Wowserville

The bottleshop has party ice so I got two bags, also

A sixpack of kitchen small-talk

A case of ephemeral mannish bonding

A cask of profound lyrical insight

A couple of cans of sexual jealousy

A 750ml bottle of brooding on ancient wrongs

A hipflask of discomforting promiscuity

A carafe of obligation and

A longneck of four a.m.

Now it’s Sunday morning so I’m getting

A 2ltr bottle of Fanta

Aaaaaaaahhhhhhhh… !

Fantahhhhhhhhhhh…..

 

Will Swan

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Lucinda Williams

Listening to Lucinda Williams with her voice like dregs of warm beer slashed

Back awake with a lusty dash of ice cold beer, the guitar like

Brown sun & summer shadow on a long trail’s dirt

On the afternoon of a day we’ve agreed to call Friday but I’m

Not so sure… I’m not 100% sure it’s Friday today & even if it is

It ain’t REALLY Friday, not taking into account the

Start of Time Itself, alright, so we’ll call it Friday, we’ll call it a pile

Of horseshit, I’ve got oregano & onion boiling up tears

Under the glass lid of the space bucket slow cooker here and

A doglike creature the colour of rich chocolate topping

Got K-Mart dumbbells here like munitions stored in the back of a deli

Incense cones from a green box marked ‘Hem Cannabis’

The lapping of their greenish battlefield smoke

Me, the space bucket full of steam & wet oregano & the dumbbells

And the sunshine bouncing off anything it can like a galactic howitzer

The doglike creature flapping himself down sideways on the decking

A visiting light-fingered fly

It’s all tied down like awkward furniture on the back of a truck

It’s all tied down like a jumble of fat cannons on a jolly frigate

We’re all hurtling around in a honky tonk time signature, out in space

Awash in glistenin’ gold, we are

Rolling around in black space and apparently it’s Friday

 

Will Swan

spitting on the charcoal snatch under the bridge

Donut was a fat kid, a latecomer to our country town friendships

And didn’t seem to steadfastly befriend any of us

This was towards the end of my own life there, in the unravelling

I’d talk to him, not catching his circumstances, which seemed messy

Being a fat kid – in those days – he was a real novelty

But by introducing himself as ‘Donut’, in advance

He had kneaded out much of the ridicule

He seemed assured & had an understanding of the rules

Which demanded ridicule wherever it could be applied

We didn’t have a history with him and I didn’t really know Donut

But I can see him every school day afternoon

Passing under the highway, in the moon-grey & greasy alcove by the lake

Above us on the concrete was an emotive fertility cave painting

Of stick legs with a tarbrush focal point

EVERY single time, he would tilt his blubbery olive face

Bunch his mouth and fire a wet jet, directly at the image

Like a caterpillar spitting glycerine venom

And every single time, he’d get a bullseye, and the glassy string would

Dangle and twist with an insectoid violation and

We’d make harsh noises of acknowledgment and disgust

EVERY single time

That was Donut. We hadn’t bothered to do something like that ourselves

Let alone bothered to make a ritual out of it

Just now, I heard another highway vibrating dumb above the dawn

And recalled the road like a long-gone bone over the reedy lake out there

And the composite reality of a knowing fat boy’s dirty ritual

 

Will Swan

Co-starring BO DIDDLEY in…

A fortnight of no great significance, in Surry Hills, Sydney

A gig for two weeks, stuffing envelopes, up a wheezy lift

To my station amid a whole lot of retrenched public servants

Classic old boys, a breed of white collar Sydney pub men

You don’t see now, but they once half-defined the place

You’d find them holding impromptu parties on

Friday commuter trains, scotch in paper cups

In the bluey yellow light of the carriage bulbs, in the vestibule pouring

With delighted fuming women

And supervising the logistic drinking in those city pubs

Edinburgh Castle, Sir John Young, Criterion

With the asylum stairs behind the wild swing door

Dropping down to the troughs

An unhurried clerical race, they flourished among bricks

And newspapers & emptied wet schooners

Now I was amongst them in the appendix of their careers

Someone had thrown them a line

Giving them a stint stuffing envelopes

They were white-shirted, paced and beer-hefty

I turned up with a goatee dangling like moss and was asked

To take my earring out by the boss

Who was younger than the old boys, pithy like an infantry Major

Along with the old boys, there was an English working tourist and

An Irish working-tourist, as was often the case with

The bitsy jobs I drifted through

The Irish tourist said she’d previously worked at

Australia Post & how impressed she was by the efficiency of her colleagues

Not for the first time, and not the for the last, I was stunned & disturbed

By the slavish boss-loyalty that Irish & English working tourists bring with them

Having always managed to leave their imaginations at home

 

So I stuffed thousands of envelopes, my fingerprints vanished in a sheen

On lunch I’d walk around the strange architectural garden that is Surry Hills

I noticed that a health food shop was flogging some miracle ingredient

Called ‘guarana’, there was an illustration of a Tarzan-like character

And a blurb about restorative powers and the Amazon Jungle

This was the moment just before the dawn of the hourly energy drink diet

Which at the time of this writing, has absorbed guarana as a daily staple

(In keeping with the gathering diabetes epidemic)

Nearby was a small music shop which I briskly haunted at lunch

There was a Bo Diddley two-for-one CD, all his Chess classics

And that’s what I got out of that envelope stuffing, along with a small tattoo

Of a leprechaun puffing a pipe, slyly

He always reminds me of Surry Hills & Bo Diddley and vice versa

Those Bo Diddley songs  were crimson ribbons of music, earthy boastful fables

Humming with the solitary shock of originality

It was like finding unknown bird bones in tropical foreign soil

With a life of indignation falling away ahead of me, as it seemed

(And as it turned out, was exactly the case)

Bo Diddley’s songs were as solid as engine bodies

Unapologetic, whacked with cologne and hair oil

Skirted with hoodoo and thumping with self-assurance

He was somewhere else in time and space

But he was his own man, and to have his music in the house

Is like having a lurid tribal spear leaning against the wall

You can take it and shake it in a rattle of bones, a rattle of shells

Maybe it can remind you

It’s better to be a tribal spear than a sullen mop

 

Will Swan

Springtime in Sydney, 1941

Seventy one years ago, in these same moments of spring twilight

The Queen Mary drove out through The Heads

With my grandfather aboard, he told me last night

And he very rarely cares for dates

But at this time, with crickets outside this kitchen

With the sky fading silver, and their legions of men and boys

Hapless on the ancient water, they moved out and away from the Harbour

The Manly Ferry blew her horn for them

Out there in a place beyond the voices of people

It wasn’t a newsreel headline noise, instead it said:

We know that you go out now to the nameless

So know that we love you

 

Will Swan

Congratulations Mike Smith

Into a fashionable bakery, certain white citizens stopped

Eating shitty white supermarket bread & have gone rustic (same with beer)

It’s good & fresh-smelling, minimalist décor, spoiled by a radio pitching

Service station pies & Monster Energy slushies at fat boys

A magazine on a pile celebrates business leaders

The man on the cover is striking – impudent, piggy fiend of Eastern legend

He’s fantastic – narrow eyes of gleaming gel

Mike Smith in his big devil pig’s ears, I can smell him from here:

Talc & bacon

He’s CEO of a bank & he’s made the glossy cover in this bakery

He also made the papers last week for comments about shit-kickers

His excursion into social theory went messy immediately & he

Retracted his comments & then pretty much contradicted them

Point is, he probably doesn’t lie awake at night thinking about shit-kickers

But he wanted some attention, he wanted reassurance

Same way the Christians went off & violated the Pacific Islanders etc.

Because churchy types are restless with the need for assurance

But now he’s on the glossy cover here anyway, so that’s alright

He can carry around that carcass of his, looking for a casket to drip in

He’ll be dripping away soon enough

I saw a couple of hungover men, quasi-shit-kickers of the kind who

Might think that Mike Smith CEO is somehow special

They’re spending their Sunday morning, this window in lives which

Make Mike Smith more money, dragging

Their carcasses in a kind of rheumatic discomfort

Might be time for a Monster Energy slushy

They drag along past a school with a motto proclaiming

“EXPECTATIONS” and ‘ACHIEVEMENTS”

Harmless enough, yeah?

Pitch the yeast, start fermenting those carcasses

They get dragged around & around & around

Dragged around & around & around

 

Will Swan