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.

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.

Soren Sarin Siren, the Soapbox Superstar

Dwite the Sprite Knight, was surprised to see Alan the Asbestosis sufferer, rocketing along, on his Pride Pathfinder 140XL, at a footpath blistering twenty kilometres per hour. Who, or what, was he fleeing? The Pride Pathfinder was no match for the acceleration of Dwite’s 1968 Schwinn Stingray. That beast truly was the chieftain of the footpath.

“Why are you crying Alan, what happened?”

“Soren Sarin Siren, the Soap Box Superstar, said I’m not entitled to compensation.” Allan briefed Dwite on what to expect.

“Don’t worry.
I’ll mail that NAZI admirers mouth to the waste transit station of the Holocaust Museum. On second thoughts, they might think that’s the sick joke
of a deranged psychopath, so I’ll destroy him in a debate instead.”

“Fuck him up, hit him with your thirteen pun combination Dwite” Alan, the Asbestosis sufferer roared, as they closed in on their quarry; who was busy admonishing Cindy
the sexual harassment suit litigant, who’d had the audacity to whine about wine aficionados sleazy slurs. When he saw Dwite he froze in panic.

“Soren Sarin Siren, the Soap Box Superstar, I presume. You baffling, bantering buffoon, I am your angel of doom. Soren, you’ve claimed that Vlad Enterprises shouldn’t have to compensate asbestosis sufferers, who are terminally ill thanks to Thames Vlad’s products. Soren, your mind is a lopsided labyrinth, designed by an idiot, that has been warped by the summer heat and cracked in the cold, outside the library. You’ve never been in there have you. Revisiting your argument is like watching an Ed Wood movie twice. Who is Ed Wood? Ed is to directing movies what Craig Mclouglin is to comedy.
There are worse things in life though and asbestosis is one of them.

Let’s address your argument in support of Vlad Enterprises, if you could call it an argument. It’s like calling a billy cart a sports car, only less convcincing. According to you, expecting Thames Vlad Enterprises, to compensate terminally ill asbestosis victims, from the twentieth century, is like expecting the new owner of a fish and chip shop to compensate food poisoning victims, under the old management. Strangely, I’ve never heard this argument, from a representative of Vlad Enterprises. Soren, you should chair one of their think tanks. If Vlad Enterprises isn’t responsible, why did their shareholders vote in favour of billions of dollars of compensation? Oh, a poor little corporation bullied by the law and disabled pensioners, such a sad and famaliar tale.

Thanks to fibro, Vlad enterprises has more cash in their coffers than Scrooge McDuck. Is the new owner of your analogical fish and chip shop, benefiting from mountains of money, stemming from isolated incidents of food poisoning? How about you take your legal and ethical fiction and hide it in one of the volcanic pimples exploding from your arse. Soren, you are to nudist beaches what Donald Trump is to MENSA…

Bling Hippo Reigns Supreme

Trolleys crashing, miniskirts fluttering,
yobbos hanging from dodgy guttering;
children screaming in rage,
over ice cream they crave
like a junkie does a needle.

There’s Ferris the farrier,
wheeling away enough lager
to sink an aircraft carrier.
He’d sooner accuse me
of giving his dogs mange
than offload loose change.

A soul destroying jumble of silver coins
distracts a thief from my kick to his loins.
Endless Helen Keller imitators flock by.
I may as well be talking to a termite tower.

I’m contemplating packing up.
Amused shoppers greet Bling Hippo
and his jowls with hysterical howls.
‘That cancer research fundraiser,
he gets paid’, that bling lugging cretin,
with more chins than my extended family,
utters in a tone normally reserved for
damning the evils of donating microwaves
to infant craving cannibals.
Bling hippo’s mum tries to mollycoddle,
but her incensed son refuses to cease
his venomous garbled twaddle,
until distracted by the ice cream aisle;
no doubt blubber isle will be a while.

As his mother demeans her beautician,
Bling Hippo returns to wish me dead
by the wires of a NAZI electrician.

As he throws an endless tantrum,
I defend his mum’s Botox dealer
by singing an ageing Barbie anthem.

‘Heirloom Barbie!’

‘That nicotine blonde icon of visual pollution
was a best seller, by the French revolution.’

‘Heirloom Barbie!’

‘Victorian Ken hasn’t been satisfied,
since she’s been partly mummified’

‘Heirloom Barbie’

Bling Hippo’s old bag read my tag and said
‘Rupert you’re boring, ugly and stupid!’

I said ‘you dear are an excitement diuretic,
infinitely worse than experimental surgery
with a six pack of light beer for anesthetic.’

Bling Hippo has the turning circle of a train
but with a little momentum, as I discovered,
his 150kg of lard can cause serious pain.

Corpse Creek Connection

Chase Chandler swiped the virtual cards left, right and up, during his insufferable search for female company, on kindling.com. The super like option had recently been added to the original like and dislike choices. Chase occasionally had the urge to swipe straight down, to super dislike. He’d mentioned that in a questionnaire. For some mysterious reason, the app designers ignored his suggestion.

It was those whose passions were limited to eating, drinking, fucking, sleeping and shopping, that Chase wished to slam with a super dislike. The way they gazed adoringly at their own butts, boobs and abs, in nightclub restroom selfies, appalled him. In his bitter eyes they were as uninspiring as toxic waste dumps in school playgrounds. “Surely bird attractant gardens, sunset painted beaches and forest valley vistas are worthier backdrops than toilet cubicles” he mused.

Minimum height specifiers made Chase’s blood simmer too. His dip from one hundred and seventy five centimetres short, to one hundred and sixty centimetres short, after someone stole his fish tank platform boots, intensified his fury.  The fish within the soles looked remarkably real. Those boots were one of a kind, Chase cherished them more than the 1974 Lamborghini Countach, he’d inherited from his grandfather. Not even stilts could have made him feel as tall as those wonders of the fashion world.

Everyone who has met Chase, via the smorgasbord of single delights known as kindling.com, either considers him too intense, too sedate, too educated, too uneducated, a workaholic, too lazy, too adventurous or too boring. Chase Chandler and boring in the same sentence? That’s like the serene firebombing of hospitals, or oil painting classes for blind cave dwellers, twenty thousand leagues under the sea, it just doesn’t make sense. It’s as contradictory as the sluggishness of warp speed yoga. Nobody has persisted long enough to solve the inscrutable riddle that is Chase Chandler. Most women don’t persevere long enough to discover there’s a riddle to solve.

Stella Mckenzie, Chase’s twenty year old work mate, at Nature Restoration International, couldn’t understand why Chase so rarely meets his kindling.com matches. She relied on a database to jog her memory, when potential partners invited her to everything from Fleetwood Mac concerts to Caribbean cruises. One woman swiped right on Chase’s profile per week. Stella was blessed with a match a minute and that was just during the early hours of Monday morning. Whether it was voluptuous good looks, genius, a thrill seeking spirit, stamina or awe inspiring empathy that suitors sought, they found it in Stella Mckenzie. Chase was in awe of her too, but the age gap was a whopping seventeen years. He didn’t quite have the lungs or the balance to keep up with her insatiable appetite for acrobatic love making, sightseeing and every conceivable combination of the two.

In the next eight years, Chase went on dozens of first dates, half a dozen second dates and one third date. During that time, Stella experienced six lengthy casual relationships, three short lived engagements and finally one marriage, which was showing no signs of wear and tear after eighteen months. Chase could no longer bring himself to believe there was a woman in the world who found him more attractive than bleeding eyeballs or more intriguing than watching varnish dry, while listening to elevator music. He’d had enough.

Late, one Saturday night, he jogged the short distance from his home to Corpse Creek and performed a graceful swan dive from the bridge railing, towards the concrete cycling path below. There was no time to contemplate his mistake, as he struck a deep river pool palms first. The slender rock ledges, that would have obliterated him, had finally been dislodged and sunk to the bottom, just hours earlier. Chase barely had time to think the words “I’m alive” as he desperately thrust his way to the surface.

There was someone else on the bridge, peering down at the concrete cycling track. They climbed on to the railing. Chase accelerated across the path and leapt up the steps, to the top of the gorge, four at a time. He could only hope the figure he’d seen silhouetted on top pf the railing would still be there when he arrived.

“It’s not worth jumping. Stay still while I come and get you down from there” he pleaded with the petite young woman.

“Why is it not worth jumping” she asked. Her voice was harsh and lifeless but her hesitation bred hope.

“How about we discuss why in the nearest café” Chase offered. He’d brought his wallet with him, to make identifying his broken body easier. He’d been too focussed on self annihilation to consider the affect that discovering his torn flesh, smashed skeleton and splattered brains might have had on an inexperienced police officer.

“Please, err on the side of leaning back towards me.” Chase sounded as calm as the lapping of harbour waves.

“I’ve got you” he confirmed.

Lonnie and her saviour’s cafe conversation continued until long after dawn. Chase was surprised to learn she was twenty nine. The discovery that her interest in him extended beyond gratitude surprised him more than news reports of the Lochness Monster being shipped to Sea World would have.

It wasn’t until Chase and Lonnie were living together, that he discovered the fish tank platform boots, in her wardrobe, along with her Sasquatch slippers.

The Man Who Blew Up Hate

Every time 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 and go on living for decades, 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 news, knowing my pain was nothing compared to that of his family and closest friends. 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 in recent years. If they’ve read the Man Who Blew Up Hate, they could well be wondering if I am a Martian. I imagine they’ve been far too busy coming to grips with the void their father’s death 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  songs that have never been played in a church before, 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 he 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 something wilder than Silent Night.

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. No doubt, many of his 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.

According to the angels I’ve interviewed, Dave gave those battle hardened hybrids little thought last time 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 Sydney’s Inner West, except evil.” My angelic sources assure me they’ve never been there, but they’ve heard all about it from more sinful folk.

The Coolest Place in Hell was visible on the Horizon when Dave encountered the Missile Thorn Tree. That gnarled abomination was repulsed by the cheeky grin on his face. Any reminder that not everyone is as miserable as her is an offence punishable by death. Death may be an incomplete experience in hell but it tends not to be a painless one. Dave’s “Turning negatives into positives since 1976” t-shirt was as infuriating to the Missile Thorn Tree as the piranha lichen. That fanged forest coating refused to stop singing I Can See Clearly Now that the Rain has Gone, by Hothouse Flowers.

The Missile Thorn Tree prefers flowers that die an agonizing death, while exposed to ice and fire in equal measure. The piranha lichen has been its only friend, ever since the moss abandoned it. The moss was last seen slithering away, to burn itself to a crisp in a volcano, a fate it much preferred to listening to more of the Missile Thorn Tree’s whining. Obliterating the piranha lichen for refusing to cease its caterwauling wasn’t an option, Dave however was considered expendable.

“Nobody turns my negatives into positives, you nobody” the Missile Thorn Tree screeched as Dave boldly stood within its shadow.

“Do your worst Missile Thorn Tree, it makes no difference to me. I heard that you can’t even shoot down a vulture moth anymore.”

“Can’t shoot down a vulture moth? I can take down a sonic peterodacyl with a single thorn”

“I don’t think so”

“You despicable former human, what the hell are you doing? For the hatred of Satan, put your clothes back on. I’ll teach you not to dance naked in my domain. Why are you smiling? I’ve hit your with two hundred and seventeen thorns and you’re fucking smiling at me”

“You call yourself a Missile Thorn Tree? Being the glass half full kind of guy I am, I’ve decided that you’re an acupuncture tree. I’ve got all the right moves, so you hit me in all the right places. Let’s call it Tandem Acupuncture. We can go into business together and give the money to charity”

“Charities are as disgusting as you are, I hate helping people, spearing them is much more fun”

“I always thought you hated fun. Anyway, I’ve got things to do, people to see, have a lovely day Missile Thorn Tree. They should call me the Mary Poppins of the Satanic Empire”

In the penthouse, above the Coolest Place in Hell, an overconfident Satan snorted cocaine off Madelaine Albright’s butt. The synchronised bursts of semi automatic spud gun fire, corralling his most fearsome demons outside, 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 petunias. 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.

According to my favourite angel, Ju-Lee, the Amphibious Scorpion Dragons grew so impatient while waiting for Dave to show up at Fortress 666, colloquially known as Hate, that they raided Satan’s wine cellar. Dave knew those alcoholics would crack eventually. He became an Alcoholics Anonymous counsellor and marched to their aid. The only Fortress 666 that’s been blown up so far is a party balloon replica.

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. Perhaps 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 were as fresh as yesterday. It was one of those times where people in their forties felt like they were nineteen just a moment ago, a time when you remember just how much people you haven’t seen for aeons mean to you.

Especially during his youth, Dave truly was an adventurer. I wasn’t there 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 detonated too, possibly resulting in the destruction of a letterbox or two. Then again, maybe that’s as fictititious as The Man Who Blew Up Hate, as riddled with rumours as a tabloid newspaper.

What’s that, you’re wondering which crimes have a statute of limitations in NSW? I’m saving my curiousity for other things, like the origin of the leprechauns on giraffe back, that keep batting their eyelashes at me. The odds of me remembering who was allegedly involved in the blowing of letterboxes to smithereens, last century, are as slender as a string of saliva, stretched between Mercury and Pluto. What’s my name again?

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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 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 skyward.
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 all that’s permitted,
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 nonetheless.

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 further 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.

 

 

 

 

 

My Flying Amphibious Car

An edited and expanded version of my Facebook status update, from April 18, 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 embark 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 reading up on 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 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. It used to produce two thirds of the red bricks found in 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 Goldfish Incident

“Sorry I’m late Jill, My Navman
was drunk on cosmic radiation.
Trying to hear street names,
amidst all the slurring,
was like spotting soap suds in an angry sea.”

“You can’t be serious Dwite!
Have you never heard of a street directory?
There’s also those things called road signs
and haven’t you been here fifteen times?
You slept in didn’t you.” Jill asked as accusingly
as if she suspected him of molesting her dog
and tying up her ferret and making it watch.

“You, you slept in didn’t you!” Jill repeated.
“Jill, the truth sounds less plausible
than being spied on by an Amish satellite”

“And what you’ve already told me doesn’t?”

“You wouldn’t understand Jill, you’re not ready!”

“What are you talking about?”

“It’s radiator trouble.”

“If it’s just car trouble
why didn’t you tell me to already?”

“It’s more complicated than that.”

“I’m not your mechanic,
I don’t need to know the details.”

“I’m more in need of a psychologist
than a mechanic.”

“Well that much is clear.”

“To be precise, I need a grief counsellor.”

“I’m confused,
what does that have to do with car trouble.”

“Everything!
I think you better sit down before I tell you.
Quark the Carp, a miniaturized fish,
who lives in my radiator, has died.”

“Bullshit, even you would know to use a fish tank.”

“But Quark could tolerate extreme temperatures.”

“Even if that’s true, isn’t a radiator
a dark, cramped, stagnant place for a fish?”

Dwite gazed at Jill
As though she was the most stupid person
he’d ever had a conversation with
since he’d broken into the spider monkey enclosure
at Taronga Zoo.

“Haven’t you heard of the flair
carps have for telepathy?
Quark the Carp sent me mind beams,
to let me know when to top up the radiator.
He could hardly afford to let it evaporate.
He lived long enough for me to grow very attached,
we became lovers Jill.
It was purely a spiritual connection,
what 80’s pop star Phil Collins
might call a Groovy Kind of Love.
I feel so guilty.
While my car was impounded,
Quark recycled his own urine one time too many.
For years he’s saved my car from overheating
and I wasn’t there to purify his home.”

“Would you like the day off,
to organize a psychiatrist’s appointment?”

“Do you question the sanity
of everyone who has a death in the family Jill?”

“Take time off to give it a funeral then.”

“He’s not an It, his name is Quark.
Yes, I do have funeral arrangement to make.
Dwite produced a scale model of a hearse
and pulled a match box sized coffin from his coat pocket.
Happy April Fool’s Day Jill.”

“Dwite, you nearly had me there.
I’ll have to dock your pay,
for wasting work time with your crazy story.”

“Is that your April Fool’s Day joke Jill?”

“No, I’m serious.”

“I’m serious too Jill,
serious when I say it’s a public holiday.
April Fool’s Day again. April Fool’s Day 360
Quark the Carp exists, but he’s alive and well
I must go’ Hershel proclaimed,
more suddenly than a switch in Arctic weather.
“It’s time to sample the juices
of the Levitating Star Fish Masseusses.”

“You’re insane”

“The Star Fish Masseuses would agree,
they’re a psychedelic rock band from Gosford.”