The ocean is a hushed polite lap lapping dog
that licks along the shore.
It murmurs, never growls
while the Shakespeare Company
throw their voices out from the rotunda.
Tonight it’s Taming of the Shrew.
The bats make raucous audience members.
They screech and cackle in unfunny scenes
and make the shrew shout louder.
There’ll be complaints to council tomorrow.
Later we stroll the esplanade
where women peer through floor to ceiling glass
champagne flutes in jewelled hands.
Like elegant Brolgas they stare
unblinking, as if poised to strike
at careless lumbering frogs.
One balmy evening the Year Six girls
held a graduation party at the sailing club there.
A thin woman filled my glass and cooed
Good of you to come. The girls like to include teachers.
The very one who’d complained all year
about too much, not enough and never good enough.
That night the girls ran shrieking from the water
which snarled with unseen stingers
as mothers puffed and squawked
There’ll be complaints to council tomorrow!
The moon; high, round and fat like a butter whirl
chuckles sweetly over her lap, lapping dog
and tidy well-pruned beach
as we pack up the car
listening to cheeky bats
now clapping far too late.
With sad eyes they sigh over me
It’s just my caste, my roll of the dice
to be marked and pocked
with this slamming fist of God
this chromosome decay
of life disintegrating
into blood and empty egg sacs.
Scraped and sucked
with surgical tools
my body’s confused
at still tender nipples
metallic tongue and shocked
at silence, bewildered by calm.
No more plans
appointments, tiny socks
or singlets wrapped
in advice and tissued
They’re shelved and waiting,
as I am, for another turn.
And they watch a few days
with that glad-it-wasn’t-me
look and measured vials of pity
checking for when it’s over.
My little pea-sized twins
that never were.
in their double opaque pouches
black and unyielding as fear
soiling the screen with
their big empty snickering.
How can it be over
when it never began?
I COULD HAVE BEEN A CONTENDER
Nothing hurts more than being nothing
– perhaps cigarette burns or paper cuts.
Wasting into mock woman of the new decade
with my new car, husband, mortgage
and a sensible, more natural shade of hair
to accompany my entrance into mild and mellow.
Or was that always the way things were?
Slashing verse and dark dramas only fiction
like a life of invented promise where passions
are stripped back and varnished to look antique.
Now I eat chocolate to compensate for pleasures
I can’t remember, bread and honey to dull
the ache of my averageness. But being tall
I carry weight like a concealed weapon
that twists itself upon me. Even my fat is secretive.
Are you listening? I ask them from the board
Can you hear my creativity winding down?
Each year they learn and love a little
sparkle or wear me down a little
and I am tired of rubbing rocks
to make gemstones. They glitter while I fade.
Youth is the only polish they need.
Locked into my small and usual place I sip tea,
scan internet to know who’s slept with who
and which stars have broken up, a bit like me
into small pieces. I know nothing
of the economy. All my scapegoats
have fled to climb their own mountains
while apathy and I cuddle on the lounge.
I could have been a contender
I mumble rebelliously to my old self that never was.
But she doesn’t believe me.
THE PROPHET OF THE PRINCE’S HIGHWAY
UFO and Christ Returns
are the only words I make out on his sign
each time I dare to slow down on the highway.
Neat hat, brown trench-coat and a long peppery beard
like the man who fell asleep on a hill
and woke generations later to find
his family and dreams had disappeared.
Past the Arncliffe Hotel promising
topless or wrestling women
I’ve driven, then down the crest
into the presence of a believer.
Belief that’s faded now
to delicate and watery penmanship
like a missing parchment from the Book of Kells
adorned and detailed with script
too small for driver’s eyes
too small for anyone but Christ
returning in his bloodied UFO
and especially small for atheists.
This Rip Van Wrinkle covers time
with silent vision and exhaust fumes.
Years of his constant message
have prompted subtle transformations
I’m sure his hat is new and his placard’s
been adjusted to be worn, not held
like a carwash ad.
I savour my own beliefs
that he never wanders far
lives behind the footpath where he stands
in that bland red-brick building
listening in his tidy, tiny room
to messages and radio codes
only he can understand.
The herald of an alien Christ.
With a prophet’s mix of urgency and patience
he stands focused by the busy road
while stares and scepticism roll over him
like clouds as he blurs into rear vision.