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Swept into the milky past

  • 17 May 2016


A perfect lunch break

Book in hand burningI take chicken soupThe colour of an outback damDrained to its dregsAnd a bowl of clean white riceFlecked with insect wings of onionBrowned on a gushing stoveAnd with my right handFeed my body and the leftMy hungry mind.


My yard broom

It was made to sweep awayBut the sound of my old yard broomWorn bristles rasping the brick pathWet with last night's rainPicks at a faint memoryThat grows louder with each strokeAnd carries me back across bordersOf seasons lives and landscapesTo a time of rubbing gumbootsSucking through the quickmudHands hugging mugs of steaming teaThe uphill heartbeat of the engineThe baby bleating of hungry calvesVoices cussing and coughingAnd the scrape of yard broomsPushing back the tide of muckAs the lifeblood of white milkCreamed in its silver chalice.

Doing my sums

Doing high finance twenty one floors upI see a figure no bigger than a number eightWalk to the edge of the roof belowAnd stand for a long time looking downOn the railway tracks to the underground.

Graph lines on our advisor's chart Start high then descend wilting in a curveTo drop out of sight off the bottom lineInto that no-man's land of endless zerosWhere numbers and planning are only placebos.

For a moment I am led to look over the rimTo the lines below ruled bold in blackThat run express to the edge of the pageThen, afraid, to rejoin the now conversation As the man on the roof goes inside the station.


Pat Walsh's new book Stormy With a Chance of Fried Rice: Twelve Months in Jakarta is available from amazon.com.