Gated community by Brent Cantwell


At what point do I submit to the line?
A line at last alone? When a shop sign squeaks?
When a green-corrugated roof reminds 
the daily grind of wheels and drills and weeks
that growth yields a silence that drowns 
us deaf?  Hiking home here silence
is old Rangitata rumbling down to
the edge of an unplanned town
like smoke – a line of least resistance –
twisting the damp spine of the white Alps blue.

But this river – this forged coincidence 
of stone and fresh water – is complicit
in their growth   the groan an’ stretch an’ effluence 
of industry pools deliberate
at my blind shyness of leaves;  those hurtling
from cities still strum the river bridge thunder;
as long as cows make sound financial sense
I will not gently swim
such noise   but – complicit – I thumb a
ride leaving no line of least resistance.
Then, losing light just out o’ Winchester 
some cockie yells,  s bit late for that game!   
from an empty letterbox  he checks ten times a 
day,  so he can shout sound advice the same
way his ol’ dad did. Retire?  He won’t retire!
He casts the bloody-minded line his ol’ dad pitched:
Why d’ y’ rely on hand outs? where’s y’ fight?
but the river’s gone dry…
y’ know I would rather sleep silent in a ditch  
than grumble certainties that know    no    light 

then a car   as silent as light   a tumble 
of kelp    pushing the door to its swing 
the combed out fury o’ cockle 
shell curls   surrendering
jump in cuz  and where you headed b’o?
smile lines of time   ebb an’ flow   
any line I need   t’  know 
the windows are rolled  the sun’s on theAlps  
the sun on my elbow helps  
silence the sea in a tumble of kelp


knocking knowing you don’t feel well
children run slippery up non-slip stairs 
to a new story and a new smell 
which we feel compelled to tear

from rhythm and rhyme ‘cause you do not have
to open the door  the security 
here is excellent  we can eat the pav
and cream when the strict brutality

of hot concrete has saved your shaking frame
when the pool has tanned your body for men 
when indifference has cooled you with a swim
when codeine has dreamt you a Goddess again 

chlorinated free of hair and smell
knocking knowing you don’t feel well

About the contributor

Brent Cantwell is a New Zealand writer from Timaru, South Canterbury, who lives with his family in the hinterland of Queensland, Australia. He teaches high school English and has been writing for 24 years. He has recently been published in Sweet Mammalian, Takahe, Verge, Brief, Blackmail Press, Foam: e and Landfall.

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