Craig’s eyes were clear and focussed

25 August 2012

There was almost a fight
at Perth Poetry Club today
but it wasn’t cool
it wasn’t funny

Some poor kid
He’s at least 50
probably older
but he doesn’t get it
He calls me a stupid bitch
a lesbian
Not for the first time
I wish I was

Later Chris reads Steve’s poem
about the dominatrix
I don’t want to think about it
Some poor kid
full of booze and drugs
finds his tongue between a prostitute’s
pantless legs
It isn’t cool
It isn’t funny
Even if once
someone did
take a photo
of me at a student party
tequila slammed
with my head in some loser’s
unzipped lap
It wasn’t cool
It wasn’t funny
But you’ll have to forgive me
I was only a kid

Afterwards a few of us
sit around
Lorenna is drinking too fast
Her eyes are starting to glaze
She’s a colourful wrap
around a ball of darkness
She says I should try
The Spirit Molecule
Craig agrees
Sometimes with Craig it’s like
he’s hearing some other voice
and can’t really see me
but today he’s okay

I try to go home
but I get on the wrong train
end up at Cannington station
There’s nothing there
just buses to a couple
of shopping malls
I come back to town
but I miss the home train
The next one doesn’t come
for twenty-seven minutes
I’m hungry

I don’t want Chinese Vietnamese Vietnamese Chinese Korean Mexican Japanese Italian expensive-hip or Greek
I want my mother’s cooking

I end up in Outback Jack’s Bar & Grill
A shed full of tourists and carnivores
A giant green styrofoam croc
on chains
from the ceiling
The girl waiters
wear synthetic Akubras
The boy waiters get to look normal
The peppermills are a metre long
and painted
to look in-didj-enous
On the walls grey photos
hang askew
A man kissing a camel
A man on a horse
kicking up dust
where once there were trees

The screens play music videos
Tamworth country
St Kilda rock
Here’s INXS
Michael Hutchence
His face so fresh
I remember watching this video
a long time ago
in someone’s college room

Michael Hutchence
had too much X-factor
for Perth
but this was his hometown
and those kids with guitars
were his mates
In some warehouse
some carpark
he sings
Don’t change a thing

In the end the poor kid hanged himself
in a hotel room
a long way from here
One of his friends
wrote a song
You’re stuck in a moment
and you can’t get out of it

There was almost a fight
at Perth Poetry Club today
It wasn’t cool
It wasn’t funny
But a poetry professor
came to hear the words
some kid
bought one of my zines
and Craig’s eyes
were clear and focussed
He says he has
a guitar again


Your faded black trousers look like charred treetrunks.
Your eyes are like shy leaves. Above them floats
your white hair, like a vague afternoon moon.

I put my hand on yours: rough bark.
You breathe slowly: wind in dry branches.
You say something: a crow
or a saw.

You’re a still man
in a stirred-up country.
Tell me your old old story.

First published in The School Magazine Touchdown

Poetry Workshop with Jackson: Writing and Editing, 10 Apr

A rare opportunity to enjoy a poetry workshop with me.
Sunday 10 April 2016
At Peter Cowan Writers Centre.
Centre members $38, others $48.
Skype participation is available.

Click here to book and find out more.

This workshop will have two parts. Part 1 will be poetry writing: leap or tiptoe out of your poetic comfort zone in a supportive group environment. Try some writing experiments — write in new ways. Part 2 will be poetry editing: learn how to refine your poems for publication, performance or competitions.

An afternoon of fun with words for beginners and old hands.

Please bring writing materials and, if you like, a poem or two to work on.

Don’t miss out — click here to reserve your place.

poetry workshop words