I’m in these mountains
alone, bar the magpies and my own
stray thoughts. Cigarette burns
are stitched into the wood of my table,
marking the days between each
bad decision; we know their names
better than our own, we wrote them
onto back of poems, placed them
into shoe boxes under our beds, and swore
to never revisit them again.
But we writers seek intimacy
on the inside of another person.
We burn scars into broken bodies,
onto withered desks, alternate
our drinking habits with the hands
of a clock: sunrise, shiraz and
a fistful of prescription pills;
the lips of a stranger
after five pm: ghosts that unlock
our hidden trauma and don’t try
to make us breakfast
in the morning.
This mountain mist
clears my mind. I start the day
with a cigarette and coffee.
I don’t smoke often, but this feels right.
As if you linger in the smoke,
in the taste of tobacco, nicotine,
an early death. There’s a chair outside
this broken window, knocked over
with its legs pointing toward the sky.
I have no desire to pick it up.
I like it better this way: purposeless
and drunk. This is by no means a metaphor
on your life—or my own. Except,
maybe it is. Maybe we’re both looking for someone
to come and pick us up,
make us right again.
As if we can’t do that ourselves.
As if we can.
These grey skies
are the colour of my dreams.
It’s a good day when I can’t see the sun;
when clouds shield my insecurities
so I don’t have to.
My notebook is a blank canvas.
I stub out a deflated dart and think
of rivers, painting self-portraits
in desolated parks. A cool wind picks up,
makes the leaves in the trees vibrate.
I shiver with them and wish
I was home again. These mountains taste
too clean. When the rain starts,
it pools inside the ashtray
to make the perfect shade of ink
for poetry. This isn’t a metaphor
for your life, or my own.
I swear, it’s not. Except,
maybe it is.
- 99: BROWNFACESUBMIT NOW with W S Dunn 98: SINGAPORECOMING SOON with A Pang and J Ip 97: PROPAGANDACOMING SOON with M Breeze and S Groth 96: NO THEME IXwith M Gill and J Thayil 95: EARTHwith M Takolander 94: BAYTwith Z Hashem Beck 93: PEACHwith L Van, G Mouratidis, L Toong 92: NO THEME VIIIwith C Gaskin 91: MONSTERwith N Curnow 90: AFRICAN DIASPORAwith 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