How weird to live it all amongst each other

To dance amongst each other

To live it as though there is a mission

Or to live as though you’ve chosen to reject the mission

How weird to contend with each other

For the most part in our imaginations

Dancing & rattling away with imaginings, we can

Forget that we are to fall like legions of aluminium ground-angels

Wads of curled shavings, and that our dying will

All be done amongst each other

How weird that we live amongst each other as

Though it were pre-scripted

The boards of directors and evil presidents

The silent wild nights under the kitchen’s yellow bulb

We’re all piling up like sloughs of grey wet Roman skin

Scraped from the limbs in a steam bath then

Flicked to dissolve in the rain

We’re all going to die amongst each other

Like the pirates in my childhood pirates books

Die amongst each other in the span of their few pages

It all matters, the mouths in our skulls drooling for polarity

But then we’re a grey putty ball of civilization unalive

Maybe our skeletons crouch in candle lands

Stand up, innocent and fresh and a little disoriented

They bang knuckles with each other in greeting

Saying “thanks for that dance back there”

And the world is as clear as the full moon


Will Swan


Map of August

In that corner, the morning ice air

A scythe cold & clean, laid up bare in a flatbed truck

In that corner, the sun like papery native flowers

Expanding like butter

In that corner, banners of smoke

From the neighbouring continent of Autumn

In that corner, skies like photos of the iron Atlantic

In that pile of National Geographic magazines

The heart of the map, a wheel, a world

As from a bed of fresh gravel like crushed ice in the sun

Run licorice veins across grey curbside dirt

Tributaries of exquisite bright sump

The smell of tar is a darkened workshop

The smell of Windex in the lemon blossom light

A vacant lot claimed by freesias

Soaking that space like white rain

A radio voice swaying like a gumtree branch

Its words like a cockatoo’s face, agog then gone

And the dainty, hulking wattle is all up now

On every trail on the map

On the earth, the vertebrae of trees revealed as

Solitary pieces of coral with polished snail faces

To sit through the litters of leaves and snakeskins and species

Waiting to be driftwood, then

Forever-unmined coal


Will Swan

The Modern Parents

We came across an open picnic, with miniature working steam trains

A family day. The trains were fine little titans

The families were not so terrific

By contrast, they were not very well-defined or confident

The parents fussed around their children without pause or delay

As though to be there in their own right

May have been a rude heresy

Or that to front up and speak to each other like adults

Would be equivalent to staring a bare toothache in the face

That is, all the talk was about the children

No man drank a can of beer – not one can or bottle of beer in sight

No wine for the mothers – not one plastic wine glass in sight

No beards on the fathers, although several had no chins to speak of

And stored their servile fat in rubbery bags on their faces and shoulders

Look, I’m only telling it as it was, but

Half the mothers looked like nutty grandmothers or maiden aunts

One gripped her sons in winching white-knuckled claws

And like I said, there was much FUSSING

Fussing over giving the children their picnic lunches

Peppering their children with appeals and offerings

Fussing over how their children were playing, fussing

That their children stayed within reach

No cans of beer, no beery men’s sounds

No cardboard casks of communal white wine

No cap guns smacking & smoking

No lightsabers poking holes in the day

It was like coming across childhood only to find it all strangely rearranged

Broken down by Body Snatchers with mops of disinfectant

Who had then morphed into a pack of plain & neurotic nannies

In a misfired gambit of Body Snatcher strategy

Many of the parents looked more intense than most people look

When they are involved in a difficult task

Something vast and warm, like a beach, was missing

And they seemed urgent but not relieved to scurry back to

New family cars built to resemble all-terrain vehicles

There was the smell of Moroccan spices & also of the warm kinetic trains

Those smooth miniature steam trains seemed to not miss them

Like sleek dogs coldly patient with people such as these


I suppose this is all better than dragging your poor bloody kid

From one soulless wife-beater to the next and

Never leaving the house except to get pissed in

Dodgy make-up with the usual goatish

Table full of nobodies

But still – that picnic didn’t look like much fun


We walked past a school today & at the gate a patient man

With a huge sweet dog stopped to let the children say hello

But he was waved back into the sunshine, shooed by a teacher

With a patronizing gesture, this yeasty bogan with her plain blank presence

Over-trained babysitter, keeping it all as it should be

A stunted and Official Mouse of their Mouse People world


Will Swan


See them six packs? We’re feeling the world is in our face

Like a sun rising at three a.m. so we want a drink, pluck up

Four discounted six packs like four prize black chickens

Slightly cheaper than buying a case

They won’t see us past eight o’clock this evening but

By then we’re letting it all write itself so if we’re back for

Wine and road beers then you never know

What adventures are in store when the world boils

Like an anaconda

And the bottle shop staff will be straight men

Bemused admirers of our liberation and wit

Showing that we’ve crossed over into the realm

Where nothing can touch us, for we are Tar Men

And we are both loose and certain

You know how it is when you wake up and

There is a moat between the mind and the world

It’s actually Zen, just for a moment, not like the moaning stereotypes

In the movies

Then the sun rises into your skull, fast & silky as an egg

And there you go:

You still know that you don’t really love her and

You still know that you wish you could sleep with another woman, and

You have slept with another woman and

It appears she is a hate-filled cold thing, and

You’ve blown the money you borrowed on Guinness, lager & red wine and

That debt you borrowed it against is there like a cockroach the size of a dog

And your moron mate ain’t even halfway through his prison stretch

He won’t be getting any beer at all

And the world of illiterate clerks is expecting you to account for yourself

The city seems to have been built by monks, up on the cold moon

A city for illiterate clerks and grave monks but not for you

Now move through it, wretch

Guinness is good for you


Will Swan