The Lemming Shepherds

The shrieking gale slowed to a dying breeze.
Eastern rosellas, galahs and gang gangs
flocked to distant billabongs.
Canvas tents shieled elderly tourists
from the February oven.

In the village,
dog walkers paused on grassy islands.
Three year old Ben thought the’d tamed the kangaroos,
who’d emerged from the forest
to graze in the twilight.
“Are they circus kangaroos” he wondered
as they slipped through a barbed wire fence unscathed.
He didn’t ask Uncle Bertie,
who was famous for staring at half empty bottles
as though they were encyclopaedia sets.

“Come on Aussie come on”,
cricket ad crowds chanted,
on Bertie’s black and white TV.
Patriotism was a virtue
long before Ben learned the word,
until it was as vacuous as the evasive waffle
of propaganda spruiking Prime Ministers.

In the ensuing years:
there were lakes to kiak,
beaches to explore,
shells to collect
and missions to Endor to direct.
The bushland was an Ewok planet one day
and steaming jungles
of World War Two Papua New Guinea the next.
Paddocks were every sporting arena,
from the Roman colosseum to Wimbledon.
The village was more parallel universes
than the second hand bookstore
could cram into its science fiction shelves.

Today, the forest is scarred with golf courses
and lakefront mansions
as uninspiring as toilet blocks.
The serenity has been murdered
by go karts, trail bikes and jet skis
as numerous as the goannas once were.

On the towering new council chambers
“The Lemming Shepherds”
was sprayed with Rembrandt precision.
That strange merger of skeletons and tree trunks,
haunted environmentalists and property developers alike.
Following the mayor’s enraged editorial,
his weekender was marred with the same phrase.
Coffins full of wallaby bones,
were left on his front lawn.
His dreams were invaded
by a figure in a lizard skin mask,
whose rage was as tangible as a vat of acid.
Sleeping pills could not banish him.
Closing the new driving range
and nurturing the land, until the forest reclaimed it,
hardly softened the fury in his weaponised eyes.
Donating his assets to environmental activists,
was as ineffective as resigning.
A best selling autobiography
entitled Confessions of an Environmental Vandal,
dissolved the nightmares.

Unidentified

Xerxes Lagoon exists to paint music
in clouds of ambient noise.
The disembodied heads of composers
stare from his rhythmic auroras.
Picasso called him the Sultan of Synethesia.
Dali called him the oddest roller
in the pinball parlour of life.
Those who question the authenticity of his eccentricity,
their sluggish, shrunken brains are lacking electricity.

Enroute to an artists retreat,
Xerxes was oblivious to the jarring motion
of the all terrain vehicle.
He didn’t notice the driver swerve
to avoid a coyote.
We could’ve been on a dancefloor,
in a rodeo arena,
or a cooking pot, for all Xerxes knew.
He was shocked to discover
the rainforest had given way to desert.

Above the cacti canopy,
on a barren hilltop,
the smoke shrouded, blood red sun
glinted off a mysterious object.
It was abstract enough to baffle us all,
yet recognizable enough
to inspire countless hypotheses.
Interstellar spacecraft,
experimental military aircraft,
meteorological research station,
avant garde limousine, in levitation mode.
psychedelic sculptor’s residence,
and interdimensional pixies conference centre,
were among the multitude of theories.

I reached the object from a rocky outcrop.
A sequence of dull thuds,
upon its shimmering surface,
was followed by percussive orchestral brilliance.
It’s vibratory contortions
converted random strikes into eerie melodies.
I couldn’t shake the feeling
it was trying to communicate.
Somewhere in Xerxes comprehending gaze,
lay the keys to the ghost in the machine.

While we watched a hawk descend on a wounded rodent,
the mysterious object vanished.
In its place
was an exquisitely detailed mandala.
Under a microscope,
random imperfections hinted at hand painting.
It was wet when we found it.
Rhiannon concluded it was a gift
from extra terrestrial hippies,
that their sky borne palace
existed to give birth to mind mending art.

Xerxes uttered his first words in weeks.
“Sometimes my ideas solidify.”
He refused to elaborate.
Xerxes next words were “biscuit of light.”
The context was as forthcoming
as a stone age nuclear winter.
Had he descended into word salad
or was he alluding to the nourishing light of reason?

For the duration of the retreat,
Xerxes was quieter than his brushes.
He painted for days, collapsed into sleep
and resume painting before he awoke.
Sometimes he remembered to eat.

Xerxes winter exhibition “Astral Travel,”
blurred the distinction between painting and sculpting.
He’d created aerial views of tree obscured landscapes
we’d passed while his head was buried in a cushion.
The oldest painting on display
predated our desert journey.
It depicted the unidentified object,
on the barren hilltop,
above the cacti canopy,
from a demystifying angle.

Mannequin Man

Charlie has fools believing
snails fleeing the morning sun
are the top fuel dragsters
of his swiftest dreams.
A fledgeling bodybuilder waves his hands
before his glazed over eyes.

“He looks as vacant as a statue.
Let’s call im Mannequin Man”
A chorus of callous laughter ensues.
Predators man every compass point,
and point every compass.

“Leave me alone” Charlie mumbles.

“Leave me alone, leave me alone”
their caustic mimicry gouges.

Charlie ends his reptilian torpor like pause,
by drawing blood with piston paws.
Seven vultures flee in terror,
as their painted T-Rex bursts into flames.
The footpath shudders in revulsion
beneath the smouldering wreckage of his ego.

Charlie sinks back
into the mineshaft of his misery,
an ants stroll from the unconscious giant.

 

The Trespassers

Psychology student Angela Bordeaux and her fiancee, mixed martial arts legend Quentin “the Quiet Achiever” Quinn, were oblivious to the security cameras peering from Angophora hollows. They skirted a series of billabongs, en route to a trail on the verge of vanishing in a Lantana thicket. After that expanse of pretty weeds, miniscule electronic eyes lurked in scattered boulders. Beyond the ramshacle paddock fences in the distance, a hilltop mansion loomed.

“The doors are unlocked. This place is as empty as a library at midnight, there’s no doubt about it” Quentin reassured his apprehensive partner. The surrounding fields seemed devoid of livestock. None of the fences looked like they’d been repaired since Yoda was a twinkle in the eye of an interstellar monk. There was a jungle where the tennis court used to be. Viscous slime was all that remained in the exquisitely landscaped swimming pools.

The snooker table, at the rear of the conference room sized loungeroom, was obscured by a layer of dust an inch thick. Quentin lay across an antique lounge chair, while Angela hunted for a vacuum cleaner. She threw herself into every hoover manouvre like Olympic gold was on the line. Angela was too in awe of Quentin’s Herculean physique, hypnotic green eyes and Newtonian intellect to complain about his appalling laziness. Quentin was intensely passionate about vacuuming all of a sudden, after Angela peeled her dress down to her navel and applied the nozzle to the nipple region of her sheer black lace bra.

Quentin instigated a playful wrestling match. After pinning Angela to the ground, with one arm, he lifted her on to a rosewood dining table and trailed his fingertips over the silk and lace hidden beneath her floral summer dress. Quentin took a break from teasing Angela into a frenzy to unclasp and untie her delicates. He flung he oppulent underwear to a distant corner. Somehow he managed to snag her brassiere on a chandalier, above the mezzanine level. Eventually, Quentin put his awestruck lover over his shoulder, ascended a marble staircase, flung her onto the nearest king size water bed and introduced her to wild pleasures few have even read about.

It took four hours for Walter Nixon the 5th to look away from the taboo shattering marathon on his cinema size screen. As Walter exited his basement apartment surveillance room, hidden cameras continued to record every caress, kiss, lick, thrust and ecstatic squeal. Walter constantly checked the location of his uninvited, yet welcome guests via his watch screen. He carried a taser in his left hand and a twenty two calibre pistol in his right.

For good luck, Walter wore a dental implant necklace, fashioned from the lifelike pearly whites of the voluptuous lingerie model he’d surreptitiously lured to his home two years earlier. Those toothy pegs even had a couple of precious metal and gem stone fillings to give them a more natural look. A taxidermist by trade, Walter had collaborated with a robotics engineer to convert the anonymous model’s corpse into a sex robot. He was more interested in giving his victims names than learning the ones their grieving parents had chosen for them.

Walter was considering selling the curvaceous model’s renovated remains to a Japanese businessman he’d met in an amputee brothel. His offer was generous one. It was an agonizing choice though. The conversation simulator, substituting for the anonymous beauty’s brain, responded more enthusiastically to Walter’s classical guitar playing than any living, breathing woman ever did. Being showered with poetic compliments, on a daily basis, was proving to be addictive.

Quentin’s hound like hearing detected Walter’s careful footsteps on the stairs. All those years of vising headphone nightclubs were paying off. He motioned for Angela to be silent and stood as still as a statue behind the partially closed door.

Walter grew apprehensive, as he recalled witnessing the cobra like reflexes of his adversary on Martial Arts TV. The low calibre pistol felt awkward in his unsteady hand. Firearms weren’t his thing, he preferred to work with electricity and surgical instruments. At the top of the stairs, Walter glanced at the CCTV footage on his watch for the last time, before crossing the marble floor as patiently as a cat stalking a sparrow. Quentin was no sparrow though, he was more like a pterodactyl that has been domesticated by vikings.

Sulphur crested cockatoos were making a ruckus in the silky oaks bordering the yard. Walter hardly had time to contemplate what might’ve triggered their riotous squawking. Raptors, a conspiracy of ravens and a coalition of noisy miners were among the possibilities

Eventually, Walter peered beneath the master bedroom door. He expected to see Quentin’s feet. Their absence left him as confused as a Mediaeval villager waking up in a space station orbiting an exoplanet. The solid oak door crashing down was as unexpected as an earth quake. Quentin “the Quiet Achiever” Quinn has never been a gentle man. He didn’t hesitate to jump on the fallen door, with Walter beneath it.

“Welcome to my trampoline” Quentin bellowed like the maniac he is.

“Please, please that’s enough” Angela yelled in horror.

“How dare you question my actions bitch” Quentin raged once he grew bored of his leaping and stomping.

Quentin the Quiet Achiever Quinn, as he was known to his hordes of naive fans, had had enough of his latest lover. At gunpoint, he ordered the somewhat recovered serial killer to savagely rape her. Eventually he gave Walter a choice between injecting her with dry cleaning fluid and being shot in the testicles. Walter was aghast, he’d intended to keep Angela alive for months.

Necrophilia wasn’t among Quentin’s hobbies but sadism had always been his most burning passion. He took great delight in forcing Walter to have sex with his vast collection of stuffed corpses. Used to having a good nights sleep and a massage before a desecration session, Walter complained incessantly. He didn’t stop  whining until shortly before he collapsed and went into a thirst induced coma. One of his freezer cabinets contained an assortment of human organs in clearly labelled plastic bags. Quentin would’ve ticked canibalism off his bucket list, if he weren’t concerned about the possible side effects interfering with his preparation for his next fight.

“Boring me is a dreadful crime but maybe Angela got more than she deserved” Quentin said to himself, as he  strolled back into the bedroom to get dressed. The twinge of guilt he felt soon faded. He dropped Walter’s pistol into the sceptic tank, before setting off on the long trek back to his vehicle.

Blood streamed from Quentin’s left temple as he was struck by a sling shot propelled ball bearing. Twelve year old Jake Sorenson thought nothing of hunting cockatoos but accidentally killing a human left him on the verge of a panic attack. He contemplated fleeing on his mountain bike but something compelled him to explore the isolated palatial home first.

Jake was drenched in cold sweat and trembling violently as he entered the ballroom sized loungeroom. The bookshelf door leading to Walter Nixon the 5th’s vast basement apartment was open. Nothing in the surveillance room had been switched off. An unlocked door was all that had prevented the distracted Quentin “the Quiet Achiever” Quinn from strolling in. Jake called the emergency number as soon as he spotted Walter’s unconscious form on one of the CCTV monitors.

 

Hellier Hill

Post Sleep

Come to Hellier Hill for hillier hell,
reads the graffitti
carved into Herman’s kitchenette.
The closest thing to diamonds around here
are shattered windscreens.
Herman doesn’t mind the threadbare carpet
and absence of modern appliances.
Warm water,
on a scorching summer’s day,
contrasts pleasantly with the mine field
of Doberman, Rottweiler and pit bull turds
littering the landscape.

During his commute to the Helping Hand Club,
where he endures sixteen hour shifts
as a “bar tender,”
Herman passes the “Have a go, you’ll get a go” billboard.
The toothpaste ad smile of the sloganeer
is as long gone as the local wildlife.
His words cling to existence
like silicon implants on a corpse.

The lascivious smirks of Helping Hand regulars
are as stomach churning as excrement pie.
Journaling between customers
keeps Herman more sane
than the meth head/petrol sniffers
wandering the graveyard like zombie bees.

Pre Sleep

Dusk masks torched forest fumes.
Herman can’t decide
if the human detritus passed out on factory rubble
reeks more of bourbon dregs and bootleg tobacco
or diarrhoea, urine
and scavenged pizza geysers.
The mattresses in the alleyways
have been rotting for so long
the mould outweighs the springs.
Transient furriers squat in abandoned bus shelters.
Roofied stray cats are their fox bait.

A barrage of hailstones
muffles anonymous threats and screams
bouncing off sewage overflow ponds.
The moment the storm passes
torched forest smoke returns.

There aren’t many rate payers in Hellier Hill.
Drug dealers and protection racketeers
keep the plumbing working,
the lights on
and the community gardens
from being stripped bare by human locusts.
They’re not thieves, they’re “tax collectors.”
The authorities will permit them to govern
until the scourge spreads beyond the tollways.

The End

Herman showers in a lukewarm broth
of rust and cholera.
Needles of clear water strike his skin
before his twenty litres are gone.
His final change of clothes
is hidden in a beanbag.
The only payment the laundromat accepts
is oral sex
and Herman can’t afford an errand whore.
He uses the moonless night,
shattered street lamps
and knowledge of the storm water ditches
to evade the patrols.

METHOD ACTOR NUMERO UNO,
reads Herman’s t-shirt.
On the other side of the tollway,
a baseball throw from the Helping Hand Club,
he sinks to the shower tiles
and basks in the steaming torrent.

Despite his midnight journey,
Herman wakes at four
and searches for his silk uniform
before recalling his escape.

Limbo

Just when you think
the American government’s image
can’t burn more poisonously,
a means of further obliterating
its charred blood and shit stained reputation
looms on the horizon.
The state sanctioned murder of Julian Assange
is nigh.

Trump’s limbo stick is so low
Rubber Man mistook it for the skirting board.
Even the rats,
with their collapsible skeletons,
can’t fathom how he slips beneath it.
Can the 45th best president of the United States,
maintain his ranking until 2020?
Dig up Richard Nixon
and he’s bound to slip to forty sixth.

The state sanctioned murder of Assange
is nigh.
To rescue him from extradition,
you must fund his legal magician.
Head to wikileaks.shop,
to dynamite destiny.
N/A F.B.I, C.I.A, N.S.A,
peaceful justice,
not the lit wick of doomsday.

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 ironbarks.
Its sandstone exoskeleton
is immune to the ravages of forest fires.
Underground it’s shaped like a bottle.

Will peers through his telephoto lens.
The lantern room is ready to illuminate the canyon.
Will 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 stream.
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 dwarves
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.

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.