How I Got To Memphis
When you do something repetitively you lose the hunger.
And today feels like yesterday.
This whole thing.
and I ain’t hungry no more.
I was at Malabar and thought I saw a snake, an eel in the water. Turns out it was a bird, one of those long-necked sheilas that goes fishing. Anyway, she took a dive and I tried to track her direction and speed to see where she’d come up out of the water and I reckoned she was going to smack into the wall of the ocean pool. Smarter than me, she came up early with a fish, but it was flapping around a bit and she dropped it and me, watching intently as I was, exclaimed rather loudly “OH!” and looked up and around for conformation but it was just me and a Chinese fisherman standing on the rocks and he looked at me and he shook his head and he turned his attention back to his own fish.
I often think of sunsets;
Over mountains ranges,
And outrageous deserts,
Way out west.
Past my friends Bluey, Gairdner and Fraser.
Past the triplets Fowler Smokey and Streaky.
Over to Bluff and on to Meelup.
Where the sand goes north and south for miles,
And is stopped by no stone or cliff or bay,
Where the sun sets proper over the Indian.
It was a Saturday and a fine day,
And they’d be up, I know.
We shared coffee in silence,
I wondered if they had plans,
if they would call friends,
if friends would call them.
I wondered if they were accepting their wishes with grace,
if they looked forward to today, or if it was a burden.
Did they have lunch planned or a dinner?
Did they buy themselves a bottle of Mezcal,
The fancy stuff in the green bottle they love?
The stuff we used to have in small glasses next to our beers.
Would they smoke a cigarette in the morning?
I know they didn’t smoke till after noon,
so maybe just the coffee, and the fresh air,
the sun in their courtyard,
the cool in their chest as they took their first deep breath,
the light in their eyes.
I continued to turn wrenches.
I looked at cranes outside the factory doors
and looked at my phone
and placed that phone out of sight.
I hope everything is bright,
and your feet light,
your mood lifted,
your worries at ease,
your friends many and close,
your hunger sated,
your thirst quenched,
your heart filled,
and all the joyous miracles come to you,
as you have come to exist in the world.
I said all these things.
And that had to be enough.
Because you deserve more than kind words
and that prize should not include
birthday wishes from an old lover,
thinking of you.
Fridays start with instant noodles, coffee and nicotine,
with good intentions and lists.
With multiple trips up and down the stairs,
because you forgot.
You always forget.
Breakfast and showers and teeth and washing all done,
You stare at not one but two screens.
At sporting equipment.
At sporting equipment on a rainy day you can’t even walk through,
Let alone cycle
Five hours and two screens later
your brain is screaming for understimulation,
from a desire to feel anything but what you’re feeling,
for an excuse to keep your head out of the wall.
And your belly from becoming the mixing bowl for red wine…
… And antipsychotics
On Friday the rain buckets.
On your leather shoes.
On your leather jacket.
On your waterproof life.
On Friday the metro is jammed up.
On Friday you can’t find a park.
You just wanted some chips,
just a bag of fucking chips.
Travelling north you notice the traffic grind.
It takes fifteen minutes and a dozen light changes
to crawl one hundred meters over the avenue.
You notice everyone going back to busy,
too busy to notice life is getting worse.
A second attempt at chips is a little more successful,
The second set of shops is rammed
and middle age men in their sex-red cars
go the wrong way down a one-way road
and aggressively avoid your stare.
Too much Friday spent waiting.
Waiting at the traffic lights,
waiting to turn right,
waiting for an able bodied teenager
to walk impossibly slow over a zebra crossing.
Waiting for Kentucky fried chicken.
Finally you’re at the place you didn’t plan to be.
Here you can dip your now cold chips into less cold potato and gravy,
you can twist the bones in your wings and turn them into nuggets.
You can wink at the persons in the car next to you as you greasily, greedily devour your zinger burger.
As you watch the Pacific roll in.
Then on Friday I return,
and just as soon I try my best to keep an impression of the ocean behind my eyelids, so that I may come back to it someday.
Through my window I gleefully admire an older woman in activewear spark a durrie
and another woman fifty paces away but only one from the cliff edge,
I wonder about asking if she’s going to jump,
and if so would she like company?
And I fall asleep and wake up again and again.
I wake up with a question and mutter into my phone
“Definition of soliloquy”
Because there’s no way I could spell it.
And I fall asleep.
I am woken once again by obnoxious blonde grommets,
I wonder with their blandsome looks their polished faces, their foul mouths and their fouler confidence,
I wonder would they one day come to terrorize an adolescent me?
Friday closes in and you can’t make out the waves.
The lights in the car park sting your eyes,
and you stare past the rocks to the ocean…
…A couple walk into the middle distance,
lock eyes, then mouths,
and for some reason you avert your own eyes,
so as not to interrupt their moment
As they interrupted yours.
Z&A Christmas Story
There was a hollow knock that was Log’s head hitting the weatherboards. Maybe it was the noise or the pain that woke him up but the result was the same. It was dawn, before sunrise, but with enough light to see everything one would want to see. Dark enough to disguise the bugs and rabbits and horse shit.
Log reached for a plastic bottle on the sideboard only to curse it out for being empty. He knew now was the liminal space between drunk and hungover and he needed to outrun the latter at a pace. He remembered going to sleep in a fever-like dream and wondered how the room could be so cold now or how he would ever leave his bed. Bravely, he thought, he threw his legs off the side and pulled on a pair of jeans and a jumper and waddled to the tap. No one knew why he waddled for the first quarter hour of his day, not even Log knew.
Log prayed in a two handed wave to the sky that in his over indulgent state the night before he at least had the sense to clean the kitchen. The only evidence lay in the bottom of a tumbler where a sticky liqueur had dried and a very alive and distressed fly had dried to it. Log took the glass outside and shook it out and the fly flew and he felt he had done something altruistic until he was at the sink and noticed two of the fly’s legs still dipped in what he now supposed was Campari. Log filled his plastic bottle, slugged it down and filled it again. He filled the plastic bottle, the kettle and then tumbler and sat it in the sink, legs and all. Log caught his sorry reflection in the glass of the cupboard and cracked a big toothy grin in an attempt to lighten the mood but as toothy as the grin was it was still minus two teeth up top and to the right. To Log the missing teeth represented dentists and bills and time he did not wish to think about at this moment. Instead he tried to remember how much fun he had in loosing those teeth as he flicked on the kettle.
Still getting his bearings, Log stumbled into the front room which doubled as his bedroom. He opened the door outward to a rush of what he supposed would be freezing air but seemingly only warranted a “Caw, a bit early for that”. The sun was still hiding behind the hills to the east but the trees began to evidence it’s fingers of light in a yellow orange glow replacing the pink of the sky. The horses were way off in the paddock and Log shouted “Howzit gaaaaaaaaaaaawn?” The horses continued to eat the grass and shake the flies off with their tails in reply. Log jumped off the patio and made his way toward the fence. His footsteps through the grass to the garden spooked the rabbits and they ran off every which way as if they were similarly fated as the produce, as if they were to be plucked and eaten. Log went cock-eyed after he saw the carnage the rabbits had visited upon his vegetables and managed to corner an unfortunate bunny. He stood with his right foot in front of his left, his left hand on his hip, his body tilted forward and his right hand pointed strait at the bunny in a tea pot pose as he said to it in a low and grimacing tone “oi, fuck off”. He straightened up and assessed the fuckery and said “well there goes the roasted stuffed capsicum… and the rocket for the salad…and fuck”. The rabbits had got to the rosemary.
Dejected, Log walked back to the house stomping at the rabbits who were too brave or too stupid to not run back to their warren under the house. His head was beginning to throb and he could sense the hangover catching up. He poured some coffee grounds into a tall mug and followed it with water from the kettle. If you gave it a stir and waited long enough, by the time it had cooled down to drinking temperature the grounds would find their way to the bottom of the mug. Log remembered the boy that taught him this trick and said to no one in particular but probably the mug “Kes, you’re a genius but I’m so glad you drink instant now”. Plastic bottle and coffee mug in each hand, Log slugged one then the other then spat coffee grounds into the sink he was drinking over. “Fuck you Kes”.
Log opened the fridge to find a sizeable leg of lamb and a singular stick of sorry looking rosemary gone a bit brown and setting into rigor mortis. He narrowed his eyes and drew back and let the door of the fridge close itself. He put more grounds into a cup and topped it up from the kettle. This time he decanted the contents into another mug through a tea strainer. Log walked back onto the patio and sat down at the table overlooking the field. The sun was at full tilt now, throttle wide open. The grass opposing dipped and rose in waves on the hillside. The gums looked as they forever looked; like they were going to shed more than a couple of limbs and still be as healthy and muscular as the horses beneath them. The horses said neigh. Whether they were addressing the foreboding branches or Log himself, only they knew.
Log sipped tentatively at his coffee, wary of the threat of grounds hitting his teeth once more. He rolled a cigarette and dialled his phone. Message bank. “Hi dad it’s Log; seasons greetings and all that shit. Gis a call back if you want” Log dialled his phone again:
“Hey ma, it’s Log”
There was confusion on the phone and Log’s mother lamented that his name had been permanently shortened from Logan, and that she had to eat a whole lobster alone this year and exclaimed for the third time in three weeks that it had only cost her 20 bucks. She asked if he had anyone to spend Christmas with and not wanting to let her down Log looked around the patio for inspiration of which there was little and with the true talent of a child caught in a lie he told his mother he was hanging out with David, John, Jen, Rosemary, Banksia and Mint…
“She’s European, I think it’s short for something”
Log’s mother again expressed her delight at the cost of the lobster and distain at the forthcoming cost of her having to eat it and said goodbye.
Log put the phone down and rolled another cigarette and wondered if he’d lit the last one when he was on the phone and if his mother had heard the click of the lighter and by some Christmas miracle had decided not to chastise him for once.
His coffee drained, Log went to get out of his seat. He threw the mug up where it ricochet off the roof and onto the ground where it smashed to bits. Collin was standing there silently holding a brown box. Collin was about seven foot tall, all legs and arms. He wore short shorts and a singlet, no shoes and a terry-towelling hat. His posture serpentine, his eternal squint severe and face forever forward facing. His eyes darted sideways to Log as he tapped the top of the box. “Hey Log”
“Jesus Christ mate how long you been standing there?”
“Who’s this mint you’re hanging about with?”
“Oh fuck off mate”
Collins eyes darted forward to the field. He continued to tap the top of the box and was mouthing words to himself.
“So what’s in the box Col?”
“It’s ye prezzie”
“I mean thanks but you didn’t have to get me anything”
Collin handed off the box with one hand, still looking forward. Log took the box and inspected it “this is some choice wrapping Col; didn’t know you had it in you”
“Full of surprises mate”
Log took the box in both hands and shook it carefully. There was a dull thud.
“Ye might not want to shake it Log” said Collin looking sideways again “might not work out so well”.
Log looked at Collin and then at the box and then back at Collin who had now disappeared from the porch as he was want to do.
Log eyed the box suspiciously and left it on the table as he went inside to start cooking. He took the leg and the rosemary out of the fridge, turned the oven up to full and took stock of what ingredients he had. Log pulled the leg from its bloody plastic packet and flopped it in an oven tray. He took the flaccid rosemary and ran his fingers up the stem against the grain and the leaves cracked off like fire tinder and all but disintegrated on hitting the bench top. Log rifled on top of the kitchen cupboard for the sharp special-occasion-going-out-knife. He scored the top of the Lamb and ditched the knife in the sink. He took the bottle of oil and wrote it off as empty and took the other bottle of oil and wrote that off too. There was half a stick of butter, which Log evacuated from the fridge and set to melt in a pan. He took the salt, of which there was aplenty, and rubbed it into the skin and took a tea towel to rub off and again. And again. The butter melted, Log threw in the sorry rosemary and some more salt and poured the lot over the lamb and plunged it into the oven at a temperature somewhere between two hundred and a kiln. Happy with his progress, Log glanced back over to the cupboard glass, this time remembering to stick his tongue through the gap in his teeth for maximum levity. “You handsome son of a bitch; lose the rest of your teeth and you’ll be irresistible.”
The leg of meat taken care of Log trudged back to the garden to see what he could salvage for a salad. The rabbits had had their ruinous way with any plant that had the audacity to offer a limb to the sun. Which left the potatoes. Digging around in the dirt past the hay and horseshit Log extracted three potatoes the size of grapes and he shrugged and yelled profanities at the rabbits sticking their heads out from under the house. He cursed the people that brought them here and then summarily killed them in the worst way possible, he cursed them for eating his food, and he cursed them for being so cute. Sometimes they chewed his shoes too.
Jumping back on the patio, Log spied the box on the table to his left. It looked like it could have shifted but the box was brown and the table was brown and the grass was brown so there was nothing to measure it against. He shook his head and went back inside with his bounty. Inside Log threw the three potatoes into the kettle and gaffa taped down the switch so it would stay boiling. The sun was supposed to be waning at this part of the day but clearly had no intention of doing so.
Lunch was ready not three hours after it was supposed to be served but Log reasoned lunch was when one was hungry when the sun was up and the sun had no intentions of cutting short its oration for this day or any other. The whole tray was pulled from the oven and shunted to the table on the patio. The bottom of the kettle had melted under the sustained heat but the potatoes survived if not to hard to mash but too soft to have the same sensation as grapes do when the skin is split between the teeth. Log scattered the cutlery drawer to find suitable utensils and lifted a plate from the sink to frisbee on the table. Log held the leg with a fork and proceeded to jimmy the meat off the bone, dipping it in its juiced before transferring it to his plate with an unceremonious thud. He took the three potatoes and cut one in half and yelled into the field for Collin to no reply. Log ate and stared into the middle distance and listened to the corrugated plastic on the roof and the beams trying to separate from one another in the heat. He got through half the leg and wrapping the rest up in alfoil he tumbled the remainder back into the oven. He drew a can of beer from the fridge and misted himself from the chin up with the spray of its opening.
Log remembered the brown box. It was sitting next to him all lunch but in the sea of brown he had not noticed it while eating. He took the going out knife from the sink and returned to the patio. Turning the box in circles he looked for the best place to open it. It appeared to be a shoebox once upon a time so Log took the knife and separated the top by running the blade under the lid. He lifted the lid and jumped back and stumbled further and eventually fell to the timber deck. He composed himself and dragged the bench away from the table and stood atop it to look into the box. In the brown box on the brown table on the brown timbers in front of the brown grass was a very alive Eastern Brown Snake. Log called out again for Collin who again had made himself scarce. The snake didn’t move much, but it did move. Log didn’t mind snakes and unless they were bothering the horses he would let them do whatever it was a snake would do. What a gift thought Log. He looked at the table with the box with the snake with an empty plate of food and half a grape sized potato and he thought… what a gift! Tentatively moving forward from a crouched position log picked up the box from its underside with fingers outstretched. He held it from his body and thrust the contents of the box outward and the Eastern Brown flailed in the air like a hose breaking free from its tether and hit the ground with a thunk. The snake stayed there for a moment. Log stood on the edge of the patio and pointed between his legs to under the house saying “mate, I think we’re gonna be good pals; I made you lunch, it’s under the house, Merry Christmas.
Up to the eyeballs
Smothered in luck
Blood in the water
Blood on the stump
Pulling the carpet
Dripping in pain
Prescribed all the nightmares
A spot on the brain
Lust in the liquor
Too sad to fuck
A dickless wonder
A fuckless drunk.