Varnished and Vanished

Jade painstakingly sculpted Myrtle,
the bipedal, amphibious, octopoid,
from mottled marble.
The black garnet pupils
of her green fluorite eyes
looked ready to grow and shrink
in light and shadow.
Mining magnate Martin Martyn
paid more for this lifelike marvel
than his driverless Rolls.

Myrtle was Jade’s lover Opal’s preferred murder weapon,
in Art Museum Mayhem,
her latest theatrical gem.
Jade wheeled the loan on to the studio apartment set.

The place was as chaotic as manic poetry.
Opal’s sister Helena was assembling kitchen cabinets
without instructions, that alone
was as ominous as a tsunami warning in the Maldives.
Their cousin Hugo, had smoked enough weed
to believe a claw footed bathtub,
in the lounge room,
surrounded by a fern jungle,
was a home decorating triumph.
His husband Darius bored holes for picture hooks,
with a drill that hadn’t been tested and tagged
since Reagan continued his acting career
in the White House.

Between beers and bowls of ice cream,
Darius and Helena raced each other up the fire escape,
giggling like toddlers.
They’re in a competition to see who vomits first,
Hugo explained to the bath’s scuba diving gargoyle.

Jade meditated amidst the madness
with the aid of a blind fold,
hermetically sealed ear muffs,
and a cork igloo as thick as the Ross ice shelf.

Upon opening her eyes,
she noticed the sculpture trolley was as empty
as a politician’s promise.
Months of honing her search skills,
for the Federal Police,
proved as useless as a granite dartboard.

Her one thousand litre pot plants had been toppled.
Nobody remembered a mini tornado invading the balcony.
The wine glasses perched on the window sill
looked as stable as Olympic divers.

Opal once told her tower climbing, ex-girlfriend Jacqueline,
she buried cash in pot plants.
Had Jacqui taken her more seriously
than rumours of lunar cactus swamps?
Ecologists cameras ridiculed her crime time location claim.
Only an albino goanna and a graffitied turtle were recorded.
Opal’s radio was found in Jacqui’s back pack.
Detectives wondered if she’d
dropped Mrytle, the amphibious, bipedal, octopoid
into a foam rubber lined dumpster.
Shifty Shannon Shamrock, a homeless man,
camped in bus stop shrubbery,
was her suspected accomplice.
He was filmed climbing into the industrial bin.
His explanation sounded as unconvincing
as stories of Mars being terraformed
by Saturnian cyborgs,
but the damning evidence was circumstantial.
Rumours that Shifty was a pub salesman,
of everything from mobile phones
to comic book tribute toilet paper,
lead nowhere.

Multimillionaire buyer Martin Martyn
had seen Jade’s masterpiece evolve
from a slab to the finished form.
He waited for its twin to emerge,
from beneath her chisels and lathes.
Myrtle the amphibious, bipedal, octopoid, mach two,
was more lifelike than the original.

When Jade returned
from a book exchange adventure,
Myrtle the Second wasn’t herself.
Martin Martyn was as oblivious as an oyster.

After observing Helena glancing nervously
towards the kitchen cupboards,
Jade found the false wall,
behind the pots and pans.

Wrong Angled Triangle

The Bannister sisters and I were a “wrong angled triangle”.
We changed the definition of an elective
and smirked at the principal’s invective.
Every afternoon our gang absconded
through lorikeet infested shrubbery,
for a feast of lascivious grubbery,
and to photograph the grandest vandalism
ever to grace a storm water drain.

In a psychedelic haze we’d gaze
at each and every foaming curl
painters had chosen to unfurl,
on a hippie ship drifting perilously close
to the waterfall at the edge of the world.
Nearby, hamsters hang glided in hurricanes
and dugong harlots waited
for a tie dye t-shirt wearing Bluebeard
to don his dope goggles.
Spear gun wielding, werewolf transvestites
paddling after yowie Voodoo Lords,
weren’t the strangest of the hordes
gawking from those gallery walls.
The artists sounded crazier than your average
Angel Trumpet munching, LSD lunching,
smoke imbibing, needle punching, Kombi zombies,
yet the latest caption to hold us captive read
“I’ve seen the music and the statues speak to me
with or without your shrooms, D.M.T and L.S.D.
Drug adventures are unattractive,
to Mister Naturally Psychoactive,
said the smoke goblin,
drifting from a rosewood pipe
as stretched as a Limousine.
Spontaneity is God,
was chiseled into the concrete
with surprising precision.

While nerds feared their algebra had slipped
we went to a wake in a walk in crypt.
We didn’t mean to miss the maths test,
a blues guitarists tapestry of sound
rooted us to hallowed ground

We spent the final week of school
in an empty mansion playing pool.
A Rolls Royce idling in the driveway,
prompted our escape from Rose Bay.
Revenge mad suits in swift pursuit
went sprawling over a fig tree root.
Textbooks launched into the harbour,
made room for loot as conspicuous
as cyclops’s playing frisbee, with a flying saucer.

After we’d indulged in a heavenly blend
of four hands Swedish, Hawaiian and Thai massage,
I had the Bannister sisters mischievous, angelic faces
tattooed on my back by an Archibald Prize winner.
The dregs of our fortune evaporated in Gold Class.
Another Hollywood doomsday soon arrived.
None of the tsunami surfing Leviathans
headed for the Harbor Bridge survived.

The movie was a prophesy for a calamity.
The girls were a writhing mass of limbs
as they landed in the storm water,
their lifeless bodies snagged and snapped on a bridge.
A playful wrestle was twisted into mutual murder.
The papers claimed our polyamorous arrangement
was rocket fuel for enraged jealous derangement,
a ‘wrong angled triangle’ they called us.

The funeral was as tumultuous as the deaths.
Press cameras were cannoned into brick walls.
Drones sling shotted into driveways.
Fleeing reporters hid in abandoned clay pits,
until disgusted police officers
escorted them from the war zone.

Eventually the myths were buried
in the sediment of sports injury woes
and celebrity gossip.





Untitled by Kedai Lelaki

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I discovered Emerald Saunders in the library.
We shared a patch of winter sunlight.
She was engrossed in Silent Spring,
while I navigated the miserable terrain
of Children of the Dust.

We’d spoke during ancient and modern history
but the library was our silent place,
as were the postage stamps of suburban forest
homeward bound.
As imperceptibly as continents,
we drifted closer.
It took two laps of the sun for furtive glances
to evolve into mesmerized gazes.

That summer Emerald revisited Bridge to Terabithia.
As Jesse discovered Leslie had fallen to her death,
tears rolled down her face.
There was no will I or won’t I moment,
I erased the hairs breadth between us
and clasped her hand in mine.
As Emerald nuzzled against my chest,
the world beyond the reading lounge ceased to exist.
My hands glided across her back.
She smiled as I traced her name.

The Christmas holidays were our first taste
of long distance love.
As I searched for goannas and echidnas,
in the forest separating the front and back nine,
Emerald roamed Banksia scrub,
behind her grandfather’s private beach,
supersonic hours away.

From an antiquated phone booth,
overlooking a submarine sculpture garden,
she shared her talent for tall stories.
The one about a giant earthworm
that thought it was an Anaconda,
after munching through a forest of Angel Trumpet,
was my favourite.
Emerald claimed she married a petal haired warrior,
with a Rosewood exoskeleton, in a recurring dream.
I volunteered to have flowers sewn into my scalp
and find a tree suit in a fancy dress store,
anything to compete with her noble triffid.

Months from graduation,
Emerald’s father insisted they move to Perth.
The University of Western Australia
valued Professor Saunders knowledge
of seventeenth century Dutch explorers,
as much as The Bulls relied on Jordan, Pippen and Rodman. 

Since infancy,
I’d cocooned myself 
in calming evening rituals.
New Year’s Fireworks, February ovens
and tyre torturing hoons
never dented my contemplative armour like Emerald’s absence.
She urged me not to slow to a walk
on the longest climb of our high school marathon.
Our essay duels were as intense as aerial combat,
the letters so numerous
the drug squad grew suspicious.

Once school was over, we drifted apart
as slowly as we’d drifted together.
Unforeseen costs torpedoed my west coast holiday plans.
My parents became street performers.
Their expensive guises ranged from dancing robots
to harp caressing lizard people.
Sinking my landscaping wages into overdue bills
seemed more likely than Santa buying me a plane ticket.
My family shifted from the house I was born in
to a friend’s caravan.
No longer playing chess in our bird attractant garden,
with One Night in Bangkok in the background,
was as disconcerting
as seeing an unfamiliar face in the mirror.

Gemma Wilkinson,
the tenant in our spiritual home,
was as charismatic as a cult leader
but didn’t seem to be selling anything.
A momentary visit, to collect the rent,
turned into a marathon sampling of her C.D shelf.
She marveled over Prince to Rachmaninoff,
with enclopaedic passion.
Gemma promised to forward my mail,
and convinced me to show her photo albums
chronicling Emerald and I’s adventures.
She asked enough questions to be her biographer.
‘Visit your old place any time’ she offered.

Emerald’s flood of letters dwindled to a drought.
Trying to call her from the corner shops
lead to a baffling conversation with a Kinbaku guru.
Had a prank caller prompted a silent number?

‘Next time I visit Aunt Grace, in Freemantle,
I’ll see if Emerald has moved’ Gemma promised.
She returned with unwelcome news.
The decision to write or not
had finally been wrested from me.

‘Stay if you like’ Gemma suggested one night,
as casually as she offered carrot cake.
She silenced my inner debate
by raising her dress over her head
with matador like finesse.
Gemma was as strong as a rugby player,
yet as voluptuous as a fertility Goddess;
her lingerie so delectable,
not even she would’ve looked better naked.

Gemma kept me on a tightrope
between erotic insanity and sated.
She conditioned me to fulfil her every whim.
I kept the bathroom shining
like a sunrise caressed crystal cave
and the garden as immaculate as a Japanese emperor’s.
The contours of her awe inspiring body
and her hypnotic instructions
taught me the subtleties of massage.
Every time I unclasped her brassiere,
to access her Olympic swimmer like back,
she paid homage to the gifted tongues
of unforgettable temptresses.

I was an obedient puppet, as string conscious
as flies are aware of the web.
Gemma’s psychology thesis
looked as familiar as our conversations.

Once she’d completed her degree
she vanished more abruptly
than an escaped serial killer with a passport.
Would heroin cravings have persisted
like my yearning for my massage teacher?

Emerald’s absence remained as mysterious
as the coordinates of the nearest extra-terrestrial civilization.
The day I graduated from university,
I ventured to her former street,
in search of a time capsule she’d buried
on the morning of our first kiss.
Paint was peeling from abandoned houses.
Rooves were buried in Jasmine and Morning Glory.
The remnants of unwanted furniture
were strewn among an emerging Pittosporum jungle. 

As I spotted the mown circle, in Emerald’s backyard,
I felt like Robinson Crusoe
upon discovering Friday’s colossal footprint.
The milk crates and half empty beer bottles
unnerved me like a sleeping dragon.
Rheumy, paranoid eyes peered from a broken window.
Lobbing bark in the squatters direction,
sent him scurrying like a skink.

Walking the graffiti splattered hallways
was as depressing as visiting a vandalized crypt.
Emerald’s room was infested with needles
and cigarette butts.
Strangely, her poster of Sylvia Plath was unblemished.
I rescued it from its feces smeared surroundings.

The telltale fragments of ornamental sandstone
proved elusive in the fleabane and farmers friend forest.
Professor Saunders rust streaked mattocks and shovels remained
Blasting through the loamy topsoil
and waterlogged clay eased my depression.
As I carried the tiny museum to my rustbucket hatchback,
Storm clouds gathered,
like mourners at a child’s funeral.
How long had the fuel gauge been on empty?

Among the memorabilia were photos of The Gallery Café.
Monet and Van Gogh imitations hung on Daliesque wallpaper.
Emerald’s diary said the diner bordered
her grandfather’s beach front property.
I hoped finding her phone book would be
as pivotal as deciphering the Rosetta stone.
Normally I avoided answering machines
like a man prone to anaphylactic shock
shies away from Japanese Giant hornets,
but the gravity of the situation set fire to my comfort zone.

No one returned my calls.
Apparently Alexander Graham Bell is too futuristic
for Emerald’s grandfather’s liking.
I tried sending Emerald letters via him.
The man is more different than David Bowie.
He sweeps up at the local barbers
in exchange for hair for his compost heap.
What would a man like that
do with letters he disapproved of?

I studied for my bachelor of philosophy
high distinctions are oxygen.
In the void between university and permanent employment,
I nearly drowned in my longing for Emerald.
Swimming laps until I was on the verge of drowning
left me exhausted enough to sleep.
If my shoulders protested like mustard gas victims
ordered back to the trenches,
I went cross country running instead.

My psychologist, Doctor Vella,
implored me to stop drinking the spirits of ancient history,
or at least water them down.
Gemma Wilkinson’s the only drug I’ve been addicted to.
Emerald is nobody’s narcotics,
she’s a tropical fruit smoothie
laced with every vegetable in the market garden.

Doctor Vella’s battle with the flu prompted a woohoo.
“Doctor Wilkinson will see you now”,
the receptionist informed me.
I was a blend of trepidation and excitement
as I approached the open door.
The woman gazing out the window
wasn’t the curvaceous powerhouse I’d envisioned.
As she turned to face me
I was as shocked as a Tasered cat.

“I heard about the gymnast that entertained you,
while snails feasted on my unopened letters.
Was she a perfect ten James?’

An ornately framed eight by ten
of Emerald in a wedding dress
and Gemma in a figure hugging tuxedo explained a lot.
“Gem and I met in Freemantle,
after her Aunt Grace tried to convert me
to her cocktail of Christianity and Buddhism,
our romance escalated like a campfire doused in aviation fuel.
Grace watered my plants and brought my mail inside,
whenever she visited with orange poppy cake
and exotic herbal teas.”

“That woman must’ve watched your letter box more intently
than David Attenborough ever gazed at a gazelle.
“Excuse me?”
“If snails dined on your letters,
their banquet hall wasn’t my mailbox.
Me neglecting to read your letters?
That would be like a swarm of locusts
leaving the only grass for a hundred miles untouched.
Your whirlwind romance was as reckless
as sexual relations with a Crown of Thorns starfish.

Emerald listened silently,
with the poise of a martial arts legend,
noting a foolish aggressors flaws.
One could never tell
when a dose of her acerbic wit was coming.
The Kintsugi healed vase,
in the centre of Emerald’s desk,
was the perfect symbol for our after dinner conversation.

I showed her the Sylvia Plath poster
I’d found intact in her vandalised room.
She read me the poem on the back,
in her microscopic handwriting.
‘He’s a touch of tropical splendor
in an arid land.
I’d forgo a tour of crystal caves,
to hold his hand.
He’s rice bathed in apricot nectar
for a troubled soul.
In my dreams we are entwined
upon a Fijian shoal.

He’s every figure in my pantheon.
If he were the weather,
he’d be gentle breeze and steady cooling rain
as fading embers bring on night;
impish play mate, caressing my creativity,
he stands so beautiful
where withering darkness was,
I want to be his pillar of light.’