my nutty wicked little friends, all dead

five or six tattoos since I last bought tobacco
now this morning. . . sick and tasteless on one suck
they are gone, gone and dead
my good old nutty, wicked little friends
they were always there like white cuckoo clock birds
like electric piano keys, like sentient firecrackers
under dripping train station awnings
under pressure, under duress, under the doghouse roof
out under the moon
they were always there
with girls, before girls, after girls
when hope was dug out whole with a shovel
when freedom was a ticket
menthol at an LAX layover by the gills of the tarmac
watching with the cowboys
as big jet engines roared their bloated lanterns
all of us smoking those darting little nutty friends

with freshly emptied houses
with coffee and finalized divorce proceedings
with nothing but time
with a madman on Platform 4 at Redfern
he told me he was HIV positive
as we both smoked them, the old communion

with self-satisfaction
with blueberry muffins
with hands that shook like cold lettuce

with splinters of marijuana
with blackened ashtray offal, salvaged
with human relatives now dead

with sea spray, introductions, stained melodramas and
outside the doors of parties I didn’t want to attend
in funeral suits and band t-shirts and Dickensian self-neglect

can’t say exactly what lead me to try and revive them
this morning –
but sometimes the overheard talk of “frontage” and “market prices”
from silver-haired men who should know better, or sometimes
55 whitegoods ads in 1 loud deathly day
or the pretty definite feeling that nobody can hear you
might have you standing there buying that packet

but as it turns out, those nutty little friends of mine
are all dead
so this scribbling has just cost me $25.60
but that’s alright –
I’ll give it to someone else.

Will Swan


Charles Darwin for lapdancers

you’re the only human and you’ll be sleeping alone
in a strange house of wonky clocks and warm tectonic creaks
of oversized furniture in the undersized dark
lying there in your half-tilted bed; its coffin, quilt and clownish mattress
lying in the dark
out in the lounge room, the Temple Lion is solid as an iron moon
destroyer of murk anxieties, that blackish tongue cultivated by breeders
like a rose to frighten devils
but the Temple Lion does not come in to watch over you
here comes, instead. . . a popeyed bantam of a Shih Tzu!
you turn on the lamp, sensing movement
and the Shih Tzu is there, like an impostor amongst the Imperial Guard
the unlikely proud and diminutive one
like reality of life.
Life as it is. Life suffice.

Life, which is
Charles Darwin for lapdancers
Rubber roosters erupting with intent at dawn
A speargun in a pawnshop

deleting the lamplight, the impression of the Shih Tzu stays
now you are both joined by the bleary Temple Lion after all
and now, the three of you in the dark in there
are joined by the frogs at parliament and song
as you sail out in sleep on the continent of life

Six biddies at a public pool in Queensland

Clumped together like red ants on tables under the shade as I lash my bike to the bike rack.
They migrated here from lumpy lives to the south and in one case, from a London of tea cosies.
Their conversation swarms and swells.
They dislike their descendants, on a generational level, and also on a personal level.
They are going to die up here but first they will complain in the shade of an Olympian sun.
I arrived at a salient point: “These younger people want everything
They don’t want to work hard, they just want everything
They just want to be on facebook all day at work; they want everything.”

I do not feel remotely defensive in regards to “these younger people”.

In some cases, the biddies are giving them names: the grandchildren, daughters-in-law, adult nephews, etc.

What I would like to take apart here is the premise, not the collective opinion.
“Everything” and the wanting of it – they are taking this as a given.

I live in the same world as they do, more or less, and I don’t need any definitions. “Everything” means:
Brand new cars, fashionable domiciles, home entertainment systems, day care, solarium tans, garden statues, vigour through multivitamins and assorted sugars, one billion movies squeezed into a mobile phone, a dishwasher parked squarely up the arse, etc. The getting of “everything” is being realized endlessly and the biddies resent this.
And most of this “everything” is being acquired via working, more or less, so whether or not the work is “hard” enough is academic.

What these biddies don’t understand is that their grandchildren, daughters-in-law, adult nephews merely WANT to WANT. If someone were able to point this out to them, they might – in theory – calm down.

But in truth, all six of them are really loving this. One gleefully snaps, in the naughty-grin tones of taboo-realized-taboo-broken, “They’re not getting my money – my family can sort THEMSELVES out!”

I move out from the bike racks and the shade, across past the first pool. Hippolyta and the Nereids are alive and dangerous in the water, liquid within liquid, spice-coloured bodies in severe bikinis, rippling through an otherworld of glass. And they pause at the edges in halos of power and when you keep breathing and listen you can hear the Sirens’ Host across the Pacific horizon.

In the changing sheds, some lost son of Zeus, statuesque at seventy in his silver quiff and gold chain, prances Sicilian in his towelling poses, olive brown save for the bare milk arse that looks painted on like a tribal marking; he’s half-dancing himself dry as if beside a forest lake, a one-man Season of Festivals with the husk of a Christmas Beetle empty and present and pleasant like a skull at his golden feet.

The gods are wilder for moving amongst us.


clammy as his scrot’um
drunky like a beaver
pills are up his hairy
brown meat for a liver
urine grows in teddy’s clothes
soap bottles are empty
crust of dust and tongs of rust
those pills are runnin’ silky
wire hairs stretchin’ from his ears
just like a pig ear treatie
porcine teeth and plaquey skin
and fingerin’ fingers hefty
soapy slops like candlin’ jizz
a roach’s corpse is resting
the shampoo burns his whitey scalp
and reddens up his cocky
a song of dirty frankincense
a mirror smeared with loathing
ant-rid and mouse shit in his sink
shampoo’s a painful crownin’
newspapers are a bank of wet
his heart a birdy messty
it will explode
like a tin of dogfood
and he’ll be obit’uary

methacrone on the Gold Coast Highway bus

a coach full of retired managers & wives-for-life

with hair as white as captured white sea horses

(to keep it in the coastal spirit) and they sort of inspect

the highway properties and hotels like it’s all a gift or inheritance

they are dressed as if they are off to bury

a small lizard on the beach, under a sandcastle headstone

and on lumbers a methacrone and her overgrown son

except it turns out it isn’t her son; he’s her addled consort

disguised in the energy drink logo singlet and bug sunglasses

of any young suburban moron

and they start up their earnest numbed conversation

her with those babyish sincere tones that junkie women get

which often lapse into vile antagonism on account of

lifer-junkie confidence and caprice

but for now she’s sort of cooing and speculating

in history’s accent, the stuff of archives

you could do worse things with your day than record her

the retired managers are thrust up the highway

into all this inheritance

in their bright deathly light of life

and the methacrone keeps up the conversation

in her gluey glow of formaldehyde death

the ocean watches us all with a bulged white eye

chewing madly on its thunder

3 ibis

in the crewcut blocks one click from the beach

three morning ibis sign for a shipment of total sunshine.

the receipt filled, they amble out into their park

one walks normally; another limps and the third

skates on weird bent legs, the legacy of some

spleen-bruising adventure of history.

a garbage truck lifts bins in its wrought iron arms

throws all that vomit into its neckless guts

and in this world of limbs, a three-legged terrier

tumbles ahead of his white-haired keeper, her face a pleasant skull

and my own fellow on his lead glares at the limping joy

with a wardog’s appreciation

as the sun ruptures ribbons down Oceanic Drive

and Galileo Place, which is misspelled and has three ‘l’s

instead of just two

the right dose

vegan (on weekends), libertine (on weekends)

a bhikkhu (on weekends), punk-as-fuck (on weekends)

intelligentsia (on weekends now with glossy supplement)

conspicuous heterosexual (on weekends)

even more Baptist than usual (on weekends)

Catholic (on contract)

diva (on weekends)

all emotional (on weekends)

nicely measured, nicely paced, kept busy (on weekends)