Month: July 2015

Arriving home

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Her bed huge and curtained
reminded me of medieval furniture.
I pulled it back one day and found her engaged
with a man, their hips pressed hard,
their arms and legs entwined like something horrid that lives at the bottom of a great ocean
the looks on their faces, surprised, amazed, she looked one way, he another,
One hand clutching the top of his head
I should have known not to pull the curtain back
but I thought they were out
I noticed a moment later
their clothes spread about the floor, the sheets and blankets tossed about
a table knocked over in passion.
Did I think I would find a thief?
Too late to put the curtain back now
the moment happened and could not be changed.

This same thing,
but different,
happened to a friend of mine
he was the husband and
He came home from work
and found them, coupled, engaged, shunting.
He was hard muscled from his work in the steel industry
but lame and one leg shorter than the other.
She was the most beautiful of women
and the other,
the lover, no stranger
was a soldier.
In his rage, my friend tore a curtain from the window
and threw it across them like some net.
Catching them mid thrust.

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Trying to photograph the city

I have seen life and death,
life comes in with blood and fury
death goes out with bloat and stink
both are related as rain is to mud.

I had a friend die on a cold winter’s day
he fell in front of the heater
and was there three days before I found him
growing purple and too large for his clothes.

I have seen a child come into the world purple
having her throat choked by the chord that gives life.
There is a thrill in being alive
in seeing the clouds in the sky.

I worked a while milling timber
I felt the sharp cold kiss of the saw
I cut the tops of my fingers off, it was like a little death.
They grew back, it was a miracle.

I still have the scars and when I type
each dull thud of my finger
sends a numb vibration straight to the brain
I was cutting wood, I forgot to fear the blade.

The streets of my town look different when photographed
you can be fooled by large buildings and narrow roads.
A driver stopped her car and punched me in the face
one evening when I was looking for art deco buildings.

she called the police, ten came in a group
they stood around ignoring me
detached but threatening
yellow skies glinted off the windows, I missed a great photo.

In my garden

I watch her take up her spot in my garden every morning
she takes out her laptop
and spends hours writing,
in all weather except rain
she is there.
When the sun is high at noon
she puts her computer back in a small blue bag
takes up a position in the shade
and begins to read.
She has a disabled son
who spends the time romping by the flower garden
or standing by the pond
I fear one day he will fall in and drown
so I watch him closely.
But it is his mother who interests me
her dreams of being a writer
her beautiful face and golden hair.
Her son comes in at lunch time and I have a meal prepared for him
His mother never comes in
the boy watches television
and then at three
she says good bye
leaving me to my silent library,
and my lonely manuscripts.

Three crimes that occurred tonight

He took the baby by the legs

and smashed its head upon the ground

dashing its brains and teeth on the floor.

The baby’s mother

rushed the man and clawed his face

dragging her nails down his skin

and creating rivers of blood

she pushed her claws into his eyes and blinded him.

He knocked her down

and sightlessly moved about the room

knocking down a table and lamp

and treading on the lifeless body

of the tiny baby.

The moon was a razor of light

cutting into the darkness

on the street a failed artist

high on some manufactured drug

grown in the sink of a rotten bathroom

takes a knife to the throat of a tourist

and while screaming for money

slices the throat of the young woman

taking her head away from her body.

A driver of a red car

enraged by the slowness of the pedestrian

driven to a rage

slams his car into the bodies

spraying the people into the chain link fence

that surrounded an empty carpark.

The car jerked horribly as it passed over one of the people

the driver, teeth gritted and certain

that his anger is pure

drives off into the dark streets

leaving behind a headlight and a side mirror.

The suicide

The phone rang on Tom’s desk. He sat there in front of his computer and let it go on for a long time. The sound cut into him, the persistent tune repeating and repeating.

“Hello?” he said picking it up.

“Tom? This is Mike. Can you head out to 12 Kitchener Road, we have had a report of a man hanged from a tree up on the hill.”
“A suicide?”
“Yes it looks that way. He’s a young man by the name of Simon McDouglas. Local school teacher, twenty-eight years old.”

“Shit, Okay.”

Tom took the car out, making sure his camera was in the locked box in the trunk. He drove out slowly, not wanting to go to the job. Kitchener Road is a steep road that winds up into the hills. Tom had been there six months ago, another suicide, a fifteen year old boy hanged himself from the rafters in a back shed. The town’s people called it suicide hill. Tom slowed his car when he neared the top of the road. There was an ambulance and a police car, four men stood about in the darkness. Something large was in the branches of the tree.

Tom climbed out of his car slowly. The men all turned and watched him. He took a camera from his car and hung it around his neck.

“No photos okay Tom” an old grey haired cop said. “It wouldn’t be right.”
“No, okay,” Tom replied.

“What happened?”
“Young school teacher, only been in town for six months, hanged himself. A man walking his dog found him in the tree.”
Tom looked at the body, the face was twisted in the agony of choking. His eyes bulged. You could tell he was a young man, a little overweight. Tom knew him, he had been a nice guy, there was some talk of misconduct at school.

“Why haven’t you cut him down?”

No one spoke.

“He’s been dead for hours,” an ambulance driver said finally.

“Still, can’t you get him down?”
“The detective wants to see him,” the cop said. “Then we’ll get him down.”
Tom moved away and began to cough. The late night air hurt his lungs, something inside of him wanted to come out, he had to work hard to stop from vomiting.

The old street

In the evening when the sun is low and casting the pink of days end into the sky

when the lights first come on in the street

and the lights seem bright and warm with welcome

You think how pretty everything looks bathed in the light

what a change it is after a bright day.

You walk quickly down to buy a drink

before the stores close

and you see the day go and the dark settle in comfortably.

Where are the people you thought would always be your friends?

They are a long way away, working, settling down with their families

you are still in the old neighborhood

but you know everything and where it all goes

you were happy for the first years, slowly it’s changed

now, it feels a little small, sometimes as you fall asleep

you fell the depression of everything being the same and unchanging.

You think about your job and it starts to seem boring and what will you do

in ten years time if it is all the same?

But right now

as you walk down your street

to buy a drink

and the sun is glinting the last minutes off the top of the buildings

the streets are dark

you remember when you were seventeen and every night was love

every night was fun and lights, and you remember the first time your hand explored her waist

you can still feel how soft and warm she was, just like the night

when you were seventeen.

Put the dollar across the counter and pick up the orange drink

let the cool glass fill your hand and thank old man Raheed

(he’s been working there a long time too)

and smile, walk back into the street and listen to the music as it comes down from the second floor

of the old cafe. Above the dark blue sky

fills with stars.

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My debut novel, The Bomber, is out now. GO and have a look and maybe buy a copy.

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The protests kill Simon

The protesters moved down the street, pinned on each side by police and police barricades. Simon stood by the Capitol waiting for them to pass but they stopped and began to chant and crowd about the building. This is where they were going to stop and Simon cursed them. All he wanted was to move from the building to the offices across the road so he could finish his work and go home.

Simon put his hand in his pocket and made sure he had his keys. They weren’t there. He could not remember where he put them.

“You…” a policeman said coming up the stairs toward him. “Do you work in there?”

“Yes,” Simon answered without thinking.

“You had better get back inside, these protests are becoming ugly. They’re looking to attack people like you.”
“Like me?”
“People who work in this building.”
‘I have to get across the street”
“You can’t, not at the moment. Look how many protesters there are.”
Simon looked out from the steps at the thousands of people on the street. Some of them were wearing masks and they looked scary.

The sun was hot and heavy in the western sky. Some one threw a bottle and it smashed on the stairs near the front entrance. Simon did not even move, it was as if this wasn’t real.

Simon turned and went back up the stairs to go inside but the doors had been closed and locked, the heavy metal doors that they use only after hours were also shut so that none of the glass could be broken. Now a mild form of panic crept into his mind. People were looking up at him, some of them were screaming abuse. A line of police formed on the steps, the crowds pushed against them. Simon turned and went down toward them. He came up close to them and he could hear the things they were saying. They were calling him a pig and a capitalist bastards.

“No, I won’t have that!” Simon screamed and lurched forward grabbing one of the protestors masks, he tore it lose. A young blond man stared back at him, the man’s face was twisted into hate. The crowd broke through the police line, four or five police officers fell over and the crowd surged forward trampling the police. They grabbed ahold of Simon and pulled him back into the massive crowd like an ocean dragging him down.

Fists and feet flew all about him, he could feel the wounds they were making, the injuries, the wet warm blood that came from his cool numb wounds.

“Good,” Simon thought, “I’m glad they hate me.” His last thoughts melted into the place sleep of a dying man.

Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman and Ghostbusters

A few years ago I named my pet goldfish Atticus. I grew up reading ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ and I thought that my pet goldfish was like the fictional character, a strong individual who stood up for what he believed in. After hearing that Atticus is now a racist I had to flush that bastard.*

Atticus Finch is revisited in the new release from Harper Lee. In Go Set a watch, man, (I left the space on purpose because I like the title when said in a hippy voice, man) Atticus or so I’ve heard, becomes a raving lunatic who engages in racism, immoral acts and other lewd behavior of a 72 year old.

People say oh no! this will ruin my life, or they say great! it shows he is a human with flaws and decaying brain cells. But I say, gently, it is neither. It is fiction.

Once upon a time and a very good time it was, there was a decade called the 1980s. Early in that decade, after filling myself on Jaws, ET and Star Wars, along came a movie call the Ghostbusters. It was everything I dreamed of as a young boy. Ghosts, ghost zapping guns, giant marshmallow men. I bought the dolls (i mean action figures), the toy gun, the t-shirt. I made a real big deal out of it. To me the ghostbusters was an amazing work of art, a work of genius, one of America’s classics. I wanted to change my name to Egon, I wanted to work in the ghost busting industry, I wanted to sneak down into the library’s cellar to be attacked by librarian ghosts. I was certain that nothing would ever ruin this amazing time of love.

Then years later came Ghostbusters 2.

I was interested. I bought tickets. The early scene in the court room was excellent, the movie was barely OK, the statue of liberty moving about seemed stupid. I came to realize that it is not the characters in the movie, it is the experience the movie brings to your life. Who did you see the movie with? How happy did it make you? Did you receive joy? Basing your life on what some writer or actor creates is not the best way to live. You’re putting so much into a strangers hands. If you liked something they did, then be happy for that, if they teach the world something important, then reward them with your money but don’t start saying that they’ve ruined your life. You shouldn’t be putting your life in their hands.

Ghostbusters was not ruined by Ghostbusters 2. I will always have Summer of ’84, I will always have the ghostbuster song.

If you tried to live your life like Atticus from TKAMB, then great, because he is such a great example to follow. You have probably done very well in life. If you tried to be like Bill Murray even better.

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* I never flushed the bastard.

Running fast asleep

The rain had soaked the field

the grass was green but deceptive

one foot on the earth out there

and you would sink in

three, four inches

into mud

and water that rushes forward to fill your short boot.

She winked at me on the door step

or I thought she did

it may have been the low sun that flashed through the window

my eyes fall down her body

right down to her legs, thin and shapely

I imagine her breasts

firm and pointed under her purple shirt.

There is nothing to do on the afternoon

after the interview, the conference and talking to the booksellers.

So I take a walk through the city

this isn’t the city

everyone talks about

it’s a city that is hardly ever mentioned

except when the football team does well

or there’s a riot.

I wander the back lanes that look like the lanes in my home town

I see the different way they put up street signs.

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I’ll be on the radio, Local ABC tomorrow morning at 9.45 Australian eastern time. If you can, listen in and hear me speak about my debut novel The Bomber.

http://www.abc.net.au/riverina