‘Mother me, sunlight’. Fashionable mantras
pass the time from one damp hand to the other,
anesthetizing the old embarrassments I am
writing you in order to water down.
The hotelier has me make up the rooms,
tart up the palms with tinsel, insert bin liners
in the hollowed tree trunks, sift shells
and rake sand. The service is bare bones.
The guests are festive, not bothering to save
the paper for next year. To flatten and fold it
is too hard a job, post hubbub. It’s over
pretty quick. Each retreats to fiddle with gifts,
leaving on the pretext of a minor lie,
a counterfeit coin come to bear.
to prefer the company of statues.
Hairy stretches of Highway 1 ooze
through me at inopportune junctures —
the way, after driving all day, one drives
in dreams. Your mind drops you off
and drives on. You hold it against me,
but I can hold it, this wheel-like flotation
device, ring of fear. This is the third beard.
Clearly, I lack the moustache.
Becalmed by cutlery snug in their serviettes,
I rise before the guests to swim laps of the legume-
shaped pool. I make up the rooms, fold the edges
of towels to resemble flowers, and garnish with actual petals.
As I write, scaly patterns ripple the pool, filling me
with a pride that is undermined by an image
of your ankle pivoting to reach a kick serve,
effort and innocence visible in a ligament.
The scales turn and you are frozen there
forever. Vulnerable, the word is a mouthful.
The surprise sound of ball against fence.
A winner, down break point, I put down
the pen to pour tiny piles of sugar crystals on
diminutive saucers, anointing each one,
Mt Sweet, High Peak, and see the ladder-rail
from the pool is a pair of italicized R’s,
stars of light knifing their spines. And the past,
we must let it run around exhausting itself.
It’ll sleep better tonight, and fall from us
The future is mute,
a belligerent ventriloquist’s doll.
Its lips begin to move,
quite dryly, struggling to part.
- 96: NO THEME IXSUBMIT NOW with M Gill and J Thayil 95: EARTHCOMING SOON with M Takolaner 94: BAYTwith 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