Methadone Grandma

Sitting in a grey-pink hotwind

In a courtyard near a bakery and a carpark

And only there, rain is loosed

In cold dirty drops, perhaps meters apart

And a methadone grandma

With arms like boiled muscle

Siphoned into hide

She calls out to another methadone grandma

Who flicks up a gaze

With bakery roll greens circling in

A lag’s clapboard mouth

The first one calls again

And some big cherub kid in a pink t-shirt

Big as a nightie, printed Tampa Florida

Flirts assuredly with a 12 year old girl

Like bouncing a ball

And the mother or aunty who laughs with them

Has good chaos eyes and shouts some sound of kinship

And drifts off on the tide of some conspiracy

The chicken shop chalkboard is smudged

Says Roasting C H I C I K E N S

The rain, unstarted, ends, unnoticed

Like some puppet opera

Played out through pink glass bead curtains


Will Swan


Burial Mound

On this night in the resonance of late summer’s bell

With the full moon grasping all below it

Like a mess of hair from a rough glass stream

Smacking us all together as it hauls us up like

A saved drowning urchin witch

This is how the evening earth honours

The man who died right here

Once fallen like a dusky bird.

An oval under arc lights

Low and humming:

A glowing green electrical baking device

Some cadre of runners, at it

Steamed and keen

Genitals like whole warm chickens in plastic bags

The report of skateboards from the deep trowelled dip

Between the front and back wheels, a clattered delay

The width of an axe blow

And the skaters refusing all suggestions of manhood

When you look for a moment you can see their antlers

As they cream and scrape their dip, their altar

Bats fling about like dim sims

And their flecks of goblin faces go unseen

This is better than any dry-cleaned Mass

The surging under the lights and the cones of gnats

Autumn waiting like a spattered tarpaulin in the back of a truck

The runners are bobbing chunks of milk white dog turds

In a clear moonlit surf

Dragged out and back across the surface

The moon and her puppeteer wrists

He died and the timetables and quiet lusts

Distract his friends

But the spirits of the horizon recall his existence

Dance a parade of locust wing energy

And although his marionette

Was defibrillator-scorched, and folded up

The strings had vanished in the honest flight of exercise

And he died on his feet like a good old militiaman

He died upright in earthy flight

Like a hill dweller.


Will Swan

Paddock Phantoms

Kids in our sneakers and jeans, my jeans were black

We were flapping like laundry around a paddock

Juicy and splintered with Paterson’s Curse

Sitting on wobbling railings of polished white paint

Swinging on gates, stirring a tight black and gold sheep

Who was minding her own business but

Would give chase and fire herself off in buzzing slingshot bucks

To our general delight, while we grappled the gates

An afternoon under platinum sun and we saw them

Carving up through the Paterson’s Curse

Over the molasses cold earth

Three dogs in a blur, fast as oil in an oil painting

Fast as platinum sunlight

A twisting knot of snarls, but somehow distant-sounding

As if heard from the end of a PVC pipe

They were fused themselves, in a twisting knot of black muscle

Three heads, some sinewy Cerberus

The air took a dragging scar with the slug of their fury

And they were gone

Two of us saw them, three if you count my young brother

I’m not sure if he really took it all in

But two of us did, the vision that rose in their explosion of grimaces

The faraway sound, the vanishing

That was one that we’d bring up now and again

We never made too much of it;

Andy Kerr, this one is for you.


Will Swan

Apologies to Hank

The woman is slim, white jeans, Greek

Engages with the children

The husband pink, pin-eyed, round shouldered

He can’t talk to her, even from here

I can see that. It doesn’t come easy, or often.

He stands near their two new silver SUVs

Dressed like a fat moronic child

In a child’s pale green t-shirt and thongs

He’s never hocked a musical instrument

A stereo, amp or television

He’s never fucked a truly vast, fat woman

He’s never been on a parade ground

He’s never eaten in a soup kitchen

He’s never stormed off a job with bile on his lips

Or a song in his heart

He’s never waited for the bottle shop to open

He’s never walked across town

He’s never lost count of job applications

Wine casks, allies, housemates

He’s never been close to a dog

And, in many parks, thrown balls until the sun went down

He’s never listened to the cawing doves

He’s never haunted libraries, in silent merriment

He’s never watched the breeze through rusty gauze

He’s never spoken cheerfully to the insane

He’s never sought out a favourite Indian grocer

He’s never threshed his world

And tied it back together with wire

He’s never walked graveyards in sunlight and long shadows

He’s never been the last to leave a bookshop

Or the first into a bar

He’s never bought a whoopee cushion

He’s never forgotten his name by candlelight

He’s never found sneakers in a cobbled lane

And maybe this is why he has nothing to say

To his slim Greek wife in white jeans.


Will Swan