Eugowra Gothic

Machine guns sound more machine than gun

It’s disarming, so to speak, should you hear one playing

So the scene on this western pulp rag novelette –

Gatling gun sweeping from a hillside rookery

Sombreros, bowie knives and fury – it must really sound like something

Printed in 1971, set in about 1871

A Bobcat Western

Sold in a flea market screwed into a short looming street on a plain

A cool dark double-roomed shop of busted toys

Space sharks and smartarse ninja turtle faces

Broken shells from the shores of memorabilia

Dukes of Hazzard Annual that looks like it’s been chewed on

By guinea pigs in a bath

All boldly priced, out here in the Lachlan River’s basin

In a dry creaking frontage of damp shadow

A retreat from two hotels, the first weighed down

With the immensity of beer signage like vintage space garbage

Fallen and stuck about the veranda of peeling posts

The second is pure sunny murder in song: The Fat Lamb

Squat, brick and red-nosed out here, strewn with these deposits

Green rust lifts from Eugowra Rocks like tin scales from

Fungal gutters and rusts set in flakes on submerging farm engines like

Honour setting on tombstones

If there are ghosts here then perhaps they swirl

Under the peppercorns by the water

A stretch across the countryside, my own child-ghost

Flits among peppercorns and willows and creek topography

With a singing armament; that Winchester repeater

With the gaffer-taped stock, that tommy gun with the removable drum magazine

The square black reliable pistols, the rolls of Wild West caps in their

Hungry packets of five, standard issue, red and reeking

While back in the cities, and around the cities

Many I have known play Grown Ups, which is like a cross between

Simon Says and Bingo, it makes for uppity men

And for women so desperate that their eyelids and

Jaws fall away and they come to resemble baleful

Lamprey eel creatures

It’s a dickless mundane game so

I don’t play it.

Will Swan

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Yarns Over A Garden Fence On A Dark Cool Spring Night

It’s all true, the night was black and pink

As easy and cool as a bar fridge

And there were lemon petals on its windowsills

I was out with my strange dog and then the bloke sez

Slumped over his gate like a harmless sentry troll:

…‘sit going, Irish?

What sort of dog do you call that?

My ex wife has two of ‘em like that we lived up the Mountains

Left her everything, big block, I said you can have the lot

I’m on a pension now, I was a brickie fucken

Heart problems see I had the defibrillators put on me

Doctor gave me them fucken defibrillators

Now I’ve gotta go back every three months

Should sue the cunt

(I do his breathing for him as he peers down a street that

Is frosting with fragrance; beneath an accent of

Gumleaf tea and cement powder is a good Saxon face

Weighty with disgust and tolerance, eyes narrowed

From the glare of the past and his own square attempts to

Fix on the present, he’s a risen mole

Behind the red spike of his evening cigarette)

Anyway I gave up the piss – had to – my sister she goes to AA

Doesn’t seem to have much gratitude in her

I’ve got that book up there, upstairs, what is it

‘As Bill Sees It’, yeah that book

It killed a lot of people in my family my grandma she

Came out from England in nineteen fifty one but she always wanted to

Go back home she couldn’t, her husband had transferred from the

British Navy to our navy here so she couldn’t go back she drank a

Bottle of scotch every day just like that every fucken day

Lasted six years like that before she died yeah

Chinese dog you say, you’ve gotta watch some of them Chinese

Over there they catch you you’re fucked but I’ve known some good Chinese

Had this mate he’s back in Burwood now his missus was Hungarian but

She fucken cleaned him out legs always wide open when he had the money

But snapped shut when he ran out of money so he’s in Burwood now

She was mixed up in some sort of business with a teacher – a woman – from

The school down here fucked if I know what all that was

But this teacher was with some black bloke dunno what his nationality was

But she had two kids, called one of them Asia and the other one Morocco

… Asia and Morocco! Yeah so I just leave off it now otherwise I’d be back

To drinking every night

You’re doing well, mate, I know, I’ve been there …

I just try and concentrate on living in the present …

Good talking to ya

(Exit).

Will Swan

Sour Neon Worms

In the tent peg roads of the industrial area

On the rim of a city of glass and carpet

The punk rock shows blast!

In these areas, I sniff out hot meat pies like they are

Precious guts of gristle buried ‘neath truck rental hangars

But will usually settle for corn chips over the makeshift bar

Because NO SOUL comes to dine …

This is credibility’s circus as the tin shutters sleep

And the cold congeals, and the lonely white light of this

Backblocks moon, and the eagle patch of the security man

It’s like waiting for a cargo train to get on as a passenger

The shipping containers are deadweight but there is

A sad rude colour under their shadows

The vibe starts to warm up like a

Saucepan of methylated spirits on a stove

And you can bet your belt chain, bet your boots

Bet your bingo wings and bet your Belief

That it’s going to be rough and pure and you’ll leave

With ears torn like the mesh on rehearsal room speakers

The beer starts to run up into the scalp’s roots, then

The Belief takes the eyes like frozen water catching white tadpoles, then

The sweat goes coursing like lubricants in a chapel, then

They are IN THAT PLACE, the little straggly clan is THERE

The fat arms and the knock knees and fatlip mouths that

Never seem to close properly, all are awash in Belief

Big Bertha is reincarnated under last night’s green rinse and

Frail Frankie needs a thorax transplant but he screws his face

Into that microphone by way of compensation

And Sour Neon Worms rock out!

And Blemish Mud rocks out!

And next week’s bands rock out!

There are stickers all over the dunny doors

To prove it.

 

Will Swan

Whether You Like It Or Not

That teacher you had in High School whom

You like to look back on as being so savvy and insightful, original

And ‘worldly’ (whatever that means)

Whether you like it or not he was barely one up from

Some bloke in the pub at 6 pm after three beers, with all his

Insights and predictions;

Real intellectuals write books, or at least papers

On original ideas they can back up

And then share them with lecture halls full of people who want to be there

Whether you like it or not.

 

There is nothing but bullshit in a drunken wake

The only person who doesn’t look stupid at a drunken wake

Is the dead fucker whose wake it is.

It isn’t really the stuff of comrades or appreciative women

Or clannish honour, it’s just snot stale beer running make-up

White wine breath pearl necklaces wet piss spots on undergarments

Moaning embraces orchestrated by drunkenness, not consolation

An unsurprising level of sexual anticipation, hormonal

More booze consumed for less money than usual (i.e. none)

In fancier clothes, so it’s usually particularly promising for the usual bozo

Whether you like it or not.

 

The Pope is made of candlewax and false teeth

Your hangover is going to depress the living oxygen out of you

There are plenty more who could do your job, and will

You stop midsentence to watch television headlines

Of zero relevance to you

The horse broke ranks and flails stupidly up the straight on five legs

Like a runaway float in a parade, like a really big dumb hound

Whether you like it or not.

 

Will Swan

Urn Boys

You’re in your urn and I’m

In my urn

Feathery ashes and some speculation

About our femurs – were they raked out

Like a dog’s chop bones in the yard …

Before this urn there were game shows

Quiz shows, each instalment a loaf of manure and I

Muttered answers under their racket, with vengeful contempt

But the game shows buzz on with their introductions, winces, apologies

And I’m feathery ash.

That house you bought, where you could have had children

Bolting around inside of it, guests

And dinner parties or enigmatic housemates

But that under your stewardships was simply a

Series of conjoined spaces with the odd queer piece of

Exercise equipment, whole echoing rooms

To store the boxes that the stereo came in

The curtains never pushed about

Now it is a family home and no doubt it must enjoy

Flexing its muscles and maybe there’s some salty pressure in its lungs

Some bugs under its feathers and it can have a good scratch

And you are silken ash, possibly short of a femur or two.

Or maybe some alcoholic vomits strands of cooking wine

Into its tin sinks and the ropes of spittle’n’bile

Twist into gorgon tendrils and grip the whole kitchen like vines

And where once frothed sparkling lemon suds, the tin sinks

Groan under the weight of the load of vipers

While workaholics look up from desks

As subordinates apply the peppering tap of deference

To office doors, just to signal that

That account

Syllabus

Contract

Case

List

Audit is under control

Delivered with that relieved, besieged grimace

And all that crap, like they really care

And the workaholic throws back that benevolent siege captain face.

Sinks are filled.

Lives are filled.

The house you poked at and ignored and

Worshipped like a bare idol has been filled

And the urns have been filled

That’s us.

 

Will Swan

Welcome Spring (False Start)

Three days before August and it’s the first day of Spring

We saw bush bees sawing back and forth around bush blossoms

Trekked back into town and the jasmine bulbs are starting to spike

The energy in each one like a party popper readying to sing

There were frosty pink blooms on the lichen stumps

A good shacked house wedged between the railway bridge and embankment

The day before this I had seen a Blue Wren with sky cheeks

Bouncing across branches above a red painted fence

We walked uphill into town and a monkey-faced boxer dog rasped

Like an air hose behind her black lips

I had a steak sandwich with the LOT and it was easily the best

Of all steak sandwiches, spilling egg and brown barbecue sauce

And I couldn’t find a tap so I wiped my sauced hands on my shorts

Anyway, it was the VANILLA MILKSHAKE (with MALT)

Now THAT punched me into the stratosphere

And lit up the blue sky

It was a meal and it was a ride, it was like clouds pounded into a waterfall

Tumbling into its big paper cup

It’s the first of August today, apparently

The sun is drawn into these gold and brass and tin ornaments

On window sills, and drawn into the shambling blossoms

And the sticky chocolate and honey rust on corrugated iron roofs

The lesbian couple in the yard next door, with their herb garden

Continue to laugh as regularly as big breaks in the surf

One of them has a laugh of shambolic surprise

The laugh of the unambitious and sane

And it seems to me, this is all some sort of campsite

Held together with garden string, curtain chords, clotheslines

Beach towels, vines and branches.

 

Will Swan