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The Mirrored Men

The shrouded dawn 
is as multi hued as a rainbow,
as sensuous as a divine kimono.
Crepe Myrtle blooms dance in the breeze
like care free children.
The olfactory bliss of Lemon Myrtle
is marred by diesel fumes.

The forest beckons.
Serenity shatters like a glass cathedral,
in the path of a choir boys vengeance.
Punk parrots die of fright mid flight.
Their shadows scream
like throat cancer afflicted banshees.

In a hilltop clearing, 
hooded figures move as one.
Gravity is their slave,
their synchronicity as unnerving
as the taxidermied hybrids,
hanging from the Olive grove.

They traverse treacherous terrain
more fluently than a waterfall. 

As slowly as a fish suffocating on a jetty,
they pivot in my direction;
their faces turn faster than their heads.

My limb hair is as upright
as the star picket I’ve torn from the Earth.
Their frog like mouths curl into leering grins
as I meet their black hole like gaze.
They close the distance
as gradually as grains shifting in an hourglass.

Midnight has come from nowhere.  
The star picket has been twisted
into the infinity symbol
and embedded in the trunk of an Angophora.

 

 

This poem was inspired by the Monsters Among Us Podcast. http://www.monstersamonguspodcast.com/

 

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The Cockroach Guru

Mr Bellinger was busy marking essays
reminiscent of the work of typing monkeys,
when his siblings died
in a head on collision with a road train.
Their brakes had been declared perfect,
by a mechanic as suspect
as a property developer’s ecological survey.

Without elaborating, Bellinger described his holiday
as “less fun than a choice between
having his brain vacuumed through his nose
and his liver extracted with a spoon”
Mister Piccolo, the music co-ordinator,
found his colleague more depressing
than a legless Taekwondo addict.

Bellinger’s first morning back

was as dull as dusting a warehouse one speck at a time,
and more tricky than untangling plaited vas deferens.
Being weeks from retirement,
was all that kept him from slashing his wrists.

Bellinger expected the final bell to be as exhilarating
as beating a forest fire to a barren hilltop.
During lunch, he dreamt of a bamboo massage parlour,
in a patch of urban rainforest;
it’s cosy atmosphere awash with Cedar oil.
He’d started marking at four a.m
so there was time to treat himself
to the closest thing to fulfilling his fantasy.

First, Bellinger had to judge a speech contest.
Was the current leader worthy of an award,
he wondered,
as the final speaker 
strode to the podium.
Guessing Huon Stratton’s  topic

was like wondering if the Melbourne Cup
is going to be a horse race this year.

Bogans, nerds and distinguished scholar,
I wanted to explore the evolutionary history of Blatta orientalis,
but Bellsy said that would be less entertaining
than watching gangrene spread,
that I need a topic more lighthearted than infanticide.
If I can’t convince you learning about cockroaches is fun,
I’ll wear a hot pink mankini to the swimming carnival.

The cockroach brain is decentralized
so don’t be surprised if the one you decapitated,
with a razor blade, last week, is still alive.
Do not despair, ultimately it will succumb to thirst .
Due to it’s rectal water re-absorption you might die first.

Roaches can spit but can’t blow bubbles.
Alas they will never know the joys of bubble gum.
Incapable of burping,
or playing the gas bugle
they’d be insectoid gelignite,
before the end of the night,
if it weren’t for teeth below their oesophagus.

Cockroach kidneys writhe like snakes
as they frantically pump toxins from their blood.
Dracula deduced they’re are as good as juiced;
they have no blood vessels.

Roaches probably aren’t religious
but Ramadan would be a stroll through the dinner scraps
for these nuclear holocaust survival candidates.
They’d think nothing of enforced fasting for a month.

If cockroaches were Catholics the Pope would love them;
male roaches present their mates with sperm packages
wrapped in protein coats,
leaving them perpetually pregnant.

Cockroaches Achilles heel is poor eyesight in red light,
so they’re easy to kill in strip clubs.
Elsewhere they’re hard targets
for the swiftest of clown shoes.

Motion detecting hairs on their posterior
make the average stalker feel so inferior;
ordinary hunters are bound to despise
the two thousand lenses in their eyes.
It’s hard to envelope these insect Houdini’s
when they can slip through cracks as thin as an envelope.
Some species are harder to detect than stealth bombers;
small enough to hide in ant nests.

These ninjas of the insect world
are engineering marvels
but forensic experts would gladly break
all eighteen of their knees,
because roaches like to
track the arterial flow of murder victims across ceilings.
Many are globetrotting fugitives,
thumbing their nose at extradition treaties.
They’re stowed on ships and planes
before disgruntled crime scene technicians
and outraged cooks know they’ve fled.

In the seventeenth century the Danish Navy
dealt cockroaches self-esteem a stinging blow
by offering a bounty of a single bottle of brandy
per thousand carcasses.
William Bligh, captain of the Bounty,
once de-roached his entire ship with boiling water,

For the sports nuts among you,
cockroaches scale speed is on par with top fuel dragsters,
those finely tapered vehicles with parachutes for brakes.
Fortunately their reflexes would embarrass
formula one driver Michael Schumacher,
at the pinnacle of his prowess,
otherwise they’d be crashing into the fridge a lot.
The machinery driving these fiendish super athletes
has animatronic wizards salivating.
Insect dance troupes beckon.
These athletic marvels can spin fast enough
to make a ballerina’s brain explode
from the centrifugal force.
Roaches can hold their breathe
from kick off to half time in the football
so white water rafting murder plots
are dead in the water before they’re concocted.

Is mixed martial arts your favourite sport?
Male Madagascan hissing roaches
possess horns for ramming rivals
from their alpha male mantles.
Sadly their trash talking is indecipherable.

During the Middle Ages
it was customary to release cockroaches
into new dwellings.
Today, outside of sporting circles,
roaches aren’t so widely revered.
In a Plano, Texas, Cockroach Hall of Fame,
Liberoachi was the star attraction.
He sat at a miniature grand piano,
his white mink cape
as flamboyant as his dazzling claw strokes.

Mr Bellinger cleared his throat.
“If the winner is like a blue ribbon bonsai,
older than the Sphinx.
The also rans are
 toxic weeds
that germinated yesterday.

Sir, the art of pun sai, the forerunner of bonsai,
originated in the eighth century China.
The Sphinx dates back to 2494 BC.

Poets licence Huon, poets licence.

They must be easier to get than drivers licenses.
Sir, did you know the Egyptian desert roach,
Polyphaga aegyptiaca, can absorb water vapour?

Mister Stratton, did you know first prizes
can be arbitrarily revoked?
Bellinger was smiling, like a kid in a toy store.
For the first time since the Carter administration,
he considered working until nursing home heavies,
dragged him from his desk.

The Man Who Blew Up Hate

Now every time when I walk down the street and see someone who looks vaguely like Dave, for a moment I wonder if it’s him. Then I remember why it can’t be.

How many people emerge from palliative care to stun doctors by living for another thirty or forty years, I wondered as Dave lay dying, too weak to accept a visit from the hundreds who would’ve loved to speak to him one more time. I shed a few tears as I heard the bad news, knowing that the pain I felt was nothing compared to what his family and closest friends were going through. Coincidentally Dave died on the day of my brother Neil’s wedding. Neil was a valued amateur photographer at the wedding of Dave and Michelle, his wife of eighteen years.

Their children Lachie, Chloe and Blake wouldn’t know me from a Martian, I was just one of many people they stood patiently waiting for their dad to finish chatting to in the supermarket, at a school fete or wherever I happened to cross paths with him. If they’ve read the Man Who Blew Up Hate, they could well be wondering if I am a Martian. I suspect they’ve been too busy coming to grips with the void their father has left, to be aware of the crazy little story that seemingly came from nowhere as I wrote the first version of this tribute.

Dave’s funeral and wake were surreal experiences, as full of humour as sadness. The readings were done with extraordinary composure. I was wondering if we would hear a song or two during the service that has never been played in a church before, perhaps the kind Dave might hear in the distance as he dons his night vision goggles and abseils down the pearly gates, on his way to the Coolest Place in Hell. I’m told Dave chose the music for his funeral but wishing to avert a diplomatic crisis the Vatican denied some of his requests.

God can be a bit of a prude, so Dave has to sneak out of heaven every Friday and Saturday night to hear the sort of music that’s banned in church. Any secret mission back over the pearly gates featuring Dave is bound to make the Lord of the Rings trilogy look like a boring pamphlet. Here’s the gist of what is bound to happen at some point.

No doubt, many of Dave’s excursions to the Coolest Place in Hell are under the pretext of his Heaven Intelligence Agency missions. He’s probably their 007 already. I bet his face is plastered all over The Satanic Empire, with an angry red line through it drawn by the devil himself.

According to rumour, Dave has been planning to blow up Hate, ever since he first ventured into the volcano infested swamps of hell. Hate is the nickname for Fortress 666, a largely subterranean complex that extends about a mile above the Everest dwarfing mountain into which it was rapidly carved by Red Bull gulping Beaver Goblins. One thousand squadrons of Amphibious Scorpion Dragons and their Platypus Pixie overlords are looking forward to the brutal chess match they’ve been told to expect. Dave gave those battle hardened hybrids little thought as he took the scenic route to the Coolest Place in Hell. The argument between the Banshee Flowers and the searing breeze was far more entertaining. 

For those who don’t know, the Coolest Place in Hell has pole dancing on ice skating rinks. Topless mermaids serve drinks from its network of icy canals and burlesque plays like The Empire Strips Back and Dames of Thrones are performed every night. According to Satan “The Coolest Place in Hell is like the Inner West, except evil.”

An overconfident Satan failed to realise the synchronised bursts of semi automatic spud gun fire, corralling his most fearsome demons, was merely a diversionary tactic. By the time The Prince of Darkness realized Dave had defeated the hounds of hell, with nothing more than a packet of Schmackos and an unending supply of tummy rubs, it was too late. Dave had already shouted the bar, in the Coolest Place in Hell. Being the drama queen he is, the Evil One packed up his pitch forks and flame throwers and went home.

Dave sent a text to negotiate a truce. “I’M NOT YOUR FRIEND 🤬” Satan replied, before settling down to watch reruns of Jerry Springer with Ghengis Khan, Hitler, Mussolini, Richard Nixon, Henry Kissinger, Dick Cheney and Margaret Thatcher. Then Michael Jackson rang. Satan turned off his phone in a hurry. Seconds later Dave sent another message.

“WTF was that” Satan screamed, as his palace vibrated from the shockwaves of a nearby explosion. As he raced across the satanic lawn, Satan had a feeling something was missing. Eventually he realized it was his letterbox. “Nooooo, my hate mail” he screeched. Steel girders landed in the swimming pool, unleashing a chlorinated tsunami that decimated Satan’s prize petunia’s. Debri was found as far away as the Sea of Despair and Lake Hopeless. From that day forth, Dave was known as the Man Who Blew Up Hate.

A disgusted Ghengis Khan said what was on his mind “Satan, I’ve been tellin ya to get an email account since 1997 ya dumb ####. This letterbox bombing has got Dave’s signature all over it. Where is that man, I wanna shake his hand.” Ever since Genghis Khan’s defection to heaven the Satanic Empire has been in worse shape than Trump’s America.

The Amphibious Scorpion Dragons had grown so impatient while waiting for Dave to show up at Fortress 666, colloquially known as Hate, that they’d raided Satan’s wine cellar. Dave knew those alcoholics would crack eventually. He prepared to pay them a visit.

Dave, if you can read that crazy little story from wherever you are, I hope you enjoy it. Until he was well into his twenties, Dave combined his interest in war history with an interest in creative writing. Perhaps it was the tall stories he told off the cuff that were his best. He was a funny guy, with an imagination as vivid as a supernova. Maybe I’ve channeled him a little, in the writing of The Man Who Blew Up Hate.

Returning to 2019 now, it was great to have a chat with some of the former St Gregs boys and Antiochers (youth group) who were paying their respects to Dave. The intensity of emotions meant that all the memories we shared felt like they had happened yesterday. It was one of those time where people in their forties felt like they were twenty years old just a moment ago, a time when you remember just how much people you haven’t seen for aeons mean to you.

I wasn’t present when the spud and frozen orange guns might have been put through their paces in Smiths Creek Reserve, by Dave’s gang of funsters. It’s been said that the odd chlorine bomb was unleashed, possibly resulting in the destruction of a letterbox or two. Then again, maybe all that is as fictititious as The Man Who Blew Up Hate, as riddled with rumours as a tabloid newspaper.

What I can tell you for a fact is that Dave was my sidekick, when I played a military recruitment officer, in a year 10 drama class. Our good friend Simon Burrows played an unemployed bloke who made a sloth look like a pitbull on meth. Just when it looked like his character was ready for a life of rifle drills, obstacle courses and crushing rare plant species with armoured vehicles, Simon’s character fell asleep for about a week.

 

Clever Man

“Tell us the story of Clever Man granddad” ex Prime Minister Melvin Frasier’s grandchildren begged.

I suppose you’re old enough to learn about the phenomenon known as Clever Man. He’s a left wing radical who sides with the Labor Party when it matters most. According to legend, he took his first tentative steps into the world of politics before he took his first steps. He was a seasoned campaigner by the time he locked horns with the notorious Julius Craven.

“Will there be a guest appearance from Julian Assange in this story Granddad?”

“Maybe, you’ll have to wait and see”

Dark clouds rolled in to accompany the dishonourable Julius Craven, The Minister for Immigration in the Neo-Liberal Party Government.  He was busy being the centre of attention in an imaginatively titled documentary called The Campaign Trail. Julius wondered which superhero the little boy with the yellow cape was meant to be. He’d seen a lot of Marvel and D.C movies with his tantrum tornado grandchildren but he’d never seen this caped crusader before. He was all yellow.

“Yellow is the colour of intelligence,” the boy who couldn’t have been more than seven years old stated as though it was as apparent as the blueness of the distant ocean.

“Intelligence is a big word for a little boy, do you know what it means?” Senator Craven asked.

The little fellow rolled his eyes and looked at his mother Avira Ali, Professor of linguistics at Sydney University and his stepfather Byron Stradbroke, Professor of Anthropology, at the University of New South Wales, as if to say “who is this fuckwit” He pointed at Senator Craven as though he was about to shoot a concentrated beam of unpalatable facts into his frontal lobe.

“I am Clever Man. You can be my sidekick Idiot Boy if you like.” Senator Craven looked as incensed as a Staffie that’s just lost a wrestling bout with a Maltese Terrier.

“I guess you think you look pretty heroic in that outfit. I’ll have you know that yellow is the colour of cowardice little boy”

“You’ve got the wrong shade Mister C grade. I’m no Yellow Bellied Sapsucker, sucker.”

“I want you to edit those bits out Corey”, Minister Craven barked.

“You’re the politician, we’re the film makers” the producer reminded him. “I want you to edit that out” was the most common phrase that Julius Craven uttered in his professional life. He’d been known to say it on Q&A and a host of other live Current Affairs programs more than once.

Ten years later, the now Senator Julius Craven remembered being bested by Clever Man as clearly as he remembered being flung around a strip joint, the previous night, by the pole dancer he’d attempted to molest. “I used to play football” the senator said with a chuckle, in response to her repeatedly warning him that she had been learning Brazilian ju-jitsu since the age of two. The security staff’s laughter still echoed in his mind.

Senator Craven was scheduled to give a thirty minute talk, at Heron Selective Highschool, on his autobiography. He was doing his best to convince everyone that his editor was a glorified proof reader. In reality his book was as ghost written as Casper’s diary. Craven was unaware that the little boy known as Clever Man, who was now seventeen years old, was a student at the school. Dorian Grey, the last bully to fuck with Clever Man, had been expelled five years ago. Clever Man didn’t take kindly to having his lunch money stolen. On the same day, someone hacked into Grey’s savings accounts and sent the funds ricocheting around the world until Sherlock Holmes reincarnated as an accountant wouldn’t have a hope in hell of tracing them.  

Coincidentally, or not, within a few days dozens of cashed up persons unknown were campaigning on behalf of Murray Greenberg, the most prominent left leaning independent candidate in Julius Craven’s electorate. Rumours abounded. According to the Daily Telegraph, Banksy was flown in to mastermind Greenberg’s graffiti division and Greenpeace mercenaries were training squadrons of base jumping sky writers. It was said that Banksy mixed his pallet from the stains of corruption, as he got high on the sky writers wind dispersed slogans. Needless to say, Julius Craven lost his seat.

Surely a more cost effective, diplomatic approach could have been used to counter the smear campaign against Murray Greenberg, an article in the Green Left Weekly lamented after it was discovered Anonymous hacktivists had hijacked U.S Air Force reconnaissance drones, for the purpose of leaflet dropping in Greenberg’s electorate. It’s long been rumoured that Clever Man is the mastermind behind their seemingly leaderless collective. He started the rumour, to make his battle with the world’s intelligence agencies challenging enough to hold his interest. His avatar’s avatars have spread it so convincingly that the majority of the members of Anonymous now believe it.

On the day of Senator Craven’s autobiography sales pitch, at Heron Selective Highschool, Clever Man, AKA Imran Ali, was busy doing the public speaking component of his society and culture assignment on refugees. He’d been busier with what he liked to call his side projects, so busy he hadn’t begun writing his speech until the early hours of that morning. He’d practiced during lunch, between bites of his vegan burger.

Clever Man strode to the front of the room and placed his notes on the lectern. Clever Man doesn’t need notes. He’d said it often enough himself. They were there in case some extraordinary distraction, like a flock of pigeons flying into the room, took place. If some of the hypothetical birds happened to be on fire it might well be enough to give Clever Man a mental blank. He cleared his throat and begun.

“This afternoon I’d like to talk generally about self-harm and specifically about the horrific way in which my father died before I was born. First there was the psychological torture Imran Ali Senior endured before he broke and set himself on fire. Then there was the thirty hours before he was taken to a hospital with the equipment and expertise to treat his burns. He probably wouldn’t have died if he had been evacuated from the offshore detention centre ASAP. It may as well have been murder because treating people like that kills them.

If there is nothing someone can do to change their unbearable situation, their rage, frustration and misery will inevitably be channelled into extreme action. Some people react to trauma by curling up into the foetal position and sobbing, some stop moving and speaking, some attack others, some take drugs, some perform death defying stunts without calculating the risk, some run until they cannot walk, some cut themselves, some pull their hair out and some set themselves on fire and some politicians couldn’t care less.

Self-harm is not just attention seeking, it’s a dysfunctional coping mechanism for hell on Earth. A lot of people who self-harm keep it a secret. They know being forced to take medication won’t rid them of the cause. A stint in a mental health unit could mean losing their job and more.

Whether Imran Ali Senior intended to make a political statement with his act of self-harm, or he was simply driven insane, I’m not sure but I do know is that he would have loved the opportunity to start a business in this country, to have a sense of purpose again, to live life to the full in a free society. Has our nation realized the importance of giving refugees their lives back yet? It seems not!

The majority of politicians have been busy cultivating the community’s xenophobic fears, so they can scapegoat refugees for the bulk of the nation’s problems. For a generation now, they’ve gotten more votes for indefinitely imprisoning refugees without charge than they have for assisting them. You would think that banning reputable charities from assisting in the care of asylum seekers and banning journalists from going anywhere near the offshore detention centres would make the majority of voters suspicious but apparently not.

Former Prime Minister Monte Coward and Dieter Mutton, the former Minister for Home Affairs, wouldn’t even let our more altruistic neighbours help the refugees we won’t accept. Successive governments would rather let refugees die in third world conditions than evacuate them to the mainland for urgent medical care. As for the immigration minister during Monte Coward’s reign, the newly elected senator for the Neo-Liberal Party Julius Craven, you’ll have your opportunity to ask him questions soon, if he dares set foot in the auditorium once he realizes that Clever Man is on the scene.

“What, Clever Man’s here, why didn’t you tell me, I’ve been hunting his autograph for years” Miss Blanks said with a wink.

Senator Craven was crossing the quadrangle when Clever Man seemed to appear from nowhere.

“I know your parents, you can’t hide your identity from me” Craven smirked.

“Do you see a mask dipshit? That secret identity stuff is just a lame joke but not as lame or secret as the shit show that’s about to be unleashed in Canberra”

“Whatever you’re talking about kid, if it resides anywhere, other than in your imagination, it’s got nothing to do with me”

The Senator’s swift departure from the school suggested he believed otherwise. “As Senator Craven’s private jet accelerated away from Thor’s mighty hammer, enroute to Canberra, Anonymous hacktivists hijacked a fleet of U.S Airforce drones again, this time they were destined to be modified to parachute books into crowded areas. The “Books not Bombs” campaign was wildly successful.

Craven popped the cork on a two thousand dollar bottle of champagne, at tax payers expense, to celebrate the skyrocketing sales of his autobiography. Why did Craven think he was entitled to such luxury for free? “Why” is a common refrain for anyone who frequently associates with Craven. His willingness to sign anything, without reading it, largely explains why he’s come as far in politics as he has.

The recently released political prisoner Julian Assange loved cryptograms. Assange managed to solve the one in front of him manually long before anyone thought to analyse it with decryption software. Every tenth letter in the clumsy prose told a very different story to Craven’s subtly edited narcissistic twaddle.  Clever Man’s favourite apparent confession of Craven’s involved the use of a ten thousand dollar bribe, from a property developer, to tip a troupe of male strippers. It was an interesting one, considering Craven’s opposition to legislating in favour of gay marriage. He was on Good Morning Australia, skiting about writing his autobiography with virtually no assistance from his editor, when the story broke.

Mister Homophobia

In old, hallowed, halls of philosophy,
your rants aren’t worth an apostrophe.

A blue singlet and stubbies is your suit,
with every crude utterance you pollute.

Your tribe of unruly children mimicks
your second hand profane gimmicks.

Other men ponder the meaning of life
and what’s so special about their wife.

All you do is mock a sixth of the species
for an alleged love of drilling into faeces.

You wannabe comedian, daydreamer,
haven’t you ever heard of an enema?

Many of your rants about anal probes
are aimed at ass fearing germaphobes.

The prostate cancer test you delay
because of the fear it’ll turn you gay.

The men who gave you a new label
bled to death on their bar room table.

In an isolation cell you contemplate
your irrational terror driven fate.

Unstoppable

The dux of Adversity University can’t be cut
by your profane sneer and tough guy strut.

At five foot nothing,
she’s more imposing than the Rock of Gibraltar,
as formidable as a lioness
and more thrilling than any theme park
in this galaxy.

She was a tadpole in the reservoir
you forgot to poison,
much stronger than anyone knew.

Tears are her afterburners.
Encourage, undermine, disparage,
tell her she’s lost without marriage,
it’s all intersellar rocket fuel to her.

 

 

 

 

Faceless Phoenix

Rebel Chameleons are rising,
shedding skins as surprising,
as Da-Vinci was enterprising.

They’re all about melting rage,
and banishing harmful beige.
As the sages cleanse with sage,
I think deeper before the stage,
when my pen strikes the page.

Slipping by the arrogant slime,
of dolts blasting thought crime.
They’re a battle axe wind chime,
hate fuels their Optimus Prime
and bias, pious eponymous dime.

After all Abbott’s done and said,
I cannot buy his brand of bread.
The risen and baked is delicious, 
but flat is for the anti-seditious. 
It’s offered by Sneaky and Vicious,
worst of perverted and malicious.

Rebel Chameleons are rising,
shedding skins as surprising,
as Da-Vinci was enterprising.

Momentum in the ride and the slide,
to neutralize predators not editors.
Slow the killers of dignity and pride.
Strike the punishers not publishers,
how can they glide if they cannot chide?

During the most crucial election week
why vote for secrecy for the powerful
and spying on the innocent and meek?

Miss Communication

Benjamin sent Alanna a friend request.
If he was still as unwanted
as the tick that gave her Lyme disease,
all she had to do was strike delete.
Her no thanks message
was as unexpected as a Trump tweet hurricane
trumping a Pulitzer Prize winning novel.
It was civil, friendly even.

Philosophy seeped into Benjamin’s reply,
like blood soaked beef into a vegan buffet.
After touching on creating life’s meaning,
instead of tracking purpose down
like a misdirected package,
he urged Alanna to pave her mosaic highway
and follow it to the zing of her electric violin.
She responded with her bluntest voodoo pin.
Memories of Mister opinionated,
obsessed with views she overrated,
infiltrated, irritated and grated.
Benjamin’s words were as benevolent
as midsummer watermelon
buried in crushed ice
and as valued as antique seafood
bathed in bin juice.
Victorian era squid
might be excellent fertilizer,
Ben’s guru drivel on the other hand…..
Alanna’s affection for him was a sand mural
claimed by the tide long ago
and her loathing was embossed in titanium.

A message Benjamin sent years ago,
was as tangential as a forest burying vine.
You’re off your medication, aren’t you,
Alanna accused then and now.
Couldn’t she tell the difference
between sewage outfall rants
and paragraphs as tidy as a Japanese garden?
Why hadn’t he waited until he was mentally stable to message her?
Ben was as flabbergasted as a pixie
who is expected to incinerate a dragon,
with the friendly glimmer in his eyes.
He thought Alanna knew
that people on the brink of psychosis
aren’t renowned for sensible decisions.

Alanna imagined she knew something of bipolar disorder,
but she’d overestimated the impact
of occasionally missed doses of mood stabilizers.
What she’d seen
was the branding of Benjamin’s father’s world view,
on his adolescent brain.
That takes time to recognise, despise and neutralise.
There’s no medication
for the flammable, windblown rage
of a young man,
failing to catch a habitual rapist in the act either.

“Do something about it” Ben screamed down the phone.
Attempting to coax Alanna
into making another police report
proved as futile as trying to lift himself into the sky.
She’d already endured the sneering denials
of sergeants who mistook shock for shonkiness.
Benjamin felt smaller than a neutrino,
once he realized broken silence equals a broken neck.
Alanna’s mother didn’t believe her.
Ben didn’t believe, he knew.
The terrified pleading and fistfights in her sleep,
said more than bruises and torn dresses.

The rapist poisoned them with rage.
Then they poisoned each other.
Pointing that out in 2020,
could’ve triggered an eruption of horrors,
as agonizing as stitches ripped from the tongue.

What irked Alanna the most
about Benjamin in the old days
was not his verbal explosions
and launching of plastic bottles.
Neither was it his gawking at every delicious creature
who flirted with his perpheral vision.
After a buxom blonde Goddess caught his eye,
at a nightclub one night,
the cage imprisoning his polyamorous urges,
stained the dancefloor red.
Adulterous friends of Alanna’s
agreed he was the epitome of evil.
There were no points for ending the relationship
without episodes of abominable mischief,
he may as well have had a secret harem,
since their first kiss.

A sentimental yearning for friendship,
explained Benjamin’s Facebook request.
Upon Allana’s urging,
he offered social isolation as further explanation.
He praised her socialising tips
and accepted their estrangement.
Alanna was treating counting to two
like it was advanced calculus.
Suspecting Ben was still in love with her,
she questioned him beyond midnight.
His task was as titanic
as explaining colour to the congenitally blind.

Alanna’s social advice shapeshifted into paranoid rage.
She was convinced she was his emotional well,
that he wanted to suck her spirit dry.
If in love is considered evidence
of siphoning the nectar from the flower of marriage
and not in love is deemed a synonym for leach,
what’s the right answer?
All Benjamin wanted
was to rekindle the gleam of hope in her eyes
and bask in her childlike joy;
once a season or so,
if her schedule was as crowded
as a Beijing commuter train.
Multiple times, he’d accepted it wasn’t to be.
“Will you stop saying that” she raged.
Appeasing Alanna’s anger
was like wading through a swamp
without getting wet.
Silence is the only words allowed,
until you’re chastised for not answering
and ultimately accused of prolonging the conversation.
Without the aid of emotional sonar
the argument labyrinth is as unnavigable
as extra-terrestrial runes.
Why can’t the scorpion pit and the exit
be labelled as such, in English?

In the old days,
Ben’s moods were as erratic as mountain weather.
His button pusher denied her console existed.
How do you have a rational conversation
with someone who is reacting to history
like a viper tortured with a cat of nine tails?
In the context of now,
Alanna’s cynicism was as unfathomable
as the behaviour of an accountant
who writes vampire penguin novels
on his clients tax returns
and mails them to A.S.I.O for decryption.
In the context of history,
her paranoid fury was comprehensible.

Desperate for a serene goodbye,
Benjamin persevered to no avail.
“You’re not a prisoner in this conversation”
he typed,
after his apologies and acknowledgements
were machine gunned again.

They had been two damaged people
trying to heal each other.
Benjamin hadn’t been ambushed with a hammer
or physically felt the blood smeared tracings
of The Beast’s knife,
but he’d been as distraught as a polar bear
on a collapsing ice shelf nonethless.

Their compatibility was a sand island
at the mercy of swirling currents.
Ben wasn’t trying to revive the dead,
just restore what lived.
Alanna assured him their friendship could not emerge
from its nuclear winter.
Which part of “I accept our estrangement” hadn’t she heard?
What did she imagine he sought now?
It was all as bamboozling as monkeys
randomly rearranging a novel.
What had been cut and pasted in her head?

Memories of Alanna pestering him to purge
his creative writing obsession
and transform into a dancefloor worshipping extrovert,
seeped back into Ben’s exhausted brain.
It was time to get ready for work.

The news Allana’s auntie was buried alive,
as the roof of a limestone cave collapsed,
beneath her quadbike,
shed light on her ill temper.

A turn of the century Valentine’s Day rose,
sits in its frame, slowly crumbling to dust.
Ultimately, Ben will scatter its remains
in the river pools they waded across,
before hope was rationed like tank water.

 

 

 

 

 

Lucy Sarah Diamond

As the early morning chill subsided, Lucy Sarah Diamond draped her hoodie across her guitar case. “I see a red door and I want to paint it black, no colours anymore, I want them to turn black”, she sang with a soft dystopian fury. Her hopes and dreams were very much alive, but right now her vocals were redolent of a coffin prison, closer to the mantle than the sun drenched fields above.

“Give me fuel, give me fire, give me that which I desire” a metalhead across the road roared. In decibels he was mighty, talent wise he was a mite.

“I see a line of cars and they’re all painted black, with flowers and my love never to come back” Lucy sang in perfect pitch. I got the feeling she was mourning the loss of more than a lover. 

While she sipped from the lid of her flask, I dropped gold coins into her guitar case. She invited me to help her finish her salad breakfast. An assortment of edible funguses, as mysterious as her, were nestled between the leafy greens. Only the mushrooms looked familiar. After her rendition of Under The Bridge, I happily gave her another five dollars, and watched her slip the note into her floral silk bra.

Lucy looked at me with amused curiousity as I gathered the courage, or the stupidity, to ask if I could slide a larger denomination in there myself. She looked up and down the deserted street before saying “go for it”. I didn’t feel like the generous one as slipped a one hundred dollar note over a towering dark nipple. After furtively glancing up and down the street again, she invited me to delight in her womanly softness. I traced my fingertips over liquid satin, before stretching my hand over the cup and squeezing ever so gently. By the time I’d bought her back catalogue of C.D’s, the footpath was swarming with frantic commuters, shoppers and schoolchildren.

“He’s my boyfriend” Lucy told Darius Fabian, the ruddy old real estate agent, who had witnessed proceedings from his office window. He continued to insist I’d set a precedent that couldn’t be ignored. “If you want to transfer a million dollars to Youth Off The Streets, while I watch, then I’ll think about making your dreams come true mate” Lucy challenged. I wasn’t sure whether she kissed me solely to maintain the charade or because she wanted to.

“I’ll give you three hundred”, the real estate agent sneered.

“Three hundred will get you a song request, a few C.D’s and the happiness that comes from knowing you’ve given me somewhere safe to sleep tonight”

“If you come to my Double Bay penthouse for the weekend, I’ll give you three thousand and whatever make up and pretty new clothes you want. We’ll eat at gourmet restaurants, with the most delicious dessert you’ve ever tasted”

“This sugar babe is fussy. Only the finest Belgian chocolate will do” Lucy quipped.

“If you stick with me you can have all the Beligan chocolate you want darlin, a little padding on those curves wouldn’t hurt a bit” Darius chuckled.

“The coincidence that I grew up in Belgium, with Nigerian parents, was not lost on me. Most people thought I was French, I was surprised Lucy had picked my accent. Apparently Darius Fabian thought I was a member of the local indigenous tribe, because at one point he asked if I’d left my didgeridoo at home. Eventually Darius stormed off, muttering something about seeing to it that Lucy’s busking license was revoked. He came back to hurl more abuse and she responded with a parody of The Angels hit, “Am I Ever Gonna See Your Face Again.” Australian audiences are renowned for replying to those lyrics with “no way, get fucked, fuck off” naturally, under the circumstances, she performed that part too.

Lucy’s goodbye kiss was more intimate than the one intended to dupe Darius Fabian into believing we were a couple. She tasted like passionfruit. Presumably she was living the precarious life of a couch surfer, opposed to roughing it on the street because she smelled as nice as her freshly laundered clothes.

“I’m an art lover, do you have any reccomendations for where I should go first” were my parting words. Lucy directed me towards an old hotel in Alexandria, now known as Quirk Gallery. Just before I turned to walk away she handed me a poem she’d written, while we ate breakfast together. Lucy grinned mischievously as I leaned in for another goodbye kiss.

Quirk Gallery was an eight storey art deco masterpiece, filled with some of the most enchanting impressionist and surreal paintings I’d ever seen. On that Monday morning it was empty enough for the zany marble statues to outnumber the patrons. My first stop, after the cocktail lounge, was “The Prince of Darkness”, if the horns, fangs and tattoo on its forehead were any indication. The tailor made suit clad devil was busy pouring petrol on Middle Eastern and Tamil refugees. This abomination bore an uncanny resemblance to the Minister for Immigration at the time.

One room was full of what appeared to be taxidermied extraterrestrials, ranging from what I can only describe as a blue skinned manatee man, shepherding reptilian tigers, to slug like quadripeds using their tongues to play strip poker. I could envisage them performing surgery with those deathly pale protuberances.

On the eighth floor, I gazed at a uniformly black canvas in bewilderment. If there had been any suggestion a mystery painting was hidden underneath or the artist had created sophisticated patterns invisible to the naked eye, I would’ve been instantly enchanted. What was the point? Apparently I was supposed to glean something from the one word title, EPIPHANY. A house painter would’ve been sacked on the spot for replicating such an uneven job. That dastardly darkness was as clumsily applied as shit from a toppled fertiliser truck.

Maybe the art lies in the way the paint was spilt. “It’s all in the wrist” the critics might’ve quipped, if there had been a video of the methods employed. Sadly there was nothing to analyse but a canvas draped in black, it’s runny topography as dull and annoying as an eternally dripping tap. The last thing I noticed, before slipping into a psychedelic state, was the curtains beneath the painting. I briefly wondered if they were hiding some sort of puppet show. What the hell was in the salad Lucy gave me?

For reasons unknown, I found myself repeating the word topography over and over again, like it was some sort of shamanic mantra. This word acted like a magic spell, transporting me to the tropical darkness within the painting. It was barely possible to discern the forest from the sky. The jungle was a more enchanting mystery than anything in the gallery.

I reached Imagination River and quenched my artistic thirst there. Strangely, the deeper I dived, the less I feared drowning amidst its schools of haiku tattoo sporting Demon Fish. Eventually I realized they were hallucinatory, by about the fourth bite. Eating one was enough to scatter the rest. A hallucination within a hallucination, interesting, I mused as visions spawned by the Demon Fish’s flesh shapeshifted from shadowy shamans to mermaids, who cried tears that froze into the sweetest silk. Intersecting rainbows, from alien spectrums, escaped from their cavernous wombs and rapidly cloned themselves.

Imagination River transformed itself into a winding fruity cocktail, as confounding as time travel. It seemed I had travelled in time. Eight hours had elapsed since I’d almost collapsed from boredom, in front of that sloppy ten by eight foot patch of darkness. I was standing at bar in the cocktaill lounge, with no memory of how I’d gotten there, any idea how long I’d been there, how many drinks I’d had, or what was in them.

The waitresse’s name was Tiffany. “For the last time, no I can’t sell you any more of those vodka, cucumber, strawberry, watermelon, raspberry and blackberry cocktails, infused with hints of  lemon grass, elderflower, aloevera and crushed ice, #### off we’re closed, Tiffany yelled.  Why was somone who was waiting so impatiently for me to leave, listing the ingredients in their most complex cocktail? How many tracks of my mind had been operating simultaneously?

“I see a red door and I want to paint it black, no colours anymore I want them to turn black” drifted from the Jukebox like an acrid cloud of melancholy, infected with crippling nostalgia. Suddenly it dawned on me what I needed to do.

“Sir, the gallery is closed, the security personnel barked. It seemed my psychedelic state was yet to leave me. The guards had apparently turned into snarling black dog/sequoia hybrids, a surprising alchemy of sorcery and natural selection. The guards panted heavily as I accelerated, ascending the stairs in fours. They sped up like flames bursting from an accelerant. I went to a gear that left them gasping like fish on a jetty “I see a red door and I want it painted black, no colours anymore, I want them to turn black” echoed softly off the Victorian ceiling.

At last, the solely black painting came into view. It was supposed to have transformed. Disappointment struck, like a slow monotonous sledge hammer. Tap, tap, tap, tap, went that metaphorical sledge hammer in my tired, tortured ears. The sound of that painting was still as dull and depressing as an eternally dripping tap. Aren’t paintings supposed to be gushing with inspiration? I walked up to the one word explanation beside that swathe of darkness, hoping to find something between the lines which alluded to more than the blandest midnight.

I desperately needed to see the music again, to dive into the cool rippling, spiralling swirls of stereophonic heaven. For the first time I noticed the copper coin printed beneath the towering BLOCK LETTERS, that spelled EPIPHANY. I looked closer and spotted the drawing of a tiny lever nestled between parted curtains.

“Hurry up”, the woman from the cafeteria yelled in exasperation. Had security gone or never been there in the first place? Their apparent departure was as welcome as an oasis among aeons of sand dunes.

I parted the curtains beneath the painting and nudged the lever. The canvas rotated one hundred and eighty degrees to reveal a red door, on a television screen. An explorer who bore an uncanny resemblance to me approached the door, picked the lock and wandered inside. Climb in to us, whispered the optical illusions on the walls. “What Dreams May Come”, mumbled the star breathing wizard in one. “First, let this dream within a dream gleam” uttered the platinum armoured unicorns. Their choreography painted symphonies with the southern lights.

With baited breath, the explorer removed the veil from the towering canvas in the centre of the room. On one side was a red door that appeared darker or lighter, depending on the viewing angle. A smothering sea of nothingness monopolized the other side. The explorer took a copper coin, the size of a frisbee, from his coat pocket and scratched at the red door, swiftly scraping it away, to reveal the hidden painting beneath.

The vast canvas was dominated by a grey skinned, almond eyed, interdimensional traveller. While glowing purple blood, seeped from self inflicted wounds, he painted the dripping phrases. “It’s an epiphany Tiffany. From the sheerest darkness emerge the brightest lights. Creativity goes to die in a flood lit room. With no torch to shine the old is invisible and so are distractions from the new.

The canvas swung one hundred and eighty degrees again. While I waited for the grey skinned, almond eyed, interdimensional traveller to apply the frisbee sized coin to the darkness, it strode into that opaque night, the gleam of adventure in its eyes was the last thing I saw before it vanished in the distance.

The moment I left the building I tried calling Lucy. I was in such an emotionally charged state that it wasn’t until the fourth attempt that I realized I wasn’t making any typos, the phone number was a digit short. Over the next few days I searched for her in every popular busking spot in Sydney, to no avail. I tried every variation of her name on every social media site. By the end of the week I was asking random pedestrians if they’d seen a busker who called herself Lucy Sarah Diamond.

Eventually I returned to The Quirk Gallery. I couldn’t tell you what was in my first cocktail because the list of ingredients was longer than this story. It’s quicker to say that it reminded me of a tropical island paradise, as strange as enchanting, the kind of place where interstellar space can be seen on a turtles shell, if you focus your eyes just right and leprechauns teleport their spawn into the incandescent platypus eggs, that litter the surf. My next cocktail was weirder still, yet equally refreshing.

On my fifteenth visit to the Quirk Gallery that month, I followed the eerie, acrobatic sound of an electric guitar. It’s feverish tendrils stretched from the roof to the ground floor. Hooded figures circled the masked six string virtuoso, feigning attacks and retreating. The cloak was tight fitting enough to reveal her voluptuous figure. There was a healthy plumpness that was absent the first time we met. After her astonishing instrumental performance Lucy removed her mask. There was something different about her that didn’t make any sense. Eventually I realized it was her hair, it was already foot longer than last time we met.

We sat down in a dimly lit corner of the cafeteria “I’m not Lucy. She told me that I might see you here. She was so sure you were going to ring her that she wondered if you were dead, like her. I am the demon that grew within her until she was no more. I came so hard while she begged desperately for continuing access to her brain. By the time she’d faded away I was so wet that her lovers needed to swim to me.  I can’t sing like Lucy but she could never play the guitar quite like me. Whenever I need a more intense vocal performance I revive her for a little while, torture her some more and kill her again.”

I almost lost control of my bowels, from listening to the thing that had consumed Lucy gloat. My goosebumps were about to escape my skin and strike the walls like tiny arrows by the time I remembered it was April Fools Day and realized that Lucy was still Lucy, that she was just reciting a few lines from a warped horror movie I’d seen too.

“I don’t know how my hair grew so fast but I think it’s something to do with the eighth floor, a lot of weird things happen there. Perhaps my hairdresser can shed some light on that mystery”    

 

 

 

My Flying Amphibious Car

An edited and expanded version of my Facebook status update, from this day, in 2014.

Writing is like travelling in your very own flying, amphibious car, you can go anywhere.

It’s excitement plus here in Campbelltown, I just activated my Opal Card. I might even go on a public transport mystery tour but then again, I could just be the envy of all my friends, as usual, by spending the weekend studying weeds. While they’re out dirt bike riding or hang gliding I’m here studying Ricinus communis, the most toxic plant known to humankind. Beat that, if you dare!

Alas, one of my rivals just trounced my hardcore spirit of adventure. They’re Googling Nepenthes attenboroughii, the Giant Pitcher Plant, which is even more lethal than Ricinus communis. It has been known to catch and kill rats.

Not even the notorious Orphan School Creek has Nepenthes lurking in amongst the junkies needles. What do you mean you’ve never heard of Orphan School Creek? You know of the Amazon, The Nile, and the Colorado River, yet you’ve never heard of this waterfront wonderland, nestled in among the most prestigious estates in Canley Vale and Carramar?

Nepenthes attenboroughi, possibly the only diabolical invasive species never to haunt the most picturesque weed choked storm water creek on the planet, kills rats by dissolving them in an acidic cocktail. The less deadly Ricinus communis is unsurprisingly a good source of ricin, a poison with a malevolent reputation. It conjures up images of the ricin tipped umbrella used as a stealth weapon, by an agent of the Bulgarian secret police, to murder dissident writer Georgi Markhov. 

This status update/article, has turned into a slice of horror history. Anyone who said writing isn’t fun should be dipped head first into the world’s largest specimen of Nepenthes attenboroughi. Either that or they should be sentenced to 10 hours of Juncus acutis deseeding, in the Brick Pit, at Sydney Olympic Park. Which is worse, you decide.

The thread of logic in this article might be fraying fast but I think I’ve proved the idea that writing is like travelling in your very own flying amphibious car. You can go anywhere you like. There is no limit to the parties you can crash. 

 

Appendix

The Brick Pit, at Sydney Olympic Park, began life as a clay mine, which used to produce two thirds of the red bricks found in old Sydney houses. It was also the site for Bartertown scenes in Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. This hole is now one of the last refuges in the Sydney Basin for the Green and Gold Bell Frog. The soil down there is not a great deal more fertile than moondust but the place is looking less like a desert than it once did, thanks to unrelenting efforts to transform it into a haven for birds, lizards and frogs. 

 

 

The Shape Shifting Rubik’s Cube

They say they will kill him, as they look him in the eye
because he is Samurai, he’s never been afraid to die.

Even Gobi and Arctic extremes are too kind for his kind.
In the Amazon and urban grind he tapers body and mind.
Some are jarring in sparring, Mute catches comets in a jar,
brawling takes you somewhere, fistic magic takes you far.
It’s like former greats modeled him, they’re short of parity
He’s no Tyson, Sugar Ray, Money May, Ali or Loma parody.

No warrior is more astute or resolute than Mister Mute,
the fucken turbo mouths are just playing the skin flute.

The corrupt spruiking king loses a wing while he gloats,
his hacks and their totes wannabe match fixing U-boats,
but their impact is frayed and outweighed by dust motes.
Orb reveals how he floats and Mister Mute takes notes.
He’s bound to realize how you’ll capsize, then capitalize.
The secret is to know how you’ll flow when the floors go.
Those who won’t surf the cyclone don’t yo-yo, they dodo.

No warrior is more astute or resolute than Mister Mute,
the fucken turbo mouths are just playing the skin flute.

Is that prankster so named because he just cannot talk,
or is he so framed because he makes motor mouths balk?
Is he ice cold machismo stalking by Robert Frost’s fork?
Is it the art teacher or the killer outlining Orb in chalk?
Mute’s bound to realize how you’ll capsize, then capitalize.
A drill is delving into the dune and droning every tune,
setting Orb up for a bomb that will send him to a moon.

Mute switches stances like a scammer switches romances,
blurs the boundaries between boxing and hip hop dances.
He has the noise to ruin music and music to soften noise,
all the poise and the ploys to sort the men from the boys.
He measures distance like divine computers gauge fractals,
his flying left hook has been known to catch pterodactyls.

They say they will kill him, as they look him in the eye,
because he is Samurai, he has never been afraid to die.