Midori Girl

Deep down at Circular Quay, deep down in the broad day

As it tingles with cruise liner soaps and the sun of prehistory

The tourists swell in blind ant readiness to

Fuck the day right in its face

Their vision extends to the rim of their sunglasses

Their giant cameras misfire into the steps of the Opera House

Ricocheting mortar shells into the sides of their heads

Posters sealed up in Perspex shrines, decked across the panorama

Today it’s Midori Girl in watermelon shorts

A daylight girl, no occult night in here, Our Lady of Sydney Harbour

With a drink you need to drink in sunglasses

She smiles in her sting-tipped wattage as the tourists

Ant-clutter around a didgeridoo hero

His portable stereo channels the rhythms of a renegade satellite

Now & again he plays along on his didgeridoo but for

The most part he poses with these tourists who grin fretfully

Like people making amateur porn

Their nervous laughter rattles from the glass walls of the city

We look to Midori Girl and wonder

Do fantasies have fantasies – about realities, maybe?

Does Midori Girl, bright as a woodchip there

Ever want to dye her golden hair

Or wake up in a green Midori fugue

Next to a white nude man from Citibank or corporate accounts

Who will then punch her numbers into his mobile phone

In stark awkwardness, as he waits for the nausea to perish

As he floods with reasons to soar into the day?


Will Swan


The Red Ghost of Rock & Roll

In your first tattooed rose

In half breed Staffordshire Bull Terriers

In a graffiti-dazzled lumberyard in a golden sunrise

In the vampire bat stilt-walking across the roof tiles

In a noon beer garden bladder full of bourbon

In the money spider living in those old cherry red sneakers

In the Fangoria magazines in a box in the shed

In the imprinted sweat in all the Iron Maiden t shirts

In a knife left after knife tricks on a scorched coffee table

In the western suburbs, but never in the east

In our thieving of club ashtrays in vaudeville memories

In the brittle porno videos with nothing to play them on

In the handlebar moustache of the op shop deliveryman

In the space between dawn and the torn-out doorbell

It’s there He crackles…

The Red Ghost of Rock & Roll


Will Swan

White Knight of the Apocalypse

“But not yet have we solved the incantation of this whiteness, and learned why it appeals with such power to the soul” –Herman Melville


Thin as a pipe cleaner, smoking on a bench with his feet astraddle of nothing

Wearing that style of casual jacket which they won’t sell you until you

Are at least seventy; his casual jacket is Bakelite white

His white pants have a bladed crease

His white shoes are chunky joggers of the silver-stripped, gel-filled, rocket-powered variety

On anyone else they would suggest a) amphetamines, or, b) a sore disposition

Or, c) misguided self-abandon

But on him, it’s a different story

White hair on a red scalp and a trim white beard

He is mean & calm & jaunty & white

He is the agent for some wrathful deity

On an assassination mission, out here in the commuter belt

Biding his time, smoking

He looks at all men & shows them the image of themselves blubbering

Over love affairs gone wrong, and they look away in shame

He’s never blubbered in his life

He is over seventy – more like eighty –  and he is spring-loaded

A blubbery man-boy slouches past

With a gummy tattoo on his shoulder of ham

The White Knight turns him to steam with the rolling glare

Of his butcherbird eye

Then he’s in the Chinese tobacconist, lighting the shop up

They’re talking over some packets of wares

The White Knight & the Chinese tobacconist both weigh exactly the same

That is, the weight of a sharp blow to the bridge of the nose

Both are trim with histories of untrammelled illegality

The sun reflects off the glass of the tobacconist’s sliding door

White neon tubes reflect off the glass of the bench

The sun pastes a yellow square upon the statue of Guan Yu

The White Knight leaves particles of sulphur

Floating in the spaces he cuts through


Will Swan

days of the dead

death is a sky blue rose at midday, humming along with the sun

death is a lemonade Icy Pole waiting in a box in the canteen freezer

I tried to outswim this fact but I couldn’t do that

instead the focus of exertion knocked my awareness

right outside the lunging respiratory mechanics & the good snapping lungs

(to clarify, it placed consciousness at

about 7 centimetres above my left ear, hinging on a fulcrum of 45 degrees)

I was still outside of him when the ape threw on his towel

the one with the ‘seventies beach buggy scene

(it being an authentic ‘seventies towel)

threw it on like a shroud around a revenant

board shorts dripping, he stamped across the space between

water and death

thinking on some bottles of booby trap rose wine

to sweeten up this whole mortality thing but when I think on that

I might as well drink the

fermenting fuel that grows out of the deceased

the pool is near empty; it is a living force, faceless with power

in about three hours it will be seeding with life

the fresh and the fat & the fit old apes with rubber pulled onto their scalps

and the rubbers that slip off on Saturday night spill still more fire

for the pool and the canteen in its shade

most of our great-great grandmothers were teenage mothers

see them on the embankment charging themselves with sun

like rods of fertility, like their own mothers who had mouths which

tasted of peanut brittle, accents of dust at twilight

and sceptical rose perfume & hot pepper chewing gum sex

you have to hold to the sun and those future ghosts you’ll see

cavorting right here, in this same cutting filled with water

or else when you submerge, all you see is Geryon in a gasoline sea

looming up through the deep

gazing straight through your seahorse bones with

a cat’s eye the size of a satellite dish

as you disintegrate into krill and ink and then just water

but now

you fish out a ladybird beetle and then another

they march out over the thirsty concrete

across the shaded lawn that will hold you down in it forever

you liberate them from the death that will take you

and treading water slowly in the deep end, fastened to nothing

(like a soul in the fumes of Saturday night’s bourbon

like a corpse in the trapped flowering of the furnace)

in perfection, you realize,  you have nowhere you can go


Will Swan

out of the Olympic pool, alone across the unshelled day: sun on tar
my bare feet grip the tilting shadow of a telephone line
for the length of two blocks – it’s hot
but not as hot as the road below it


Will Swan