Waiting for the bus down the road
from the Freemont Street Experience
is like enacting the first scene from
The Power and the Glory, with Tench
trudging to the port for his ether. You keep
forgetting why you're there, and look
at the sky a lot. Instead of vultures,
overhead are helicopters taking
people to the Grand Canyon –
but they've got as little to do with you.
It's hot, a woman announces. She's
draped in black, and wears a woollen hat
stained around the edges
with copper curls poking out
near her ears. She looks at the
sun, like there's something about it
she can't believe, but also with
resignation – like there's many things in this world
she can't believe.
Damn, it's hot.
past the dark roots of her hair
which is the first layer of hair
under the volumetric licks
that give her head a knobbly
She surveys the others – perhaps
to see if any response will be forthcoming –
perhaps not. When the bus arrives
there's a sheet of cardboard across the money
It's broke, the driver says. Happy Christmas.
He keeps repeating
this, as the passengers heave
their legs up the steps, clutching the
handrails; gripping their sides. A blank-faced
woman is the only swift mover
and she stumbles on
as though something has taken hold of her legs and
is working them for her; an event the rest of her
body can't register. She is marked
with yellow and purple, and holds a bottle –
clunk – against the metal rail of the seat.
The bus stops, and the woman
with the curls prepares to get up;
the movement of the top parts
of her body not producing
any corresponding reaction
in the lower parts, for a certain, delayed,
period of time.
Is this Charleston? a languid voice
from somewhere, enquires.
No. This is Sahara.
The woman with the curls is
easing herself down the stairs at a
Can I get to Charleston, on this bus?
Charleston is back there. It runs
the same way as Sahara.
Oh man, I'm tripping. The response comes,
after a while. The voice tilts
forward; indecision has caused it
to become stuck, at some indeterminate point.
You want to get out here?
Charleston is back there.
You stay on the bus and you're getting
further away from it.
Ride the bus all day if you want.
Ain't nothing to me.
Man, I'm tripping.
The woman with the curls
makes her way across the empty lot. This
empty lot is like no other empty lot
you've seen, because it is all the empty lots
you've seen. Cézanne has been here
and made of it something permanent, like
in the museums. In cream, and red. Barbed wire
like tumbleweed throws
a hump-shaped shadow, a sliced resemblance
of more terra firma. Cracked
concrete. Broken bottles. So
beautiful you want to weep.
- 104: KINwith E Shiosaki 103: AMBLEwith E Gomez and S Gory 102: GAMEwith R Green and J Maxwell 101: NO THEME 10with J Kinsella and J Leanne 100: BROWNFACE with W S Dunn 99: SINGAPOREwith J Ip and A Pang 97 & 98: PROPAGANDAwith 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