Melbourne Cup

And here’s me, born in another city not far from a race course

Grander than this excavated ditch

Heavily garlanded with roses of disgust

Here’s me, I skulked out the front with a hot can of beer

While they unloaded themselves in here

Now they form a human bunker howling up the truth of hell

For the main race, as they’ve been taught to

I slide along behind them like an ice cube on the concrete

No money for the race myself, I marvel at the energy

Of unity and play-money, there are waves within waves

In a shared and otherworldly roar

I am a coat hanger made from piss

There’s a wife somewhere (but not for long)

At a job I’m not interested in

I came here as a guest but I should not be here

This is for official revellers and the happily curious

But not for hot can drinkers

Who woke up retching

To depressed widow wives who went off to shop jobs in martyrdom

I’m behind the tide of noise and I will never hear it again

Because I’ll never come to this again

The human wall shivers in its satin and its rumps and prop top hats

Possessed grins like drunken knives

Women made of orange bacon wear their fathers’ faces

Like rosettes and the booklet-flashing men with beer nut brains

Play at dandy, which leaves no room for a genuine fool like me

Who glides behind it all, riding it out

Placing the coiling thirst out behind me like a rope

Knowing that a crumpled request for money is in order

And that I don’t need to be a gimp among these legions

Any more than the horses need to run up that grey track


Will Swan


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