No one checks your ticket. Outside
the train, whales arch across noise
and blue static. Take off
sodden sneakers, socks.
Get comfy. You didn’t bring a book.
Watch your window.
Split lightning flashes /
clouds seeded with bats
over slurred vine / bruised fruit pelts
out the knees of toothpick huts
/ arch from mud. The swelling shore
licks the palace lidded on bamboo / sway.
The train pulls to a stop
to take the tide in, with a few
tired eyes, dripping.
The next town lit up radioactive:
neon on puddle / every store
a corner store, each street one bodega long
/ a maze of corners / each sign a lighthouse
Doors shut on blurry glow
of adjectives. A tunnel.
A man in red embarks and slides
a red umbrella in beside you.
“What’s your blood type?” and you
point to your headphones / shrug / he thinks
you’re pointing to your neck. Nearly miss your stop.
Squelch. Into pavement’s grey inch of water.
Doors slurp — your shoes inside
and gone. Your lover won’t pick up his phone.
Cross the city’s heft / a wet cat / awning
to awning / feet blistered and pruned.
He laughs at the dank surprise of you.
“That’s sweet. But I have company.”
Foyer so white, his teeth glow. Ha. The elevator’s
big mouth. He leads you to a room you’ve never seen.
An aquarium. You’re so tired of water.
In the tank, women float like weeds.
“These / my former loves” / fingertips
on glass: “I wanted / to think them over.”
Fumble in your pocket for the ticket home. Breathe
faster. His teeth again. He leads you to his waterbed, slicks
blonde hair / watches you.
Morning retraces hot steps on stone.
Buy clear gumboots in the market square. Fail to find
a hot breakfast.
At the station, a machine dispenses novels.
Choose one about a child detective. Block
your lover’s number, pick the longer route
home, unblock the number, crack
the book’s spine / crack your own.
The train hurtles over railed ocean, past
disused amusement rides hoisted on
old sailing ships / a city of pirate rigs in rags
/ rollercoasters link decks / Ferris Wheels spin
listless off of masts.
In the sky, no movement.
- 96: NO THEME IXSUBMIT NOW with M Gill and J Thayil 95: EARTHCOMING SOON with M Takolaner 94: BAYTwith Z Hashem Beck 93: PEACHwith L Van, G Mouratidis, L Toong 92: NO THEME VIIIwith C Gaskin 91: MONSTERwith N Curnow 90: AFRO AUSTRALIANwith S Umar 89: DOMESTICwith N Harkin 88: TRANSQUEERwith S Barnes and Q Eades 87: DIFFICULTwith O Schwartz & H Isemonger 86: NO THEME VIIwith L Gorton 85: PHILIPPINESwith Mookie L and S Lua 84: SUBURBIAwith L Brown and N O'Reilly 83: MATHEMATICSwith F Hile 82: LANDwith J Stuart and J Gibian 81: NEW CARIBBEANwith V Lucien 80: NO THEME VIwith J Beveridge 57.1: EKPHRASTICwith C Atherton and P Hetherington 57: CONFESSIONwith K Glastonbury 56: EXPLODE with D Disney 55.1: DALIT / INDIGENOUSwith M Chakraborty and K MacCarter 55: FUTURE MACHINES with Bella Li 54: NO THEME V with F Wright and O Sakr 53.0: THE END with P Brown 52.0: TOIL with C Jenkins 51.1: UMAMI with L Davies and Lifted Brow 51.0: TRANSTASMAN with B Cassidy 50.0: NO THEME IV with J Tranter 49.1: A BRITISH / IRISH with M Hall and S Seita 49.0: OBSOLETE with T Ryan 48.1: CANADA with K MacCarter and S Rhodes 48.0: CONSTRAINT with C Wakeling 47.0: COLLABORATION with L Armand and H Lambert 46.1: MELBOURNE with M Farrell 46.0: NO THEME III with F Plunkett 45.0: SILENCE with J Owen 44.0: GONDWANALAND with D Motion 43.1: PUMPKIN with K MacCarter 43.0: MASQUE with A Vickery 42.0: NO THEME II with G Ryan 41.1: RATBAGGERY with D Hose 41.0: TRANSPACIFIC with J Rowe and M Nardone 40.1: INDONESIA with K MacCarter 40.0: INTERLOCUTOR with L Hart 39.1: GIBBERBIRD with S Gory 39.0: JACKPOT! with S Wagan Watson 38.0: SYDNEY with A Lorange 37.1: NEBRASKA with S Whalen 37.0: NO THEME! with A Wearne 36.0: ELECTRONICA with J Jones