written: in the raw

 

Tablo reader up chevron

written: in the raw

by Stephen House

 

(c) 2018

 

 

Table of Contents

 

where and when

who we are

driftwood mountain

after fun

my shabby room

a gift

brutality

a tidy laugh

when i write

coastal comrade

Club Le Dep

The Chill-Out Cafe

Baik Manusia

cafe of then

Caroline

bar games (and survival)

at me

pot crocodile 

dead men's clothes

Ricardo

on a corner in Paris

his grubby room

sex addict

again

coming back slowly

the sacred

self

 

 

Acknowledgements

 

(cover photo: Francesco Bozzo)

 

where and when: published by Australian Poetry Journal 2016

who we are: 2016 Rhonda Jancovic Poetry Award for Social Justice

driftwood mountain: 2016 2nd place Sawmiller's Poetry Prize / published in Poetica Christi Anthology - Wonderment 2017

after fun: published by Third Street Writers USA in 2018 Anthology - Beach Reads lost and found

my shabby room: shortlisted for the Tom Collins Poetry Prize

a gift: shortlisted 2016 Rhonda Jancovic Poetry Award for Social Justice

brutality: published by The Blue Nib Ireland 2018

a tidy laugh: published by grey borders magazine Canada 2018

when i write: adapted excerpt from stage play "Almost Face To Face" by Stephen House / published and available from The Australian Script Centre https://australianplays.org/playwright/ASC-387

coastal comrade: published by StylusLit Australia 2018

Club Le Dep: adapted excerpt from stage play "Appalling Behaviour" published and available from The Australian Script Centre https://australianplays.org/playwright/ASC-387

The Chill-Out Cafe: published by grey borders magazine Canada 2018 / written on AsiaLink literature residency in India / OzAsia exhibition at Adelaide Festival Centre SA and Nexus Gallery - "Northern India Faces and Words" 

Baik Manusia: published by The Blue Nib Ireland 2018 & by grey borders magazine Canada (as "Orang Baik" version) 2018 

cafe of then: published by The Blue Nib Ireland 2018

Caroline: published by grey borders magazine Canada 2018

bar games (and survival):  performed live on ABC Radio Darwin Australia 2018 / adapted excerpt from stage play, "Almost Face To Face" by Stephen House / Australia Council Tyrone Guthrie Ireland Literature residency

at me: published by grey borders magazine Canada 2018

pot crocodile: published by 5th wall press USA 2018

dead men's clothes: published by The Blue Nib Ireland 2018

Ricardo: published by grey borders magazine Canada 2018

on a corner in Paris: adapted excerpt from stage play "Appalling Behaviour" by Stephen House 

his grubby room: adapted excerpt from stage play, "Almost Face To Face" by Stephen House 

sex addict: published by grey borders magazine Canada 2018

again: published by grey borders magazine Canada 2018 & by The Blue Nib (as "savage dark" version) 2018 

coming back slowly: adapted excerpt from stage play, "Almost Face To Face" by Stephen House

the sacred: published by grey borders magazine Canada 2018

self: commended in 2018 Eyre Writing Awards / to be published in The Lincoln Times 2018

 

 

where and when

 

i'm standing alone in a cafe

no one is serving

 

out the back dishes clatter

someone coughs

 

i wait

check facebook

yawn 

ring a small brass bell

with a tinny tinkle

 

a guy appears

stands on the other side of the counter

facing me

 

brown eyes

strong hands

jagged forehead scar

 

i know him from sex

 

once i think

maybe twice

 

i'm not sure where and when

 

i order a long black

he looks at me

man on man gaze

 

i smile

we drift into whatever it was

 

our hands touch as i pass him two coins

 

he winks

we fall into whatever it is

 

i remember where and when

 

 

who we are 

 

i’m walking along the beach

with my mate of two decades

as we do most days

 

we chuckle at a dog and child playing

watch a pacific gull hunting for crabs

paddle together in the shallows

 

he takes my hand

i’m not as steady on my legs as he is

 

a young man and woman jog together towards us

pass us at the water’s edge

old faggots he sneers and laughs

disgusting she adds

they keep running on their way

 

he lets go of my hand

that hurts

more than their abuse did

 

we keep walking

now maybe fearful of touching

in front of others

unable to be completely who we are

two men with love

happily growing older

together

 

he smiles into my eyes

i smile back at him

we continue on our beach walk

 

i grab his hand

he squeezes mine

we know what we feel for each other

 

it’s beautiful 

not disgusting

 

 

driftwood mountain

 

he collects driftwood from the windswept beach

ties it up with rope and drags it through the scrub to his campsite

i gather driftwood for my cooking fire 

 

he lives in a caravan moulded into sand-hill bush

i live in a tent amongst coastal gums

 

walking today i come across a clearing in the growth 

not far from his camp

 

i stop

see a mountain of driftwood reaching up to the sky

as high as the trees around it

 

i sink to the ground

drawn into its enormity and beauty

to what i feel it says about him and i living in nature by the sea

 

i cry and i’m not sure why

i see him sitting in the scrub watching me

 

as the sun sets i stand and wave to him

hike back to my home through the wilderness 

past grazing kangaroos and emus

 

at my campsite i make a driftwood fire

cook my food

warm my body

write a poem about a driftwood mountain 

that changed my life

 

 

after fun

 

after fun

he rests his head on my chest

drags whiskers over my face

kisses me wet and long

 

shares childhood

 

locked in a cupboard

kicked and punched

burnt with cigarettes

 

he cries

 

i wrap my arm around him

pull his pain into mine

 

we shower

 

cold water

over our spent men’s bodies

drop to floor

slide around in soapy need

 

he dresses

 

floats into night

gets on motorbike

 

i go to his sad eye smile

 

tell him to call

if he wants fun

needs to talk

 

he nods

rides away

 

i go back to my room

push his then from my now

 

turn off light

stare into dark

 

alone with his story

after fun

 

 

my shabby room

 

my shabby room is mine for fifty bucks a week

not far from the beach

away from the main road

the neighbours all seem cool

 

indonesian lady-boy

on the game next door

asks me if i’m working from my room

i say no

the guys that come and go

are for recreational fun

though anything can happen when i’m broke

 

old aussie surfer

once well known

on the other side of my room

asks me if i surf

i say no

i use to

i now do yoga and run and swim

but i might pick up a board again

the waves down there look awesome

 

dutch painter upstairs

functioning ok for an alcoholic

asks me if i paint

i say no

i’m a writer and a wanderer 

though i used to dabble in oils

he asks me if i drink

i say no

i use to heavily

but only when i was painting

 

handsome filipino guy

two doors down

asks me if i’m looking for a relationship

i say no

i have one of those somewhere else

i’m into hook ups with nameless strangers

and sex-buddies are good fun too

 

french ice addict

covered in tatts

across the path from me

asks me if i’m wired when my lights are on all night

i say no

i’m straight and sober usually

writing poems until dawn

my drugs of choice are coffee and pot

though i never smoke weed in asia

 

i like my shabby room and life

with the international crowd all around

who are friendly and fascinating

and share some common interests and points of view

the big green sea only five minutes away

when i need to be alone and free

 

and the handsome filipino isn’t only into relationships

i discovered late last night

when he dropped by my shabby room

while the others nearby in their shabby rooms

did whatever they do

 

 

a gift

 

i don’t expect much from life

i’ve learnt not to

living in my body

in the way i do

 

a smile or word

acknowledgement

i am a human too

 

what i live with i call a gift

it’s kinder than other terms

bouncing around me since i was born

disabled

handicapped

challenged

whatever else they throw at me and on me

be it classed as good or bad

by them

 

simpleton is the worst i’ve had

fuck

a woman called me that on a bus one day

don’t sit next to the simpleton

she said to her kids

as if i couldn’t hear

 

that is me

who i am

 

if my words would come out

in the way i think them in

i would’ve spoken up

i stare and make sounds

my thoughts zoom all over the place

i need courage to move

but i am a human too

 

this morning a man with a flower tattoo on his neck

smiled at me and gave me a nod

as he passed me in the mall

wow

it made my day special

 

i don’t expect much from life

i’m happy when something comes along

anything friendly is welcome

living with a gift

like i do

 

 

brutality

 

he’s gazing into oily black;

asks how much life is left in my now.

 

it’s disappearing; stifled can’t return.

i lost me to grasping ghouls on veiled junctions;

you owe me yesterday, seeping from my real.

he sneaks out need. i touch him a taste of hope.

 

is truth fact? hazy soul in yearning mist; blind existence

warming need. vibrating quench famished reason

as we seize each other’s search. i’m me under crusts

you strip away to paste back on at will. i’ll  ascend

our lust sought mess; watch valor sprout from desperate. 

“please stay,” he drones in pathetic smolder,

fueling my destitute cling. i halt my nowhere amble:

 

grasp, fuck, hold, die, repeat. why are we screaming blind?

leans into mute plea; stares rigid at crushed faith falling; scowls sliding dial of youth, like i was once as him.

how old are you? he mumbles, “whatever i am and be.”

 

forgotten saga glides in; spun magic seeking path

was mine in all ok. alive, now stranded in crumbling wonder

of you; my next possible god. slide, pray, panic.

can’t you sense noxious tears? “fake moons shine on dearth,” watching angel sings, witnessing recurring snatch

at waning loss. he whispers, “let’s keep trying.” we crawl;

 

hushed moans sealing secret neon dread;

feigned respite tickles burden; rising dawn spurts

clutched belief. he kisses my beg. holds desire

in mortal ransom. please don’t smash my gift of me, i ooze

as fright feeds incapable escape. passes me wine. i skull: reach, vomit, drop, writhe, soar; sink in shared anticipation

of compulsion, disintegrating to re-emerge.

how long have we been drinking?

he flicks anonymous pill. croons, “swallow baby.”

 

ingest present lie. thrusts tepid flesh at me;

drives hard inside me; beard scrape hollow face.

drown threadbare identity, bury emerging demise:

gulp, breathe, swallow, lick, plunge, pant;

explode in manufactured parody of two men spinning;

trapped in web of helpless.

 

he’s peering into icy grey.

asks how much life is saved in my here.

 

it’s gone; slaughtered won’t revive.

still you reel me back from flee; hurl disguised span

of hallowed lure. i clench on; 

wallow in attempting remains -

smidgens of enduring wish glow; 

entombed: in brutality.

 

 

a tidy laugh

 

a woman in a café

by a beach

near an empty warehouse where i sleep

in a narrow lane

behind a five star hotel

asks me

are you on holidays

i’m here for a couple of months

so what is your work

i write poems and plays

perform if i get a gig

 

she spits out a tidy laugh

that bangs me in my gut

so you don’t work at all

same laugh

i do

i’m working now

here

 

i pick up my pen

begin writing a poem

about a woman

who laughed at my work

 

she stands to leave

gives me a look

goes by where i sit

writing about her

goodbye

no reply

only a tidy laugh

            ok

 

she keeps walking towards the five star place

past my warehouse squat

 

i buy another long black

on credit

            thankyou

i think i can pay tomorrow

 

get back to my work

my poem

 

my life

 

my fear

 

 

when i write

 

i need to establish some kind of routine

when i write

and i'm writing again 

now

properly

at long last

 

when i'm locked into a ridiculous drinking bender

like the paris thing

i don't write

not properly

 

i slide around from one chaotic adventure

to the next 

record seemingly outstanding flashes of the mayhem

in shaky stream of consciousness note form

one moment

and wallow in devestating mind blanks 

and sleezy drunken hook-ups 

the next

 

no

 

real work occurs in a kind of way that's sober and steady

though still unmeasured and unplanned

it has the comfortable foundation

of safe and calm

 

drinking writing never comes under the title

of writitng properly

though i got that bizarre verse down

about my appalling behaviour 

in paris

 

so who the fuck knows 

 

 

coastal comrade

 

1

vacant eyes give all of nothing

as we drag grey body from stormy sea

hopeless pump at fallen chest

frantic breathe on cold fish mouth

collapse together by washed up corpse

drained by failure to return him to now

 

2

strong hand on my shoulder

as we comrades mooch away

commotion left behind

bonded by morning ocean demise

silenced by inability to find words to share

 

3

one hour later

desire intense

us in naked two men play

on musty mattress in fishing hut

escape face of human mortality

celebrate in secret alive reality

 

4

same beach next day

i pass my coastal comrade

arm around woman with child near

furtive flick of smile to me

heartfelt wink reply to he

 

5

walk away

from whatever we were

connected always

by death and lust

 

 

Club Le Dep

 

Club Le Dep is at its darkest, maddest, meanest;

as one expects before dawn, when worry of those who seek

is at its most agonizing.

 

his eyes scan the room. i close off my mind and dance;

with stranger’s eyes, solitary souls, ghost in a corner

and crying friend. “are you a friend; the friend of a friend

from once before? did i meet you here another time?

don’t laugh; are you a part of the funny game we play?”

i dance with you and him and them and her; i dance

with nothing in all for more; in Club Le Dep i dance to dance.

even when no one else does… i dance.

 

and i have spent a thousand lost nights in Le Deps of cities

in the universe of lonely lost, like we are here,

locked together in want and need.

 

he saunters on his floodlit stage to a pack

of other twenty eight-ers, 

and i decide i’ll stay at the bar tonight, today; 

not descend into the place below of no hope

where he will soon go.

 

there is no time in Le Dep; no night or day; 

no rules in wonder world; no restriction or limitation;

no dream impossible. life of night is not all forlorn.

 

i am sure i have again become homeless.

i know this anxious state, like walking in wet socks,

eating from a bin, waking up from a mindless three day bender. 

“am i homeless?” he laughs back at my call,

kisses a fancy boy and gravitates

towards other young men not unlike himself.

 

because i have my bag with me now

i know i must be homeless. it’s a clear indication

when it’s always by my side; some clothes,

the almost diminished brick. “it was a brick of hash,”

i say to a ghost next to me who doesn’t blink,

doesn’t seem to breathe. “the best you can get

in amsterdam, that i bought here to sell in le marais.

i’ve done it before. are you listening mate?

outlay five hundred, take the train to paris and sell it off

and have around two thousand after i have my daily quota.

 

one day i’ll finish writing another play or book, whatever.

i’ll stop scrawling down lines of my losing life and i will paint

the brightest fucking picture on this planet!”

 

he comes back and tells me to stop telling everyone

my business; keep the noise down in here, remember

why we are here, he whispers above the din. “i do know

what’s going on. i’m no fool, and i can drink at the bar

with this fifty. and i know how i got the fifty, remember before 

on the way here, but i’m too ashamed to recall even to myself.” 

you’ve got to do worse and worse when you lose your looks,

when the face, you so relied upon as a boy has fallen flat

into a pit. the game is certainly no fun anymore for a fifty; 

doing some lonely drunk office worker waiting for sex

in a park. “he could be our father!

i could actually be yours! sometimes i hate you so much,” 

i say as he goes downstairs into the dungeon. 

and the ghost near me still doesn’t blink. “hey, are you dead or alive?”

 

i don’t need to go down to that dungeon tonight for a look

or a turn, for a trick or two to fill the nasty void.

i know that hole and i can smell the stench from here.

i’ve paced those corridors of lonely gait and seen lines

of desperate men, i can hear groans and pants

of starving animals twisting together from behind flimsy doors, 

i can smell sweat and cum and chemicals they sniff up

as they pair up to launch an empty lunge. i know

exactly what’s going on in that putrid pit right now;

i’ve had a lifetime peppered with it, and i don’t need

to be another one on a used by date shuffle; not now, here.

“i’ve got self-esteem tonight! that’s what i’ve got mate!”

 

the ghost next to me stands, snorts powder

with a straw from off the bar,

shakes his speeding, pocked marked face from side to side

and slides to the stairs to descend

into the bottomless hole of himself.

 

i watch others come upstairs, all fucked up and sucked up; 

sweating from rejection or puffed up from a bit of attention

and i know every single one of them.

 

he’s down there longer than usual, but he comes up eventually; 

and he sits on the stool, leans across and kisses me

and as he does he sneakily pulls out his cash just made, concealed

in his clothes, and slips it quickly into my bag; 

and whispers that tonight he will do it differently; 

for me to wait a while and meet him by the river at our spot; 

his and mine; and he goes with the bag, my bag.

he leaves Club Le Dep… and me.

 

 

The Chill-Out Café

 

The Chill-Out Café (a bamboo hut) 

is perched on a rocky bank

of Mother Ganga 

just outside of Rishikesh

a holy pilgrim city and magnet 

for wandering freaks

(I’ve been drifting back here 

for thirty five years)

 

I’m sitting at a table with The Captain 

(a nic-name i gave him

a decade ago that stuck) 

he’s rolling a hash joint

and whining on 

about how broke he is 

(what’s new)

being dumped 

by quote “that Russian bitch”

and not being able to unload 

a ten year old Swiss watch

(still in the original box with booklet) 

 

He invites me to light up the spliff

I decline 

explaining that I quit the stuff 

since we last met up here 

a few years ago 

to which he says

“Is fucking unbelievable” 

to which I respond

“Not really

Sometimes you need to get rid of habits 

that have gone from pleasure into problem”

 

A cluster of Israeli freaks 

begin beating drums  

and an Austrian junky

in a maroon turban with matching drawstring pants

starts a mumbled argument 

with a skinny dreadlocked German woman 

who has been trying to score for two days

I high five The Captain 

 

leave The Chill-Out

and wander down a rocky track 

alongside Ganga 

until I get to a secluded river beach 

surrounded by jungle

where i will begin my morning routine 

Bathe 

chant Om Namah Shiva 

(one hundred and eight times) 

and practice Yoga for one hour

I’m glad to be away from The Chill-Out 

and the mob there

 

and while I do have a soft spot for The Captain 

(God knows we have been through much together)

and I carry oodles of sentiment 

for the months (or probably years) 

I have spent lost in that crazy place

I do know as a slip into the icy sacred water 

of Mother Ganga 

gushing down 

from the Himalayas 

in the distance

it is time to say goodbye

to The Chill-Out Café forever

and so I do -

 

"Goodbye Chill-Out

thank-you for whatever it was you gave to me

i promise I will never forget you."

 

 

Baik Manusia

 

in my street they call me Pelacur

Prostitute

i’ve heard them whisper

 

woman who sells fruit asks me if local men pay well

she sees guys visit my room

 

i could explain we hook up for fun

maybe friendship 

no money is exchanged

but i smile and say nothing

 

local men love sex with Bule

Foreigners

and foreigners are into them

 

local and foreign men are at it all the time here

fucking and sucking and kissing and hugging

blowing foreign loads as gifts for each other

 

i wonder if the world knows

how much men from different cultures fuck

secret inter-race fucking all over the place

bringing peace to the planet

in a pleasurable way 

 

the people in this street know

they call me and the guys who visit Homoseks

Gays

i’ve heard them murmur

 

and they smile and wave to me as i come and go

call me Baik Manusia

Nice Man

i’ve heard them mutter

 

Homosek Baik Manusia         

Gay Nice Man

i’m happy with that

 

but you got one word wrong 

Pelacur                     

Prostitute

 

that’s not me

anymore

unless i need Uang

Money

 

 

café of then

 

there’s a café tucked in a city nook

where i’d regularly be three decades ago

when i’m back this way  

i always stop by

take my once table spot

float back

to life of then

 

i’d skulk here to hook up late at night

drop in heading home in wide eyed dawn

speeding crazy

crashing low

nowhere to go

needing somewhere be

boy dream soaring

hard morning pain

confused by not real

escape bad trick danger

 

a mate from that epoch appears

i nip in and order bitter blacks

bump into an italian with now dyed hair

who i knew from more than here

 

shakes hard my hand

recalls with worn grin

us in a dim city room with new-found trade

on the game together

a few times one year

i chuckle wry at street-wandering ways                                

he sniggers sly at what’s still not forgot

 

as years slide on

and ways of vanished youth

drift into psychedelic space

i give thanks to run-away eons and after dark lads

who faded out through fate and choice

 

or kept going on like me and some

riding spontaneous memories

jolted along by almost old age 

struggling against blatant facts

of a dwindling now

 

hidden stories of bygone reality

steering the remembered route

back to this café of then

 

 

Caroline

 

at first i do think Caroline is my admirer

that’s his name           

Caroline

i know this now

i asked him

when i found this café thing

 

or whatever it is

a bar               

another dive of a club

a house even 

it could be Caroline’s house

 

is this your house Caroline?

 

he laughs and keeps doing what he’s doing

fussing around with a fancy leather strap

and on and off his phone

he invited me in as i hovered

 

wet and shivering       

like an old sick dog

in the alley out there

by the door     

before

 

a home is a home i suppose queen Caroline

i can’t tell anymore

 

is this or isn’t this your house Caroline?

 

so when i first got here

i did think he was my admirer

ive been looking for one for a while

it’s been forever                     

since i’ve had a real admirer

especially now            

with the way everything’s going

it’s been ages since i’ve been in love

with a man

or woman

loved anyone actually

or have been loved by more than a cat

 

a ginger cat living in a lane

by a room i slept in a few times

loved me

a cat and a love          

and a long lonely lane

to a damp windowless room

and it’s no fun living in room with no window

not even a flick of light

 

but i think i’m ready to love a person again

a man or woman

or some of both or neither   

 

and im loving him now

in his silver high heels            

Caroline

 

do you love me Caroline?

 

and i smile inside at the way he saved me

from a sure bashing this morning

 

was that this morning Caroline outside the bar?

 

he doesn’t answer

he’s in a deep conversation

with another man or woman  

who just came in to this place

after the last one left

i don’t need another bashing

after that other time   

 

at dawn

by a stinking canal     

not long ago 

no way

 

my bones are getting too brittle

for face hitting shit

my temperament is too fragile

for smashing and kicking                   

and crying out blood

 

was that behind the all-night bar

in the lost moment this morning Caroline?

 

i’m feeling safer now

with him or her

in this place

 

whatever it is

whoever we are

 

can i wear your silver high heels Caroline?

are you still here Caroline?

 

 

bar games (and survival)

 

he has a circle around him at one end of the bar

i have one around me (where i stand) at the other end

we're not a bad team (him and i)

 

our circles have formed for different reasons

his because they all want him

(or have had him before) 

and mine because several of them recognized me

from my poetry performance (outside the train station)

earlier tonight

my words were appreciated by most of them

and here and now i’ve become a (minor) front bar celebrity

 

and one shouldn’t ever look a gift-horse in the mouth

and the gift-horse (now) is free vodka tonics (coming on strong)

 

i start another story about performing in a theatre

in brisbane (true) which drifts into a yarn about a kangaroo

getting into the theatre that no-one could catch (not true)

and they all lean in (fascinated)

and me after ten (or more) drinks can tell a dam good yarn

 

i’m getting restless here 

so i leave my audience

wander down to him (and his lot)

and ask him if he wants to stay with them

or come upstairs and dance with me

 

he wants to dance

but has found some (well-heeled) trade

so he nips into the disabled toilet

with an excited old trick (on a walking frame)

i get bought a couple of (top shelf) shots

tell another (untrue) tale

and line up a dude (for tomorrow) 

 

and when he's back

we head upstairs  

 

and in an (all-night) club

full of (all-night) people

we forget about bar games (and survival)

 

and dance

(until the sun comes up)

 

 

at me

 

angry man sits in car

shouting into phone

 

i walk past

glance at him

impinged upon by booming rage

 

what the fuck are you looking at faggot he spits       

at me

 

i say nothing

make my strolling escape

 

he drives by fast and loud

holds up menacing finger

skids aggressive wheels

 

fucking faggot he spews         

at me

 

i don’t feel wrath

just warning bells

chiming loud and clear

 

i am me

mostly happy 

sometimes frightened

 

i have been kicked before

 

poor him

a product of his hate

locked into whatever place it is

 

car roaring

face burning

eyes glaring                  

at me

 

for being me

 

 

pot crocodile

 

i’m pot crocodile.

in my current form i’m a creepy wreck.

 

bow tie, green boots, lilac ribbon around my tail

to let them all know. pot habit, cream-cake gorging snappy jaw,

long brown teeth, foul breathe. scare away the body lice;

make the ice dealers soar to the moon;

the smack pushers float into space.

 

pot is plenty sliding downtown. duck into familiar weed den. quick! big ounce on special. he doesn’t take my coin;

freebie for me. throws bags at me, on me. hydro, outdoor, afghani blonde, bombay black, mullumbimby madness;

the fucking lot. customers in caftans and pointy hats watching as i tug a bong or ten. throw fading newspaper clippings

and dusty awards from my long gone fame into a pile

with ice rock scraps dragged out from the bedroom

while some sissy in stilettos screams celebrity murder.

 

continue down main street trumpeting loud.

dope-face, coffee drinking crocodile has-been whore

on the move again; seriously watch me bitches.

this grubby old reptile is back. into the café and not a whisper as i slide by and flick my tail. then cheers

of here he is again. they know and i know they know.

a transvestite in lilac, she shrieks. i tell her

it’s a ribbon, not a dress. i wore a pink wedding dress yesterday and you all thought i was cruising muscle trade.

so wrong! they cruise me, dearies. remind them

lilac ribbons means more than useless gender play.

fuck, they should know my game by now. i do anything i want!

chubby bears load me up with long blacks, pull open my jaws,

pitch them in; feeding a sleazy reputation to die for;

heard about my sleeping swamp and what goes on all night.

i’m not hiding a thing. you are the art world

snitching two-faced elitists. not me. i fucked off

and did it my way. roar. meow. bark. cluck. yelp. snarl;

animal mockery wins. have a drag on this i scream

at some falling theatre players who cringe in disgust.

fucking wow! success means shit. only lost moments are real.

 

sneak out with full tail sweep. applause from the soap stars

and their junkie followers; ditched out like me and loving it. they know the score. smash the door down with a high note shriek, nudge the crooked cop who runs fast taking aim

with his gun at a whining has-been poet. peeps cross the path

with faces in i-phones as i gallop back to my swamp.

sexy, free-loader musician on my back for the ride,

strumming away on my neck. stay up there

and you can fuck me later. yes, i bottom when they beg or pay.

manly passives are all the rage, so he said. so i’m in big-time. 

bank teller actors and checkout chick rent-boys look away;

hope and fear that crocodile’s chant might suck them all in again. show them that a slutty pot-head crocodile, sniffing poppers with a pretty new lizard who he hooked up with

via grindrrr in his lair of whatever goes

is not something to turn a snout up at. dangerous stuff chaps!

 

keep away or he’ll drag you in to his muddy hell,

a ballerina sings outside my swamp, but pats my jaw

with love. i nip her and she twirls as i slide

into my watery jungle. get a life sister. stop.

 

fuck! i need pot. look! smiling alligator approaching

with turquoise ribbon around his tail, pushing a trolley

full of golden buds. i’m reminded of fading dreams so i whistle him over for more. he’s hot, and has an awesome cock

and a bag of rock. this could be perfect… hot cock, white rock. about time for something terrific; pot crocodile deserves

the best. i’m dying fast. i never hurt a fly with my bonging-on; only myself. you all know that. and then the ballerina crawls over and asks if she can join us. what did you say? oh, ok.

of course sweety-pants. but nil funny business. i share my gear with anyone. well no, actually, not anyone, but i will with you and him, but no threesome sugar-plum. he’s all mine; a top

with a body like that; seriously! never share my men.

nice tutu… by the way. is that a shade of purple, or lavender?

 

fuck, i’ve got a headache. pack the bong! one, two, three!

was that dribble genuine, or not?

i say and do crazy shit… on pot.

sorry… but i am pot crocodile

 

 

dead men’s clothes

 

dead men’s clothes hang

sadly limp

in a once-worn wares world

 

caught by time in a musty shop

she wrings her hands

blinks twice

stares

 

smeared pink lipstick

pasty rutted face

cloudy eyes

stance in age

acceptance of a sort

 

into her dusty shell of only what remains

i have come

on my meandering way

threadbare fear

disintegrating middle age

brittle tap of time

lonely icy day

muddled from trauma

coming down

no room or bed tonight

for me

friends and family far 

away

 

i try a humble vest of era slid to gone

add a woolen coat

in olive grandpa green

she smiles slight

a knowing hint

at where i may have roamed

could be

fingers sleeve with bony stroke

 

no one comes here anymore 

said with only gape

once it was different

she breathes

silently

 

vintage queen takes small donation

gives sincerely woven generosity

holds bled dreams

stored in brow

steadfast stone

quiet tenacity

 

our together instant meets

we freeze within shared fog

wrapped aware our own mortality

reality

of humanity

probably

 

i am warm now

wandering

on my ever guessing way

to a next unplanned extreme  

i slow to stop

gaze back

safe

in mothball tweed

she waves from pebbled path

stepped outside her inside story 

 

and in my dead men’s clothes

i signal back

flick nod in glance

 

another moment

wise

victorious

still traveling 

alive

 

 

Ricardo

 

Ricardo is below the room

at the doorway

propped up under the pink light

bare chest

and top button of his low slung jeans undone

 

a young business-man is cruising him

from his slick sports car

 

Ricardo is whoring

 

out of habit

out of need

out of anger at me

 

we stare at each other

i’ve seen him in this stance so many times

this morning it makes me sick

his semi nakedness on the dirty curb

dragging me back to my own young life

 

we look at each other

in stark knowing amphetamine silence

 

i turn away from him and go upstairs

Ricardo leaves his trick and follows me

 

murmuring away in his stupid language

musty street smell mixed with expensive cologne

breathe on my neck

exciting and sickening at the same time

words rasping out a familiar desperate song

we both sing so well

 

i don’t stop and turn back

i can’t

 

i look away from his deep dark eyes

take my bag and dirty money

and go back down the narrow wooden staircase

 

Ricardo calls to me

something about love

 

i keep moving

away from him

and that part of me

with him

 

towards i don’t know where

or who

 

 

on a corner in Paris

 

there is something disturbingly honest

about living in another city and wondering why

create measures to gauge the seriousness of fragile moments 

strung together by no more than the present notion of life

 

another moment

so i turn my attention to the boys

on the corner playing their music

and i dance

here on a corner in Paris

i dance

 

the rap boys of a dozen races give me a wave

laugh amongst themselves

cheer me on

and whether it’s because they like me

or think i’m an old fool alone on a city sidewalk

doesn’t matter

because their acknowledgement of me

and that mixed up moment just gone

means something real

no matter what

 

other people hanging around

still staring

wondering what the encore will be

stuck in their tracks and pulling me down

with a group denunciation of my behavior from before

and as i babble jumbled words at them

and give a scream for maximum effect

they begin to shuffle back in fear

to their footpath to follow

thinking if i completely fly off the handle

in the next burst

they might all be totally fucked

 

bang

her voice caresses my moment and i snap to

shaken back from my fog

to where ive stopped my never ending pacing

my foot peeling mind numbing crawl

all day into the dawn

and she continues on in words i can’t grip but should

i’ve been here awhile now in Paris

i must’ve been

the moroccan from the rooming house

eyes me and asks for rent

the baguette girl says bonjour

i should speak french

but i can’t

i won’t

i don’t

 

she is looking at me with gentle calm

speaking in a kind of whisper

no french from me mademoiselle

i’m ok i think and thank you

you with your smile are what i need after that

i know you saw

i caught you watching

i don’t know why

i hardly remember what happened

i was a bit lost but i’ve calmed down now 

and i give a feeble smile she returns

and we stare into each other’s eyes

 

i had become dysfunctional that moment back then

maybe to that pitiful point of public out of control

i amaze myself sometimes mademoiselle

i’m sorry if i confused you and everyone else

and she smiles so sweetly i feel tears coming into my eyes

and she takes my arm and ushers me

to the shade of the church

out of the spot where it took place

out of the path of the pushing Paris people

away from the lost moment of before

away from my appalling behaviour

 

i feel sadness setting in as it usually does after an episode

she sees and breathes out sadness too

for me i think or maybe herself

do we know the same pain mademoiselle

here in this world of wanting more

or was it me being me

that gave you cause for angst

am i really that sad to watch when i go

fuck i don’t even know where i go like that

 

and i lean on the cool stone wall

close my eyes to blank the human hum and breathe deep

she says something softly in french

i don’t know what you’re saying

what you’re feeling

i feel everything mademoiselle

every possible thing there is to feel

 

and i just breathe and try to clear

what is again becoming unclear

and the just lost moment on the sidewalk comes back to me

as it usually does after the sadness

after the episode

after something like that

my face on cold stone

but safe now with her

 

she smiles and her stick-like frame seems to move

in the breeze lightly

like an angel

are you an angel or am i just seeing it this way

and i lean against the cold stones again

i could’ve got my face smashed in back then

i really have to watch this crap

how did that happen

how does anything ever happen

 

she understands and looks concerned

her skin is pale and her lips are ruby red

like the tall heels she balances upon

and she leans against the wall herself

closes her eyes and lets her head lull to peace

 

i’ve seen you before at a café haven’t i

she opens her eyes and pushes her wispy blond hair

back from her face and looks up.

it is a café isn’t it

yes i have definitely seen you at that café place

 

she smiles and wipes a single tear from her cheek

and nods that yes it’s there

i’ve seen her

in a café 

near the synagogue

 

i’ll find that café again mademoiselle

i call

as she squeezes my hand gently with her soft blue own

smiles one more time

lights a cigarette

and clicks away

into the human blur

 

red heels striking bright

on the morning stony grey

 

i'll find you

and i'll never let you go mademoiselle

never ever

 

and she disappears into the traffic 

of the icy Paris morning

 

 

his grubby room

 

the more secure i become

as each day passes on from the last debacle

the more insecure he is

                 

i know why

i’ve started to leave his grubby room

 

at first

it was for a quick venture down to the sidewalk

a bit of a stroll and straight back up

 

but yesterday

i went out  to the river boardwalk

to say hi to my mates

 

and i’ve spent lots of time

drinking wine and beer with different mates

on that twisted track to anywhere

that from the small window where he sits all day

looking out

must seem like absolute social wonderland

 

he tries all his sneaky tricks

to keep me in here today

 

but i’m so use to a me focused life

i can only stay shut up in a small room

with a manipulative man

for so long

can only have repetitive sex so much

and can only contain my need for more

than this and him temporarily

 

and i know he’s trying to see my writing

it’s making me crazy

i don’t ever show it to anyone ever

 

and as my nerves jump around like they do

when i’m getting off the gear

and he starts his incessant boring babble

any interest i had in him before

is fast disintegrating

 

i’ve got to get out of his grubby room now

or i know that i will die

or kill myself

 

or kill him

 

 

sex addict 

 

last night

a man i met in a bar

called me a sex addict

 

he didn’t pitch his diagnosis at me lightly

it was offered with thought

in regards to the number of men

i’ve had sex with

in my life

 

(he asked me to estimate)

 

seven thousand

give or take a few hundred

i said with sincerity

and reasonable accuracy

 

(i had calculated before)

 

thirty five years of four or five guys a week

mostly it’s been awesome

 

(i’ve never caught an infection)

 

it hasn’t just been about:

fucking and sucking and licking and kissing

holding and hugging and wrestling and playing

grinding and humping and sweating and cumming

and loving

 

it’s also been about:

laughing and chatting and drinking and eating

singing and shouting and flirting and smiling

fighting and walking and driving and swimming

and crying

 

(saying goodbye often)

 

and about:

legs and arms and hands and hair

faces and chests and backs and butts

whiskers and feet and nails and fingers

and cocks

 

so many men:

asian and white and black and indian

latin and middle eastern and mixes of all

and an eskimo once or twice

 

with:

coffees in cafes

beers in bars

drugs in so many ways

 

men have blown me away

for as long as i can remember

sharing masculinity and minds

through sex

 

(amazing bonds that sometimes follow)

 

i don’t care if i am a sex addict

it’s my occupation

my celebration

 

he smiled

touched my hand

i smiled

touched his leg

 

as we stood to leave the bar

he told me

he was a sex addict too

 

we laughed

hugged

kissed under the moon

in a lane behind the bar

 

(where i’ve kissed countless men before)

 

i felt sure him and i

would get along fine

though who ever knows with sex

 

(unknown is part of the pleasure)

 

as we walked towards my room

he began doing his own sex addict calculations

 

(i tried to guess his final tally)

 

 

again

 

for eight vulnerable weeks

i rode the well-worn wagon

of almost straight and clean

but i leapt off 

with zest

in need

morphed into my maze

again

 

i revel in time revile

messy substance games

i wonder why i play

please don’t snag me back 

and back

i beg to somehow greater

that must hear and comprehend

 

when i stand proud

in real

on the wobbly sober carriage

of hope entwined with fear

i am the man i really am

innocent 

of my pschedelic diversion                                         

i smile genuinely

 

not babble on in flooded dreams

dancing days away with invisible trickery

of my muddled mind in soaring guess

with soul damp numb in body weak                                                        

so i climb back on the not so trusty wagon

again

feeble from sliding into the swirl 

and trembling

i stretch up towards a new beyond

above sneaky hypnotising temptation

caressing crumbling me

 

crying hidden tears of disintegrating optimism

but trying

again

with all that pleads within

 

i will be ok

believed as i pray 

in my sickening familiar way

stunned awake in savage dark

reduced 

to nearly zilch 

by my internal affliction

 

but slowly healing

and practically living life

again

 

 

coming back slowly

 

murky memories slide in daily

about my muddled stint 

here

years ago

i grasp on

fearful

but well-prepared

 

performing my show

wasted

in a dilapidated studio

to drunk after-pub audiences

each night for a month

 

a twisted fling with millie

the speed-freak drag-queen

from the midnight to dawn club

 

days on ecstasy with the thai guy

and not leaving his fucking-bed or room

for a week

 

and the passing friendship with a famous painter

who i’ve heard has died of cancer

and how one dusk we sat on a silvery lake

in a broken boat

drinking whisky from the bottle

snorting white

and making up poems about what we were feeling

in the very there of then

as a pair of white swans glided with us

blue heron called above us

and the sky turned orange-pink and whispered to us

through our thoughts and words

if life ended

we’d know we’d experienced

far beyond what many ever will

a heart-felt bond between two lost men

un-restrained creative chaos

with life pushed as far as possible

regardless of judgment and consequence

by those who live to punish

 

and these hazy fragments i decipher

through anxious bouts of reflection

crawl closer bit by bit

i thought they had vanished forever

and a single tear dances down my cheek

as a messy recollection of waking up in a dirty gutter

savagely appears

shocks to remind me

makes me flush burning hot

 

and if you’ve never jumped on a train

of indulgent destruction

that goes on and on

and lost almost everything

to a washy game of anarchy

punctuated with humiliating dysfunction

you can never understand

about coming back

slowly and gradually

 

and coming back

is what i’ve done

since then

 

i think

 

i hope

 

 

the sacred

 

i won’t write about: 

love

 

it’s too sacred to waste

on words

 

i write about: 

rushed hookups

nameless strangers

making poetry all night

wandering all day

chaos that follows my life on the road

and not writing about:

love and such

 

if i write about:

love

the sacred evaporates

into the real

of now

 

i won’t throw it away

that willingly

 

the sacred is too sacred

for me

to trash

 

 

self 

 

i had anticipated

my slide into poverty

would be worse than is

 

typhoon of failure

washing over me

could disintegrate ability

stifling me

into almost non-existence 

 

fortunately

i have found the contrary

 

from my financial decimation

associated questioning

abandonment by some deemed near

and messy complication of nil self-worth  

the splendid has emerged

 

on this empty beach

sheltering from winter

in tent and car i now call home

acceptance

nurtures me more each day

 

i embrace it

aware

this unwelcome lesson

in letting go

is a disguised gift

to be cherished

forever

 

privileged man i am 

in silent reflection

by endless sea

 

alone

with nature

and knowledge

of self

 

finally free

from whatever i was

before

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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