This is far more not so bad than there usually is Usually there’s fuck all not so bad What do you know anyway? I’m reading a book It’s the late morning time at Phillip Island Some hippie is cooking me scrambled eggs on the stove Somehow I found the last tea-cosy kid in town who still eats eggs Things aint so bad It just always feels that way Yesterday I was bored with this guy’s book that I’m reading Oh, Hank, really? This again? and again? and again? New Zealanders call this kind of house a Batch A beach joint An away place Everyone is crashed since half five this morning when I got up I emptied off their ashy glasses Cracked a beer Put a warm sixer on ice I found the keys to the car & a few bits of bread & smoke & I left in her parents car round the corner down the dirt track onto a two lane highway I ditched an empty out the window Cracked a fresh nother Took left off down another dirt track Red clay was holding last night’s rain high for the aqua plane & it occurred to me I’ve never played with handbrake slides really Never gave it a good go So a rip on the hand stick clutch down wheel drag & her car starts to spin round & about Sixty k’s down a dirty two lane Turns up a ninety degree twist first try Backed up again & took off into it This time hundred & forty degrees I reckon Heart pulsing hurdles Backed it out Lined up And again to a one eighty or ninety degree spin her parents car nose into the soggy embankment Had a suck of beer My pulse in a high pirouette Now facing the way I come I headed back down to the hundred k highway feeling big behind the wheel with a new automobile skill & pushed it hard up the highway hill Grabbed another beer Holdin’ the wheel with my knees Changed up a gear Twisting at the cap All busy at the beer in my lap & heard a Moo fly past me & wat the fuck could that’ve been? Looked up & caught the sight just in time of a herd of black angus beef cattle Hundreds of them Huge All around Lumbering steaks lumbering past most up the opposite lane Larger than cars Heavier than a hatchback & ten of them stood still up ahead in my lane together closing fast Ripped the handy Just in time Felt the wheel grip slide fade anxiously left nervously right Black cattle come up fast Last minute Pulled left Rig skid Ninety degrees to a halt Out the window to the right I’m flush along side the underbelly of a big one Pulse pirouetting high Her parents car Cattle They’re thick well fed girls Big boned healthy girls walking along the road herded by nothing & no-one perhaps escaped perhaps released headed up & around the joint nowhere in particular All stupid Bored Poncing along to the packing plant I guess Knowing it Not thinking it Lumbering along Caring none about it & nothing A semitrailer truck held up behind them & five cars behind that Yellow tags on their right ears Sixty black beef cows could give a fuck They leave off around her parents hatchback I back up & head on Down the way I see two birds in the road by a round-about Standing around Looking like lady Peacocks The ones without the tail feathers Crossed with a Puffin I stop for them I wait & on they wander Bored Dead Knowing not & caring none I see a beach so I walk around I slip on a rock a bit pissed & decide to take the car back after a few more pirouettes with the handy I toss a bottle out a window Back soon at the batch I replace the keys Grab a beer Find some wine Smoke a smoke Toast some toast Open that book I was bored with before A bit pissed now I read a dozen poems turning the ear on each page as is done when you fancy a particular one I read a dozen more Most of them are moving me I turn down all the ears but start to wonder if its really any good If he was good but is now bad Or was he always bad Is he a friend whom you haven’t yet figured out is only any good with drinks Maybe he’s made for moods Yesterday I hated him Today I got pissed in the morning when they slept & I can now spin a car a half circle with the handy Things aint so bad It just feels that way somehow Usually its a lot less not so bad This is far more not so bad than there usually is & soon my eggs’ll be here to help it
This poem was runner-up in the 2010 Overland Judith Wright Poetry Prize for New and Emerging Poets, sponsored by the Malcolm Robertson Foundation.