Running with the Pack

1 August 2016

These lost boys translucent in the radiance
of a torn shop window with its eternal alarm

are ripping the side mirrors from a stationary Audi,
their vandalising hands strong with slowed time:

lizard eaters with tongues of rough leaves
and guts toughened by ingestion of dark meat,

the tintinnabulation of their armour issues glamour
like leakage of mercury from a watch-face.

The gesture clatters to the roadway, a Lenten
abnegation, honoured then unlearned. The child

ensorcelled by bougainvillea suffers pangs
of separation from primal heat. We had barely

discussed his slender maternal memories
when the police took him to Darlinghurst

lockup and beat him badly. He told me:
“They were showing the video of Ice Cream for Crow

when a black arm from Eveleigh Street
reached through the lounge room window

to repossess our television.” A mattress
dense with fleas exposed to early morning

Chippendale traffic, the sunroom strewn with ruby
fragments of smashed flagons suffused

in an ambulance glow. He borrowed money
from everyone he knew in the Trade Union Club

then disappeared forever: someone named
a cat after him. He was discovered later

swinging from the latticed balcony, to be revived
in the greenish pallor of hydroponic lamps.

Their supreme love expressed in meaty fistfights
down the staircase, hammer-threatened walls,

until one night a car skidded on its roof
against the pole outside our front door –

the topless waitress from the pub across the street
brought hot sweet tea in her netted singlet

to the white-haired suspended passengers.
Singed by the traffic slipstream we passed

secure in an insulating cloak of diesel, running
with the pack over six lanes of Parramatta Road.

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John Hawke

About John Hawke


John Hawke teaches in the English Department at Monash University.

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