The Sprung Histories (2004, Unpublished)


Poems in this collection have previously appeared in Bareknuckle Poet: Journal of Letters, Blackmail Press (NZ), Coppertales, Cordite, Divan, fusebox (USA), poetic inhalation (USA), HEAT, Hutt, Poems in the Face of Corporate Power anthology, Retort, Salt-lick Quarterly, Slam the Body Politik CD anthology and in the 2nd Wellington International Poetry Festival anthology.

These Gifts (ii) was placed second in the 2004 City of Greater Dandenong Open Poetry Award.

For Rhiannon and Sylvie: eternal daughters.





The Hub of the Downs

 An Aerial View of the Darling Downs

Parallel Lives

The Diesel Age

Fatherlands (ii)

Wattle Park, Events

Tears in Rain

The Hiking Whores From Hell

The Hub of the Downs

Ashley of Melissa


The Waste Stream

Dark Thesis

The Waste Stream

Conference of the (underemployed) Birds

These Gifts (ii)

Factory Outlet

Fluency in the Machine Language

Human Human Sorters


Wolf Street


 The Sprung Histories


Adolf Hitler

Alexander the Great


Welsh Fusiliers

Bin Laden’s Son

Sharon Philips

Bruce Lee

Ned Kelly

Marc Bolan

Andre the Giant

Vivian Bullwinkle

Leni Reifenstahl


Johnny Cash

John Lennon

Forty-Seven Ronin

Donald Campbell



History makes similes of people, but these people are their own nouns.

 Derek Walcott



1. The Hub of the Downs


An Aerial View of the Darling Downs

for Scott Weeden



Where to start? Perhaps in the physical?

Tilt the head up. Neck muscle catapult

stretch & bonds of throat rubber at full pelt.

& the gaze (most important of all) for

appreciating things aerial, non-grounded

aspects of the world now realised now

revealed by negotiations with the orb.

Most will blink. Some will always squint,

but the true believers in the aerial, the keep

your eyes open & your nose clean types,

they will order things in height & altitude.

& don’t forget the losses. The gut-wrenchers,

friend killers felt by all eventually. Lose

your public ground swell. Feet sensation.

Stand on tippee-toes if you must. Overbalance.

You must first fall to gain some height.



In ’36 the mother was flight, rocking-

horse underflight. Born the year Smithy

did his famous thang – not to sure (are you?)

Last gleam of canopy quartz seen

by Himalayan goat herders – Durga’s

striped mount plummeted into an icecap’s

melting alphabet. Or was that the year

gremlins took the American, Amelia

in her sexy silver Lockheed, twin boom

elegance rain-ditched off Saipan, sunk

now in archaic geographies of place

name usage. It may as well have been

Atlantis, Lyonesse, Brigadoon. Couldn’t

navigate her way outa a wet paper bag

they said (they are terrible, remember).

Aviatrix missing the year the mother flies.



In ’42 the mother hid under cow’s udders

spilled bloated milk urns at the first sound

of the aerial strum, the deep bass Rolls Royce

-Merlins converged on the Darling Downs,

drew new song-lines on old Jarowair earth.

(Big band, Swing) tarmacs pushed aside

the scrub from cape to bight. Twentieth

century child labour – plane spotters. Hello

to the new invaders (cultural). Young bucks,

Amelia’s gifted but untried children parked

spanking B-24 Liberators beneath black wattle,

coolibah hangars camouflage nets beaded

with gum leaves, 500 pound drop bears.

The hangars now machinery sheds, tarmacs

Shire councilled over farm peace reclaimed

the war spirit. Few visible signs remain.

A dead grass park, a brass plaque, end era.



Post-modernism’s got war though. Vietnam

came to the Downs too. Friend’s father

missed Canungra dust-off with broken base

football shoulder. Some flights did not return.

Canberra bombers reclaimed the peace crop.

Two-seater, jet engined howls over Nui Dat,

Long Tan, Khe Sanh, more place names greasy

with history’s cordite residue. The Australian

knack of making do with nothing. .303’s &

shorts stopped the Japanese. Long-range desert

patrols garbed a future SAS. The ism’s ignited

clouds; cluster, fuel air, napalm, nuclear. The cool

vernacular of school boys, die-cast dream war

shouldered .22’s cadets-green saplings reached

for the sky. F4-Phantoms, all shark teeth & bite.

Laika’s fur consumed by cold war friction.



1969 & the son is inserted in the landscape.

Buoyed on by the biggest aerial display of all –

moonshot, b/w windows of opportunity more

computing power in this machine than theirs?;

Apollo, god of poetry, the deadly archer

hoisted Saturn rocket javelins through the mind’s

stratosphere. The Van Allen belt snaking

like Wonder Woman’s golden lasso. Could’ve

used her invisible jet in Nam too, US pilots

no match for MIG 21’s needed a top gun

school of hard knocks. Gargarin the farmer’s

son (never saw Darling Downs/Ukrainian sister

land) fallen neatly into cosmic downflight.

CCCP/SNAFU gone the way of space race

acronyms, burnt up on language re-entry.



The Skylab decade found kids faking it; space

junk blackened tin edges taken into science class.

Crippled solar panels repaired by sexual revolution.

WA got the fireworks display. The son obsessed

with disaster – father’s feet never left the ground.

He never entered the aerial; downflight took him

with a cluster galaxy of black hole cells. Didn’t

get his chance to pat the Horsehead Nebula,

telescopic sight fixed on a horizontal roo’s head

as the People’s Temple sent Kool-Aid messages

on/off pulses of human passivity; 900 shooting stars.

He recalled the greatest aerial disaster of the 70’s

happened on the ground, two jumbo’s cannibalised

each other on the Canary Islands (580 dead).

“Space/memory is only an hour away

if your car/mind could go straight upwards”.



The eighties opened with Project Blue Book.

Yorky bought his own UFO photos to school,

silver triangles menaced his alluvial plain farm.

This was not foreign to our MGM landscape.

The aerial was extraterrestrial, Bogong moth fury

at night tennis, close encounters of the love letter

kind passed from the back seat of the St Mary’s bus;

girl’s hands were tentacles that could not be held.

Little hairy men peering through bedroom windows,

‘The Dalby Peeper’, ‘Billy Barbwire’, ‘Lenny Ovaltine’

& the old bum who every five steps used to look up

into the aerial & flinch; foo fighters raining death.

Billy, who traced his mantra onto children’s palms,

‘G is for girl G is for good. B is for boy B is for bad’

filed away in the fat of repressed town memories.

It was at Thruppy’s place the son saw Columbia

lift off from Cape Canaveral, booster rockets

sliding away like primary friendships; some

renewable, some Challenger lost as the mother

woke the son in 1986 with broken radio news.



The aerial hammered rural towns with thunderstorms,

the blue-black electro-charge of kids rocking tin rooves;

a teen scene of grounded boredom & pissing off on

war stickered BMX/dragster missions to Shit’s Creek.

Or the fabled night dares; an assemblage of schoolboys

at the Barley Board Cricket Oval, one compound bow

& arrows that disappeared into the aerial’s nervous system,

learned behaviours – those who ran from the aerial

& those who stood their ground. & the inevitable

Ameliaesque grief; the son’s first crush, wheat blonde

Karen Straub, her crop-duster father coming to grief

in plane garrotted powerlines & family moving away

to Toowoomba, far from memory’s decaying orbit.

& Mr Rush who drove the only taxi, his last fare

out to the Dalby Aerodrome & a single gunshot

wound to the head; flies nesting in the incestuous

aerial of small town talk.



More armoured spirit returned to the Downs;

Black hawks and Iroquois’ peppered the aerial

over Bowenville, buzzing cattle, the sodden

wheat bag thump of rotors bought war tinnitus

back to the ancestral tarmacs & crate legends

of brand new spitfires, kitty hawks buried post

WW2 in Acland’s abandoned coal mines. In

downflight, one Chinook, some Mirages,

the swing-wing miracle F1-11, & occasionally

a glider from the Downs Soaring Field, all

albatross tension fibres crash-tackle white glass.

& later the Singaporean Air Force, its state

having to beg Malaysia for serious aerial time,

took to the Darling Downs skies too, bussed

in each morning from Toowoomba, Oakey’s

fibro houses lacking some quality of sprawl.



& the aerial landscape itself; jasper smooth

nankeen kestrels, silo-wise, skim the tin sheds

tractor-holed, a corrugation of warm air currents,

parabolic scope & the stereo blood grapple.

Or, over the protected blue-grass road-side empire,

the largesse of black falcons, letter-winged kites’

black, grey & white fuselage, jump-jet precision

strikes, mini-furies control the Warrego highway.

The false stumps of mopokes, galahs & red-rumped

parrots harvesting ground level grass seed,

butcher-birds & magpies – nest enforcers flexing

throat muscles. A pink pelican the son’s friend

saw once, scientist painted at Lake Broadwater;

a flush of wingspan spread over an agate horizon.

The migratory nudge of constellations, so bright

in the aerial of country-night, a pole star for sons.



& finally the ones who didn’t make the aerial last.

Scotty Weeden, who the son & his friend’s once

defended the ’81 post-flood cricket nets from—

Archie, Ezzy, the tough kids who walked away,

perch frying on the cracked silt, oven-top wickets.

Scotty, whose own aerial ended on the ground,

his four wheel drive momentarily airborne on Fraser

Island, eskies, rods, beer all free of gravity, aerials’

greatest enemy. Scotty, who’s old man owned

The Windsor, a Dalby economic wheat-dream

gone wrong & who once carved up a rival team

in a Bundaberg carnival, the son sending him

through a perfect gap in the ground’s defence.

Scotty, hazy as the binocular smudged Halley’s

Comet, a revolution now in the mind’s eye every

seventy-six years; the aerial view & all that.



A postscript aerial: the son having flown now

from the Darling Downs, views it through satellite

photo generated bands of brown & darker brown

shades, the continent a fox-tail colour, wind-snipped

most of us existing on a thin black topsoil that dusts

the mother’s curtains, sifts onto the Great Rift Valley

of lino ripped under the legs of her kitchen chairs,

& waxes the half-wallpapered living room. The son,

in box after box, removing his last hint of the aerial

Aircraft of World War 2, Great Disasters of the World,

UFO Encounters, the same day gravity is stuffed

into plastic bags in the Kuta nightclub district;

supper club chairs left to swell in palm-heat.

A one-minute’s silence for the aerial to catch

its breath, to stand on tippee toes & get its

balance back. Amelia, hit by an air pocket.



Parallel Lives

Whoever first conceived the idea that there is a parallel between the arts

and our bodily senses seems to me to have grasped one fact very clearly,

namely that both possess a power to make distinctions which enables us

to perceive opposites, alike on the physical and on the aesthetic plane.





We were driving through the country

of reverse Friesians, not pied, as the cattle

from Bowenville home (proto-Thessaly),

those enlarged butcher-bird/mammalian

minus feathers (Darling Downs sane stock)

but opposite; big white stripe through the guts,

made me think of Brendan Ryan’s cover,

for Why I Am Not A Farmer, Melbourne under

milk siege engines & his fatherland, Panmure

we drove through once, bronze Falcon strong.

Our parallel lives, sense differences in stone,

grass cover & spirit mending walls.

Our big ideas pulled back into line.”



Anyhow, things were reversed then.

I was riding with Melissa, Plutarch

Minter, Carson, Malcolm, Forbes, Fulton

along for the drive. She didn’t see them

inverted – I had to draw a mental picture.

Dairy cows turned inside out; alien evisceration.

A mutilated Grampians close encounters

of the bowl-cut kind at Pomonal Country

Market, a man selling childhood fossicking

memories – his father’s mineral collection

atom by atom, sadhu-palmed us his australite

anthology, musket-shot sized space pellets

& monthly social magnetism, fudge square.



That was when the reverse raven showed up.

A kookaburra, rap-rap-rapping at the A-frame’s

door. Anti-Poe & towel clad we answered its

too human call. We’d been inside for hours,

letting go, our skin overturned by merlot, too

cold for beer. Electric blanket, leather couch,

combustion fire, our sex was Spartan before

our Athenian drive changed lanes, overtaking

on a steep hill, we stopped: limbs radiator hot.

Things cooled down eventually, the Pharlap

heart-sized log stifled our flame & literary

debate seized the engine of our holiday.

Poetry gave us a headfuck: nevermore.



It was closer to the city that we found nature.

On a curve of highway M8 English paralleled,

balanced between two ‘real’ ravens, guard rail

strung, a wedge-tailed eagle, golden juvenile.

Aristander divined this one? Zeus’ Australian

messenger went unsung. The Melton Bypass

via our reverse refidex was really El Alamein.

Our tongues a battle-map desert fox wrong.

Ammo & fuel spent, code broken we defied

this anti-oracle, hearts implicated in coup.

Rommel, Demosthenes we took poison too.

But there’s a cure for driving into distance.

Alexander’s & Marc Bolan’s odd beauty

so cool & fashionably dead.



Anyhow Brendan was braver than I was.

Got his arms Ghosterbusters slimed pulling

new calves, dairy-breeched, Ahab father

rope-tied & unstoppable. The white noise

of winter days, crickets’ shrill whale song.

The reverse crucifixion of calf-pullers, this

aluminium peg leg on a greasy concrete deck.

While quiet Ishmael me read books, threw

rocks at cattle trucks & hid from dehorning

ritual. Bone executions & crows weighed

down with veal fortunes, marked bully calves’

annulled modesty tossed on red sliprail grass.

Our manes cut off for rural mourning.



Now we sit & write in razed Thebes.

The house of Pindar kept for sentimentality.

& later, we kill the ‘Black’ Cleitus who saved

us at the Grannicus, that small act a blemish

on our parallel landscapes. History silted up.

Our thought-kingdom dispersed amongst

ambitious Generals, propping up our memory.

Your relatives turned out in Warrnambool,

mine in Brisbane, there were omens aplenty.

A skein of Southern Right on your horizon,

a humpback of semi breeching on Anne St.

Though I think, I’m more tyrant than you—

suits my artistic purpose? Dionysius to your

Dion: the West our aesthetic Syracuse.



The Diesel Age

for Warren Neil Dionysius



My father lived PE (pre-electric)

in an age before environmental,

before green signification split

hairs, thinned rivers, birthed lakes.

Lived in a crisis all of his own.

In ’78 the oil of his body ruptured,

we sprang from it, myth-old;

his forehead & thigh wrinkled,

speech tired, neutrality fled, DDT

clustered; unbroken chains of family

residue washed into bloodstreams.

It was the age of diesel.



For a blue world there was never

enough water. Earth-cracks snaffled

fingers, pennies, my father’s rising sun.

The rain tank collected egg dreams,

the next generation grew tails, throats

for thunderstorms. Voices bayonet fixed.

A river’s doppelganger ran through us.

Shell-grit dry. Hens’ teeth desert rare.

Black snakes came to Pythagorean grief.

Heads caught in octagonal chicken wire

were easy prey for my peusdo-Heracles.

Can you number crunch death? Stygian?



Born same year as the Fatherland.

But you survived them. Snake bitten

but not dead in Hitler’s’ grand era (‘35)

His encyclopaedia entries all glowing.

But before that, a two-pound miracle

Uranous swallowed, Tom Thumb son

of Albert of Proston, his king not theirs

& no mother Britannia wailing for 55,000

snout-men, air-slaughtered. ‘Bomber’

Harris, city-hunter turned into bronze.

Fuel-lines serpent knotted as you grew

through five years of the diesel coup.



Can I even guess at your first car?

When Oz was still England-serf bound.

Such chivalric names. Vauxhall? Morris?

Appropriated Victory in chrome custody.

Perhaps you waited on the cusp of legend?

FE, FJ; voluptuous utility for a farmer’s boy

your Lee Enfield .303, seed-bag camouflaged.

Arms control: cultural artefact you never held.

Once were rich – wool & wheat rocketed us

to the index top. Woomera, gun barrel shot,

Maralinga’s puffball menace. Mother met

at Dayboro dance. The age was Hawaiian.



Stalking wheat seasons, Weranga home shift.

Consumer/family upgrades meant four doors

six cylinders, EH, HR, new models = wealth?

$80 per week & four kids to bush initiate.

First petrol rush, steering in father’s denim

lap, cinema windscreen’s new wave. The fly (zip)

wheel of initiation disrupted, my ball-bearing

confidence factory (psychological Rühr zone)

hit again & again; your cancer, Guderian swift.

Landscapes of children tasted lightning war too.

How high could Caterpillar numbers go? D45?

At Royal Brisbane, diesel generators kicked in.



In school I drew Swastika rune, practiced

Hitler salute. Sex isn’t a Nazi, death is. Sex

is black leather Himmler trying to look tough.

I kept Panzer company, Commando comic friend.

Hero consumed, ‘Mighty Mouse’ in danger was

my first sexual awakening, oedipal & American.

In green dick togs I rubbed over thigh-smooth

linoleum, primal, a post-war invention, then

peed my pants in the wardrobe, a Narnia fixation.

I held my father’s fallen Reich responsible & lay

for a 1000 years in Mum’s bed rebuking heaven.

My hourglass dreams were death-camp leaden.



Bathurst 1979 saved me. Or precisely

the Holden Dealer Team. Brockie’s

Torana A9X, subconsciously Speer

coloured, its red, black & white blunt

nosed bravado, glued faces to B/W tele.

We gave Craig Biekoff, the biggest Dick

Johnson fan shit all week, jealous of his

slot car set, reputedly the fastest in school.

What cultural distance from the V2 – V8?

We were HG Premier, white trim, metallic

blue. Your American jeep we sold, Dad,

you know, diesel got keen, fuel injection.



The Pioneer Age. Who remembers

that old-time grief anymore? Ken, your

butcher friend & Willis’ Jeep custodian

has gone now too. Downs’ butter factories

& sawmill towns tapered off like jet stream.

Why not the soft-porn novel age? Suitcase

left. Or the cork under the Brisbane Bitter

bottle-top age, my shandy-consciousness

stirred as I picked off XXXX’s forbidden

scab. The Milton Brewery, a diesel memory

since 80’s electrification; the Light Beer age

passed over you; I stuck with lemonade.



Twenty-five years is sadhu-long Father.

Australia bound you didn’t know India

either, perhaps Kapil Dev. What could

I offer then? Prism-cut, glass splintered.

How many times did I run to you howling?

Grendel-child, my swamp disturbed by lesser

heroics, Hertzog’s green ants dreamed, feet

dump-bitten. Was it my knee that opened,

a ring-pull of flesh exposing plastic cartilage?

They’re gone too. Here’s an update for

you Dad, we still have our shortages, all of us.

The diesel age was drought.



Fatherlands (ii)

for Rhiannon



If you took a core sample

of the casualised father’s heart,

those fathers who change jobs

as often as they call their daughters

long distance, you would find that

love predates pain’s early migration,

that the trapped pocket of a father’s

pride in his daughter, could always

be found, no matter how deep/often

the experts sunk their diamond tips.



Their digital simulacra mimics

the Stone Age’s first aquaculture –

eels funnelled through granite walls

& reed baskets, replaced 8,000 years

later by the thin black musculature

of the words I love you siphoned

through copper wires, the foundation

blocks of their love still visible through

the tall grass – computer programs

unite them; bloodstreams dial up.



At West End Primary

the daughter reads a poem

out to her class written by her father

when she was almost sixteen months.

Writes, illustrates & publishes her first

book at age eight. The flotilla of ducks

a frozen memorial – USS Arizona in

her salt aquarium, hearts & engine

rooms flooded by time’s superfluid;

grief, the ultimate warrior class.


Wattle Park, Events

for Sylvie


A dust devil of swallows drain away into afterthought.

Their maple leaf sized life spans, thrill with currents


but we’re grounded. Wind gets in our eyes, invisible

lice itch with secrets. Something’s cocoon has come down,


a witchetty grub, we think, opts out of cold storage. It’s

silk coffin mimics a 44 gallon drum left too long in rust.


Near a blue gum that will kill you with its bare hands,

a nest sewn with hair & casuarina needles crowns grass.


It’s still warm but we can’t reach its branch. It’s too high

for the average heart to climb & we’re long since children.


But thinking of you Sylvie, in utero the light breeze of your

legs & fists disrupts the mind’s dust; we sneeze & grow.


Crimson rosellas snatched from an Arnott’s tin cap us off.

The world is often autumn dead, but there remains colour.



Tears in Rain

for Nola Andrews



mother watches w-droplets

& planet’s blood pressure falls.


in sixty thousand years will

big Mars glow her memory


radiate again?


misses meteor shower over

brisbane, four children fracture


& depart.


silver hair; gelatin frost plate -67°

cold dawn is her cultural space.



mother walks on green grass

ex-battery hen feet confusion


coal walker?


perspex sweats, can’t help it

ooohhh this feels good! Solid earth


claws frantic.


(heart)land burns domestic

re-entry, soul – Phuket soaked.


US air show pilot

aerial (r)ejected.



that wet chicken smell, damp

bedraggled histories; Ubik found.


reached through to the other side

plastics multiple underground


& cover girls.

see through them, w-droplets

virgin stewards read safety cues


arm doors.


every woman needs a hoe

for those corporate snakes.



drizzle flees mother’s country

anti-pastoral, soft plagues & shed


floors move.


half-mast mice, stalk hegemonies

sing out last moistures. rites of


spring abandoned.


drought’s fascist architecture

walls half papered, lino torn.


depression currency

of the great mind.



heaven will be Asiatic.

eternally damp for mothers.


no salt mirages, no dry heat

air-conditioned sanctuary


dust free.


she could believe in that

theology, sodden paradise


in between



& el nino.




The Hiking Whores from Hell

for Shane, Danny, Jasper, Norby & Gary


(i) Brisbane

It was the season of Hamlet. Circa 1990.

The two Danes took to backyard cricket,

but were mesmerised by Mad Max. Even

opened a themed nightclub in Copenhagen;

all leather pants, Sigue Sigue Sputnik hairdos

& jap motorbikes – took it that one step further

bush-beating through the forest on weekends

in souped up dune buggies dressed as ‘Wez’ &

the ‘Lord Humungus’. One, a Fabio look-alike

reconstituted himself in a Bowen Terrace share

house as a big dinger, some berserk Thommo

armed with an SS that snicked chances into

a cherry sunset; the Storey Bridge molten.

The other was all out pace – a Lillee stylist

carving aerial runes through the sandflies

& mozzies which earned him the moniker,

‘Paceman’ Norby, honorary quick, master

of reverse swinging the taped up tennis ball.

They came to Australia for the cultural space,

but ended up as extras on A Current Affair

some investigation into the poor living conditions

the six or eight Chinese exchange students

endured with them, (it was so Praise) newspapers

spread over bedroom floors like Tiannamen

Square flagstones. The last great textual tragedy.


(ii) Bundaberg

The Danes didn’t take to Bundy rum or Wayne’s

first time out of home. Thought about running

his army green Datsun 180Y station wagon off

the Bruce highway; these Viking road warriors

obsessed by Kennedy Miller’s vision of post-

ragnarok Australia swamped by gasoline cults.

It came to a head when Wayne a ‘gun’ picker

try-hard, cut back down everyone’s rows, zucchini’s

bristling at knife point. His private esky of food

& refusal to cook didn’t go down well either,

so Gary & the Danes plotted revenge. A simple

plan; eat his chow. After a headlock & a walk

through hot coal, Wayne exited next morning,

his living away from home adventure lasting

all of one week. Gary must have attracted it.

He got into a fight in some trashy nightclub,

his straw hat bravado & put on gay voice too

much for the cane farmers, distillers & small

croppers to stomach. The Danes stepped in

when things got wild, Norby’s faux martial arts

& Gary’s imitation Commando throws more than

a match for the townies’ rum soaked king hits.

But goannas, rather than rednecks freaked out

the Danes; anything that fucking huge should’ve

been in a museum; thigh bone socket black eyes.


(iii) Bowen

Right from the word go they knew ‘SuperYob’

dominated the Harbour Lights Caravan Park club.

This 7ft tall Kiwi fruit picker/self-appointed security

guard patrolled the grounds on a BMX, adjustable

spanner in his jeans pocket in case the ‘Peeper’

tried to perve on the ‘Canadia’ chicks again. Gary

pitched his inverted A-frame tent, claustrophobia

rife as sexual politics, the Danes slept in their XC Ford

panel van; together they picked under ripe tomatoes.

Jasper found an aboriginal axe-head time-panned out

of the black soil & kept it; authentic Aussie memento.

Norby stole his akubra, pocket-knife & bowling action.

Bikers, Chinese & European backpackers sweated it out

for a $1.20/10-litre bucket. Crop dusters ejected poison

onto fields, illegal workers, green tomatoes rounded up

& gassed. Commando was ‘SuperYob’s’ favourite film too,

so he & Gary got on famously, quotes & beer a common

room currency. Ate kangaroo meat fried up on buses;

they were all natives of somewhere; hungry for living.

Anyhow, after a drunken party someone woke up dead,

a yobbo sunk to the bottom of the pool: see Human

‘creepy-crawlee’. ‘SuperYob’ led the inquiry by local police,

managed the homicide investigation. It was time to go,

the park rent fascist, tomatoes finished. Before detectives

arrived, Harley’s chugged off & Chinese wisely vanished.


(iv) Muttaburra/Hughenden

This was a mini-Odyssey set amongst Western Queensland’s

epic poetry. Two split from the pack & made a last Icarus

fall here almost, against the sun (or was it Hughenden?)

Hopping freights from Townsville to Charters Towers

(pre burnt down hostel infamy) they picked a vacant cattle

train, slept on dried cowpats & woke up fragrant as India.

Hitched a lift with the mail run & dropped off 50 clicks

from nowhere down a semi-desert highway in °40 heat,

they built a sapling tepee by the roadside & watched

DPI cars & shire council water trucks ease by.

There was something slightly more threatening

than Muttaburrasaurus which grazed cretaceous.

It was water, or the lack thereof they had taken,

1.5 litres rain gauge evaporated, ran out in minutes,

the signs were desperate: Mt Isa reworked – Help! Please!

But they weren’t alone for long; black kites zoomed

in – first a pair pull focused, then a stereoscopic chorus

formed to pick bones clean from this ‘tower of silence’;

to borrow from the Parsis’ tradition, the birds were up

for a taste of neo-Zoroastrianism. But after four hours

salvation motored by, then stopped & reversed back up

the highway: a silver Daihatsu hatchback & two bronzed

Cockney angels touring. Now a cramped Gemini capsule,

the girls had a rendezvous with Darwin. Deathcheaters,

they thanked Charlies’ Angels & International Rescue.


(v) Mt Isa

It was a dream to some…a nightmare to others.

There was something Excalibur about pulling metal

out of stone. This was an MIM town, bauxite capital.

Red Mars in a nutshell, the final frontier. Ambushed

by sprinklers & canetoads – coastal migrants too,

they slept one dewy night on a football oval, then

dressed in their best chequered flannelette, presented

themselves for inspection to the Mines’ ‘Personnel’.

Only to be told, ‘fill out these forms & come back in

two weeks.’ The recession we had to have – put jobs

on hold. No wind lifted the Banana Republic’s flag,

unemployment topped 11%. Inflation, not vultures

stripped the meat from the Emperor’s new clothes.

John, ten years assassinated sang in pre-digital heaven.

There was only one thing to do, the boys packed up,

slipped thumbs out of holsters, jettisoned John Sayle’s

Matewan vision. Passed over dry river beds inhabited

by second class citizens, who already owned degrees

in joke monetary reform. On the outskirts of the Isa

they caught a lift with ‘Mud’ – a true ‘warrior of

the wasteland’, who identified his major muscle

groups & years spent pumping iron. A cross between

Albee Mangles & Big John Stud, he shared his joints

but was paranoid of running out – of fuel not grass,

so they bought gasoline for this ‘Lord Humungus’.


(vi) Cape Tribulation

Perhaps they were women who ran with dingoes?

Up from Cairns, true north’s capital, they nicknamed

these two the ‘Hiking Whores from Hell’. Hitching

to Cooktown for a weekend of expense free fun, Celtic

tattoo whorls covered arms, shoulders, navels, sacrum.

They sat around a beach bonfire, drinking, smoking

sucking in Cape Trib. An Aussie feral, dreads sapling

long, falsified a psychotic episode, blamed Vietnam?

Blackened a wedge of Johnny Walker’s best aluminium,

pretended to slice wrists open & bolted into mangroves.

Yelling about ‘gooks’ coming to kill him, no one gave

a shit about his tantrum, the girls pissed themselves,

Fuck what a mong!” Then a German ‘student’ tried it on,

the ‘Hiking Whores’ deflated him too; his sad eulogy

broke the Southern Cross’s crystal-night; “no style no

class this is not my country!” Girls yawned with boredom.

Next day after trudging for kilometres up & down

the coastal road’s white gravel vacuum, they hitched

a ride with a bloke & his son, who, all of thirteen

was driving the Nissan. It wasn’t the underage driver,

beer drinking or excessive speed, but a flatulent blue

dog that burned memory’s fat. The Bloomsfield’s

high tide put an end to it, the 4×4 stalled crossing

its brown carapace. They bailed, didn’t interpret

the signification – ‘Estuarine crocodiles swim here.’


(vii) Cooktown

They saw the ‘Hiking Whores from Hell’ one last time

in a Cooktown pub, shooting pool against some locals.

(Crocs never took them, the 4×4 winched to freedom.)

Got a place to stay’, downed the boys sculling heavies?

‘Yeah sure, we got a hundred places to stay if we want, they

saluted. Their fate was a restaurant’s concrete shell,

half-erected near the Endeavour River’s viper mouth,

& midnight bust by the owner who’d sussed them out.

After green ants had dreamed their poison on some

Methodist Church lawn, the cricket oval beckoned,

but was pitch invaded by locals. The boys ended up

sleeping under an 8ft statue of Captain James Cook;

their potted accommodation, bronze/post-colonial.

Caught & grilled a black tropical fish for breakfast,

but lack of funds (they had to get back to Brisbane

to put in their dole forms) & rainy season’s onset

ended the Cape York expedition. Things got wet

& desperate, folk bunkered down, sheet iron spat.

The way out was Aussie Post; country people still

communicated through the inland route’s sealed

bitumen envelope. It was paradise lost, this coastal

spot where Cookie holed up, cut down trees, repaired

his ship & took on fresh water. Now, only his golem

remains & a green armband view of history, of a guy

who named things off the top of his head.


(viii) Home

Jasper & ‘Paceman’ Norby were never seen again, Cairns

their last known position; jungle devoured them? Perhaps

they truly found a new home, marauding through a desert

wasteland – two, Sidney Nolan paintings or a pair of Burke

& Wills, they live now in hitchhikers’ memories & a few

Kodak stills. Wayne returned to his real ‘bedroom’ & kept

it closely guarded; he’s now a ‘gun’ dealer in ecstasy,

his competitive streak welcome. Gary, on his way to Bris-

Vegas conjured up snakes, but got a lift from a guy who

propositioned him instead. Of the others unmentioned

by name so far…Shane commandeered a freight train’s

cargo boat & rowed through Ayr, the captain of his fate.

Danny who stooped at Cairns, returned for ‘love’, but

mostly for sex, as he was the only one getting some during

their attempted conquest. ‘SuperYob’ is probably in jail.

‘Mud’ opened up his own gym in Townsville & beefed up

Australia’s defence force. The ‘Hiking Whores from Hell’

after entering Far Nth Qld Amazonian folklore, retired

with husbands & a deep sea dive operator’s license.

The German ‘student’ was really Boris Becker. Captain

Cook was still in the history books when they last looked.

& finally…Baldwin who continued on south, to pick apples

at Batlow & start writing stuff down. Well he, in another life

was picked up by Ivan Milat, this was all very innocent,

but then again, some ideas take root.


The Hub of the Downs

for S.P. Krause



Sproghole. That’s what was written once,

on a butchered wall inside the Star Theatre

Dalby’s derelict old movie palace that evolved

into a hangout for local gangs once the new

Drive-In killed off its silver screen nemesis.

Of course, some folks need a road map

for meaning, so there was an arrow drawn

as well pointing to the hole. It was evident

who’d scrawled this small town graffiti, heads

or tails either the Wongs or the Knifes – spelling

wasn’t high on any gang agenda, only legend

& its perpetuation through Chinese whispers,

schoolyard intrigue & the rumour mill that

overflowed even in the midst of drought.



Then there’s the history even the town

doesn’t know, like the time a Colts second rower

wired the cop shop stumps with dynamite candles,

his bomb making expertise downloaded from

his father’s knee – a tree stump removalist

by trade. This 1970’s Eureka rebellion enacted

for a brother done over by the pigs, who all played

for Brothers anyhow. Dalby, a training ground

for the fighting Irish brutality of Joh’s police,

the first Western dictator to get away with it.

Anyway, this rural Whiskey A Go Go only stopped

by a barflies’ plea for the innocent men cooling off

in the watch house cells, the explosives repacked

into their ammo box; slick in their own sweat.



The father’s generation always one step ahead

of the cops, bucking 1972 fashions, forsaking

the V8 wars for the dimensions of a mini-minor,

the only car that could squeeze under the railway

bridge near the old Dalby cemetery, the bones

of free settlers tuning, as the Falcons braked hard.

This era when men with long hair were served

last & women in mini skirts were rebuked by 50’s

matrons, who, confronted by all this flesh

triggered the dying smell of their husbands’ skin,

a fragrance that dissipated on too many fronts;

perfumes of men spoilt by desert, salt water, jungle.

New odours of grief taken out on the young things,

sniffing bananas & Vietnam’s sour victory on smellovision.



Or, even the secret honour of rural men.

An off comment delivered by an off duty copper

in a Tara pub; ex golden gloves boxer this pig

all smiles, high pants & thick belts. The father’s

friend who’d done time in Pentridge for explosives

stepping in for his mate – wife about to give birth

to their first, with a casual, I’ll take care of this, Fred.

The publican who’d constructed his own private

boxing ring out back for this kind of thing, acted

as the ref, each round a thunderclap of ego & two

black cumulus clouds swelled under the cop’s eyes.

A thick lip soon matched his leather accessories &

the sunset turned amber liquid the rich mahogany

of macho victory. A day that gave birth to legend.



& what about the ancient household rituals. Mother

closing curtains & throwing tea towels over silverware

before a thunderstorm’s phoney war. Forbidding her

kids to touch anything metal, not even a sewing needle

as they huddled away from the windows, the cottage

rocked on its stumps after each seismic blast. The flinch

instinct garnered from her mother & passed onto her son,

a patriarchy of nerves as lightning crowned transformers

& ironbarks with St Elmo’s fire. An x-ray illumination

of paddocks, a blitzed landscape of shredded wheat,

mince-grinder hail turned the screws on rural poverty.

A Flandersesque picture next morning, downed birds,

Zebra finches & peewees wrecked as battle-flags. Cats

that reappeared after a week, Cheshire smiles fading.



Sometimes legend appeared out of nowhere.

In the 24 hr Shell roadhouse a mate asked for

the tired autograph of Normie Rowe, was told

to fuck off. Someone had to answer for the hard

times, even heroes. Normie bit car park bitumen,

like Johnny O’Keefe flung out of the Golden Fleece

one small town gaff too many. The ‘Wild One’

staggered into legend’s six o’clock rush, grin wide

as a polished bar top. & then Jon English, hail-bearing

clouds beneath his eyes too, whose shadow fell across

the next generation at the magazine rack in Dalby News,

as he grabbed a Phantom, the Black Bitch purred outside,

tinted windows masking ‘The Ghost Who Sings’;

skull rings tapped a beat into chrome sky.



& wheels were everything once, after all,

a girl’s ticket off the farm on a Friday night—

a social lubrication of kilowatts & cubic inches.

Only boys with muscle were desired, Chargers

Monaros, Cobras, GTHOs all clustered two-lane

Toowoomba drag strip (the Big Smoke) when

road tolls clocked 3000/year & more young men

died in cars than a decade of Vietnam. Strangely,

it was safer to fight for your country than to stay

at home & impress chicks. The Phase IV ended

the conflict, not the television one, the real war.

This & the government’s threat to null their cop

car contract, sent Ford into a six-cylinder shell.

When Bridgestonius Cattus ruled the world.



This was always drought country. Lake Broadwater

the only decent expanse, a metre-gauge for dryness.

Cake-pan mud flats, anti-glacial behaviour, crusted

with yabby claws faded ghostly white; dead gum trees

wood stoves for galah eggs, goanna breakfast bar.

A crocodile skull frightened kids at Ranger’s Bridge?

A thin & crispy edge of salt surfaced; rugby league

lime watermarks, ecology was out, 1920’s tree

clearing bounties still paid up by shire councils, long

after the returned soldiers returned to the earth.

Chains, leashed D10 dozers like pig dogs & felled ‘scrub’,

95% of Brigalow forest gone by the nineties & Australia’s

Dodo – the Paradise Parrot, swept away with its nests—

termite mounds dissolved for social tennis sand.



The Hub of the Downs had its share of bad-asses.

‘Killer Edwards’ who stalked the Mobil picking fights

with schoolkids trying on the latest sunglasses,

You don’t look like John Lennon pimple face!

& Melroy Morrison, who at school fetes would

break tiles with his forehead, a Zen Do Kai legend,

this culturally sensitive man who short on dog food

once, took his daughter aside & said, Say goodbye to pony,

as he drew a pistol & shot the Shetland dead.

Or the time a razorback gutted one of his best dogs

& Melroy saved a bullet, bludgeoned Digger with a torch.

Next morning, the dog crawled into Dalby & resumed

its position in his piggin’ truck. Gramophone ear

wide-awake; things smoothed over by his master’s voice.



The difference between history & legend is fact

isn’t it? The mid-eighties drought deepened by

the recession we had to have, loosened farmers’

grip on the land, squattocracies crumbled like wasp

nests torched with rolled up newspaper. The banks

swallowed those who overspent, the flash Holdens

newly washed, sparkled at fire sales that spotted

the Darling Downs. As the wheat & barley & cattle

went down so too did Dalby’s economic muscle.

The Drive–In closed, kids stayed indoors & snuck

a looksee at afternoon porn, a Grendel syndrome

gripped rural communities as Big Screen fantasies

faded & weekend sport collapsed. Gang consciousness

arrived from MTV (Many Towns Vanished) America.



It was in Dalby’s middle distance poeme, that the Wongs

& the Knifes drilled their sproghole through the celluloid

ruins of the Old West & gave directions. Metal film spools

littered the projection room floor like BMX wheel rims,

Goonies style adventure reinforced by torches, backpacks

& some kind of stick weapon, just in case the Wongs

or the Knifes really did show up, gang members bored

by the video arcades’ highest score hegemony.

Dalby, the ‘Hub of the Downs’, a moniker coined

by some Town Council marketeer long before they gave

out degrees to say the same things, but with authority.

In the postscript nineties, the Harvest Festival replaced

by its cotton counterpart, all fluff & giggle. New stars

born in the car park where so many credits rolled.


Ashley of Melissa

for Sylvie


Ice congealed on the corona’s

ceramic-tiled shell was cleaned

off by the strong harness of g-forces,

heated by vast Rocket Age energies

& Melissa’s nine-month Mercury

project. & shooting to meet you,

we joked like test pilots about bits

of the car falling away, like an Atlas

gantry-crane, once with your sister

Rhiannon, ten orbits ahead of you.

Our trust in all things mechanical:

John Glenn’s spurious labour in

the Van Allen Belt’s birthing suite.

Or the daffodil-lined parachutes

of the Mercy’s re-entry bins, slowing

the descent of delivery vehicles;

hatch cover episiotomies, bruised

nose cones – a forceps extraction

of the right stuff. Vernix, lochia,

New saturnine moons for sure.

& at almost three hours Sylvie,

cosmonaut swaddled, you

launch for more space than

your lungs can ever hold.




2. The Waste Stream


Dark Thesis



The ocean is the oldest cliché.

When we came home there was

a dead bee on the windowsill –

its body a perfect death’s head

question mark, its elements, sodium

calcium & potassium curled

halfway to the sea.



This afternoon was as hot as Greece.

We missed the bee’s last do-se-do –

distant arthropodic cousin in shell-shock

miniature. Dead from time’s comical

Acme weight. Imprinted on our layers

of human memory & recorded thus.

Filed: insect sedimentary.



A new home was sluiced on land.

Through the meniscus of coast, pods stuck.

The amphibians, neither here nor there

kept genetic ‘get out of jail free’ cards.

Some larger, more aggressive marine exiles

(pre-Cuban) returned to the aquatic fray.

Made use of their bulk, heavyweights

who outclassed all comers.

This primeval Bay of Pigs,

& pre-Darwinian back flip.



It is the deep sea where everything stops.

Philosophy & sex coexist; a dark thesis writ.

Light mostly extinguished, but for some

slight phosphorescence, evades touch,

as sight demystified, reveals nothing.

In the ether of unlight, feeling is everything.

First racial memories – trilobites’ dodgem car

head-on into an armoured scorpions grin.

Cambrian sideshow alley adrenaline.



But we regress.

Our new home is closer to that first ocean.

Pre-salt, pre-water, more tanning salon

than 2 brd flat. The ants & their

artery/vein routine we notice, shift

their long march, include the kitchen sink.

The Silk Road to our bin is Semtex lined.

We’ve thrown in an oasis for fun.

Will they find the bee?

Our small deposit of platinum,

alloyed by the alchemical sun.



Do they remember a mother, these

full stops fossilised into the lining

of our Westinghouse’s air-tight door?

What good, hindsight?

After the Earth & Ocean

lodged their divorce papers

& freezing had begun.



On St Georges’ Rd

the stream of life

poured on.


The Waste Stream

The collection & taking of pornographic material of any kind is strictly forbidden. Magazines should immediately be placed in the paper chutes & all videos, toys, or instruments of a pornographic nature are to be put into the waste stream. Failure to comply with these instructions may lead to disciplinary action.


– VISY Recycling Memorandum, 2003.



This unwanted cornucopia – nickel-plated pears, bananas, grapes, apples,

kitsch relic from some neo-classical age, saved from Terminator meltdown

its metallic semiotics stalled on the conveyor belts’ rubber-suited fascism.

Universal bowerbird plucked from sexual obscurity – what a piece of work!



All labour history is corrupt. Some American Vietnam War text claimed

that no foreign journalist recorded the fall of Saigon; ditto Neil Davis’

footage of the NVA’s T-72 smashing Palace gates was doco-illusionary.

Neil loved the East, Asian women & died in some shitty Thai coup.



Next was coughed up a crouching brass cat. Sexless? Time-neutered.

Sleek in its full metal jacket fur. Did someone switch over to dogs?

“Bob” (“Gollum”) a famous cricket cat, farm-surrendered, now lives

in the ginger generations doorstop mewling around my mother’s feet.



Why try to marry sex & Nazism? Partisans assassinated blond poster

crew-cut boy Heydrich (the original Tommy Finland?) almost botched

it, grenades destroyed his motorcades’ armoured genitals, Third Reich’s

proto-Eminem. How many times can you say ‘motherfucker’ textually?



The head of a Roman centurion rolled out next. Plaster, nose-smashed

by visygothic policies; modern archaeology’s Liverpool kiss. Transference

of sexual magnetism – Roman army defeats Macedonians at the “Dog’s

Heads”, Thessaly 197 B.C. & the rise of Russell Crowe’s rough trade.



Then a statue of Dionysus, one horn snapped off, poetry books under arm

mop head beard sadhu fixed to a hard face, sunburn plaster peeling white skin.

His own dishevelled Dionysian nature got him expelled from his gnomeland,

ostracized forever from some Heidelberg courtyard, the tyranny of fallen chic.



Murray quoted, “I came from a hard culture”, looking a bit like the jolly

Buddha sculpture that humped down the waste stream, Eastern & Western

burning want – striped woollen jumpers unpicking themselves: get knotted

his thin red line of religion spake: the closer you are to Caesar the greater the fear.



Tyring to explain my personal ontology, the great man tranced through me,

two brothers jumped ship South Brisbane wharves 1886, Baltic, Isle of Reugen.

Dinnies used to be our name but it changed six generations ago, no one knew

why but Fredy Murray had been there; more literary Proteus than genealogist.



The casualisation of Australia & 2.5 million workers suspicious rockabilly minds.

Strong magnetic fields pull artists into poverty, a labour hire shuffle & sucking

up to team leaders, Herr gruppenfuhrer gave needle-stuck Stacey her marching orders,

refused to climb down into a pit waist deep in glass; group signatures against porn.



On the phone the Manager said to her, “I can picture what you look like naked.”

This, after she’d signed his declaration; harassment is any unwelcome, uninvited behaviour,

whether verbal, written or physical, against another person. Harassment offends, humiliates or

intimidates your workmates & colleagues. All faces are the same man, one big self.



Then it was my turn down the pit & I knew why Stacey had rebuked her job

satisfaction – part tunnel rat, part miner we dug out wine bottle shrapnel from

sewerage water, Hien, Alfred, Hussan; Vietnamese, German, Turk & Australian

all in the same trench, huddling from wage concussion; post-war economic boom.



Makes one think of Fredy Murray’s artistic dilemma. How he only worked the land

in his head, his hands ploughing with a pen after he’d famously chucked in his public

service job with the revolutionary decree – I’m going home forever! Who could blame him?

Canberra in the 70’s – a political climate polluted by staffers dancing on bits of paper!



In 8 Mile, Eminem or ‘Rabbit’ as he’s monikered faces his own art versus employment

indecision. Garbled American obscenities mask his attempts to break dance on stubs

of bus tickets, slammin’ at the Shelter, the Nuremberg Rally in his mind enhanced by

the Detroit car plant’s ubermensch ethos; all rap lyrics are the same song, one big opera.



Notice to all staff. The Manager called everyone in for a rasp over the knuckles, man

of few words off the telephone pissed that someone had left a porno mag on top of a

needle bin, blocking access to the final come down of addiction; casuals poring over Jill

Kelly’s physical assets than VISY’s on paper profit; imagination lost in the waste stream.



That’s why I collected trophies; cornucopias, statues, sculptures, columns – my finger on

the end game of guilt, lust, greed, consumerism. Someone else’s abject reality bound for

China’s paper tigers, apathy’s landfill. Davis, Murray, Heydrich & Eminem so screwed up

by jobs & sex, history’s artery hardening; outside my factory gate work will set you free.



The Conference of the (underemployed) Birds

“It shows the top half of the workforce enjoying permanent, well-paid, full-time jobs, while the bottom half can find only casual, poorly-paid, part-time work which, as Labour market economist Professor Sue Richardson warned this week, was creating a class of “excluded and dangerous” men with incomes to low to support a family.”

– The Age, October 04, 2003.


“My discourse is sans words, sans tongue, sans sound: understand it then, sans mind, sans ear.”

– Farid Ud-Din Attar, The Conference of the Birds



A Willy-Wagtails’ call intercepts the morning. Birds were real once, like jobs.

The modem’s dial-up scream is cut short; why is our technology suffering so?


Fake, Australian accents in the call centre aviary: Calcutta nest robbers gloat.

A taxidermy of outsourced work: ditto, we’re all stuffed on the global floor.


Bottom of the bird market. This new flu’s crashed like tech stocks, Acme trap

For the Roadrunner managerial class, the coyote – disenfranchised American?



Magpies don’t attack in the open anymore, have you noticed: phenomena?

Phone tab’s the way forward. Keep an eye on your receiver, not the skies.


There are new powers afoot for dealing with these full employment refos,

Our government issues wide-brimmed hats with strings of corks attached.


The contemporary job market has a thin eggshell; depleted proteins crack.

An excluded & dangerous class birthed? They backed job terrorism not us.



I saw a hoopoe once. Was it Jaipur? Its crown of truth strutted on the lawn,

Painted a post-colonial green. What good is spiritual knowledge without law?


You will play an integral role in this dynamic environment by fudging your

Work history for sure. Service orientate your brain – lively, world class, lame.


Dangerous as ideas? There’s a metal storm inside your head. Try Sufism?

Was it John Lennon or Steve McQueen who went on about “ism ism ism?



There are nightingales here reputedly. Wasn’t it someone from myth who

Couldn’t stand being unemployed anymore & turned themselves into one?


Hit an epic glass ceiling probably. Better to be amorous than under-employed?

There’s no new twist in the figures though. The virtual exclusion of women


From net growth in full-time job mythology is eons old. Sumerians started it.

Gilgamesh’s entrapment of Enkidu needed a woman’s art: ‘Wanted Harlot.’



Australia has plenty of parrots, but cockatiels inhabit our universal currency

Of shame. See them locked up in Athens, Rome, Madrid, Delhi & Bangkok.


Feathered service economies, budgerigars tell beak fortunes in Iranian streets.

Collars of gold chained to human profit. Flocks flee drought & agricultural rut.


We even killed off one sub-species called ‘Paradise’, cleared full-time underbrush.

& if they were flightless, then we paid out redundancies see: dodo, puffin & moa.



These Gifts (ii)

for Bronwyn Lea


Let’s begin with dawn. Not quite rosy red fingered

as in Homer’s heyday, but blue, tinged with death.

The factory workers’ early morning shift heroism

goes unnoticed. Even the birds aren’t fucking yet.

Sunrise is the planet earth’s clock-in card isn’t it?

Emerald sparks fly as The Green Lantern scans them.

Bar-coded, human engines cough & turn over again.

On Merri Creek yellow mist drizzles like poison.

Turns gravy brown as it touches water, or mustard

even. Late heat bleached by chemical spill. Still no

work in Bhopal, as white-tailed black cockatoos tear

into silky oaks & shriek; fire alarms hunt casuals out

of their WMD’s (Workplaces of Mass Dehumanisation).

Only a modern economy can sex it up & in the blink

of a lyric moment two butterflies have screwed each

other: gone for the kill. These gifts, I give them back.



Factory Outlet



This factory has me for now.

In degrees of cooling, fireflies

extinguished as free thinking,

put to sleep with warning signs.

Power cords strung from ceilings,

the electric crucifixion of time

in slow Roman numerals begins.

Everything’s got a place to hang

somewhere, even humans. Keys

know all about it, the hanging bit,

the eternal longing for a brass hole.

Suited up, we are casual astronauts

defying sub-zero Mars; our lifestyle

stuffed up again by company clerks.

I worked in a factory once, says the poet.

Or did the factory work in you?



I invented something in the factory once.

An acronym – COFO, ‘Clock out fuck off!’

Used it on fellow workers to get a laugh.

It was the one time language worked too.

There are worse jobs I suppose?

In Calcutta I stripped down human flesh

in a bone factory for the Western Dental

market. Skulls barnacled with adolescent

teeth for trainee root canal surgeons.

Just an example of your body still labouring

long after its death. Then there are bodies,

Russian, Chinese, stolen from morgues for

plasticisation (whatever the hell that is!) –

some Auton experiment no doubt; suddenly

the future of work is so Doctor Who daggy,

low budget special fx with some good dialogue.



In the time of labouring we are all casuals.

Ms Klein – we are more than labels less

than individuals aren’t we? Some kind of proto-

consumer ape species. We’ve come a long way

from the old grass stem down the termite hole,

but I don’t get paid much so I don’t have an opinion.

Or, like Inspector Callahan says in The Dead Pool,

‘Opinions are like assholes, everyone’s got one.’

1984 was the start of it after all. (Dirty Harry &

Conan the Destroyer et al). Individuals had muscles

or .44 magnums, didn’t like the system but enforced

its values nonetheless, in the global downtime before

currencies floated & trans-national was a nebulous

catch-phrase like ‘Cold War’. But I’m on a ten-minute

break, Naomi & as it takes five minutes to get my suits,

gloves & ear muffs off, I can’t waste my smoko over you.



Behind every label there’s a sweatshop.

Behind the label ‘poet’ is the salt of ink,

keyboards grubby with emotion. A ‘Cool Poet’

works in a factory by night, six shifts a week,

is not entitled to holiday or sick loading

& can be dismissed within an hour’s notice.

The poet works for a label; Fresh Food Fast.

Would rather work for Fresh Word Fast, but

the pay isn’t as good. If he stands on concrete

for 50 hours a week is he a concrete poet then?

He has lost weight, given up eating salads,

fallen to reading New Idea; hungry for gossip.

Heard a story about a guy who masturbated

at work by putting his dick on a conveyor belt.

A real performance artist this one, so Stellarc,

as his sexual healing found its factory outlet.



In Emergency,

the micro-surgeon

began his twelve-hour shift

with a smile.



Fluency in the Machine Language

after Luis Gonzales


We entered as a ghost, a vague

figure in the back of a bridal car


& leave behind a cicada’s shell.

A transparency nailed to trees.


Yojimbo’s slow fade out &

now this town will be quiet.


One or one hundred

you only hang once.


The human mechanism is mute.

Dialects of binary code die out.


Mothers will always worship steel.

Fathers split open their own atoms.


Tools down in the head’s workshop.

Backhands are hydraulic, a mould


injection of plastic anger, Number 96.

Escalators frighten kids like fake snow.


HZ ute’s mantra, prayer flag spread.

Get In Sit Down Shut Up & Hang On.


‘Lil Sweetpea’ – size of a ball bearing

translates the machine’s whale song.


Ultrasound, a first contact between

species, ends in chromium exchange.


Look Up & Live

yellow engine signs.



Human Human Sorters


‘Positioned at platforms along the belt are eight or so

human sorters who work eight –hour shifts, picking off

obvious garbage that should have ended up in the bin.’


The Melbourne Times September 03 2003


  1. Plastic Number One

A casual loading of lotus flowers surges

down the belt’s black river. ‘Contaminants’,

human human sorters stand on either bank;

rubber Styx gloved, Ganges bona fide & bury

dead things, blue snout of a red fox, tailless,

polaroid hunted, OH&S arrested. Snapshot.

Car-aerial affixed: transcendental phalanges.


  1. Plastic Number Two

Ah Xian’s knee ligaments, whiplash art, work

covers his body, reflector vests watch human

human sorters poised on mats, water pedestals.

Must be Buddha too, after 8-hour meditations

on the substance of things? Or perhaps mad

Catholic monk? Kerouacian? We know what’s

written on a single grain of rice: fuck you.


  1. Plastic Number Three

Enlightenment hits occasionally, syringe

thunderbolts out of the blue, trainspotting

for green sculpture veins, fronds – charka

warm skin wrapped, breast, pelvis, cheek,

but chiefly hands of human human sorters

blossom with hep cats, a, b & c. Danger:

Pit Below, rat’s glass cage & two weeks rest.


  1. Plastic Number Four

Castrovalva came down the line; SF metaphor

for continuity, a time loop for fiscal masters.

Find me a planet that doesn’t know suffering.

Human human sorters action galactic downtime.

Would robots do this? Maybe Autons? Cybermen?

There’s no time & relative dimensions in waste.

The factory’s a Zero Cabinet, helps regeneration.


  1. Plastic Number Five

Passed through a trommel at birth, separated

our mirror selves from glass heaviest. An eddy

current charged our oedipal; flimsy aluminium.

Then, air classifier blew off paper-thin fathers,

friends. Lotus flowers left in pools, flooded

with cheap guts & the sweet grey tide of shit.

We’re alive but dead; low budget zombie crew?


  1. Plastic Number Six

Co-mingling’s all the rage now; everything

in the same bin. When will our Sleeping Sentinel

awaken? Out of a rotten tree stump he grew.

Merlin trapped; some myths need recycling.

Lives by Christos Tsiolkas? The Jesus Man.

Nipped in the bud; bloomsday dysfunction.

Maybe we too can be, human human lotus?





There is a need to state the opposite.

– Martin Johnston, 1989.


  1. Your Taxable Income

On the night he was assassinated by the ATO

his ‘taxable professional income not allowable’

the Colonels’ mentality sheathed a garbage bag

over his negativity bin; nowhere on the drop menu

for poet, only process worker, his income derived

from lifting with the vernacular, not against it.

Don’t use your head as a lever bend your mind.

3000 writers die each year from language related

accidents! In a cold room somewhere, a shy man

who wrote quirky sonnets lies dead, snap frozen

under 800kgs of mayonnaise. On his form, pallet-

jack not poet either, the results the same; confined

to literature’s ether. It took a weekend to thaw

his opus, when his notice of assessment came.


  1. Tax on Taxable Income

By now his paragraph’s been sorted, wrapped

under a green tarpaulin & sent off to China

Many people on the train (maybe he took one

himself & read of other unfortunate writers)

studied his short story, half an elegy really.

There was opposition here too; commuters

disturbed by gravity & those by chill factors.

On that morning there was a clear division

of expectancy. Workers who would throw

themselves out of a burning building & those

employees who would perish in the flames;

carpet fibres melding new corporate bodies.

His solo effort, less spectacular, took much

longer to discover. The mayo tossed.


  1. Medicare Levy

Something he didn’t have to consider often

living there on Hydra in the fifties & sixties,

stressed out with Homer, nursing his contribution

to literature like Aphrodite tending her cut wrist,

sulking in the seventies, Diomedes’ sword blade

a reality he & she couldn’t endure. So… human.

Zeus & the other gods just laughed at her. Apollo

was up next; Diomedes’ would’ve had him too…

if the system had worked properly. However,

the cutbacks started to impact, Aphrodite

frowned at the after hours fee. Fewer & fewer

soothsayers bulk billed. Why else would Achilles

sit it out for so long & risk his dicky tendon?

No private cover, his tax was rounded down.


  1. Your HECS repayment

Again, this is beyond his realm; a Phaistos Disc

of user pays society, part pictogram, all Australian.

We now know why the Minoans failed. Not earthquake,

not drought, not Dorian invasion. Their kingdom

collapsed from those childless renters, very educated

but fiscally challenged. The housing slump number

crunched no first home buyers, no baby bonuses.

Immigration was out unless you were Phoenician:

Knossos’ population aged took a voluntary package.

Borrowed heavily to get through a classic dark era.

In a cultural cringe Minos resorted to Athenian

imports, band-aid measures, his education policies

labyrinthine. It all ended in a banana republic;

the ‘world’s greatest treasurer’, half man half bull.


  1. PAYG Withholding Credits

The first attempt failed so they sent another assassin.

‘Parasites After Your Gonads’ instalments; piano wire

for poets, not quite a delivery boy sent by grocery clerks

this business of words so profitable? He was a special

professional too – this tax regime made the Colonels’

red tape look pinkish & delicate, so they threw a few

of them onto island prisons…so Papillon but without

the butterfly tattoo. Isn’t Australia is the world’s largest

island? Settled as a prison though. The sediment says so.

Microgeography. The cultural proximity of this land to

his foster fatherland Greece. How many heads on the

hydra & how to do them? What we miss; his odyssean

intellect, his best-selling books of poems, the cluttered

landscape of his mind, so poetically cyclopean.


  1. Tax Offsets and Other Credits

His offsets were the most terrible. Mother dead from

leap of literary faith, father dead the following year, bottle-

friends’ the harshest critics to contend with. Then, sister

gone in as many revolutions of the sun; what could poetry

offer the survivors? Say, the Andes 13th October 1972,

pale witch of the lonely American wind downed soccer

team’s youthful enthusiasm. Even at our worst there are

still rules to follow; don’t eat women. Another totalitarian

microcosm like tax offsets; the benefit of cannibalism

hidden in the gene pool – Pacific nations scapegoated

by colonial recidivists, Batavia’s dinner menu? Pitcairn’s

incestuous end? All poets are endo-cannibals, they eat

other poets’ words out of respect; otherwise vampires

we assume; tax advisors bloodsucking the living dead.


  1. Balance of the Assessment

The balance of our cultural assessment is not

in his favour. Half Greek, half Australian, quasi-

inner urban intellectual? As a kid, he knew how

to identify trees, not climb them. The one thing

he lacked as a writer: our sporting affliction? He

was outside the vernacular, yet at school hated

Turks too. A mythical doppelganger, Gallipoli

true? Family osmosis denounced his academia.

Which blue was realer? Corfu? Sydney Harbour?

Australian literature, like the stegosaurus has two

artistic brains, one lodged in its UK nugget & one

stuck in its US arse-end, the ‘tense’ object of poetry

a beautiful but useless game, in the running war

between himself & his taxable identity.


  1. This Amount is Payable by…

His father’s masterwork, My Brother Jack, cemented

our 20th century milieu. It seemed in every generation,

one either went off to war or wrote & was poo-pooed.

But in this modern sequence number, where intellects

have fallen, what happens to those ‘hobbyists’ who glue

words – end up fixed in some ATO novel scattergorie?

E “New” Holland, Deputy Commissioner of Taxation

borrowed his dogma from the Colonel’s bureaucracy.

So, the torture is economic, rather than electric; similar

result really, Oz writers’ wages are still crying pathetic.

Betrayed by Democrats, books 10% more, he missed

all this malarky, ELR bayoneted, now factories’ call.

He went back to Greece, but Hydra had got trendy.

In this island paradise, assessable incomes fall & fall.


  1. Amount Payable Rounded Down

The great white Australian indifference settles

like a New Delhi haze over the nation’s capital.

Our richest topsoil, historical strata, lost to poor

thought-farming techniques. Microgeographical

mis-management of photos & dossiers. Ord River

schemes flow inexorably through Canberra’s saline

consensus. Too much water on the brain? Universities,

R&D, health, slash & burned; submissive dog politics

of grants, state funding, Murray control; the snarling

public response to Blue Poles, Lizzy & Phil, Piss Christ.

His cultural amount payable rounded down; ‘too few

minds against which he might sharpen his thought.’ Didn’t

want us to ‘mug out on large bodies of mythology’ darling!

His poetry a chess stratagem: get the connection.


  1. Actual Amount Payable

700 page drafts of a single life exist, in our thumb

species. He was the fastest one-finger typist in the West,

part shy, dogged taxman, part Alice Cooper. Epoch

trapped; bog-man out of his depth. He revitalised

a cliquey poetry gone numb. More civil European,

he excavated our ancestor: Bronze Age Australian.

Though now, he’s mostly not read, by the groovier

modern Americans. His Australia more to do with

people than place; his Hydra, our Bunyah. His art

was pig killing at country shows, our landscape,

a convenient vacuum into which you can stuff all sorts of

things of your own. His poems impossible to find

on any bookshelf, he succumbed to Carver’s fate.

The explanation of each poem precisely the poem itself.




Wolf Street


“Let no one forget; let nothing be forgotten.”

– Inscription – Piskarev Cemetery, St Petersburg



The day the semantics of a child’s sled

changed forever, the poet in Leningrad

zoetroped – woman towing daughters’

corpse; a moment’s frozen anti-fun,

sheet-wrapped slaughterhouse furniture.

These throwaway facts we chip

out of books between masturbation

& Civilisation; here sex drives

fell into ruin, the birth rate adopted

its winter coat, & death, the busy

kitchen garnished new recipes:

sawdust bread, twig stew, wallpaper

soup, cottonseed cake, plaster milk.

New currencies ruled old appetites.

Pet rabbits & lab rats more precious than…

most died alone in diamond poverty.



Writers regurgitated ink to keep art

from freezing. Exhibitions cellar-staged;

above cannibals reigned – human crows

barked at concrete to give up its bonemeal;

below, artists licked their paintbrushes,

something for now something for later.

Futurism hung from a bridle-peg.

Packing crate duality: canvas & coffin.

Poets ate leaves & words, stripped

horses from culture’s dead harness.

Some adapted. In old Haymarket

beef substitute sold well; black

trades executed hunger psychosis.

‘Badayev earth’ for dessert – burned

sugar warehouse dirt, starvations’

innocent poise, adults ate mud pies.



Leningrad, they have all forgotten.

You’re a crowded thesis footnote,

tear-sown twentieth century crop.

A graph plotted by war hawks & young

shamans looking for a PhD subject.

Your 1.3 million checked boxes, a neat

sum to look up (multiply Hiroshima

/Dresden by ten): math of disbelief.

Your anti-tank trenches filled in

by mass graves, new parking spaces.

Panzer steel mixed with pram bones—

a child’s logbook hemmed with flowers

& the dates all her family died.

“To live or not—that is not the question.

Our life belongs to Leningrad,” they toasted

on Wolf Street when the ice slunk away.



3. The Sprung Histories


(i) Polyphemus

Odysseus didn’t use a stake blackened by the eye of fate. He wiped animal fat, the grease of great buck horned goats across the fish platter cornea shuttered for renovations. Through the meniscus of boulder & cave mouth, the multifaceted ones streamed, devoured the sensory organ, their brother’s world vision.

It was some picnic (you) had to be there.

In the morning the giant shaved his stubble of small robots, powdered his face with sheep intestines. Put on shoulder pads, a power dresser by nature.

Read the short note from nobody.



(ii) Adolf Hitler

The only witness to his birth was a blackbird that mimicked his assault on language. Didn’t fit in at school kept to himself never tried it on girls at the port racks. Hated maths. Substituted a poem for an English essay on freedom. Lacked perspective. Was often late for class; stabbed a boy in the hand with his pencil to prove he wasn’t a ghost.

Was locked in a cupboard for hours like (you).

Copped a saucepan in the throat at the front. Put his fist through a hole where a man’s jaw had been once. Drilled Private Tolkien a neat hole near Passchendaele.

Drafted notes on a new mythology.



(iii) Alexander the Great

Strangled Aristotle in his sleep tired of the older man’s busy hands. Philip covered the whole thing up. Paid off the rellies. Alex pissed himself once before a big race, rubbed sand onto his crotch to dry it up but everyone smelt it. His father’s head dropped, a lazy super hawk battered Thebes. Came last in everything that boy.

Didn’t matter where (you) put him.

Most of the Foot Companions sniggered at his get-up. He fucked it leaping onto the beach near Troy, put his sword through a kidney.

Philip had a true Macedonian son.



(iv) Agamemnon

Was a complete & utter cuckold. At Troy he sacked Helen’s rich treasury while his brother attached toe-tags to the Achaean dead. Cassandra knew all about it – could smell her perfume on his cuirass a mile away. He’d got rid of that poseur – Achilles too, with another couple of shooters on the grassy knoll. It’s all there in Zapruder’s film!

The gods weren’t finished fucking with (you).

He would have got away with it, if Aphrodite hadn’t slipped Helen’s coin-name under his tongue on that first night back. I’m glad you’re home too honey trawled his wife?

Poseidon cooled the bath just right.



(v) Welsh Fusiliers

Earth’s bed cover stripped away near Flanders. The industry of grandchildren broke the father memory, a burial mound for absenteeism. Poetry wrote them up. Fusiliers corroded with bracelet dog tags beyond time; nobodies’ killed them. A gas mask face, phosgene signatures imprinted in wine-mud. Timed detonators that didn’t go off.

(You) watch this 85 years from now.

A week of pre-spring rain & the seasons cake on boots. Wood preserved when it shouldn’t have breathes a new centuries’ arsenic air. The factory completed on time.

A regimental stamp on the heart.



(vi) Bin Laden’s son

Wrote first poem at age ten, popular in literary circles convened in dawn sand. Debated new epic (poeme), the super cobras’ Gatling gun criticism shredded his father’s minor oeuvre. Argued with depleted plutonium self. Hijacked poet laureate of the free world & crashed a new syntax into the world’s tallest language.

Did (you) see it live on CNN?

Poets on PBS – one defending service workers’ depreciated memories; sufferings’ economic rationalisation. The other citing Adorno, holocaust theory’s embodied dictator.

No poetry after Twin Towers (?)



(vii) Sharon Phillips

Neo-Ophelia slunk into collective memories’ dry catchment. Diverted by blue (anti) signs, Ipswich Road rusts shut boom gates to national service Hades. The sharp- shooter’s trajectory veers in his mind’s eye, plastic endures, shell casings slap recollection on the shoulder. Brass manikins inherit our space after we’re gone for sixteen months.

How much memory do (you) have?

Build a driver database for newspaper crime. Beaumont, Cobby, Milat, Bryant. Details of a new search hound the truth. Lunches & counter lunches untouched on Marie Celeste.

All victims are forgiven in time.



(viii) Bruce Lee

Numero uno modern poet used his body; so pre Acker, pre body piercer, pre body builder, pre video artist. Rumour flexes on tape covers; Enter the Dragon of sprung history. Swivel on the balls of your feet; block, punch & counter punch, the underground will always champion the underground. Keep your secrets Eastern, your thoughts Western.

You’d be scared too, if Sven Thor Olson was haunting (you).

There was a son too all so tragically Irish. Hollywood ate some beaver (water-dog) by mistake & prophecy chained itself to a rock. The migraine was fake, the 357 real.

I have a cousin called Brandon Lee.



(ix) Ned Kelly

Nolan got it right, his mind/armour split. His “My God it’s full of stars” visor twinkled.

Historical mischief, stringy barks’ cat o nine tails skin, bad sunburn peel, bright red police redder. MAD MAX counterweight our Ned the bush warrior, pre-bitumen, disc brakes ignorant letter writer, 44 kilos of cultural burden. What if Bryant wore a helmet too?

There’s a little bit of Ned in (you).

Kelly’s last view; dull coloured time let in holy light, touch wood his beam killer. Eyelashes scratched at hessian cloth, on the hill yobbos gawked, bluestone stood.

It all ends through visor-cam.



(x) Marc Bolan

Iconography of the glam-rock gods was scabble-mad. Economies of satin, velvet, eyeliner increased in the High St, shop assistants copied corkscrew hair. His Apollo mission for pop music, moon-shot aborted after three years. Bowie’s Japanese elegance, elf fey adaptations kept changeling popular & tyrannosaurus rex melody unevolved

Have (you) read the “Warlock of Love” (1969

His fall was so passenger. A purple GT Mini catapult into horse chestnut tree. Seventies touchy-feely culture aside from Presley binge & Glitter paedophilia.

Revolution of the children: daggy intertextual.



(xi) Andre the Giant      

Hulk proportioned, minus the green tinge, how does a mother feed ten children in one? More than “stinking meat” to his fans – big boned teenage boys parking car noses with milk can muscles, tuned into Sat arvos & WWF match ups against Big John Stud; the pallid collapse of dead flesh. Smoothed over asexual hideousness in obese Western boys.

As (you) wish?

A giant’s final poetry. Hidden behind the cheeses & wine at the cave’s end, A Princess Bride. His lines ended in The Simpson’s mockery, celebrity funerals we hardly knew him.

Wait a minute…has anybody got a peanut?



(xii) Vivian Bullwinkle  

They who save lives can never understand how they are taken. Tide pull of khaki men & rigid ammo belts so anti-cummerbund. Quick as dance steps, counter-sprung floors of golden sand, death’s a stage trapdoor for most, nurses, soldiers & salt coffins soak up jungle’s exhausted heat. Stay dead by your sisters till the sun’s blood pressure drops.

We want (you) as a new recruit.

Live to tell the tale. Escape, be captured again, keep the secret inside you in utero. Let history write you out, become someone’s footnote in his or her thesis & pass

Decline that Australian beach obsession.



(xiii) Pyrrhus    

A womaniser of kingdoms, flitted from one engagement to another, draining dowries like uncut wine in the post-Alexandrian classical age carve up. Frenetic, pinball wizard with sword for hire, undiagnosed ADD child opened negotiations for Greece Pty. Ltd. to become a Roman subsidiary. Tactical dervish bewildered legions, phalanxes, wives, rules.

Have (you) had a pyrrhic victory?

A chaotic end was justified: some sideshow in Argos & a well-timed roof tile thrown by the Argives’ best old woman. Hit the mark too, ended his career as military magician.

Everyone’s ambition: become an adjective.



(xiv) Leni Reifenstahl     

Susan Sontag dissed her. Took stock footage of the twentieth century’s sculptured, athletic, Nazi iconography & documented eugenics think tank – not a big fish as nutters go but someone had too break UFA’s glass ceiling: detect professional jealousy? Leni, more googled? Bra ads, new totalitarianism these days: vis a vis fascism from girls is okay?

Triumph of (you)r will.

Our culture’s body language still defers to Hitler. In photos & essays he still dominates! Should have photographed the abominable snowman instead; shot warm & fuzzy hues.

Alas, “Every woman adores a fascist”, sad, but true.



(xv) Johnny Cash

Midnight fear choirs for blond fatherless boys…mid-western cuckoos? Unkind this oeuvre but sorrow’s a bass voice, horned beast too, black vinyl records & scratched out 70’s country sounds, pop, – rootless & ungrounded? Old timers slumped over Fordson tractors, transistor radios mudguard strapped & melodies cutting off a piece of their ears.

Were (you) a boy named Sue too?

For two hours we could make them forget they were caged up like animals.” Substitute dads don’t need a back of album blurb; seek directions to the village of the dammed, but remember:

Don’t take your guns to town, son.



(xvi) John Lennon          

The day his life’s sheet music was punctuated by six abrupt notes an invisible stethoscope listened for war memorial’s heartbeat, concrete & trees fixed as Central Park sleeve design. His face, mansion, piano, bed & surreal wife, marble white as shocked ancient Greece, bullet holes in the Parthenon’s torso; in 1980 all colour drained from the world.

I’m sorry that I made (you) cry.

Such a mythic, Running Bear/White Dove pop culture tragedy. 23 years of missing songs. The Xmas present John & Yoko gave, broke the next day. Is War Over? Joko’s on us.

Trademarks held; peace & sunglasses.



(xvii) Forty Seven Rōnin 

The house of Asano spilled its guts over an impromptu dais after its true samurai spirit hacked at the protocol droid’s head. The shogunate palace so…Jabba the Hutt’s smugglers lair diorama with action figures & C3PO left in shiny bronze bits again. Pop culture’s ritual suicide began in 18th century Kill Bill fashion. History folded like hot steel.

What code do (you) follow?

Kira’s coal blackened head sat up as funeral bust on Asano’s grave. A treasury of loyal hearts disembowelled snowflake bellies melting over floors & performing arts turned on.

Cinema is so much BS (bushidõ).



(xviii) Donald Campbell 

Bluebird pushed envelope of sixties’ plastic Beatles wig style curvature to the limit. In pre – ‘extreme games’ age of aggressive backyard hobbies & elbow grease, world marks broken as sound barriers or peace treaties. Jets ruled in air & on water, bombing & speed records tumbled in Asia, Australia, azure kingfishers skimmed salt lakes path finding for glory.

(You) steer a boat through its arse.

He ended as blue heron; photo stills & airborne poetry. Cut the meniscus of speed & water on Lake Coniston & two years later they rehydrated his body re: Sea Monkey.

Sixties lesson: don’t screw up your nose at anything.