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War-room of a child's mind

  • 21 June 2016
Selected poems


Age of reason

In a bank on a weekday,I saw a younger girl,blonde hair in pink clips,spiral glitter sneaker laces— baubles of a treasured childthat no-one ever bought for me.A girl in a parlour painting,and I the hairy spiderhulking in the corner of the frame.

In the war-room of the mind,I pierced my map with pins. How simpleto trick her to some dirty culvert,hold her down, mar her white arms,beat, mutilate, throttle,kill her. The thing would beto borrow some of my father's tools —perhaps that hammer, that handsaw, that small chiselwhose edge shone from sharpening.I was larger than her, stronger,and had the key to the crankshaftof the well of the world's evil,secret prize surely slipped mefor merit, the giverunknown.

I only swung on the queue ropesthen left with my mother,but I could see how easilyit could have gone otherwise.The world of banks, of mothers with shopping,of cars humming peaceably in lanes,was at any time a single breath awayfrom savagery, fire, riot in the street.Civilisation was a hair drapedon the head of a pin, each one of uspoised, rigid,clutching our own pin still — I could seeI would cramp with the effortall my life.



Highway, Shepparton

Did you know, the other dayI drove that northern road again? Who knewyou could assail the country of childhoodso simply: just get in the car and go.

But this countrywas not our country. The roadI sought, long, straight and pale,lay beneath another road, across a membraneI could not pierce. Still the ragged lady gumsdanced their set across the river bridge,but the drought had lifted:the hearts of the horse-tail grass were green,the paddocks chartreuse, nubbled velvet strewnwith what I took to be litter, but later sawwas a voluminous cast of white cockatoos,gorging on plenty.

But of course you don't know —you are not here to tell.The membrane is thickening,and that country is drifting away.There is no-one here with meto watch it go.



Found photo

He has grown a beardlike a wild man, and his hair flies outlike the dandelion fuzzof boyhood. Beneath a foreign road sign,burnt face, white eyes, that noselike a bag stuffed with knuckles.Desert prophet in a cave —what have you cometo tell me?

What is love whenabsence is perpetual? A plugever unsocketed. Some rubbishthrown from a window at speed.

Won't you come home, my love,I have only destroyed everythingyou ever knew, knocked down the houseand razed the land, changed my name, andcut off my face and burnt it. Aside from thatI am the