ponder
and consider the options
to accept my execrable prognosis
or embrace my belated apotheosis
to suffer rebirth through trial and test
with a can of worms for the birthday girl
and another bottle of your best.
“Come in, come back in
and bring the ocean with you!”
I shed my face and turned my head
as balance dragged me over the edge
and entirely indifferent
for a second or maybe two
until the mud rose up to meet me
crowning me in bedraggled seaweed
slashing me with gnashing oyster teeth
and as I lay in on that damp sandy stretch
my waterlogged monologue concluded:
“Life’s a beach.”
an old man cries
on a flickering box screen TV
streaming tears from his eyes
nose and cheek, obscuring
prepared paper remarks
struggling with words like
“piled” and “pulped”
made no sense then.
No rest for the pickled
sleep when you’re bread
or late night survivor
your pillow sandwich head
while daylight spreads
stubborn and begrudging
as reluctant to rise
as you are to shine.
I ate a dozen apples
devouring one after another
until their sweetness turned sharp
stinging in my jowl, my clenched jaw
aching with mechanical motion
like a cow grazing meditatively
I glutted myself with flesh and seed.
I slept all through the week
embracing each day like a pillow
clutched tight to my face
holding back a flood of contrition
reflexive jerk reaction to self-reflection
I padded my cell with layers of slumber
for a soft landing in the sea of dreams.
I burnt all of my blazing currency
flippant in a spiraling frenzy
until the lights blinked out
in one black moment, nothing
contained squarely and photo framed
until I broke my way out and awoke
famished, befuddled and alone.
By the side of the river we began to unwind
as we pulled at threads throughout the night
and tearing down shibboleths
we ignited the silence with our backyard science
and explored the cosmos with beer in hand.
“Become who you are” he told me once,
“There are no guarantees.”
Every limb was a story or a shopping list
twisted missives composed in faded ink
we spent another day dissecting lyrics
reading signs buried between the lines
in the simplest conversation.
Our shared delusions drove us to the edge
and our hidden truths reunited us again
down by the water’s end
unsteady, drunk with bubbling joy
“Mi casa es su casa” he said,
“Stay as long as you need”.
Nigel was a writer
he promised me once
deep down in those bitter cups
he told stories about the ocean
and his roving days, now long forsaken
yet recalled in immaculate detail.
He espoused all through those technicolour hours
clouding spent sentiment
with thick river sediment
while scraping barnacles off a bearded hull,
“Fish-scales in the sky, distant and white
a change will be coming our way”.
Until the next morning
he talked himself down
and curled on the couch like a contrary child
stubborn insistence that sleep be resisted
blankets clutched to his trembling chin
and when I rose he had passed like a storm.
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)
I was the impostor, the storyteller and keeper of secrets,
scratching words in the dirt and trudging back roads
forsaking faith and rejecting the joys that life offered
and in doing so forgetting what nearly made me human.
I was the author, displaced by nature and listening
ear to the road, each vibration a new note to scribe
like a spider feeling the air pressure change
a disturbance in the farthest reaches of my web.
I was the brother, eldest and least inspired
every shooting star could have been a message
hidden language behind a heavy woven shroud
storms laden with promise and negative charge.
I was the last one standing at the end of the night
mostly, while others slipped into blissful slumber
or fitful and restless twisted around one another
and I witnessed dawn, not breaking
slowly painting the clouds a lighter shade
jarred by grinding metal of a passing train
I couldn’t sleep
we had all so far survived.
The world is being destroyed
by cheap special effects
ten colour two bit technology
crumpling at the edge
never destined to fold neatly
you and I
never one town big enough
for the two of us.
My downtrodden stringray sweetheart
gets to the point and jabs at the throat
with barbs in the flesh of imaginary men
cheek by hooked jowl as squid in a jar.
and dedicates (half spills)
to some name
and muttering shame
he rises and meets with the floor.