confessions are self-serving

Tag: australia


Last listened
in back lanes, dust billowing
in headlights, vest
red goon splatter
kidneys aching, piss sharp needles
automatic gears churning
and moving under 4 ltrs
of metal –
bald tires gurning on the gravel
Joey’s eyes wild
one coiled spring leap
away from the axle

Leo’s last day

-We do the shit, waiting for the sun, bam, easy life – Leo sits on two water kegs – Fuckin’ hell, thirty degrees to the face, it’s hard, ah, putain, wow – Last day on South Beach, he’s been here almost nine weeks, no licence living in a stationary van, Gang Starr plays, stove set on the floor, the most black coffee hits my stomach, nausea slight, Marlborough  smoke expands like time inside, I lie back on towels, t-shirts, sleeping bag pillow, light comes in strong down the right windows, Luc reaches for watermelon brought in from outside, Leo elbows on knees, nods to bass line – I’m going to start doing my shit – To no one in particular, met with silence, a slurp of melon, turns his head and stretches long tanned arms back to rest on driver’s seat headrest.  Past him the woman I saw topless changing with big dog, bumper sticker – Good planets are hard to come by – Middle aged, whistles to the dog baseball cap purple top no bra, Luc jams to trade – they gonna see-ee – soul singer, bass line rolls away, Michael Jackson style, bottlecap graces the floor, though it’s been swept – In my mind-d – Leo sings, grabs a vest, shunts it into his face, inhales, yelps – One year of stink! Papa was a rolling stone! – Head bobbing like a strutting pigeon, flicks a shirt out and a spray of crumbs and scraps of plastic fly everywhere, scatter my journal – Sorry man – Luc hocking up phlegm, spits it onto the tarmac – Words can’t describe the feeling I feel, oh glory, Hove! – French guy I’ve forgotten name of stands outside reading my copy of Dennis Haskell seriously, hands it back some minutes later without comment. Open sour cream crust paperweights smoked salmon, baguette exposed to the air, joint smokes like a thread from a silkworm into the air, track begins – Is someone listening? Okay … – Dirty towel beige, blue, brown innocent dirt streak hangs over bumbag, tooth brush rests outwards like one side spooning lover. Vested man, 30s, backward cap mirrored glasses and trimmed beard looks in, away as he passes on, backs out in big black late model Jeep, Leo returns, stands outside with didgeridoo 30° into van, Luc flips his guitar to back and tap taps the wood with fast fingers, shouts something in French, Leo back, searches for a lighter, lifts some jumper up four inches, barely glances underneath before replacing it, repeats with the next item the same.

1st draft extract #1

I unloaded our little camping stove, which was dented and covered in spatterings of dried tomato sauce and dust, and banged it upside down and placed it right by the front right tyre after standing straight and still for a moment to try and determine exactly where the wind was coming from looking (I hoped) like a very serious meteorologist. I put water to boil in my one good-for-all-jobs pot, which was heavy and good quality and which I had bought for eighteen bucks when I first got to Australia and had that kind of money to throw around.

“Hey man!” I said suddenly looking up from my pot and pointing out to sea, “did anyone just see that? Was that lightning?”. And out to the west was the most strange yet familiar bank of cloud like the type you get over the African savanna, long and low, with the sun deep orange and leaving us, lighting the bottom of the bank in a warm glow. I watched again, and a couple of the others put down the things they were busying themselves with and looked out, and we all stood there silent in the wind that whistled in towards us angrily, and waited for something to happen. Sure enough, and silent as the brooding water below, a gush of lightning dashed downwards, hot and yellow and completely unlike the white-blue lightning I know from back home, and then another strike, and another.

“Putain!” Quebec shouted and immediately took off up the road, pumping his big frame like a piston in an engine, and Luc followed after him, slower and shoeless and cradling a bowl of pasta and sour cream…

Be Like The Fly

I feel frustration bubbling
against the crock-pot of my bones.
All these prize winning poets seem so calm! I exclaim
to the steering wheel, to the dusty dash, to the sagged and barren passenger seat.

When I write I move periods
like dark stones of real weight.
I flick words
from one line
to the next
at random
with the violence
of a middle finger
from under a thumb.

Be like the fly,
my master tells me.
Do you ever see a fly relent?
How many times have you tried to swat
those flies from the banana skin on your lap?

I look down.
Sure enough three flies rub their hands gleefully
on the browning skin.

But what if I’m not fast enough?
I cry.

Feast or be killed,
my master shrugs,

Either way
you’ve won.

December Dreaming

I dreamed a dozen dreams
with my knees brought up
propped against the steering wheel,
my bladder taut, same
as the tiny boy bladder
I nursed under  superman pajamas

Little shorts, true blue
and bent at caramel knee,
my rabbit tucked safe
between forearm and chest,
tight to my rib cage
then brittle as a sconce shell,
and eyes screwed tight
against the expedition
from the warm
opened like a sunflower
underneath  my  rosy worried chin

And how strange it is-
a foreign sea my adult dreams
appear to me visions,
images so clear,
familiar and yet unknown,
like language
pock and twanged
‘cross pots
boiling stock off
goats’ bones-

I watch myself:
head bowed, hands bent
tending seriously
to eggs, broke and scrambling
in their wrought iron run
bespeckled with puck holes
and flaking with rust,
a light perspiration to the brow,
a tight-lipped but set slight smile
overseer to my methodic movements

My dreams are fluid,
adaptable, for
one day through my window pane
(steamed a little in the corners)
a rickshaw rides clattering,
the next
une petite fille bustles her bicycle
through the nettles
that line the ally,
careless in the failing day
to the leaves brushing
her skirt,
deep violet
by fallen blackberries.

‘December Dreaming’ was published over at Crack the Spine – if you liked it, drop them a comment

White Australia

I’m on your sidewalk,
it’s red and bubbling

it’s turning like a spit in the heat

huge bodies of automobiles
are passing me by–


you are Toyota


you are four wheel drive


your tires are heavy
and black like dustbin lids used to be

before they tried to hide the waste
behind gentle toned greens,

back before foot operated lids,
before we tried to divorce ourselves

from what we’d made


every perfect panel
on every perfect pick-up

is a boring yawn born in me


with your volcano fudge sundae

I’m sorry
I’m full
I’m sick to the soul

Portrait of a Teepee



8.41 Sunday morning, Southern Australia.

Inside it is hot and dark. The sun here is like an aggressive drunk. Like the kind that has stayed up all the night and is really proud of himself for doing so. HEY – YOU BEEN SLEEPIN’? HAHA. CORNFLAKES MATE? TRY A SHOT OF VODKA. And here we are. On my back, in a puddle of strewn sleepwear, smelling faintly of dirt and ash. Across from me is Luc. Shoulder length shag of brown hair, uncle eyes peering out of a tan face, and a four month dirt beard which is often filled with food scraps (vanilla wafers and chips (crisps if you’re English) appear to be the most common tenants) and less often with soap. He’s French, and the call for maccas is accented, with a slight intonation as the vibration of the vocal chords disturbs the hangover and the head begins to growl. There is an ongoing rumour that he refuses to brush his teeth (You brush your teeth with that s-? (on discussing floride, Crab and I swallow when we brush in bed) because I am never brushing my teeth. Like, euuu maybe, once every three weeks. I don’t care. (care pronounced keeah)) Crab, who we all know by now, is on the mattress to my right. He begins to cuss and moan without opening his eyes.

Five of us sleep here, on a pentagon of foam mattresses dragged dusty out of storage, clad with itchy faux-wool sheets. My sheet is half off, exposing a sallow mustard underbelly, which reminds me of all the thighs I wish I’d never seen. A box of goon (‘white’ wine, 5 litres) is split, the remainder in the sack spilled sadly onto the wooden foundation. I notice our resident ant, who, like many Australian insects, is unnecessarily large, fighting his way across the six of clubs.

I HATE this S- country

Crab pipes up, grasping at his brow, his fingers porous and thick with sweat and dirt.

No no no Malakaa– 

Danny. Spanish English. A cheeky bastard with a hot tongue, thick moustache and a taste for quality steak, begins his morning routine of denying the existence of the outside world (On weekdays – Time? No, it can’t be. Seriously man? Noo- Okay today I get fired I say okay I say f- that man – Interestingly, when I first met him he made claim of a fine work ethic, which I’m yet to see evidence of – man when I work, I work like a dog, trust me brother). He reaches to his right, knocks over an ash tray, grabs a sandal and launches it across the room. In flight, it smashes over an incense stand before clattering painfully into Thomas’ sleeping face.

Thomas (French, pronounced Tomma)

F- you man

Thomas shall we get brekki at maccas no?

Thomas is the youngest, monkey-esque in frame, wiry, with a stereo-typically French passion for cheese which he continues to consume despite complaints of a dairy intolerance. He also aime le chocolat, and is known, on hearing the rustling of a packet, to emit animalistic chimes (Chocolat? Chocolat?) until fed, at which point he settles back into his pillow with satisfaction and gratitude set deep in his face. Luc, who’s head is practically touching Thomas’ due to the positioning of the mattresses, stares with much gravity at the ceiling while Thomas contemplates the proposition (of course by ceiling I mean the hole where the support poles meet, stuffed in a cursory manner with sheets by a previous owner, in a limp attempt to keep the torrents of tropical rain from washing us all away entirely).

Okay we go

And as quickly as the idea was manifested in the brain of one, it has evolved into the actions of many. Us five, in turn, each stumbling into the harsh light of another day, slap the door flap ‘shut’ behind us, and leave our home to the goodwill of the snakes, spiders and scorpions that roam the grounds, for we have begun our pilgrimage towards a better land. A land of thin brown patties, sugar flavoured water, and golden, crispy fries.


The streets are rivers
which we navigate like short-sighted salmon,
picking an uneasy path, making slow progress-
faces rushing upwards like images in a dream;
Arabic noses, coarse beard hair,
black lipstick, a pulsing bosom
beneath a black top pulled taut,
knee length leather boots, hot salted beef
slurping on brown lips, a catch of hot grease
heavy air, fried meat, potatoes, garlic, caraway,
cardamom, sweet, sickness.
A level cut fringe dark above oriental eyes
so sincere, and prim school kids, flushes of racing green,
navy blues, schools of scuffed shoes, laces, velcro,
dainty fingers fashioning drag-like make-up,
a little arrogance in their numbers,
a little bravado in the boys, eager to prove,
nothing to lose,
an open palm, caramel, approaches,
spare change, spare change, he says
a man sitting on a flattened box in rags,
a simple sign at his feet,
a pathetic collection of coins,
one milky marble in a dark socket,
the other eye downcast, reverent,
as if in prayer.