My father was insatiable salt, pickled
against his maimed leg and mislaid love
with litres of cheap whisky, smoked
joint after joint until the cabin was a cave
and there he squatted by the fire
trying to make sense of shadows.
He was man out of time, could have been
a great victor—dragged his mauled corporeality from the fray of horse
and mud and sword into the heroic—now only ridiculous
in the mirror, a limping giant left smashed
by the roadside while history sped off
without a backward glance.
Still, he had his man-out-of-time personality:
stalked the dark depths of himself
like a ferocious deep sea fish, baited
women with his charm, the glittering dangled light
drew them through black water, through the maw
of his misery, past the laced tongue
of his anger until they were in too deep —
Snap! Off with their heads!
Snap! Off with mine!
It grew back so many times I was
a cat with nine lives balanced on the wave-beaten gunwale
as we fled and fled and fled
from his father his mother his happy-faced family
in the clench-shouldered house in Highgate and that wild spring
heath of the Sixties he strode as my mother’s lover
and how that brief lucid spring
ended one morning in a helmet viscous with blood
ended one morning with this,
our endless wandering in the cave of love.
- 96: NO THEME IXSUBMIT NOW with M Gill and J Thayil 95: EARTHCOMING SOON with M Takolaner 94: BAYTCOMING SOON with 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