Two

We were standing on a precipice,

the edge of something beautiful,

with our hands

together.

I convinced them to let go,

push me off,

step away.

So I was falling down

and there was nothing I could say,

nothing to raise me

back through the air.

My plea

made it worse instead.

I tried too late

to make them see

I wasn’t dead.

*

I had failed to see the crumbled sandstone

lip of the cliff,

could not feel my own ragged fragments

tearing away like a ship spar,

my soul has never found a place to rest.

The salt on the air was not visible

but I could taste it, sour in my stomach,

flavoured glass ripping insides out.

Maybe it wasn’t that, maybe it was the

words I heard

and the ones I could not say,

a flood slammed against a dam wall,

until I had to scream them as it broke.

A vicious uproar,

the tide scared away any that would listen.

There was a desperation to the flow

and desperation stinks.

The good thing is

once the rush has subsided

and all the sticks

have settled again, there won’t be another flood for a long time,

no more risk of being cut

or broken,

at least until a new version of you

is sucked into an atmosphere

full of stormy tendencies

and unforgiving conclusions.

But if you survive the first time,

you will always stay alive.

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Plot Points

‘This fucking heatwave.’

Sweat itches David’s beard,

wished he’d had a shave.

Black spider kicks up dust,

dropping from his leathered arm

to crack earth’s fragile crust.

But in God we trust.

*

Only the hardy remain

but changed just the same,

withered and bowed

like  poorly assembled skeletons.

Their roots searching deeper

and deeper all the time

against a villain-less crime.

*

The heifer lays breathing distress,

overcome by weakness.

Side by side they stand looking down

thinking ‘there’s one less’.

David moves forward,

lucerne in his hand but his father stops him.

No argument, it was only ever a whim.

*

Mother lying in hospital

breathing from one-half lung.

Smoke still blown into his face

by his best mates.

Her colour runs away

like dye in the laundry.

A shame, she’s not long left her forties.

*

Family photos grown dusty

on a hospital bedside table.

(Condition in decline but stable).

A fraction of her life

held in recollections.

The rest, the parts she keeps to herself,

forever restricted sections.

*

Daughter bouncing up and down

on the bed,

endlessly forgetting the last thing she said.

All her books have a happy end

where rules of reality bend, and break.

Sees the cattle’s ribs, tells her daddy

sees the dogs ribs, tells her daddy they’re hungry.

*

Consoles himself,

knows they’re all in it together

holding on as tight as each other.

Natural disaster, a great leveller.

Sees a wombat dead on the road,

wheel marks over its spine.

‘Why can’t people take their time?’

*

A baby and a dog alone in a car

while the mercury surges

and a man shops,

his thoughts absent of how they are.

Glass crystal scatters

from a rock, solid blow.

Prisoners freed, muscles drained, moving slow.

*

White shirt,

blue tie,

black pants.

A slight paunch

only the arrogant possess.

‘What the fuck are you doing with my child?’

As rainclouds join the sky, come to bless.

*

David closes his eyes but he may as well be looking directly at the sun. His vision swims with red as rage fires out into every nerve ending. A ringing starts up in his ears, blocking all other noise out. He opens his eyes and hits the man in the jaw, knocking him down. As the man tries to rise David grabs his shirt and punches him again, breaking his nose in a burst of blood. The man is helpless and David hits him again. He could kill him. He wants to. He wants to keep hitting and hammering away until the man’s body is mush, until his soul is gone. The man’s very existence is tearing at the fabric which keeps David believing everything is going to be okay. He is dragged off before he can do too much damage. Although three fury-filled hits have been enough to leave the man in a mess. Nose squashed, lips split, darkening eyes, a broken jaw to round it out. Whether it was because of the commotion or he was still feeling ill, the baby boy is crying again and David can’t help thinking, looking at screwed-up anguished eyes, he’s made a terrible mistake.