Drugs and Country Towns

By | 2 February 2001

for Paul Muldoon

The SS Commodore with tinted windows
will make the run to Perth in a few hours,

the stereo flat-tack and the driver pumped up,
hanging out but intoxicated by the prospect

of picking up, the hollowness filled with bravado:
the deal better not fuck up or heads will roll.

A week’s wages and a bunch of mates
who’ve put cash up front — the whole town

speeding off its face and strung out,
they’ll be counting the hours

and tempers will flare, blokes
knocking girlfriends about,

bongs strained and beer on beer drained
to help them get through. The town is growing —

spreading out — out there ploughing,
listening to the call of the tawny frogmouth,

and then a run through the fast-food outlet.
Later, it’s a mate’s place for speed and videos.

Not yet big enough to hide ripe-offs
those with contacts are jacking up the profits —

the chemists, forcing frowns back
as they sell fit-packs and dieting tablets,

are asked to fill city prescriptions.
The older blokes are mumbling

at The Club — “one of them young blokes
shore two hundred the other day

and the next day couldn’t finish a run…”
The cops are getting rough — stripping cars

and raiding farm houses. They
have their chosen ones — the boys

in the footy team, the girls who do favours.
The world grows small fast — the town

moves out to the farms. The drive-ins
have shut down and fast music

comes into the Country Hour
like Armageddon. On a back verandah

a farmhand says to his girlfriend:
“I love you… the sunset is magic”.

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