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New Poetry, Fiction, Essay

Stephen House

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Stephen House: has had many plays commissioned and produced. He’s won two Awgie Awards (Australian Writers Guild), The Rhonda Jancovic Poetry Award for Social Justice, Advertiser Best Playwright Prize & 2nd place in Poetry at Sawmillers Prize. He’s been nominated for Patrick White & Queensland Premiers Drama Awards, Overland’s Fair Australia Fiction Prize, a Greenroom Award for Best Actor and several poetry prizes. He’s received Australia Council literature residencies to Canada and Ireland and an Asialink to India. He’s been published by The Australian Script Center, Currency Press Australia, Australian Poetry Journal, grey borders magazine Canada, Third Street Writers USA, Burmingham Arts Journal USA, and many websites. Stephen is listing all his published poems on tablo. He’s performed his poetic monologues widely, most recent – “Almost Face To Face” and “Appalling Behavior.” Stephen identifies as a Queer Nomad and is devoted to full time travel, Yoga and his writing & performing and the environment.

brutality

he’s gazing into oily black

asks how much self is trapped in my now

it’s disappearing

stifled can’t return

i lost me  to grasping lies on veiled junctions

you owe me yesterday

seeping from my real

he sneaks out need

i touch him a taste of hope

is truth fact?

hazy soul yearning mist

blind existence warming need

vibrating to quench famished reason

as we seize each other’s search

i’m me under crusts you strip away to paste back on at will

i’ll  ascend our lust sought mess

watch valor sprout from desperate

 

“stay” drones his pathetic smolder

fuelling my destitute cling

i halt my nowhere amble

grasp, hold, fuck, squirm, die, repeat

why are we screaming blind?

he leans into mute plea

stares rigid at crushed faith falling

scowls sliding shadow of youth

i was once as him

 

 how long can we go on?

forgotten saga glides in

spun magic seeking path

of mine once all ok

alive now stranded in crumbling wonder of you

next possible god

crash, shake, gasp, panic, pray, return

can’t you sense noxious tears?

“fake moons shine on dearth” watching angels sing

witnessing recurring snatch at waning loss

we crawl

hushed moans sealing secret sinking dread

feigned respite tickles burden

rising dawn spurts clutched belief

he kisses my beg

holds desire in mortal ransom

don’t smash my gift of me

fright feeds incapable escape

he passes wine

skull, reach, vomit, drop, writhe, relapse

shared anticipation compulsion

disintegrating to re-emerge

how long have we been drinking?

he flicks me anonymous pill

“swallow it baby”

ingest his present lie

thrust tepid flesh at me

drive hard inside me

beard scrape sunken face

drown threadbare identity

bury emerging demise

gulp, breathe, swallow, lick, plunge, reload

explode manufactured parody

spinning

trapped in web of helpless

he’s peering into icy grey

asks how much life is saved in my here

it’s gone

slaughtered won’t revive

still you reel me back from flee

hurl disguised span of hallowed lure

i clench on

floundering

in attempting remains

as smidgeons of enduring wish glow

entombed

in your brutality

 

Daddy

I find courage and go to the road of my Daddy;

breathe deep crossing industrial wastelands

as smoky grit envelopes me, as trucks spew dust in my mouth and eyes,

and angry men on motorbikes hurl toxic glares

in my anxious path. I pass scraggy scum gathered

in mouths of dark tunnels gesturing me back to play the game;

ignore lurking, leering ghouls who croak at me in ghastly need.

I flee from all I was before but now leave far behind.

Daddy is sitting on a wooden crate outside

of a shut-down factory on his garbage-strewn street;

his footpath bed beside him; smoking joint, sipping

on warm can of beer; engrossed in watching

a scrawny dog picking through an overflowing bin.

I sit next to him. “Daddy, I came to see you.”

He offers me a puff of weed. I shake my head, no.

“Daddy, I need to ask you why? You have to tell me;

give me that if nothing else. Why you never tried to find me?

Why it was left to me to seek you out, to see

if there was any part of you in me; to discover

that absent piece of cruel jigsaw I could never complete;

to know if you were more than her and the shit

she dished out daily? Daddy, I want to know why

you didn’t find me to give me what I craved?”

He stands and paces; stops and bangs his filthy hand

on loose, graffiti covered tin. “Daddy, stop that fucking noise!

I want to know why?” He doesn’t answer; ends his racket

and slumps back down.

We watch the dog rip apart a dead chicken it’s dragged

from the bin; glazed eyes and greedy mouth gulping

feathered flesh; slimy blood spilling

over speckled, poultry pattern; “Tell me,” I beg,

and rest my hand on his bony, tattooed arm. He looks into me.

I sense his sadness so real I see him for the first time.

“Daddy, is that you?”

“I don’t know why I didn’t find you,” he mutters in disgrace

and shuts his eyes tight.

The dog skulks away; chook remains dribbling

from crimson mouth. We sit still; hand in hand; my Daddy

and me. He’s crying. I kiss him on the cheek, stand

and walk away. And with strength I have never felt before,

I say goodbye to my Daddy… forever.

 

Baik Manusia

in my street they call me Pelacur

Prostitute

i’ve heard them whispering

woman who sells fruit asks me if local men pay well

she sees guys visit my room

i could explain we hook up just for fun

no exchange of cash

but i smile and say nothing

local men love sex with Bule

Foreigners

and foreign men are into them

we’re at it all the time here

coupling up in all kinds of crazy ways

fucking and sucking and kissing and hugging

blowing alien loads as gifts for each other

i wonder if the rest of the world know

how much men from different cultures fuck

secret inter-race fucking all over the place

bringing peace to the planet

in a pleasurable way

people in this street know

they call me and the guys who visit Homoseks

Gays

i’ve heard them muttering

they also smile

and call me Baik Manusia

Nice Man

i’ve heard them murmuring

 

thank-you watchful neighbours

Homosek Baik Manusia                      

Gay Nice Man

it could be worse than that

but one word is not completely correct

Pelacur           

Prostitute

i’m not that

anymore

unless i’m desperate for Uang

Money

 

dead men’s clothes

dead men’s clothes hang sadly limp

in a world of once-worn wares

beaten by time in her tin shed shell

she rubs her eyes

blinks twice

gapes

smeared pink lipstick

pasty rutted face

cloudy eyes of stance in age

acceptance of a sort

into her desert store of what remains

i have come on my meandering way

threadbare fear of disintegrating middle age

another tick in time

lonely icy day

muddled from substance

coming down

no room or bed tonight for me

or friend or family near

i try a humble vest of era long gone

add a coat of wool in olive grandpa green

she smiles slightly knowing hint

at where i may have roamed to be

fingers sleeve with bony stroke

no one comes here anymore she says with stare

once it was different she breathes silently

desert queen won’t see me pay

gives sincerely her woven generosity

holds lost dreams in wrinkled brow

set in stone her quiet tenacity

our chalky selves meet and we freeze within our haze

knowing well our mortality

reality of humanity

i am warm now walking my never knowing way

another vacant dustbowl extremity

i slow to stop

glance back

safe in mothball tweed

she waves from pebbled path

outside of her reality

and in my dead men’s clothes

i signal back a simple nod

another moment wise

victorious

wandering alive

 

café of then

there’s a café tucked in a city nook

where i’d regularly be decades ago

when i’m back this way i always drop in

take my once table spot

float back to life of then

i’d skulk here to hook up late at night

drop in heading home in wide eyed dawn

speeding crazy

crashing low

nowhere to go

needing somewhere be

boy dream soaring

hard morning pain

confused by not real

escape bad trick danger

a mate from that epoch arrives

i nip in and order bitter blacks

bump into a bloke with now grey hair

who i knew from more than here

shakes hard my hand

recalls with worn grin

us in a dim city room with new-found trade

working together a few times one year

i chuckle wry at on the game ways

he sniggers sly at what’s not forgot

and as years slide on

and ways of vanished youth drift into psychedelic space

i give thanks to run-away eons of after dark lads

who faded out through fate and choice

or kept roaming on like me and some

grasping spontaneous memories

jolted along in almost old age

holding blatant facts of dwindling time

hidden stories of bygone reality

steering the remembered route

back to this café of then

 

in savage dark

for eight vulnerable months

i rode the well-worn wagon

of almost straight and clean

but i leapt off

with zest in need

morphed into my magical maze

i revel in time revile

messy substance games

i don’t know why i play

please don’t snag me back and back

i beg to somehow stronger

that must hear and comprehend

when i stand proud in real

on the wobbly sober carriage

of hope entwined with fear

i am that man i really am

innocent of my psychedelic diversion

i smile genuinely

not babble on in flooded dreams

dancing days away with invisible trickery

of my muddled mind in soaring guess

with soul damp numb in body brittle

so i crawl back on the not so trusty wagon

feeble from swimming in the swirl

and trembling i stretch up

towards new beyonds

above sneaky hypnotizing temptation

quietly caressing crumbling me

crying hidden tears of disintegrating optimism

but attempting clarity

with all that pleads within

i will be ok believed as pray

in my sickening familiar way

stunned awake in savage dark

reduced to nearly zilch

by my internal affliction

but slowly healing

nearly living

in real of now

 

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