Bart Plunkett, Naturalist, Explorer, Educator Extraordinaire.

Windy Lakes resident Bart Plunkett has always been too busy demonising the Australian Greens to read their Bushfire Risk Management policy. How could it possibly reflect their views on hazard reduction burning and other fire hazard reduction strategies more accurately than Bart’s alcohol and cocaine fuelled rumour mongering?

When he’s not defaming the Greens on YouTube from the comfort of his loungeroom, Bart is busy traipsing through urban bushland margins, livestreaming his inane, profane, insane conservationist lampooning rants. The Greens have never been in government, but Bart assures me they’re solely responsible for everything that’s wrong with the world, from bushfires to unemployment, to the cyborg pixies that haunt his 1967 Holden Torana. Every Friday the thirteenth, they regale him with tales of the ballet jellyfish, employed to tickle the swamp slugs of Varboa and other true stories. The cyborg pixies that is, not the Greens. Please excuse my digression.

Like I said before, Bart Plunkett is not the most eloquent orator. As he waltzes through Windy Lakes Reserve, it’s difficult to follow the ravings racing from his ramshackle brain, but I’ve managed to catch a few snippets here and there. From what I can gather, he’s still furious about the evil environmentalists banning cattle from munching through all those critically endangered bushes and grasses.

“Them cows were doing a great job of stoppin the build up of bushfire fuel” apparently. Seriously, who needs less destructive methods of bushfire hazard reduction? Bart tells me those “diabolical greenies” have even installed gates and bollards. How will the Rural Fire Service get in? They’ve got water bombing helicopters at their disposal, but obviously nothing as advanced as keys.

I’ve asked Bart if he’s pleased about rubbish dumpers having to lug their broken furniture, pre loved potted environmental weeds and obsolete electronics into Windy Lakes Reserve now, instead of conveniently backing a tip truck right into the forest like they used to. Is he happy about the lack of hoons doing donuts and burnouts on the critically endangered shrubs holding the banks of Windy Lakes together? How does he feel about the absence of freshly burnt out cars, since the gates were installed? He just mumbles something about needing hearing aids. Below is a passage Bart has selected from the transcript of his latest Greenie lambasting video for me to read to you.

“The Greens are responsible for the build up of bushfire fuel in Windy Lakes Reserve. I’m not promotin some sort of tin foil hat, tree hugger bashing, conspiracy theory, this is as legit as the claims the royal family are reptilian shapeshifters.

Greta Thunberg, she’s one of them reptilian too. Just the other day, she triedta tell me me climate change increases the risk of forest fires. I said listen ere darlin, it’s got nuthin ta-do wit climate change, global warmin is as mythical as the moon landin.” When asked to produce a record of the text conversation between himself and Greta Thunberg, Bart Plunkett claimed it had been accidentally deleted at both ends.

Speaking of records, Bart holds the world record for the lowest marks in Conservation and Land Management, Certificate One. During the weed identification exam, Bart became the first non vision impaired person to confuse African Boxthorn, a sprawling shrub with spikes large enough to crucify a Tyrannosaurus Rex, with a benign looking succulent known as Mother of Millions. Clearly it wasn’t enough to rupture the gargantuan pimple of Bart’s arrogance.

Why hasn’t the popularity of Bart’s brilliant idea to permit cattle to roam Windy Lakes Reserve, to denude it of all that burns, spread like wildfire in the ecological community? Why leave the critically endangered shrubs holding the banks of Windy Lakes together intact? Shouldn’t we just allow the reserve to erode until all the canopy trees have been uprooted, rotted and fragmented into driftwood? Yes, I know, so what, who cares if Windy Lakes Reserve erodes until it becomes a mosquito infested swamp that buries the roads, there won’t be any chance of fire.

Here’s a novel idea, instead of giving free reign to ruminants that eat as indiscriminately as locusts, why not employ forest regenerators to strategically thin out the fringes of Windy Lakes Reserve and mulch enough sticks for a hazard reduction burn to be a good idea so close to housing? Bart thought that sounded alright until he realised greenies came up with it. Conservationists, ecologists, environmentalists, Greens, Greenies, it’s all the same to him.

A Different View

An Eminem clone entered the vestibule,
perusing his girlfriend’s copy of “That’s Life”
and treating a Halloween article within
more seriously than any stock market wunderkind,
ever took the Wall Street Journal.

“Says here they is getting married in a graveyard”
he commented
to his tattoo parlour advertisement partner.

“They like Gothics or something are they Ramble?”
she replied as indifferently as a robot.

“Yeah,
if they invited me to their weddin,
I wouldn’t fuckin go.
They held the reception in a crypt,
the sick freaks!” Ramble raged.

To the contrary:
I imagined worries dimmed by headstone shadows,
guests sipping from jewel encrusted goblets,
skulls stolen from the university’s anatomy department
overflowing with snack food,
dessert disappearing faster than grave robbers at dawn;
lovers exploring lush, green, graveyard paths,
bathed in full moon light,
gazing at gold lettering on marble headstones,
as they whisper “unto death do they part.”

Horizon Hill

Dust devils pirouette across the track.
Water purifiers hang uselessly from Will’s belt.
Cows search the crumbling lake floor
for drinkable pools.
Foxes gorge themselves on rotting fish.
Overhead,
a conspiracy of ravens harass wedge tailed eagles.
Two days of water hug Will’s torso.
He sips sparingly.

Shadows lengthen.
On Horizon Hill,
an inland lighthouse towers over trees.
Its sandstone exoskeleton
is immune to the ravages of forest fires.
If one could see the underground portion,
the building would look like
an office tower sized bottle.
There’s no administration here.
The nearest bureaucratic nonsense
is distant enough to give Pheidippides a stroke.

Will peers through his telephoto lens.
The lantern room is emptier than the dams.
Its gold plated exterior is as brilliant as the sun.
He follows the ridgeline
to the subterranean entrance.
The Autumn coolness within
is as soothing as silk sheets.
Will saturates his sun mask
with a splash from an underground river.
A cap torch lights his climb to the cellar.

In the cavernous temple above,
serpentine flute songs
wrap themselves around serene dancers.
A wild xylophone solo
is accompanied by the scent of innumerable orchards.
Voices bounce from ceiling to stairs,
like crazed rubber balls.
The words “I knew you’d come,”
intermingle with the riotous laughter of kookaburras.
The president of the Obscure Poet’s Club
appears to float into the cellar
upon a fog tinged cushion of dazzling light.

Upstairs, in the cupped marble hands
of Graham H Goalposts Smith,
a rosewood lectern awaits the lone traveller.
Will climbs the ladder
inside that towering psychedelic Buddha.
Haikus, limericks and sonnets
drift from Graham’s lofty grasp.
The words hang in the air,
long after the poet’s lips have ceased moving.

“LSD is superfluous here”
says the sulphur crested cockatoo
frolicking on the piano keys below.
After witnessing the statue’s eyes move,
Will isn’t so sure.

Outside, it’s forty in the shade.
A procession of profusely sweating midgets
lug their sedan chair lounging court jester
past skeletons of drought massacred fish.
A dust storm obscures the remnants of the lake.

Inside, the celebration of the bizarre intensifies.
Bar staff masquerade as bunyips and Banksia men.
“Orthodoxy is anathema”
the ivory tinkling cockatoo yells
at a man in a Hawaiian tuxedo,
with tadpoles swimming
in his transparent platform soles.
“I know mate” he replies.

Featured

Duel

Rabbits as flat as Lebanese bread
are as numerous as the potholes.
Scavengers gamble with rodeo bound traffic.
Ravens mob stalking foxes.
Drought stricken skies
and Mistletoe drained Grey Boxes
are painted on murky remnants of dams.
Cows wade in,
to guzzle cool, sediment rich water.
The Jackie Dragons are as still
as the grey lichen dappled shale.
If the sun baked creek beds could speak,
they’d scream for rain.

On the hillside,
the audio water boarding
of a chainsaw and brush cutter orchestra ceases.
Purple Haze melds with the horizon,
as forest regenerators lop African Olive and Privet Saplings.
Has the Antarctic Aurora
ever matched visions conjured
by Hendrix’s Fender Stratocaster feats?
If the crew could paint what they see,
they’d be psychedelic Rembrandts.
As Purple Haze fades,
Miles Davis’ sublime rendition of Nature Boy
emerges from dusty silence.

Horns signal a premature ending.
It’s forty in the shade,
ice water is liquid paradise,
flavour as superfluous as overcoats.
As the convoy of utes departs,
clay swarms like locusts.
The Yowie sighs impatiently,
as a heat drunk newbie
makes locking gates look as difficult as surgery.
It fades from this universe,
as a tourist infested hot air balloon
drifts overhead.
Eventually it re-emerges,
with its crystal plated guitar.
The instrument finally consents
to a melodious massage.

“This one’s called the Raptor’s Descent”
the Yowie informs the ravens
with a telepathic montage.
Wedge Tailed Eagles zoom from the blue,
to perch on the Yowie’s burly shoulders,
as its labyrinthine chords coalesce into guitar gold.
The waves in the ocean,
where Hendrix’s spirit surfs,
mirror the rhythm.
His reply comes as naturally as breathing once did.
And so the duel begins.

Genocide

In the howling wind,
the meadow is as lively as the ocean.
Amidst wild green waves,
the last pre European stone cottage stands.
Grass conceals the foundations
of neighbouring homes.
Colonists built fences from the rubble.
Villages older than the pyramids
were evidence of stolen tribal lands,
their destruction as predictable
as burnt crops, poisoned wells,
small pox laced clothing
and corpses rotting in dams,
until drunken murderers
ceased celebrating their acquisitions,
to dump them in mass graves.
The last cottage became a manure storage shed,
a means of perpetually shitting on
the ancestors of slaves,
forced to tend sheep and cattle.
The dregs of the herd
have long since been scavenged,
by dingos and foxes.
A cocktail of beauty and grief remains.

The Messenger

Everyone said that horseback drama
had taken it’s toll on Nautilus Glen.
He was prone to vanishing into mystical haze.
The former jockey’s dreadlocks
concealed him like a burka.
He knew the gardens too well to part them.
After what appeared to be another morning
of sending telepathic messages
to a statue of Zeus,
Nautilus turned to address me.
When he finally spoke,
his words painted a picture as disturbing
as a Munch and Picasso hybrid.
“The frozen wasteland of his soul is on fire.
His granite liquefying gaze,
makes sparks of supernovas.
His enemies melt like hail stones
stranded in the core of the sun.
What say you, Surreal Art Pyschonaut?

“Um, um, that’s amazing” I muttered,
hoping supreme admiration
is still the solution to the equation
that is Nautilus Glen.
He shook his head.
“What it is, is dangerous” he mumbled,
as he glanced nervously over his shoulder,
before continuing his silent conversations
with stone locked divinity.
“Whose granite liquefying gaze” I wondered.

It was 3a.m
when my upstairs bedroom window shattered.
As I hurried downstairs, my bowels loosened.
Thankfully the doors were locked and bolted.

.22 calibre rifle in hand,
I gazed at the yards from the balcony.
There was something inhuman,
about it’s leering grin.
It’s eyes made the Spanish inquisition
look as harmless as a bee hummingbird.
Aware I was on the verge
of pulling the trigger,
it stopped.
It’s hideous smile broadened,
as it turned
and casually walked away.

I wasn’t sure whether to call the police,
a psychiatrist, or an exorcist.
Footprints leading into the forest
made up my mind.

Denial

You live in a fantasy world,
where false rape allegations
are as common as shoplifting in a ghetto.

She may be stubborn and bossy, but she’s not a liar.
Open your eyes to the evil in the turd you call sire.
It’s too horrible, so all you consider is vindication.
Forget your foolish talk of her insane imagination.
I’ve seen her fists fly, in sleepwalking nightmares.
It’s marathons in hell, the demons come in pairs.
Then there is the crop of bruises and torn clothes.
Knives beneath her pillow, what do you make of those?

They cremated him
because the worms didn’t want him.
Will you peer into the darkness
before the Reaper arrives?

Tax Man

Miles Somerset’s mental map of his briefcase’s contents was as accurate as his dream images of his garden, a place where he’d spent countless hours reading tax law tomes, tracts of tax philosophy, tax themed novels and tax inspired poetry. There was nothing tax related that hadn’t happened there. He’d even hired a beautiful bikini clad woman to tattoo a calculator on to his chest, in the shade of his Frangipani tree and paid cash to avoid the G.S.T. It was arguably his most exciting acts of tax evasion that financial year. Miles occasionally branched out into other topics, but managed to view them all from the perspective of tax.

Overseas holidays hardly dimmed Miles tax obsession. While being treated to panoramic views of the Amazon, he was busy contemplating the tax deductions he could get for the pilot, if he were among his clientele. As he focussed more intently on the shrinking expanse of river riddled jungle, he considered how he could conceivably fatten the tax return of the tour operators below.

Whether viewing a South American jungle or a French mediaeval jail, Miles’ tax dissecting, tax deflecting, tax collecting mind was in overdrive. At the age of twelve, he’d made a conscious decision to leave the spontaneity of childhood behind. He still loved to think on his feet during tax related crises though. Otherwise he wasn’t one to improvise, with the possible exception of his odes to the Medicare levy, which he composed while busking at railway stations with his ancient classical guitar.

For exercise, Miles lifted filing cabinets overladen with tax related documents. He also practised a blend of Brazilian ju-jitsu and free style wrestling, augmented by Thai boxing. One never knew when some aimless thug would need to be disciplined for interrupting Miles almighty schedule. He’d pinned a few would be wallet snatchers to the ground in his time and tortured most of them, usually by quizzing them on the details of their tax return. No matter who their accountant was Miles invariably left them devastated by missed opportunities for deductions.

It was while Miles was seated on a park bench, reading the Financial Review, that he first spotted the hornet like drone in his peripheral vision. It accelerated so rapidly it appeared to vanish from one spot and reappear in another. Miles was too engrossed in an article on the history of taxation in the colony of New South Wales, to notice the hornet like contraption hovering above him. It sent a signal to the interdimensional craft lurking above the clouds. If it weren’t for its radar absorbent force field, it would surely have been confronted by a squadron of fighter planes already. The ship was seen by hundreds of commercial airline passengers, on several flights, but before anyone had time to video or photograph it, it teleported out of range.

Miles finally realized something strange was happening when he was enveloped in a mysterious cloud of luminous gas. By the time his feet left the ground he was in an R.E.M state. He remained so until he was onboard what his nephews would’ve called the mothership. Miles called it an unforeseeable interruption to his schedule, which on his scale of disasters was akin to genocide. The temporary paralysis that fastened him to the gleaming white floor did nothing to improve his mood.

Once he was permitted to sit up and open his eyes, Miles discovered he was in the middle of an indoor stadium built for beings who were two foot tall at most. Unseen instruments scanned his internal organs from a distance. Nanobots piloted submarines through his bloodstream. Literally thousands of tests had been conducted by the time Miles suspected anything odd was afoot.

Miles vaguely humanoid captors possessed noise cancelling translation helmets that could decipher most languages within a one trillion light year radius. They were a vast improvement on the crude sound of primitive Earthling speech intermingled with the translation. Miles skull had been mapped weeks ago, from a distance, by his captors manufacturing robots. The mobile factory they operated had mined, refined and crafted the necessary materials into a custom-made translation helmet that fitted him as snugly as his eyes fitted their sockets.

At first, Miles imagined the translation helmet was protective equipment for an upcoming gladiatorial contest and that the extra terrestrials seated in what he thought was a commentary box, spoke English with a London accent. The truth eventually dawned on him. If he’d had the opportunity to hear his captors language it would’ve sounded vaguely like classical music to his uncomprehending ears.

“I don’t know who you guys are or how you mutated into your current form and quite frankly I don’t give a fuck but if you don’t return me to the park from which you abducted me, right now, I’ll report you to the ATO, the IRS, the IMF and worse” Miles raged.

The aliens didn’t know whether to laugh or cry at the level of denial it took for Miles to confuse them with genetically damaged humans. He was far more intelligent than the golden retriever they’d interviewed a few hours ago, but judging by some of his errors one wouldn’t think so. They’d never gotten used to the frequent, out of context, apparently sexual references, typical of English-speaking Earthlings. Their boredom, stemming from being insulted with just one adjective, had grown since they’d had the contrasting pleasure of talking to Robin Williams. They’d been tempted to adopt him as a pet.

Miles threats were even less intimidating, to the diminutive extra-terrestrials,, than the barking of the golden retriever, who had threatened to eat them if they didn’t prepare a banquet for him. They possessed a vast array of weapons that could do everything from programming Miles to tear out his major arteries, with a pair of pliers, to imploding his brain. Their means of activating these highly intelligent weapons were as numerous as the potential causes of death.

What did frighten the tiny interdimensional travellers was the network of microscopic computers embedded in Miles’ body. Their computer hardware experts confirmed they’d been installed by the Slorg’s, a war mongering Alpha Centaurian species, who possessed the astral projective, psychokinetic and pyrokinetic powers to remould marble statues from light years away. Their extra sensory abilities paled into insignificance, in comparison with their intellects. Interfering with a Slorg research specimen was potentially more dangerous than swimming naked in a volcano. There was no option but to release Miles immediately, draft an apology letter and contemplate the best way to bargain for their lives.

Another mysterious cloud of luminous gas transported Miles back to the park bench, where he’d been relaxing with a copy of the Financial Review. Miles was extremely impressed with his authoritative display onboard the gigantic experimental aircraft. Bowing to his reflection in the duckpond wasn’t enough. He further highlighted his supremacy with a shadow kickboxing exhibition, for the homeless people congregating in the old band stand. What was meant to impress them only served to terrify them. They cheered when Miles finally left the sanctuary of the park for the tax related adventures that awaited him in the office. In response, he raised his arms in triumph.

By the time Miles realized he’d left his copy of the Financial Review on the park bench, he was already in the pedestrian tunnel leading to Somerset Tax Consultants. He ran back to retrieve the newspaper. The thought of going over his media budget by four dollars was intolerable. Miles took no notice of the golden retriever running alongside him until it snatched his newspaper and galloped towards a heavily wooded area of the park. The homeless people in the bandstand laughed uproariously as Miles gave chase. He cursed like a gangster as mud splattered his trousers.

The mischievous Labrador finally dropped the teeth punctured, saliva saturated newspaper at the feet of a pin stripe suit clad oddity. The Slorgs had been too hasty in the development of their new Homo sapien avatars. Their facial expressions weren’t quite natural. They reminded Miles of the sex robot he’d discreetly purchased during his trip to Tokyo.

Miles couldn’t resist the opportunity to do business “Sir, there’s no need to steal my newspaper and corrupt this poor, innocent animal in the process. If you’re looking for a financial adviser, there are several talented associates of mine whom I can recommend, depending on the size of your portfolio and your investment needs.”

“Silence Homo sapien, I have no need for the quaint wealth proliferation strategies your dumbass friends wish to foist on me. I’ll let you in on a little secret, that beautiful tattooist, who illustrated your torso with a calculator, wasn’t really a tattooist, it was one of our I.T specialists. It injected probes into your bloodstream. These probes collected the necessary raw materials from your organs to build a computer network, for the purposes of conducting research into the Homo sapien immune system. We plan to use the resulting discoveries to improve medical treatment for the hundreds of species of hominids on display in the wildlife parks, on our home planet.

“The Orbloober’s, the tiny creatures who abducted you this morning, have been terrified of us ever since we vaporised some of their hospital ships, in response to their unwitting theft of some of our research specimens. They really should be more careful. We’ve had quite enough of reading their apology letters. Anyway, it’s been nice to talking to you, I’ve got things to sabotage, places to be, creatures to kill”

Miles watched in awe,  as a tiny reconnaissance drone, that had been briefly trapped in Gary the golden retriever’s intestinal tract, flew out one of his nostrils.

“I’ve been looking for that for hours. No, it is not food” the Slorg explained to Gary, with what sounded like cacophonous barking to Miles. He was momentarily distracted by the sight of a wedge tailed eagle. When he looked around again the tall, odd looking stranger and Gary the Golden retriever were nowhere to be seen. Miles wondered if he’d inadvertently ingested psychotropic drugs, as he headed back in the direction of Somerset Tax Consultants.

 

 

 

 

 

The Trial of Billy Collins

The court finds the defendant
guilty as charged,
of five hundred and eighty two counts
of promulgating joy and serenity inspired verse.
The court finds the defendant
guilty as charged,
of seven hundred and twenty eight counts,
of writing poems accessible to the masses.

Mr Collins,
How can English literature student royalty
feel superior to commoners,
when you use such tiny words
to say more in one stanza
than they can
in scathing five thousand word reviews?

Mr Collins,
the bamboozlement genre
has been looking as battered as the Sphinx,
ever since you arrived,
with your glorified nursey rhymes,
that have the audacity to outsell novels.
Your work is overladen with peace and love.
Meanwhile hate and misery fuelled verse
languishes in the background,
like a street carnival corpse.

While the complainant finishes serving
his five year maximum insecurity sentence,
at Shakespeare University,
where you moonlight as an English professor,
the court finds it necessary
to relieve you of your pen license,
before the streets run red with ink.

Chess Man

Chess man was a one man legion,
undefeated in the Sydney Region.
And to every onlooker’s delight,
he never ran from a rap battle,
or declined a break dance fight.

He informed castle breakers,
wearing sturdy pace makers,
wielding their walking sticks
against reps of undertakers,
that a knight would bounce
off his plastic horse snout,
as his super sonic queen,
took that mutha fucka out.

Chess man tried to explain
it was nothing but a game,
as the first spray of bullets
ripped through his frame.