Play School

Ha! Cataclysm. Abstractionism.
Death by boredom. Babyism.

I do not do what I promise to do.
Unless, my promises are to you.

But if my promises are nerves on
tightropes, choking, babyblue —

Then here’s a predicament. Set
like an old watch, whose arms

grew and grew. Set like a footpath
under winter’s slimy rot. Wretched.

Like a stomach flu. A list of words
sit upon the desk, each one a tiny star

in a Universe of rain and fire and
blistering light. Each one screams

out for something useful to do.
Here’s yours, Ms. Hopscotch —

A fat tick in all the boxes; the final
one says Who? Who, my dear, are you?

 

The Speculator.

I am the speculator,
I am mixing your words with cloudy water,
then pouring them over the pavement.
I am mad without delay, my lips are frozen fingers.
I photograph the dying fish
that wreathe in greasy splendor.
The table has been set for hours,
a candle dribbles idiotically.
I am padding the insides of your cheeks
with blank cheques; you’re coughing on the telephone –
monotone. Wash it down with bourbon.
I’ve filled a bath with sulfuric acid,
set jazz upon the radio. I’ve
emptied out the garbage.
A flight to Puerto Rico
leaves in fifteen minutes.

Tomorrow I am washed like bed sheets,
set exposed to the afternoon,
flinging myself like a dancer in the airstream.
I am a merry-go-round in summer,
my joints are oiled
with ecstasy
and yet my heart grinds
like an aged boiler-room,
my stomach corrodes like playgrounds
and my eyes are as vacant as winter.

Where shall we go for dinner?
They can wait on us until midnight trickles in,
until glass clinks against
glass and glass slips into
rubber and rubber smells like
decaying mammals.  And people would know
that something died; or so she said on Mercy Street.
There is nothing left to do, but cut ourselves off
and walk home like children.

When the crystal ball
spits into your ogling eye,
what do you do?

I stay up late.
I drink like no one’s watching.
I like to be atypical,
You’ve got to be disarming.
A jury mingles outside the convenience store;
chewing gum exchanged for story.
And the heat will turn to dusk.
The five o’clock drinks roll in,
along tongues, down, down, down
throats of boundless secrecy.
And the outcome will be polluted,
by a cigarette butt thrown by the woman
with long brown hair and a son by
the name of Lucifer,
who likes to make Churches with
cereal boxes – just like Daddy taught
him.

The Weatherman

First, do you have the patience?
To count the raindrops
one by one?
Then pour them all into some overwhelming
question-
Are you cynical?

Does your heart beat faster
than most?
Does your stubble grow slower?
Do you have the right l-o-o-k?
Do tornadoes have a conscience?

When it drizzles non-stop for all of eternity,
how will you go?
The city is damp beyond repair and street
gutters blubber out wails
of the homeless.

Do you have the patience,
To follow cyclones back out to
sea?
To dissolve and resolve a
hurricane or two?
Are you selfish?

When does the drought start?
Where is my breakfast?
Can you touch me like you’re paying for it?
I suggest we read in bed
forever.

There’s a once-in-a-lifetime
storm coming and you’re our only savior.
Where do I stock up, Mr Weatherman?
Haven’t you got this
covered?

Eventually the icecaps fall
apart like teenagers?
The sky will crack open like a
glorious puzzle.
Where is the newspaper?

I’ll do whatever you tell me.
I’m really quite nice when it’s raining.
Read me the forecast and take
off my clothes.
The tropical season is nothing.

The little things

Everyone always says
that it’s the little things
that matter.

Where are the little things?
I can’t find mine.
And it’s been six weeks.

I’ve looked in the wardrobe
and in your hair.
They weren’t under there.

I scanned the grocery isles.
I asked the old lady,
the one with a limp.

I checked under the couch,
and behind the fridge.
They must be really…little.

Or are the little things actually big?
Am in looking in the wrong places,
because someone told a fib?

Are they the wine from last
night I can still taste
on the inside of my cheek?

Perhaps they’re under my pillow?
Oh, wait, that’s the t-shirt
you left here last week.

Always start with the house wine

It was Sunday.

 

Crashing out my door and into your palms. It was intentional –

you had a coat done up tightly around you

keeping me out and

keeping you safely inside, only just.

 

Carlton. Young bones rattling around

the pub like loose matches.

You slipped in beside me like a secret,

your blue scarf keeping the words in.

Keeping my face out.

 

It was Sunday.

You leant against my stool like you needed to.

I couldn’t blame you.

You came to find me as if I had stolen

your tongue and had it in my handbag.

You came to find me like I knew you would,

to hand me your liver,

and your lungs that should know better,

 

so I took them.

 

It was Sunday.

I think we’d already decided.

 

No refunds

I bought a watch
and your face replaced its face.
Your face: on my white arm
on the third seat back
of this bus.
Your face like an oversized freckle
with plans.
My room is cold and the things
in the roof are jumping in rhythm
with the tick
tick
of your night-time
recital.

Your face: down the
backstreets of
Brunswick, where graffiti leaps
from the walls
with thick sets of Achilles.
Where gutters slip and
buskers quote Chaucer
verbatim.
Click
tick
your face in my arm
like a swelling drip.

Kamikaze

All the things you cannot count
are adding up around us.
And all the things you cannot change
have a oneway ticket to my pillowcase.
My pillowcase: the kamikaze.
The warm pancake of a thousand nocturnal
addicts. The night has figured you out. The
beer in your hand has figured you out. Your
bedside lamp is thinking. The moon is watching
you closely and there is nothing you can
do about it. But the moon is sick tomorrow.
The ticket inspector is sick tomorrow.
My shoes called in sick tomorrow and are
hiding in your pillowcase. Your hair is knotting.
Your wrists are swelling and clicking like
metronomes. Don’t expect to dream of angels
dear. I’m back in your bed and I’m back writing
poetry. Kiss me three times and roll over.
Sincerely, Kamikaze.

Last call for alcohol

The potential swelling inside a Saturday morning. Muted at the softness
of your hands. Folding and unfolding and folding again like your mouth.
The oceanic sound of passing cars, each corner taken; a tidal wave outside
the quiet of the room, but gentle. And always obsessed with nothing.
When we turn at the right moment, and a glance crystallizes, all the stillness happens.
All the sky turns white-wash and paints itself chalky against the city.
All the city lurches into a photograph of blacks and greys and blistering blues. You
are always, always, thinking.

In mourning

Everything around me
looks like a children’s picture-book now
and this is how it’s going to be
and this is how it’s going to be seem
until all the Pulitzer’s come back from Hawaii,
with their pens between their lips
and their suitcases bursting like the ocean.
This is how it is, in mourning.

There was a day when you smiled,
with your mouth that had two lips,
two peeled peaches, opening and closing
like the heartbeat of a hotel lobby.
There was a day when you sat perched, quite remarkably,
on a rung of the great wooden ladder,
that stretched upwards, like your arms, to the boardroom of Trinity,
where three wise men sat, and drank red wine very slowly.
There was a moment, quite suddenly,
when you declined their invitation
and stepped down from the slippery-slide to glory
with your hair a dripping mess.

Surely this makes the six o’clock news, I thought
But the novelists had already boarded the plane.

There was a day of endless superlatives,
of Latin and prefix and light.
Half torn now in front of me, the mundane are setting up camp,
so I’ll wait, until the real world that came attached to your hip
calls up its publisher and says, ‘’it’s time, I’m coming home.’’

Boy attempts to swim

You threw your whole body at the icy lava
But it spat you out like a cork,
And all the little fish drank champagne
And danced the rumba because
They thought you’d given up
And they thought they had won.

The big green-eyed octopus down there
Skated along the soft ocean floor like messiah
Each day the slimy grin on his face,
That fatty enclave of salty grime,
Grew wider and wider, until the sea
Started to shiver at the thought of its size.

Months passed in the oyster-grey soup
Of the swelling Atlantic Ocean
But every morning you hear the
Broken-backed barnacles whispering your name
Your time is coming my darling, I can feel it
Put your goggles on, it’s time for a change.

Conceited men

Imagine a little switch that
you could just flick
just like that
‘’flick”

and whoever you’re talking
to goes silent
Like a big fat blimp far
far away

Animated
but so silent

As silent as the
night

As silent as grandma’s
Sunday afternoon,
on a quiet week

If I could get that switch
installed,
(giving the handyman a
cold,  beer once
he’s done)

I’d use it on you

everytime

when you refuse to
shut the hell
up.

The way you sleep

As still as a broken toy
But wired like a landmine
Waiting for something
I just haven’t quite
Figured out yet.
Every night across the
Silk-screen canvas of your brain;
A dazzling watercolour
Of ferocious intensity.
Ten long years of painting
Where all the colours
Smile and wink,
Dance to Moby,
And kiss each other
Hard on the mouth
Like Mulholland Drive paramedics.

Weekend orbit

You spend the first
twenty minutes of
the party sipping a
warm beer
and reading comics
in the kitchen

In the Solar System
the Sun and celestial
objects are bound to
one another by
gravity

You finally detach yourself
and roam through
the living room,
squinting just a little
bit through the
lingering
smoke

In the Solar System
small bodies such as
comets, dust and
centaurs travel
freely between
regions

You stroll around the
backyard for a while,
kicking abandoned bottles
and exploring the
sad looking vegetable
garden

The area beyond Neptune
is still largely unexplored
It appears to consist of
small planets composed
of rock and ice.

You return to the living
room and walk directly over
to where I’m standing
We nod for a bit to some
alt-rock track I don’t know the
name of then
leave together
immediately

The Sun is the
Solar System’s star
and produces temperatures
great enough to
sustain nuclear
fusion.

Coffee

Not that there is an alternative, even though there are many
Who’s bittersweetness strikes faster, stays longer;
Not that I need to stay up for him, as hours drip
Into fat puddles of late night tv and limbs that shift
Like a seabed under their blankets. His charm isn’t
Worth sacrificing the house-wine for, initially.
If I help him along a bit, maybe?
Drop a sugar-cube, add some cream or milk.
Give the Atlantic back its icebergs. Yet not that
He’d notice: Curse the lactose intolerant!

There comes a time, when everything warm in
This world, gets lost in the Arctic. There comes a
Time, when the cat by the fire duly notes its place.
And despite knowing this, I drink a little faster;
And I, having tasted what I have tasted
With eyes that have known to stay open,
To the richest and the boldest, I am still a tourist
To be seen in coffee-shops by a clearer lens.
While I am this slow sipper in this
Place of eternal happy-hour: every new mouthful
Is a new land to see.
Kraus! Oh Schnitzler and Toberg;
Come on, oh come home with me.

The Mouth

Blooms like an oil spill
Demolishing the landscape
Of last night’s pizza
Your left cheek and
My chipped fingernail
A fat oscillating sponge
Gone mad at the hands
Of MSG and drunken karaoke.
But at night, the whisperer
Of gentle incantations
Of excellence that you
Don’t need to understand or
Heaven forbid write down.

The Postman

The confessional poets of the
fifties and sixties wanted you
to know all about their despondence
and what they thought of the
holocaust.

I’m not really that deep.
I don’t carry a leather satchel full
of international newspapers
and I don’t listen to
talkback radio.

What I can express in words though
is simple and to the point.
I find your utter ambivalence toward me
as irritating as undercooked
chicken.

Four boys liberating a sheep in the middle of the night

A fat chunk of moon
Spat out like a sour lolly
Soft and almost lilac
Illuminates the young hands
Silvery, piano-agile, darting
Floating gestures by the light of
The moon
As light and wispy as the yellow
Summer pollen that falls nearby
Unseen
Just another secret in the night
The satisfying ‘thowck’ of snapped metal
Sends a murmur across taut lips
Ricochets from letterbox to fence
To lonely backyard kennel
And back again
They squeeze him through,
The big wooly giant, acquiescent
Prehistoric in size
Silent as a grave
Silent as their worn, highschool sneakers
On the manicured neighborhood pavement
Then out!
Out and shaky into the night
He trots off, absorbed quickly by darkness
But not unheard
As jovial ‘baaaas’ bounce across
A tin and brick suburbia
Leaving late night thinkers perplexed.