It’s about a bath in an old factory beside a marina
on the outskirts of the everywhere anywhere.
It’s about a concrete underpass and the torque of a small engine. It’s
about the right eye and a radical-pair reunion. Electromagnetic flight
paths of migration. It’s about Number
how it’s a resonant skin that warp wraps the everything anything.
It’s about that night Owen grabs me from the street corner
drags me into the ambulance and drives me hanging his head out
of the window vibrating a storm into the distance. It’s about
that night Owen says It’s Time.
And all the Numbers in that.
His hair stands on end and mine too as I lie in the back
strapped to a gurney. The ambulance has a police scanner
tuned to the frequency of the police talking
about looking for an ambulance so I think maybe this time someone
will find me – but nobody ever does.
Owen’s small like a small boy but strong like a big man.
He’s like the boy I saw that time behind the Cobb & Co. mail stop.
There was this rotten piano beautifully out of tune round the back
and I walked away from it down to a little pathetic stream
and there was this boy there. I asked him what he was doing
and he said he was dragging dead soldiers out of the river.
He was sweating and kind of staggering under their weight.
There was no body but him down there.
Owen is like that boy – a lot like him. And like the other boy
in my art class, the one that painted the picture of the huge wave and
the tiny surfer and a shadow beneath it all. He said
the tiny surfer was him. I said is the shadow a whale? He said
he didn’t know what the shadow was but his cold sores did.
The next week he painted another picture, all in red.
It had a man in it looking through a telescope
and he left a big empty circle
in the sky and said next week I’ll fill that in
so you know what he’s watching. And next week he filled it in
with a naked lady and looking more closely
you could see the red man was wanking.
Owen is like that boy too – a lot like him. Powerful and jittery
like an electric storm coming in over a marina
on the outskirts of the everywhere anywhere
making waves in the everything anything.
After we have driven we come to the factory and the factory
is a lot like the factory I visited once with the performance collective
Shagging Julie. We were going to use it in a show
about Owen but then we didn’t, because we didn’t do the show
because we couldn’t get any money to do it. Owen puts me in a
porcelain bath tub and I keep the bathtub company and he says We
are only lifted briefly from sequence into breath. A disturbance
in the infinite resonance. He repeats this over and over and won’t
shut up so I cannot sleep. Wind currents blast waves in earth’s
magnetic fields. The sea has risen. Owen’s brought in the tide
and with it a whale from out deep, circling in the marina
singing base obliteration.
Owen looks out the window. I’ve got this whale now
but I don’t know what to do with it. Owen always has problems
with motivation. That’s because he is really just a kid
down by the river collecting bodies and a painter
covering canvases in red – Owen has never made any sense
but I just can’t seem to give up on him. He keeps reappearing
14 years now – we’re like some radical-pair, oscillating.
We’re like migratory robins guided by the magnetoreceptors
in our right eyes.
The day is shadow cloud with rain. Street lamps remain on
their hum accompanies the everything anything
a latent harmony crying the whale circling in the storm singing
the sharp edge of vibration. The meagre resistance of skin. In side out
side claw at one another. Owen’s a map on my retina. Desire grinds
against my iris, visionary surface of the mind. I am a break
in a smooth arc of porcelain. I breathe lightly.
The earth is a giant magnet guiding me home.
I’ve called the birds.
His voice. A beacon. A regular pulse in earth’s spherical harmonics.
I think briefly of Number. There is only wOne Owen, but really there
have always been two. Form bleeds through itself. I crawl over the
porcelain rim amidst gravity. The whale finds my resonant frequency
linked by its hum to the steady vibration
of the metal walkway an extension of the building I wade
through shades of atoms down into night. The sky is blistered
by stars. I feel the melody of the spheres as they spin in space aware
of minute fluctuations in tone. He holds the creature
in his arms. The twitch of its talons. The spasm of its beak.
Its frenetic dissolving heart.
I am not a kid anymore.
I know Owen.
He places the bird’s right eye over my right iris. The world’s metallic
frame deviates, photons morph symmetric patterns fluctuate with
magnetosensitive infusion, a radical-pair reunion. Resonant sonic
boom vibrates my key note into waves
of ultraviolet light: 370 to 565 nanometers in length.
The world gets bright yellow, then darkens toward the shade
of nicotine on his fingers clicking in my face.
He’s standing over me. Not a kid anymore – 24 perhaps?
Looks like he’s made of wire and cigarette burns.
Flexing the kind of muscle that comes from missing meals.
He leans back on the pushie he’s motorised
with an old lawn mower engine. We watch others hooning
across the parkland beside the falling down back fences
of falling down houses.
They circle back and fly through the concrete underpass
beside the storm water drain where an alco slips
on a submerged shopping trolley trying to drag something
onto the cement shore. He ends up awkwardly perched
on the wire frame, a small stream laden with chip wrappers
flowing around his shins. He used to sit up on the hill
under the trees watching kids play in the carpark
till the cops moved him on.
As the bikes pass their unmufflered engines vibrate
my ear drums. They hang a finger at Owen and he laughs
yells Still not as fast as mine and then more softly
Gotta get the torque just right. I think about Number. Owen, its all…
Don’t you fucken even. There’s not a mystical bone in his body
that hasn’t been broken. He hates all this radical-pair reunion shit.
Hates that I keep coming back to him
obsessing about the kid he never was.
Anyway I’m off. His mates have stopped beside the bottlo
to wait for him. Late afternoon light refracts off millions
of tiny shards of broken glass on patchy asphalt. Silvereyes
pick at fallen chips and spring rolls looking at each one
with sideways heads. The boys flick bottle caps at them
they rise momentarily then settle again.
You got a 10er? I check my wallet and hand him a 20.
He stuffs it in his pocket and lifts his leg over the bike.
You know it wasn’t even a whale anyway right? He starts his engine
and yells the rest through a cloud of greyblue smoke. It was a shark
and when those bastards come for you there ain’t no singing.
He releases the breaks and takes off.
In the concrete underpass the alco is waving me over.
I ignore him and walk up to a road.
There’s a bus shelter with Troy 4 Stacey 4 Ever
burnt into the perspex with a lighter.
The last bus out leaves at 5.15 and I’ve missed it.
In the distance, on the outskirts of the everywhere anywhere
I can see the factory and walk towards it.
Hopefully the ambulance is still there – it was last time.
- FREE: 20 Poets anthology
- 92: NO THEME VIIISUBMIT to C Gaskin 91: MONSTERwith N Curnow, coming soon! 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 Fiona Hile 82: LANDwith J Stuart and J Gibian 81: NEW CARIBBEANwith Vladimir Lucien 80: NO THEME VIwith Judith Beveridge 57.1: EKPHRASTICwith C Atherton and P Hetherington 57: CONFESSIONwith Keri Glastonbury 56: EXPLODE with Dan 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 Pam Brown 52.0: TOIL with Carol Jenkins 51.1: UMAMI with Luke Davies and Lifted Brow 51.0: TRANSTASMAN with Bonny Cassidy 50.0: NO THEME IV with John Tranter 49.1: A BRITISH / IRISH with M Hall and S Seita 49.0: OBSOLETE with Tracy Ryan 48.1: CANADA with K MacCarter and S Rhodes 48.0: CONSTRAINT with Corey Wakeling 47.0: COLLABORATION with L Armand and H Lambert 46.1: MELBOURNE with Michael Farrell 46.0: NO THEME III with Felicity Plunkett 45.0: SILENCE with Jan Owen 44.0: GONDWANALAND with Derek Motion 43.1: PUMPKIN with Kent MacCarter 43.0: MASQUE with Ann Vickery 42.0: NO THEME II with Gig Ryan 41.1: RATBAGGERY with Duncan Hose 41.0: TRANSPACIFIC with J Rowe and M Nardone 40.1: INDONESIA with Kent MacCarter 40.0: INTERLOCUTOR with Libby Hart 39.1: GIBBERBIRD with Sarah Gory 39.0: JACKPOT! with Sam Wagan Watson 38.0: SYDNEY with Astrid Lorange 37.1: NEBRASKA with Sean Whalen 37.0: NO THEME! with Alan Wearne 36.0: ELECTRONICA with Jill Jones
- Aidan Coleman Reviews New and Selected Poems of Anna Wickham
- Ivy Ireland Reviews Ali Whitelock’s and my heart crumples like a coke can
- Editorial to AFRO AUSTRALIAN
- 4 Works by Guled Abdulwasi
- The Platonic Split
- you have no idea how far i swam
- To the still
- Garden of Grace
- Bloody QnA
- The Physics of Self
- Life Poem
- go ahead, call it magic
- Chalk to Charcoal
- (un) learning
- 3 Sisters
- Blood Fuel
- Raelee Lancaster Reviews Alison Whittaker’s Blakwork
- Alex Creece Reviews Marion May Campbell’s third body
- Ivy Ireland Reviews Steve Armstrong
- Magan Magan Reviews deciBels 3
- Claire Albrecht Reviews Manisha Anjali’s Sugar Kane Woman
- Review Short: Simeon Kronenberg’s Distance