Wednesday 26 December 2018

A boy called Brad

A boy called Brad
was my first best mate
in high school.
We were inseparable.
It was year one of our teens,
we had each other
and the world
was going on summer.

At the start of the following year,
a boy the kids called Ruddy
- a fat little fuck -
to my face
that Brad and I were bumbuds.

It was the turn of the century,
it was an all-boys school
and for Ruddy, the ass,
to claim that Brad and I were lovers
was trauma
I couldn't process.

So I never did.

I spent the year ignoring Brad.
I treated him like shit,
like we'd never been a pair.
He didn't understand.
Neither did I,
in truth.

I think this was
the crucial episode
of my life.

The subsequent twenty years,
with their porn addiction,
obsessive compulsions
and constant cheating

should be credited
to the way I handled
Ruddy and Brad.

Brad was a great friend
but life is like death:
you can't go back on it.

I hope that Brad
is doin' alright.
I hope that Ruddy is too

for we're all the wounds of an innocence
that never keeps its feet.

The great horror
is innocence dies
before the flesh departs.

So here's to Ruddy
- the thorn of my life.
Here's to me
though I didn't have the guts to pull it out.

And here's to Brad
- my best friend in Year 8.

We'd be close to halfway through our lives.

going forward,
the pain will be smothered
now that the innocence
is too.

In order to live

I think
in order to live
you must learn to hate on life.

This is the crucifixion

or annihilation
of the Buddha.

The Whitsundays:
the islands,
the sun
- the world a crystal

bar the stings

for the world
yet knows

- mates and stories and love -
are crystals too

but they blight
as we rot then die then rot.

It's not that love ain't a thing.
It's that love
ain't found in life
but despite it

by the naked nothingness
that's you

on that cross,
in that cave

with no one left to blame.

Our ancestors blamed The Spirits,
our grandfolk blamed The Jew,
we blame Trump;
bogeymen everywhere.
You've held your breath
for campfires
and islands in the sun.

But hanging off that crucifix,
it all seems such a farce;
you begin to hate on life

and breathe a bit
and feel
a little

Tuesday 6 November 2018

New York

New York,
I hit Time's Square
and Central Park;
I hit the blaze beneath
your ferocious ego.

And then,
New York,
I met with your nakedness.
I saw the tears that poured
down the sides
of your scars.
They cut deep in a concrete

that'd stood so self-assured.
I glimpsed your grief
and nakedness,
New York.

Passing what was left,
I thought the New World
and history,
I thought the rain.
I thought the subway,
the people,
the people who'd chosen to fall out the sky
to die
rather than be burnt alive.

New York,
I saw your nakedness
and stripped robes of pride
laid out
in the form of holes in the ground

that tried to make space for mourning.
Steel had risen here,
had waited for the day of nakedness.

New York,
we all arrive at the nakedness.
Some, through beaten, burning towers
sinking dust
through the narratives of life.

New York,
I walked Broadway
and couldn't find the words to work you out:
too large to fit an idea.

But when I saw your nakedness
- two holes in the ground,
the names of the dead -
I figured you're but human.

And now,
New York
- as large
as the rest of the world -
you carry your wound
for all the world to see
since your towers fell
to graves in the ground

and the nakedness came
in a way
it's never meant
to come.

To deal with devils

To deal with devils
or deal with silence,
to blind your eyes
or view the violence.

To chase approval
or meet with fate,
to limit hurt
or hold the weight.

To limp along
or blow your cover,
to bow and beg
or rise with hunger.

To sell a brand
or build your Zion,
to plead with lovers
or hunt the lion.

Sunday 7 October 2018

The hardest thing

The hardest thing
to accept about death
is sensing it takes
more than a lifetime
to grow up.

Art might be

might be
the evidence of

To explain art
is to kill it.
To live behind it
is to know the only side
that's not worth knowing.

might be
the evidence of

Both are felt
in cracks between
lust and sleep,
pain and numbness.

are breathed in
but not exhaled.

Both are the jist
of something else
and the jist itself.

Both sound
like one another
but never like themselves.

Neither is literal,
neither is metaphor
for neither
is anything at all.

are just dumb ideas
like life's a dumb idea
- at least in the absence of death.
might be
the evidence of

might be
the evidence of
For if it all made sense,
we wouldn't sketch
or curse the sky.

Is eating toast
or breaking an arm
To clean a shoe:
is that artistic?
might be
the evidence of
when we're cleaning shoes
for the feet of

whether god exists
or not.

For neither, really,
does art exist.

might be
the evidence of
for we talk of art as if we can,
as if art's an actual thing

- we feel it, though;
we sense it's there

and sense it
might be evidence of
something else,

Thursday 6 September 2018

Smoking a ciggy

Smoking a ciggy
atop a Saint Petersburg roof in summer,
tonight’s best friends are beside me
—our rucksacks sharing a room a few streets down.

Cathedrals stretch towards a sunset
that just can’t get itself to pierce the day.

But just now,
at this very moment,
my chest begins to ache.

This is old news
—the doctor back in Adelaide said it’s nothing;
said it’s just a chronic strain and not a sick heart.

But sometimes the gut
knows more than the doc.
I know, too, that my grandmother’s sick heart
took her before she had the chance to feel
my own beat.

Yet whether or not I’m really dying sooner than I’d like
or the body’s simply reminding me
that either way I’m dying
one day,
it’s not a heartbreaking kind of prompt.

More than anything
it’s just a reminder to live
whilst alive

as I chance these ciggies                 
atop a Petersburg roof
with tonight’s best friends beside me.

Don't talk

Don't talk of gender
or of sex.
Don't talk of science
at all events.

Don't talk of him.
Don't talk of me.
Don't stand for

Don't talk ideas.
Don't ask for proof.
Don't be so brash
to ask for truth.

Don't talk of drugs
or family.
Just bark the word

Don't talk free speech
or liberty.
Just bark the word

Don't talk about
South Africa.
You shut your mouth!
Don't act bizarre.

Don't talk about
the media
or Marxist

Don't think it through.
Don't be that chump.
Just sing along
to "I hate Trump!"

Just do what you're
supposed to do.
You know the drill.
There is no you.

There is no God.
There was no Fall.
In fact, you'd best
not talk at all.

Sunday 19 August 2018

Did it ever really go down?

Did it ever really go down?
That time on the ice-rink in China?

Maybe the place was up near Chengdu?
Or still in Kunming?
We took a bus near 9pm, right?
Then we walked the suburbs
and finally found the empty indoor rink
as the sun collapsed on us.

It sounds all wrong
and I’ve wondered
why there are no photos of those hours
or why we’ve not spoken of it since.
But I’m sure that once on our China trip
we skated some lonely ice-rink
late through the night
in a neighbourhood to the south of the country.

I have this one hazy memory
of you dressed in black:
you skate in circles at some point
then slowly draw near.
We stumble and embrace,
perhaps for the final time
before the decay.

Our damned decay.
Up till then,
we must not have even known decay.
We were but 22
—young love in a strange arena
in a part of the world
that already seemed unreal.

Or perhaps we never loved each other.
Perhaps we were far too young to.
Perhaps there was no such ice-rink.

But I think there was

and I feel my mind is struggling to recall it
for there are some things
only the heart can remember.

We're each of us a passing breath

We’re each of us a passing breath.

We're each of us a box
which lies on the lawn
as god moves from one day
to the next.

We’re each of us a can on the shelf
or a novel in hand

We’re each of us a pebble skimmed across the ocean roof.

We’re each of us the rolling caravans
—the convoys of history: arriving, looking, leaving.

May we take our time
like history takes its time,
     like the tent
     —pierced to the skin of the earth—
     takes its time.

May we take our time
as when we watch our parents.
We’re each a passing breath.

Our tramp through China

Our tramp through China

came to end at the Great Wall.

And though it’s got that damn iconic rank,

it truly was an outstanding


as it bubbled from the peaks like History’s champagne.


We set up camp

and watched the sun

lay down

its head behind the tips of the West,


from where,

more than two millennia prior, as

Emperor Qin Shi Huangdi oversaw the build 

of a fortress of farcical proportions,                                              

as the Xiongnu to the North prepared invasion,

Rome prepared to split its cocoon.


We walked along a while.


Looking south, we felt tourists still,

but in the face of the formidable north

we had the strange sensation of feeling local.

We were tired but impassioned

then unexpectedly moved

as we took our backs to an undersized segment,

which for all we knew marked the bones

of half the poor wretches

now perished

from bringing to life

the outrageous magnum opus,

the now dormant reptile sprawled across Northern China.


—The nation’s true dragon.


A final speck of sun fell back;

an idling wasp withdrew within a crackling section.



following the first of the Dynasties

whose guardsmen lined every one of its towers,

after digging its ancient heels in the sands

of the Cultural Revolution

and clinging on to life,

after Rome’s capitulation,

the mammoth beast just lies silent,


on a small pension

of the odd tourist dollar.


But it never does go short

on providing the wasps

some shelter for the night.













Monday 13 August 2018


the old refrain:


and a little more

Then, before the final throes:

a rush
like fuel,

a glow
like god.

It might as well be god.
It’s likely merely gut.

Yet who am I to imply
a difference between the two?

I've childhood recollections

I've childhood recollections
that stick like paint
to my brain-flesh.

That first instance I dropped a plate
sticks hard
—the world cracked
as porcelain hit the ground.

I once smashed my head
and the scar still lives
with the bathroom memory of a blood shower
pouring forth like raspberry cordial.

Then there were the robins in our shed
—that flittered, that settled to nest—
as we drove away to euthanize the dog.

There’s the giant Ferris wheel
and me atop the world in a carriage to myself.
But why myself?
Mum, dad or someone of age
was surely with me
yet the memory has me on my own
—a grey sky,
a carnival below existing like a thought-dream.

There I am,
a small child atop a monster Ferris wheel,
supposedly alone
though this can’t have been possible.
It’s a fake memory

and a favourite of mine

and it’s telling me something
but I’m unsure what.

The memories of the smashed plate
and bloodied forehead
tell me that things, ideals, perspectives 

but life goes on
in any case.

The memory of our doomed Alsatian
makes sense
with the memory of the nesting robins.

But why am I alone atop that Ferris wheel?
—The grey sky, the carnival below.
Why the false recollection?

I’ve no idea

and feel no need to understand.

Some things make sense regardless.

Thursday 2 August 2018

We've two dogs

We've two dogs.
One is sleek;
off the streets;
a mean face
—a fighter.

The other dog is a dope
—a contented moron.

The fighter always jumps the dope,
ceaselessly pins him down in anger.

A decent dog would quit
but the dope never does.
As the fight goes on,
the fighter loses nerve.

With a dumb, absurd enthusiasm,
the dope comes through
—throws the fighter up against the wall,
panting lovingly
the entire time.

This dubious excuse for a dog
is prophetic
—this embodiment of dumb devotion to life
continues out-brawling
the brawler.

It came like a song in thunder

It came like a song in thunder.
It came like cadence in storm.
It came for it’s always been coming
from when it was brought into form.

It came like a bolt of lightning
upon the peaks of the heart.
I’d not witnessed them reach so high
till I witnessed the wilderness part.

It came like a shot of presence
through sadistic roars of the age.
Love rained down its immortal blaze
to lighten up centre stage.

Wednesday 4 July 2018


Relationships survive,
some say,
on solid ground
where temperaments meet,
where values agree
and there’s balance
between order
and impulse.

they’re simply the
acceptance of a love unable to die.

Sure, we may hope to survive our time together
on the bases of matching traits,

or we can live out
the insanity of love,
come what may.

It’s not like we’ve a choice