the ants and the paddy wagon

August 31;

Walatinna, home along the highway,
today, from outside Pt. Augusta to here,
our camp, an old railway workers camp, maybe
and the freight-trains country-song
rumbling past,
not much but the road this day,
how many times, I tried to count,
have I travelled this highway before

the owl on the side of the road, just before Marla,
just before the Walatinna turnoff,
reminded me of when Steve and I came out here
for the second time,
and the owl led us all the twenty-two kilometres
to the campsite at night
we’d sit on the porch
and drink light beers, and not talk
about the bomb, or what is was like
growing up out here

but instead, to talk about the time,
the talking clock
and the football
and the dogs
and the green green grass

how it is to feel so at home
in a place that’s so far away from
the day to day
but all the time spent here
listening, learning
what i’ve come to know
and remember

September 1st;

The ants had a trail here,
long before I arrived,
and kept their trail for long afterwards
just me, in between, with ants in my
book, hair, and bed,

the wasps and redbacks that
inhabit the toilet here
“lift the seat to check that you don’t get bitten”

the moving/shifting of the swag as the sun
arches the sky
to keep beneath the
humpy’s humble shade
an urge to connect with the world
outside of here, by technological
bytes, wavelengths and satellites
at least to tell my love I love her
but she knows this already.

An early morning walk before
this day spent avoiding the sun and
reading, writing, sipping water
and now a warm beer,

took me on the road to Marla
and lead to miles of surrounding scrubland;
I can almost envisage the black mist
billowing up all those years ago
and covering this land; and all those that
lived in it, untold, unprotected from the blasts.

I tried to jog this morning, my shadow limping about
from a strained sacrum,
sometimes I don’t recognise this shape,
like a reflection reflecting something different
to how you’d like to see yourself
and the wind, like cars,
or maybe it is a car,
or, a plane,
maybe i’ve flown over here before.

September 4th;

Here in Alice Springs now,
the embers of trails through this town
the renegade party in an undeveloped block
in the centre of alice springs

the cops swing by, tell us to “put out the fire,
or it’ll cost you thousands, and stop drinking,
it’s not allowed”

people walk past amazed, some baffled
by the ferals and shaved-head boot-wielding
others want to join in, but feel the need to take the piss
and hover on the outside,
and just stare,
most people oblivious, or just don’t care,
fuck off, im dancing here,
on this common ground,

and the police return, to drag away one of the only
aboriginal people
and force her into the back of their paddy wagon,
“she’s passed out on the ground and no one is
looking after her, we’re doing a good thing,
taking her in to get sober,”
“we are looking after her, she’s free to be here” we say
“you dont know her, we know her,” they say,
“she’s like this all the time, we have to take her in”

and later they return to do the same thing,
to commit such

I wonder if that’s how they get trained
“chuck em in the back if they’re black”
“leave em sprawled on the ground,
freely intoxicated, if they’re white.”

they fuckin forced her in there,
she was screaming, fuck off, let me go,
those fuckers.

We walk home the 30 minutes through the industrial outskirts
of town, some warehouses thump with beats,
late into the night,
every fence barks along the railings,
and I crash into my swag under the big planet-sky
this little pocket of life, so neatly tucked away,
ready for a politicians PR stunt,
or a TV camera’s angle, of poverty and harshness
what a landscape, way to live, they think,
who made it this way, I wonder….

the escape just 10km out of town,
gotta know someone to get directions
to this waterhole-haven
colours like pastel sun-setting
yes, paint it like that,
kind of a landscape,
sell it for thousands and dont give them a cent

return to backyard couch,
redwine and sleepless nights
listening to the town
rocking out,
tripping out,
over some fences over there..


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