sun of dogs

pressure sealed in one room, too
hot for dumbbells now & the ice of sex has melted &
turned an oily blue so it’s 25g of tobacco
and a tip from the masters: Saint-Saëns & Vivaldi
roaring tidal through headphones
as the dog days come five-legged, tip toes tapping
on every goddamn roof and the sun lays its
burlesque fronds unrequested
before every day, as though a day were Jesus
now within a mirror some thirsty shambling thing
rises from the snows of Teuton forest floors
declaring itself still alive for no good reason
as Kali in Norse form dances forward
and past me
through the blackened treeline
spider supple and kohl-laced, tumbling in from other worlds
her breath of tangerines
she moves faster than wrath
and now she’s coming to drink
all the blood
and here, one tilt away
I stand likewise, with the snow evaporated
dripping sweat, in boxer shorts
and Kali in petrolized metal form
goes wailing up the highway
with a siren throbbing on her bone tiara
and the whitegoods shopfronts are juicy
with soft legions on call for Superdeal Storewide Saturday
ghosts like laundry around
white altars
the spin cycle whips them, tugs them from both ends
sucks them around
the spin cycle does the same to me; these greater hydraulics
won’t do you the decency
of tearing you cleanly in two
you don’t get off that easy
not here, not in this world
and if the dog days’ dogs run off with a hand here
a hambone femur, a heart
then you stay bonded, but stretched
in your brown strands of chewing gum
blinking at the mess of it all
from where you lay on the colosseum sand
blinking at your form and realizing that dogs and sun
will never do the job
that it takes mortar shells and priests to do
you’re stuck on this planet
a little grey-brown bullet
of goodly chewed Juicy Fruit chewing gum
so
you YIELD, boy.

Whether you like it nor not.

dosshouse jack of diamonds
looking to get pepped on lyrics that sting
through these headphones
wondering what it means to have
buzzed like a vibrator through loves gone the way
of tropical hailstorms
(made, as they were, of heat and water)
you’ve traipsed
like a dandy through museums and galleries
looking for some truth
and these nights here, these
bars: playing thirty songs to seventy nameless drunks
multiply that enough and it adds up
to a great many nameless drunks
(but still the same thirty songs)

and in that black forest of snow
he stands and sucks his teeth
considers besieging the Rhine
and drinking the liver right out of it
for marauding is purpose
life and ancestry
the bloodlines were dug through it
sharpened shovels at angles
diverted gushing channels of blood
made us.
and then there’s the wine…

The Road to Fitzroy

surface now through that layer
of tattoos which float like pieces of cellophane
while she stays under
that cat of horror sleeps within her
a strange pigeon which now drops through
this abyss of pipes and black windows, settles on the ledge
and regards you, startled and intent
your only friend deep in this
embossed grey dawn
he’s safe from the cat, the only white pigeon
you will see all day, and he’s as bewildered
by his significance as you are.
you pump coffee until you’re blood turns sour
then away
to some construct of breakfast, built quick as a card house
I sit, feel as thin as the furniture on this slate street
as the Greeks behind me talk of cousins
tales of the old country
we’re all contained; all men; all confident; all smoking
as a man blackened just like a rifle rag
pulls himself through the muzzle of the morning
and testifies in a gashed tribal tongue
shouted details; here is war and here is exodus
here is that which tore
his brain from its cocoon and left him to words sheared
of all bluster, barking truth down Swanston Street
this dawn: I watch him in English, they watch him
in Greek and English and he disappears now
with all his volume

looking back into a country barely bordered by sleep
I remember a girl I knew
in some era before the black world turned grey
as these tattoos move in some pastoral dawn of their own
swallows and butterflies, skull totem forget-me-nots
drift up from the harvest
and as with every other day (just somewhere else now)
I don’t know where I’ll go
and nobody knows where I am this moment
which is the greatest prize there is
so away from the event horizon where I
watched the abyss, a smoking cosmonaut on a drifting deck
I am now flying with the swallows and the insects
the eagle, the beasts and demons
we’ll go as we please
the cat which sleeps within her will not rend us
when its eyes open again, heavy as comets
lethal as bibles
we’ll go blowing through the city
like a cavalcade of fairground moths
like a flight of hobo pixies
on the march at dawn
when the cat ignites with her
we are away, we are awake
hauling my universe through the city like a flag
and this is real and true and grand
and this is how it works; you do your real living
in the spaces between protocol
I crouch in a blunt laneway: Fitzroy
with another paper cup coffee, another cigarette
me here, as permanent as cellophane
in the hard cool shadow
the glory in cobblestone
wrought iron, density
there is nowhere else I would rather be
this pure, laundered flag-dragging glory
sun and shadow, all mine
I am still, free and in wonder
I am exactly as I want to be
and none of this means that my heart
is not spilling bright arterial blood
at a murdering rate of knots
all over the cobblestones and the paper cup
blood racing silent, flooding outwards
deepening all shadow
falling down across my fingers and rings
and filling up my sneakers.

from Rio to Jamaica

to know her is to love her (but not like that)
like a green cat who claims the sunlight
and lets you share it: like that.
any woman who puts jarred sand in her bed
fifty kilometres from the beaches
is one of God’s champions
to wake in some barely-gendered female domain
where other men will beseech and joke
you know they are all good hearts –
to be counted in that sunlight, they would have to be.

in your own realm now, you look out at these others
these men you live it out with
who trust each other enough
to ask questions concerning that outside world
the ones who live on the sea floor with you
you see them shuffle their paperwork, their caution
every decent man defined by the honesty of
his limitations; the saddest thing about loudmouths
is they miss out on this solidarity
this plain illumination, together, in a good
nameless sunlight

you look out at them – to her rolling a perfect cigarette
over some saga profane she’s sharing with you
to the others, swinging easily on un-grandiose hopes
you’ve seen them
perplexed, then calmed, then laughing into this world
your own smile now is so small and mighty and sad
there is a choir behind it, there are shells in the dunes
there is pizza for all, there is trust
as the heart splits and fuses, splits and fuses; a rhythm –
maybe that’s what a heartbeat is
because you can see them, really see them
you can feel their honour and you
can never save them from the Big End, nor they you
but now we are here together
and ‘love’, you realize
(after all those ragged histories)
is the silent state which may occur when
one human-sized portion of the universe
can see another sovereign human-sized portion of the universe
good and clear
our holstered guns in a pile
all coloured shields leant up against white walls
as a song in the megamix lays into us like a boxer
“so if you wanna dance
the party never ends…
from Rio to Jamaica… “

Golden Virginia

village of labels & fonts, playing with
colognes, smelling like some popsicle disco
smelling like a male woman, rolling a cigarette
of Golden Virginia, when she stumbles past this scene
this market of fat children, hungry little Danes
the cosmetics and mirrors
she is jerked by God, a ruined puppet
wrist high and pressed like a bird near-stillborn
bound in the palsies of history’s soiled slang
Victorian remedies of braces and chains
born to a mother awash in love and fear
now she marches through it all, a grounded pterodactyl
a factory toy, hot-glued to itself
she ambles in irregular gears and her hair is crystal pink
and she wears an Exploited t-shirt, bestial Mohawk skull
on her freer wrist a spiked leather band
cherry All Star sneakers dragging
a parcel in motion
alone, though Siouxsie is with her, and Soo Catwoman
and all those carnival pigeons painted pitch and red
who shone like homemade angels under the marble eyes
of the Seraphim of London – I’ve seen them all, the great
the exquisite: they all have wings
and though her wings are skewered, her plumage is courage

girl, everyone is buying something today, or looking to buy something
with cash, or credit, or credulity, or hope
but we’re not getting anywhere
and you just set me free, though you’ll never know it
because I’m staring past you at a poster for Who Weekly
papered photos of complicated rich Americans
I have never heard of them
and you obscure them in your maimed march
mantras of self-improvement, they never stop coming
everything in sight: improving and improved
I’ll ignore this hard preaching, the call to improve
the self-help one-liners splashed around like champagne
the fretting and the expanding and the whinnying
the little useless mouths and the doubt and the excess
we all walk with who we are not
but you’ve got enough of a time of it
just walking on your own.

Englishwoman, black-haired, at the end of a cigarette

Length of gelignite at the end of a cigarette
Scythe of the Coast at the end of a cigarette
Jar of God Particles at the end of a cigarette
Siege of Monte Cassino at the end of a cigarette
Punch of vermilion at the end of a cigarette
Smudge of nonfiction at the end of a cigarette
Englishwoman, black-haired, at the end of a cigarette
Unlabelled peril at the end of a cigarette

surprise meeting

this evening I saw him:
I-who-is-at-death, in shadowed bathroom light
he held my gaze and when
I moved, he didn’t. He was locked there, true story,
with an easy severity, he held my gaze
cropped hair, a name in a Teuton saga
skald caste, pliant with identity –
his own form of lived, loose warriorhood
he looked directly at me.
I could sense there around him
the universes of a great many books I’ve not yet read
the energy of his parents, whom he knew as friends
and will soon know again, and the vocal ghosts
of many a woman I’ve not met
and somewhere close, the dim sugary crimson light
of one who prevailed; I do not know this older woman
but she was there in the background, pagan all the way
an aura of red, but
it was him looking at me, nobody else
his stare said
“you have unlearnt what you’ve unlearnt
those days of remorse, wages & loans hacked into
a flying loam of red wine, vomiting up the world
none of it mattered
being grated by the ignorant, and
those tailspins of desperation, as if any woman could really
warrant such dumb need; you’ve unlearnt all that – good;
we’ll take that as a given. Now, boyo,
don’t you fuck it up. You destroy the skeleton
of each second, every second, pulverize them
pulverize it all. Revel in this.
You see me boyo, you can’t unsee me now
So don’t you fuck it up. . . ”

And I turned, and he didn’t
he stayed fixed there in the mirror
in the corner of my eye

Scotch & Dirt

looking for mister rite r u the one
just need a down too earth guy (sic)
she had written, which made no difference to Mister Wrong
who stirred and clawed out from all of
thirty seconds sleep, wrecked awake by
a frigging mobile phone that bleeped its own depletion
like this somehow mattered, and some idiot cohabitant
that whimpered away three meters behind a thin wall
in its Tourette inability to stay serene and quiet. At all. Ever.

oh, Miss Right, look at you tonight
in your fifty dozen hoping little forms

eyes cut from bright white carpet and

six millimetres of forehead and a face which some pervert
somewhere out there wants to violate
but which someone else wants to shine and appease:
God help him.

men like tubs of playdough sleep alone
and sleep alongside DTE Miss Rights
soured with gravity
men mothered in contracts, occasionally
slipping loose in lounge rooms, startled with scotch
in expansive confusions of weird glee
like bats flying through mud
but mostly they are as still as turnips
the Miss Rights pull them from nightclubs, offices, cafeterias
and thrust them squat into their own acreage
– thus lodged, they are garnished with leisure wear
puppy fat, nodal brain sacs
tendrils gripping lightly
at the underworld of housing estates

spared woeful Icarus; the dooms and whims
the women pack the precious earth
around their turnips
and the turnips learn gratitude

Icarus gave up flying at the sun ages ago
it was no big deal, just painful at the time
and it was wasn’t the fall that hurt, only the landing
so now he uses a gliders or jetpacks
flies more or less horizontal
vaults across rooftops
sits atop chimney stacks and shopping centres at night
smoking a cigarette, patient – and weary – but mainly patient
waiting for the sun he has learnt to respect
while the turnips
buried down with the offal and hearts of the dead
are fixed asleep in a starched static
that passes for dreaming.