If you follow me on Twitter, you may know this by now, but for those of you who don’t: I have been writing poems–one a week–for the Melbourne City of Literature office over the course of this month and publishing them on their Facebook page. It’s not been easy writing poetry on demand but it’s been an interesting experience, especially as they are specifically place-based poems reflecting my time in this city. As the last of these poems will be published tomorrow, I thought I’d write a post collating them here.
1. Greasy Wings on Swanston St
a day like a paragraph can be reread
to glean new meaning. it refuses to set
in this city of horses of stamping &
stink the high heat a trenchant
hoof beating slick foreheads in
a slow religious drumming.
this city brags bout its grease
but there is nothing special
to this KFC except the tiny birds
hopping across the floor &
darting into the middled air
there to hang spastic
with need a feathered fist
small as a heart & taloned too.
a hollow-boned martyr
drawn in by the reek of family,
the lure of a struggle ending
in a slop bucket, the bird
refuses to set. like any heart
it fights change, wants no more
than to stay exactly where it is
a perfect present dripping
with ghosts shiny as a teen
dimpled cheek. it’s OK,
this place with its furious beasts,
its past drenching the lips
of every building & crane.
neither of us can read the other.
i leave the bird to its battle,
my own heart echoes.
2. Love on High St
Love it’s an odd thing
to call real estate, but that hasn’t stopped
this agency selling one-bedroom love for $330,000
and a two-bed two-bath family love
for a cool half million. Love is on
the auction block & I’m not bidding
a dollar. I’ve been priced out of love
into lust, a simile for just enough.
Turn onto High St, rough restaurant city
of pawnbrokers, Greek markets & coin
launderettes, there is something
for everyone except the lost.
I think about this when I pass
the Night Café, open each morning.
Fronds of old men curl the edges
playing cards & smoking all day.
You know these men as well:
retired workers sparse on hair
fat on character fingers ribbed
with old country callouses,
smoke branching out nostrils into
fruitless bush. They laugh & speak
night’s liquid language the kind
that keeps you up into a blue dawn
hushed with unknowing I only see
these old fathers in the light,
catching stories in silver nets
of arm hair at night I presume
they let loose what they caught
a day’s work a labour of love
to brighten the measureless black
hanging over so much real estate.
3. Fridays in the Park (or how to make a boy holy)
That’s all four! Hope you’ve enjoyed them xo