Like a lo-res rainbow, stuck to the
screen of someone’s mobile phone
I dreamt that my alarm had sounded
and that I had forgotten the code
my ears were ready too, for a high pitched
siren that never began, and anyway
on waking, a security pass had split,
its two halves sliding over one another
like yesterday or the day before when my car
almost spun out, somewhere in the backstreets
of Prestons where sleepy mansions crowd the
edges of blocks and artificial bends shape chicken-
farmed land with new and beautiful truths.
I think my tyres need changing, because I may
have lost my grip on all this, you know when
the world starts to spin? I’m seeing stars in
the sky and in those counterfeit newspapers
that flutter in carriages, heading out west.
Of course, you do admit that we are
retelling the same stories, for instance
the one about peak-hour traffic and
some dumb shit of a driver, cutting
across four lanes, eyes on a text message
thrown up by a shiny black phone,
and the edge of the road that is lined with
litter as though this were the aftermath
of some kind of parade, and so
now one silver hatchback trawls the
left hand lane, its eternal blinker
repeatedly pointing out the problem.
And if your hand were to become
a giant foam hand, then you too could
gesture toward all this important stuff,
an unheeded speedo, a crow searching
through fast food containers and
the trail of brake lights guiding you home.
To exist within this weatherboard valley
is to remain always six degrees from the
city. Here the kids pedal wide streets that
pretend to lead nowhere, whilst their elders
cultivate a nostalgia for sprinklers and
those ancient dreams that can never leave
this suburb. On a blistering afternoon
a council truck is removing tall trees,
so that no one will confuse this vista with
a place of moneyed elegance. And maybe
the scream of the chainsaw means you’re
not ignored, as cut limbs crash through
the dry air. And maybe, what’s left is
for your own good, and the streetscape
becomes a mouth smashed up during a bar fight,
with its bare stumps grinning cruelly in the heat.
Now each day you must arise in a dark place,
reminded by what we can do to greatness.
And now that late night game shows
have flourished then disappeared we
are resigned to failure: those dubbed
movies, those advertisements for impotence,
those dating lines dribbling their phone numbers
into the morning. Outside drunk cries give
the blackness depth, shattering like bottles
hurled against a brick wall, and you recall
the sirens that ghost alongside your dreams.
Could it be that these are the only ways
to cash out a life? In a cell at the station
there is a bloke nursing a fractured eye
socket. He remembers nothing, except
glass & florescent tubes & a sign
saying ‘Have You Seen Anything?’
Elsewhere, good people are finding sleep,
counting every interest rate rise and
rows of wooden letterboxes snapping shut.
Noon. The day has flatlined. The eucalypts
point their leaves toward hard ground, the
cars stop flying down the hill from Glenfield.
The shopping trolleys no longer clash
in the Coles carpark. And even the
truanting kids have stopped hurling
rocks onto carport roofs. You see, they’re all waiting for a breeze to jumpstart
the afternoon. But the day’s like a Falcon,
chocked up in a front yard, it’s like gate
that’s been welded shut because you know
we’re not in Vaucluse or near some beach
where they film iconic Australian TV. You
know that within these cul-de-sacs you
have to earn any hint or breath of change. You
have to pay with sweat, with grease on
a two-stroke, with teeth set like wire cutters,
ready to meet the fenced-edge of the landscape.
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