Dark side, Katoomba
On Waratah the Salvation Army
advertises its Breakfast Club.
I’ve just seen Neil from ‘The Young Ones’,
updated in dreads, cross the street,
soles lifting black in thongs. It’s grim.
How could feet stash such grime?
Across Cascade a Persian cat
abandons her off-pink op-shop coat
to the violent sun, eyes sewn shut,
a fragile slit of white bearing testament
to unknown crimes against her kind.
Red fields, Paris
Rabbits at their toilette pause
on tapestry fields of red.
The Dharma bum has shoes
that curl like autumn
stark thigh bones.
You want to feed him gorgonzola
from the fromager’s leaves
stirring in your fridge.
At Hotel La Louisiane
they propose methods
of recording and starting rapids
a polyglot reception.
In the Cluny d’Sorbonne
waffle irons are embossed
with flower and vine.
For embroidered sandwiches
in chilblain hands you would
trade a truckload of Monets.
They are pouring men into this ship like molasses
living a Sebastiao Salgado photograph while he paces
the deck to find a silent patch shouting Orange Freighters!
Yellow Cranes! Dogmen With Whistles! Closed Laundromats!
Itinerant Indian Scaffolders! These blackest of men in sky
blue overalls and yellow hard hats, who work for $25 a day
impress with heat-proof smiles, fierce skin and sneaky sightlines
as they float along the bow to grind off the ship’s letters
and spy on the dancer from Palmerston North in g-string.
The roar of distance and strangers fuels jubilance as he trolls
past ships gashed by fire and collision, the new neighbours.
You Are Now Entering A Hot Works Zone, scarce out
since embarkation, he snatches oblivion in the vessel’s
dead heart while workers belabour night then day then night
again. On a lone day off he goes to the zoo in a gang.
Only the white tiger remains magnificent.
They exchange eyes. He sees it thinking
How can I get that human?