Poetry - Volume 3

(September 1987 - March 1988)

(227) Oscars

In the barber shop is a fish tank.
In it are two huge fish: Oscars.

I watched the barber as he fed them.
With live fish. Tiny silver flashes.

I heard him laugh,
as the jaws of the Oscars closed over silver.

And then, still smiling,
he picked up a cut-throat razor,
and walked over to me.

He started to shave me.

And I remembered how he had laughed...

(234) Night Watch

I watch you sleeping after lovemaking.
The electric moonbeam from a streetlight
walks with shimmering caution
over your sweat streaked body.

I lie quietly against your warm skin,
trying to match my breath to yours,
trying to halt the pounding in my head,
trying to slow the spinning in my brain,
trying to let your closeness seduce me
into the slumber I crave...

But the sound of the world turning
keeps me on the surface of sleep.
The rising screams of the newly dead
deny me the depths of dreaming.

So I watch you sleeping until the dawn.
(yes, I know you don't like me to)
but it quiets the restless wolf within
and kills the self-destructive thoughts
that before darkened every sunrise.

And somewhere, deep inside, I know
that one night (perhaps tonight)
I will sleep peacefully beside you
with the tamed wolf at our feet
and the world turning silently.

(219) Think Too Much (Part C)

If I did THIS, would it tickle?
Can you read backwards?
Is there a place in the universe,
where all the lost socks go?
Can I bite your ear?

Is there a finite number of tears?
What is a friend?
If I ever find out who I am,
will I like myself?
Can you play guitar?

Is black a colour?
Did I die yesterday by mistake?
When you look out a window,
can you tell which side is dirty?
Are you a natural blonde?

Do YOU think I think too much?
Is Jim Morrison dead?
Did the Indians at Albuquerque,
really make those trinkets?
Is that a new dress?

What time is it now?
Does a pumpkin feel any pain?
If I said I loved you,
would you pay my parking fine?
Are your eyes blue?

Do you like the sound of waves?
Can I hold your hand?
If I gave you a razor blade,
would you slash my wrists?
Let's make love....

(296) She Lies Between

She lies between midnight and morning,
watching the man she married
sleeping naked and trusting in her embrace.
His familiar closeness
provides a warm security against the night.

She is very fond of him.

She lies between midnight and morning,
thinking of the discreet cafe
where she sipped and smiled across the polished table
at her dark-haired lover...
yesterday afternoon.

She lies between midnight and morning,
watching the man she married;
thinking of the man she loves,
until the blackness melts into grey.

And even in the morning,
she lies between...

(188) Epitaph

I wonder if she wore the red dress
because she liked the colour,
or so the blood wouldn't show...

Anyway, it doesn't matter, does it?

After all, when you saw her in the street every day,
you looked right through her.

Even now,
only these words make her real to you.

So, if I too had died without writing her epitaph,
she would never have existed at all.

Will someone write for you?

(221) Riverside

K: Can you hear the river singing?
R: What?
K: Uh... I forget. Do you?
R: Do I forget?
K: No, do you hear the river singing?
R: Should I?
K: If you listen.
R: You're a strange person.
K: Does that frighten you?
R: Why should it frighten me?
K: Because it's true.
R: Isn't everyone a little strange?
K: Perhaps. But I'm a big strange.
R: It still doesn't frighten me.
K: Then why are you screaming?
R: I'm not...
K: It's just that you can't hear yourself.
R: And you can?
K: I always have.
R: So what do you suggest?
K: We commit suicide. Or we make love. Or both.
R: Right now, I suppose?
K: Uh... here?
R: Now who's frightened?
K: Touché. You win.
R: Let's call it even.
K: Only if you let me kiss you.
R: Here?
K: No... here.
R: You win.

K: And the song is sung softly.
R: What?
K: Does it tickle when I do this?
R: You're strange.
K: Yes.
R: Yes.

(254) Midnight Oil Burnt

You are so secure within your emotional fortress;
never showing any sign of bitter internal conflict;
repelling curious eyes with scorpion sting
and quenching passion with your calm...

And yet,
when you thought you had displeased me,
(as if you ever could),
your strength dissolved and your eyes filled with hot tears...

If you had confessed to me then,
that I alone possessed such power over you,
it would not have been you who surrendered.

(274) One Tiny Fracture

"...oh, I don't know...
finish psycology I suppose...
maybe Europe in August...
another job...
in personell...
anything, away from here...
before it...
     Who the hell is she?
no, leave me alone...
I just..
look, why don't...
I just..

(237) Tambourine Mountain - Christmas

The leather-clad bikies rode in this morning,
and parked their dusty machines
next to the shiny Mercedes
(contrast finds me even in the bush).

Searching for firewood:
he finds a piece,
but she finds a larger piece.
In mute understanding,
they exchange loads..
Out of necessity
or breeding?

Even broken,
a water-pipe can carry some flow..
If the fracture opens the top,
and not the bottom.

The innocent sleep on:
undisturbed in their childish dreams.
The dammed sleep on:
unconcerned about their destination.
somewhere in between:
I try to sleep...

(213) Sunday (Drunk)

Alas, the burden of the poet -
to drink deep of Dionysean nectar.
And surrender:

But with the last breath,
perform the thankless task
of releasing cramped conscious
onto paper:
where it flaunts its freedom,
by remaining

(262) Words Do Not Feel

"Why do you stay?" she asked

Infinite emotions engulfed him
in a spiral of confusion
ending in an empty ache deep in his chest
as the words refused to crystallize in this reality.

"Because I love you..." was all he could say.

(300) Blurred Vision

You watched me walking away,
and didn't call out after me.
Did that make it easy
to lay the blame at my feet?

My dreams and yours never met
under the Singing Ship,
even after I saved you
from drowning.

Not quite friends, not quite lovers,
puts a strain on others.
Separate guest lists and embarrassed silence
desiccates an ocean into barren desert.

And the sand tastes gritty
between clenched teeth.
Flaming tongues accuse,
and repeat pointless arguments.

And always, your tears...

We both walked away without looking back
out of fear for what we might see.
But which of us would have been
turned to the pillar of salt?

Although I did not look back,
I saw your reflection in the window,
already blurring in the city heat.
And now all I remember clearly is that blur

(253) Kilcoy

Kilcoy, 1986.
Saturday, 3am.

After the last microphone lead
had been neatly coiled away,
we stumbled back to our hotel rooms
to drink and eventually to sleep.

The door across from my room was open
and I could see
the old man who called that room his home.

On the dresser
he had laid out all his worldly possessions
in a pathetic little heap.
It looked very sad.

So I closed my door,
but for some reason
I could not sleep.

(295) Burnett Lane

Maniacal meanderings
of Queen Street construction crews
suggest to the fringe dweller
a pedestrian detour through
sun-starved Burnett Lane...

That asphalt-layered
crack between city bee hives;
cluttered with the contrast
of battered delivery trucks
encrusted with road grime
and hairdressers' Porsches
decorated with parking tickets.

Where buildings' backsides
excrete civilised wastes,
and ingest further sustenance
for the fashion-hungry or
food-seeking consumer.

And where, faintly,
the fringe-dweller sees
shadows of immortal memories
forever trapped within
narrow concrete wall waves;
small scenes reenacted
in the myopic lens
of a mind's eye...

Hurrying back
from long, romantic lunches
in the basement of Healthworks;
a winter-wet curse-laden
load-out from Lennons;
quick dashes between
the severed halves of Myers;
a short-cut through the arcade
in search of a bootmaker
to repair her stiletto;
slow solitary Sundays
returning from soul-searching
among the Gallery gods
on the South Bank;
and other, many other,
random journeys to nowhere...

But cancerous architecture
spreads incurable over the city.
Already vultures of progress
cast greedy glances
over the lane.

Soon it will vanish;
but no construction
can entomb the shadowy ghosts
of yesteryear.

(228) And Finally

He was insane of course.
Living on the edge of reality.
Destructive in his selfish intensity,
and always ready to fall.

She was aware, at first,
only of his need for correction.
Extreme in both directions,
and always without purpose.

But eventually,
in her quiet, wise way,
she saw beneath.
where even he had only glimpsed.
And, small and soft,
She slipped gently between his defences.

She ignored the roar of his paper tiger.
Listening instead to his unspoken words.
She rescued dreams he had thrown away,
and hid them safely,
where he could find them again.

She let him run wild,
knowing he was running in a circle.
She let his anger and his childishness
wash over her like a wave.

And finally,
When he had exhausted himself,
she taught him the meaning of love.

He never understood her reasons, but
he loved her with all his fierce intensity.
And also a gentleness
he had not known he possessed.

(246) Leaving

Last night,
he reached out his hand
and gently stroked her warm body
until she was asleep...

This morning,
he pressed his hand against the airport window
and watched her through his fingerprints
until she was out of sight...

(276) Apart

Your clothes hang next to mine
in the too-small wardrobe.
Your books are stacked in the spare room,
along with other memories of your life.

(And that unfinished dress)

I have photographs of you
within reach of my fingertips.
And your records sing to me
from across the empty room.

All these little reminders
are scattered throughout the house,
making my solitary habitation
achingly bittersweet.

(247) Vagabond

How boldly you came to stay...
Even though at first you entered timidly,
there was no hesitation later
to spend the night on my couch.

You settled into my house
with such familiar certainty,
caring little for my privacy;
and less for my feelings...

When you were hungry, I fed you.
Even though our tastes lay in opposite directions.
When you grew bored, I played you music:
Vivaldi, Mozart, Handel,
Morrison, Dylan and Joplin
to your indifferent ears.
While you listened with equal neutrality
to my poetry...

When you were tired, you slept with me
in my lover's absence.
Holding your small body close,
I shared my greatest secrets and deepest fears
in complete trust...

And all through this,
the only gift you offered in return
was your feline company.

(223) Gutsnakes

My entrails are turning into snakes.
Slithering slowly upwards through internal passages.
Soft little reptiles,
the colour of bean curd,
With tiny red eyes,
and hungry mouths.
From the inside out.
Blocking my windpipe.
Filling my mouth with their softness.
Up into my brain.
Always eating.
I can see them behind my eyes.
Hear them in my ears.
Smell them in my nose.
I can taste them.
Like me.
They are finished.

(235) Shaft of Morning

Leave gently my love.
As quietly as you came.
Do not close the door,
leave it ajar...
allowing a thin shaft of morning
to splash onto my face