A life ended in Bower Road

The room is cold,

Shadows hide like devils.

Ben has died and lies in his lounge chair with the television playing still.

 When he was a child, he spent one summertime building a billy-cart

And racing it down the hill against his brother

Who didn’t fear the slope

But could not build as well.

 Once a man working for his father

Hanged himself in the shed.

Ben found him in the morning.

The man was well dressed, clean,

But his head was crooked at a strange angle

And a queer look of death pulled at his relaxed face.

Ben never forgot.

 The room is quiet in death,

Paid bills sit in a pile,

Unpaid are clipped to the refrigerator door.

 When Bill married

He cried on his wedding day

And turned his face from his bride, who smiled and touched his face

So gently, so kindly, the world took a breath. A kindness between two people

So gently expressed

And Bill never forgot her kind touch.

 In the kitchen, a chocolate Ben had saved sits still on the bench.

He will never enjoy it now.


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On Smith Street and Nagle Lane.


 Outside the supermarket

A man surrounded by fat, heaving along his belly.

Is squatting on a chrome bench

Sucking hard on a cigarette.

He looks a cool breeze away from a heart attack.

On the same road

A young woman as beautiful as summer rain

Stands by a fast food restaurant looking lost.

Her eyes are wide and gentle,

She has all the innocence and none of the hardness

too many people in this place carry in them.

Around her are cold people, angry at life. People whom lovers have fooled

Life has lied to them, broken their dreams like old sticks

This woman is no reflection of these others,

I watch her walk along the street

And feel ashamed to follow her with my eyes.

She passes near the fat man

He drops his cigarette

And leans forward, like a boulder soon to drop

And says something I am not able to hear.

Her face changes, something horrid has been spoken,

She steps away; he is laughing now.

 The flower has been stepped on.

How long will it be before she is changed forever?

The world crushes what it falls upon.

That Queen, The Moon.

She started to stay away,

That beautiful woman,

And she didn’t share with me those sweet secrets she used to,

So the terrible feeling crept in like winter wind under the door.

I set out to a friend’s farm to keep away for a while.

I would lay awake in the morning, watching the sun arrive

Pressing against my open window, putting a foot inside warming what he touched.

Early, early, I would set out across the dew-wet grass,

toward the mountains, toward the pine forests.

Even as the sun rose, the moon still sat in the sky,

Like a queen, not moving, not being told to leave,

But pleased herself to walk in night dripping with diamonds

And to stay in the day, watching over that fool, the sun.

Slowly she would leave, unhurried, in her own time

To sleep in her private chambers over the hills.

In the forests, I could breathe, rest alone and witness the forest animals,

Like spirits

Dancing across the fallen logs and up the sides of ancient trees.

I listened to the silent streams and watched for fish.

I knew that without her life continued,

And no one is irreplaceable. 

Except for the moon, the moon alone is unique.

A childhood love


I stood knee deep in the water

Looking at the brown body half submerged before me.

Its skin like dry paper

Or the skin of a well-cooked chicken.

I watched fascinated by the death,

The water playfully lapping about it

While I felt terrified to be near it.

‘Not so near, not so near,’

I whispered to myself.

The river had the brown colour of chocolate and the smell

Was of swamp, fish and now death.

My shorts were wet; I was not supposed to be swimming

But the temperature of the day increased

Until the river sand burned my feet and I needed to stand in the cool of the water.

The strong current, the smooth stones under my feet made me feel so good.

The animal’s horns were white and clean, the only things, apart from its teeth

That were not rotting, falling away. A part of its rib cage poked through its hide

The cow must have come from a farm nearby, or perhaps a farmer had dumped it.

None the less I was frozen, knee deep and fascinated.

Someone from the bank called my name, a woman,

I turned and saw her coming over the sand toward me,

Her yells, high and forceful.

She was not from here; she came to this town to study

My parents paid her to take care of me.

I wanted her in the water with me,

I wanted her confronted with this death and this life.

I was only young, but I was fascinated by her,

She would let me watch her dry her hair after the shower.

I would sit quietly, watching her face,

That gentle smile, the movement of her eyes as they flashed behind her blown hair

That soft brown blown hair that danced like fires on the sun.

She stood by the river, not screaming, just speaking to me

Asking me if I were to swim.

So kindly, so gently.

She had shown me pictures of her time in Africa

She had shown me pictures of her boyfriend.

His dark black skin shone like precious stones, his smile

His confident look, challenging the camera.

He had been run over by a truck

She told me

They had been together on the street and he had stepped out

She saw him

Pushed along the ground as a boot would do to a banana.

She had held me to her as she told the story

I hugged her and listened to her heartbeat

She smelled of honey and spice

‘What is that there?” she asked

We both stood in the heat, the sound of the river like a crowd’s murmur

And pondered the mystery of this death.


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Lines written in the Dome Reading Room

Glory in the architecture

Splendour in the light

A book, pages open

A love, a journey, a fight.


The king is victorious

He is returning home

To his castle on the hill

Under the golden dome


I wish I were as lucky,

But I have no one to love

A pocket full of wheat

And a cooing turtle dove.


Around me centuries of books. Collected and stuffed into shelves

To be looked at and photographed by tourists.

Young women sit by their computers falling asleep,

They must study because their education is costing more money than their grandfathers ever knew.

The sun shines in through the dome; the light falls on the marble

Where etched are the words

“Glory in the architecture

 Splendour in the light.”

I sit in a timber chair and lean backwards, the chair moans

The sound echoes around the library.

I watch the nearest woman over her computer

Her black hair shines as it presses behinds her ears

I think of silk and the smell of vegetables, the names of which I have never heard.

It has been eighteen years

A lifetime for some

Yet it feels like weeks only,

That meal you made me was delicious

I ate too much and felt sick.

What I wouldn’t give to have one more night with you,

Your black hair shone like dreams,

Dreams fade.

Letters (Fiction writing practice)

For an exercise a few months ago I began writing letters to a fictional person named Grace. They were from the point of view of a lonely person writing to another, a woman perhaps the sender loved but never heard from. Below are the letters I wrote in that exercise.

Dear Grace,
I spent all night listening to late 70s early 80s music.

There were a bunch of people outside my house just hanging about in the street and I could not stand listening to them anymore so I put the music on. I love to lay in the dark and listen to music.

I have been thinking about going overseas but I don’t know where I want to go. Maybe Italy. I would like to have a job where I am paid to travel but I suppose everyone wants that. It is funny when people say that they are sick of going overseas for work, but I suppose that happens. If you do something all the time it can become annoying. I have heard that about all jobs- people in books stores, for example, start to hate books and most of them start because they love reading. That is my idea of hell, taking something you love and being made to hate it.

I think hell would be full of demons driven mad through the destruction of their love.

Please write me back soon,


Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Dear Grace,
I decided to paint a picture of my own. I wanted to paint a forest. I had nothing to paint with so yesterday at lunch I went to the art store down on the freeway and I bought the cheapest oil paints, canvas and brushes I could find, but they were still very expensive. The girl behind the counter assured me they were of the highest quality but I have since found out from Russell (the guy who works in the cubicle behind me) that you can buy all the art supplies you need from the two dollar shop. At any rate I’ll have good quality paints and brushes to work with. Last night I started to paint, trying to capture the image I had in my head. I used three shades of green and mixed in a lot of white and yellow but nothing came out looking right. How do you put leaves on a tree? I don’t want to try and paint each leaf individually and when I just colour the tree green they look like big green blobs.

I called work this morning and told them I’d be late and tried to do some more painting but it does not look good. I don’t think I have the knack for painting. I do not have the patience or the skill. I may take up photography. If you want all the supplies I bought you are welcome to them. I can drop them over to you if you want them. They are no good to me and I dropped magenta all over the carpet and it’s as good as ruined now.

I’ll go down to the hardware shop tonight and see if I can get some paint remover and maybe get it out before they inspect my apartment. Do you have any idea about removing paint?
My God I dread going down there. I remember the people at that hardware shop are as good as useless. They would rather chat to each other up the plumbing section than help someone. But I’ll have to go and get something, the paint has gone deep into the loop. (or is it weave?) Any way it’s gone into the carpet a good way.

Love David

Monday, 11 August 2014

Dear Grace,

Last night I was sitting at the laundromat and I saw two women on the street outside fighting over an umbrella. It had only started to rain and only lightly. The small woman with the umbrella was minding her own business and was just attacked by a larger woman who stole it from her.
Should I have done something? I was across the street and it just seemed so weird- like it wasn’t really happening.

I lost my sunglasses and my good pen. I had them both in my pocket and they must have fallen out either on the train or in the park. I went back and search for them but I couldn’t find them. It was my good pen too, the one my dad gave me before he went away.

I find myself sitting down by the harbour a lot these days, watching the ships come in and out and waiting for the sun to go down and the city lights to come on. I saw a band practicing and it made me sad.

The kittens are fine. They all say hello.

If you want to come over to dinner on Wednesday just let me know.
Love David

PS I just read a book, The Plague by Camus. I think you should read it. I love Kafka, Camus, Orwell. I hope you do too

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Dear Grace,
Have you ever been to the park across from the art gallery where your work is hanging? It’s a really nice park. It’s huge and runs right from the gallery to the harbour.
I have been going to that park since I was a little kid. It is the best place to sit and think and be alone.
I used to skip school and go down there and hide out in the botanic gardens with the amazing rainforest trees. No one can find you if you crawl up into a Morton Bay Fig. They are like huge houses with many rooms.
Once I skipped school and I was down in the park and this old man came up to me. He sat down near me and we started to talk. I was very nervous and I didn’t like him.
He asked me if I had a sweetheart and I said no, he said ‘Of course you do, all boys have sweethearts, there must be someone you like.’ I did not get a chance to respond, he just kept talking, ‘A little girl with blonde hair and soft little hands. Big eyes that gleam and a little nose. A little girl who likes dresses and giggles behind her precious hands.’ Then he stood up, excused himself for a moment and then went deeper into the trees. I think he started to masturbate. I did not understand at the time but I knew something was wrong. I did not watch him, I was so afraid I froze. When he came back he was red faced and short of breath. A complete change came over him. He started to ask me what I was doing in the park at this time of the day and if I didn’t like school I should go and get a job because the world loathes a bludger. Then he said that all boys should be whipped. He said “Don’t you think all boys should be whipped? To clean the bad thoughts out of their heads?”
I agreed and then said I had to go and I ran off towards the city. I was afraid he was going to follow me, he didn’t.
It was the worse thing that had happened to me in that park.

The kittens and Mixy are going fine. Last night she almost attacked me so I do not interfere with them anymore. I will wait until they are a bit older.

Love David.

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Dear Grace,

The cat I bought from your mother gave birth to kittens today.
I do not know how she became pregnant – well i know how of course-. I have been letting her out to go for a walk and a few months ago she was acting strangely and meowing a lot, so I suppose she met someone and became pregnant. She is hiding in the kitchen now with the kittens. I have no idea what to do, so if you could come over and give me a hand I would appreciate it.

I saw your painting in the local art gallery today. It is very good. A man standing beside me said the woman had strange hands, he said they were too small, but I told him he had a strange head that was too big and he walked away utterly destroyed. I am thinking about going back tomorrow to see it again and defending it if need be. (Although it is a wonderful picture not needing to be defended. I would be surprised if it did not win an award.)

I have been googling how to look after kittens all afternoon but it is hard to find out what I should do for the kittens themselves. I see it says about providing food and water for the mother but nothing for the kittens. I shall see if they need anything tomorrow and just let it flow naturally. Maybe they would like some grass from the garden or something. I don’t know.

Don’t forget that if you need an ironing board in your new apartment, I can go with you to help you get it.

Love David

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Letters to Grace: Catching the Train

Dear Grace,
The last time I caught a train in the city, a homeless man (well I assume he was a homeless man – he might have had a very nice home but just became very dirty, drunk and angry after a bad day out) came up and screamed in my ear.
It hurt and as I tried to get as far from him as I could I wondered why I even tried to go outside.
Anyhow, not having a car handy I had two back packs with me. I was going to the supermarket to pick up a weeks worth of groceries. I would fill both the pack packs with food, wear one on my back and one on my front, appearing as I imagined like a mutant turtle or a mentally deficient maniac. It was a big day out.

I remembered while I was walking up the two thousands steps in the Shopping Centre because the elevator stinks like painful onions, that you live near me and I was wondering… where do you do your shopping? BECAUSE I could totally go for borrowing a ride with you to the shops and we could do our shopping together. How much fun would that be?
I would in return put some money in for fuel.
It could be our weekly adventure.

Last shopping day I think I injured my back with my heavy load and I knocked a granny over as I came up out of the train station. Not cool at all.
Let me know what you think.

Love David.

Writers group

I went to a writers meeting last night. I am starting to hate writers meetings.

The meeting room was beautifully decorated, lights hung about the walls and ceiling, art work was displayed  and there was wine and food. There was a flu moon and a heavy, greasy smell of the slaughterhouse which is across the valley from the university.

Last night’s focus was on emerging writers and three writers had been picked to read from their published work and then the microphone was thrown open to people to come up and read something of their own.

The three emerging writers that were speaking are very nice young people with very promising futures and very happy outlooks. The problem I had however (and I may have a chip on my shoulder in general) was that they had a lot of confidence. They were able to speak well in front of the crowd, they were funny, engaging and gave across the feeling that they were assured of greatness in the next few years. I hate that.

I like the writers who are wracked with uncertainty, self-doubt and insecurities. I like the angry writers the lost people, the people with a problem who turn to writing to sort these things out.

The emerging writers had written books on various but similar topics. One had written about his time cycling across Mongolia, (something I think is incredible) and another had written a collection of short stories about Cambodia.

They were crowd favorites.

But the work, (what I heard of it) was plain, boring and not great. I did not like it, it was ordinary writing. But they were so confident it was sickening.

It was a great night however and these people gave up their time to come to the group and it was wonderful. I met a nice person at the end of the night who I spoke with and she is becoming an english teacher. You always meet the nicest people at writers groups.


Crying in the Book Store

When I go into my local book store, I spend a lot of time looking at what is new on the shelves. I pick up new books and I study the covers, I feel the books in my hand for several seconds (especially if the covers have indents or raised design) and then I read the first paragraph and then a paragraph at a random page.

Very often new books disappoint me, I read yesterday a book that said about a prisoner of the Japanese in World War Two: “He put on his only clothes, a dirty hat and a cock rag that he wore like a g-string that barely covered his cock.” It was a reputable release that had won a major award. It’s not just the language, I love words and I enjoy swearing if used correctly, it was the fact that the author was not creating magic he just seemed to be producing words.

I then spend a long time in the classics section. The classics section makes me cry. I actually stand in the book store with tears in my eyes, because the books there are so good and I know that I will never be as good as those authors who have gone before.

I stand in the store crying quietly. The staff look at me, the security cameras turn in my direction and other customers get away from me but it makes me feel so good and so happy even though I am not worth a fraction of Charles Dickens or John Steinbeck.

They are giants whose books made my childhood and adult life much better than they would have been without them.