Fotina

here in the seminary
where onyx guitars are scraped into fifths & tonics
of London Dry, wet as the deluge on balconies
wet as the stars a’glue in Eternity as John Paul in stone
collects another lode of rain in the palm of his right hand
our nights in here together, this tin half full of red beans
as my dorm mate polishes
focus, lust, Crosses and shoes
until all things shine like needles
it’s easy to belong; smells of ironing, steam
and Kiwi shoe polish, I’m home and
there are good men here and
there are some who will be better men yet
God lives in company, God lives in routine
there are good men here so
who amongst us might know Fotina
forever on and off those Leichhardt buses
or realize that the voice of God
is Fotina bellowing her heart out
in Australian English as she
careens toward orgasm
swearing like a sailor – really cursing
for the length of a Clash song?

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the promise of summer

they built these lots for nights like this
roller doors, storage like court evidence
and wrecked capillaries of wire make scrub into a block
I’m not the only one here who lost
his arm wrestle with the afternoon
and closed down aloft in rented oblivion
the dreamless sleep that is the real Promise of Summer
as the billboards came to white fire
cutting upwards into falling night

down sandshoe stairs into the shadow and the might
pink neon sizzles, recalls Kings Cross
now likewise afire, that Old World
where we have bobbed like ice in alcohol and cola.
when Kings Cross is your Old World, then
you know that you are New

joining the pavement of the highway is like
turning up half asleep at a golden wake
the noise ignores you as you trek north
in sandshoe night
feeling somehow pleased at how this energy and speed
throws you into scrawny relief
under the gigantic victory sign
for a new brand of cider
on a night that will only grow hotter
and more solitary.
like a lighthouse keeper
you think of two places that wait for you
that will lock you and hold you
but not this night:
the heat of a woman
the heat of a coffin
not this night

a fluorescent grocery, the radio and unpainted cement
remind me of a loading dock; of pallet jacks
and sweat and cigarettes
the radio station girl traverses the country for
the Best Party in Town
nightclub names and cities bounce around in here
like rubber balls flying off the cement
and I buy a pear and suck it into nothing
before I’m back across the highway
also an apple, and I fling the core over the bent wires
into the scrub block under the giant sign for cider
the smaller signs of these lots
their superhero names:
Chris Electric
Auto Man
I climb back into my hangar
the indigo dark, the heat that holds the musk body spray
like a ghost of myself in these four little walls
the aeronautic hum of my iron fan
and the knifing light
of this computer screen.

Aces & Eights

trading on polarities, but I have to get it down
before my own funeral, same as everything else that gets typed here:
two strains of human – the ones who: Live, the ones who: Not
doesn’t mean good VS bad, doesn’t mean
nice person VS miserable bastard, or hero VS bozo, not for a second
but tell me it’s not true.

The ones who: Live, they get to see
suns as black as Chinese ghosts
they stove through surfs of tears that fly up around them
like gravel, that blast out in fans around them on dark shores
where the neon doesn’t reach, misting in the gloaming
falling now like snow

some do terrible things.

Cromwell’s gunpowder like war’s cocaine in their mouths
as gearsticks are shoved in patterns of hate
on Stuka raids of aimless glory
they watch their veins bend like putty around
intravenous spikes, they throw another’s teeth into carparks
via one well-placed blow, they
steal wine and they go down on the neighbour against
her laundry wall as the day itself pretends
that a day means something, and looks the other way.
they die halfway up the hall and they
get a quick punch in for the beaten wife
as they frogmarch him to the patrol car, they
skateboard over all this Lego like they’re made of gelignite
they learn hard science, they say no to placebos
they say yes to leadership, real leadership, and
everyone thinks that they love it this way.
they shimmy down the drainpipe
adrenalized with banned love
and sail to Australia
as Ireland creaks in the background
and their great-great-grandchildren are proud of them still.
they stand on rooftops with tusked aliens
under doghouse moons
swapping cigarettes and little stories
then shake hands as the mothership looms

they wear their hearts like East India Company ensigns
get them dirty
then wash them with $2 soap powder
and wear them as new, and when
they drop the stylus on the wax
they drop it like they mean it
and some mirror catches their soul as it explodes
and drowns out all the static

the ones who: Not
titter and watch, titter and watch, and breath
and breath,
and measure
and sniff and wince, and titter and watch
and sleep and make a lot of gas
and stay true, stay so true
and titter and quieten and watch

living opposite a florist, the morning of Saint Valentine’s Day

their light was on all night, flowers kept arriving
they went about their business, the wedding of the world
I am as single as the Joker card, which is fine and borderless
the sky is grey and total
I stand on chipboard plank on a roof above a bridal shop
and watch the morning florists, they are single too
and thin and attractive and they smoke at nights
on their balcony, and some nights
we watch each other across the battlefield
in wordless clean solitude.
for the most part, I have not been single
the last one ended when a loved friend involved himself
gopher-keen and obvious
like Eric Clapton skulking around George Harrison
moon-dogging for Layla
not the end of the world
truly not the end of the world.
some believe they can claim
what they take to be a given
and although several have told me he wanted to ‘be’ me
I don’t hold with this entirely because
I sure as hell don’t want to ‘be’ anything much myself
and cannot relate to the neurosis.

What I do know – what I especially now DO know –
is that there is – and was and will be – no
shortage of single women out there
which does beg the question.

But anyway
it’s been interesting.
the people who are quickest to encourage saintliness
and ‘letting go’ and all that
have been the ones whom, I suspect
are terrified of bitterness in themselves.
you’re entitled to strong words, in context
even after you have ‘let go’
the ones who are cool with themselves
never entreat you to ‘let go’
because they know that you will, as was the case.
so that was one thing about it; I saw the good old
‘protest too much’ clause in action, indirectly,
which should not have been that surprising
and hardly warrants this mention.

and it all brought me to this rooftop now
this grey, borderless morning of totality
as the florists plough through their delicate tonnage

a rebound affair behind me
it left me with several poems and a tattoo
and then flew like an invisible pigeon
spluttering skyward from this roof
leaving no shame, no embarrassment
but, instead, a kind of distant gratitude.

I live single with these other soldiers
I rarely wear shirts around this place
or shoes, and never socks
there is sand in my bed
and the florists, thin and attractive
go between the delivery vans and their shop space
and I will not murder this moment
by living in the past
or in the future.

madman in the supermarket

explodes like the claymore mine I saw on the Bardia range
the ball bearings displace time, like a half second jaunt
back into the past
you’re disoriented by it, and the blast is somehow in the future
he rips through the dairy section and hurls a
big bucket of yoghurt into a platoon of butter bricks
and he screams and he screams and he screams
in the blunted, muffled accent of Middle Eastern Australia
YOU CUNTS YOU’RE ALL CUNTS YOU AUSSIE CUNTS
YOU ALL WANT TO BE MOVIE STARS YOU CUNTS
FUCK YOUR MOTHERS
and he bellows and he lurches
out the glass doors in volume, past the aquarium walls as
the white trash all make little white trash hyrax faces
in this white trash kingdom
the Asians are immutable
I almost did the same thing, nearby here the other day
but threw only the language, all the Old Norse
thrown around like battle axes, sounded nastier from me
because Old Norse lives in my cells
but this one, he was denied the
setting to curse in Arabic
he didn’t even get to do that

I’m in my own little aquarium of psychological pain
and I’m not startled by his torture and rage
but, as is always the case, I am plainly surprised that
it doesn’t happen more often

In the queue I see the thousandth girl this day
who is singular beauty incarnate, languid Valkyries everywhere
then it’s one thousand and one, and two, three
I have seen so many women today who
have never heard of:
Lord Byron, Stede Bonnet, Lemuria
The Battle of the Ardennes
I’ve seen so many women today who have
never heard of:
Under Milk Wood, the Stonewall riots, Leni Riefenstahl
but one night with any of them and I know they’d
have me like a gold-coated skull paperweight
in the pockets of their jeans shorts

our mutual friend, the interloper, goes cursing and bawling
out past the aquarium to his sphere of
cruel porn, unfilled prescriptions, successive arrests
I’m made of water, so
it seems superfluous to cry

shower of sparks

two djinn leaning into their respective rooftops
cutting silhouettes like tomahawk blows
opposite one another above a street dangling
with council lanterns. The djinn are
silent as ebony owls
falling under a cascade of guesswork as they
watch one another in lidless dark
unable to guess the other’s age, or clan
they are simply pretending that everything is cool
resisting the instinct to transform into hawks
or creatures extinct and unknown to me
and to lash at each other across the awnings
in the danger and violence of djinn courtship
but I sense it from them both, though they are
older than Stonehenge and darker than Hades
I walk on by, between them, feel her cat heart
somewhere above me to the left
and the current of his rapture to my right
walk on by
to the bridge, on bare feet, and it is highway-vast now that
I am on it, the tar above the water
is a miracle
as fruit bats roll against the crosshatch breezes
tar samurai flying missions for some shogun
planted squat at the roaring core of the earth
now a butane lighter and a shower of sparks
isolates me in the glow of towers electric
giving form to all we understand as our world
full of power they shine, filled and running over with honey
even the djinn acknowledge our lights, by avoiding them
though they’ll be here still when the lights are gone
I feel the pins and needles in my left hand
not yet, ecstatic Saint Elmo, not yet
I keep my hand in my pocket and
am showered by particles of neon