My well planned salvation

They shot one boy, tough with need
a bloody hole clear through his hopes.

From the train, factories and foundries
rusted angles, raw paths I know well.
Clouds sprawl across the sky
stimulating my stalled imagination

my past giving off an ashen light.
No more lying curled and still
waiting for the slamming of heavy doors.
I shall pay attention, feed my brain
so death will not gain on me
as I read my way into the future.
When I look up from turning pages
I want to see women with hair shining
in a town lazy like any other
wild with the taste of air and rain
or sunlight catching children's bicycles
scenes to keep life from getting out of hand.

Cool scents through an open window at night
exhausted blood returning to my heart
a new leaf turned by the breeze as I read
my escape, my salvation, well planned.

No relief
All along the cell-block
said the shyster to the thief.
The singing echoes like a threat
voice flatter than Bob Dylan's
loaded with false jocularity
disturbing his reverie in colour
of high A-list dealing days.
Fuckfuckfuck he whispers
his sweat sour in the grey slot
the months ahead impossible.

His strained reflection in stainless
he recalls erratic schooldays
the burgeoning differential
between brainpower and behaviour
his father's pet comment re. fees.
Like flushing cash down the toilet.
Add, he mutters to swirling water
more money than you dreamed of
plus The Brat of the Bar's career.
There must be some way out of here.

Protected witness
They grew silent in the rain after I found him
as if clues were an embarrassment.
Gulls cast shadows over the man
or what he had become, all memory gone
foetal-shaped near the cannery
lying next to a length of sodden rope
curled, soot or ash or blood-soaked
an S, a warning, a signature?
He must have run my route for fitness
downriver, towards the estuary
away from the mini-golf and motels
instead of running, like me, for survival.
Like me, he wore cheap running shoes
his beard neatly trimmed like mine
the same arm tattooed, a faded eagle
our eyes that shade of staring blue.
The plainclothes goons exchanged looks
the paramedics, too, but not with me.
I have to find a different route.
The postcards I can't send my children
are black with tiny words of loneliness.

Ian C. SmithIan C. Smith lives in the Gippsland Lakes region of Victoria. His work has appeared recently in The Dalhousie Review, Eureka Street, Heat, Meanjin, The Sleepers Almanac, and Westerly. His latest book is Memory like Hunger.


Topic tags: ian c. smith, Consorting, No Relief, Protected Witness, new australian poems



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