Published 19 February 20219 April 2021 · Poetry / Friday Poetry Poetry | Whirlwind duststorm John Hawke Through scrolling lines on an antique television, The Omega Man watches Country Joe and the Fish at Woodstock, clutching the stock of his machine gun, cheering the military parade from a trench haunted by recollections of La Belle Epoch by the hourglass of the yellow river, a shotglass of vodka on the dustcover photo of ‘Nugget’ Coombs. But this was just a day job, the real work was dovetailing tracks for his community radio slot, Venture Capitalist versus Angel Investor, an abstract title to hang the offbeat tunes on: Whirlwind Duststorm, Dead But Not Eaten, I’d Rather Be Left. Outside the market cracked from bow to stern, shelled like a crashed skull. Why did she call them winter roses? The wrinkled buds grinning faintly at their tips. Willpower means grimly not doing, he remembers, cast in that predatory hawk shadow. Years angling for the perfect position where everything drops into your lap, before the usual perfunctory blacklisting, then the final collapse of the Soviet Union. Life’s been too good to you, mate, you’ll go one day you’ll go. But he’s the full bottle: you have to watch he doesn’t spill, the way the pumped balloon man in the car-lot shudders and snaps his tassels over an artificial squall. And withholding forever can be just another means of expressing this indefinite silence when the receptor doesn’t exist. Lank fringe of a self-administered haircut, treasured in a tiny casket, amongst slips of names never to be revealed. After the facile Party classes, cigarette embers ground into nylon rental carpet scattered with worthless shares, her phrasing rounded as Sandy Denny’s, expounding Eureka Youth League precepts from her freezing camp in the Grampians, looking completely worn out under the communal crocheted throw. But broken entirely when her white-anted State public service job was finally hollowed clean by consultants. Then a torpor of hypothermia that chills through empty years: shrinking hours for hand-to-mouth contracts, chronic fatigue. Exchanges effaced in the half-light of early morning before the long commute toward the repetition of terminus. With no child to arbitrate between them, only the ectopic smudge on an ultrasound: mist spilling over the escarpment, filling their pillows with damp. Easy to pinpoint the exact moment a curse commences: a too vivid dream of the tarantella imprinted in afterimage as the Oil Shock settles, then spreads. Raw lump of a spiderbite on waking. All their money siphoned to the finance sector, then shielded in impregnable offshore accounts. While he was consigned to forms of employment the Council found for the town drunk, his father, after his hand slipped on the farrier’s hammer, discovered conversing with a statue of Our Lady on the high street in mid-afternoon. Always clicks and pauses of static on the phone line, spooks in the meetings from quisling agencies recalibrating his permanent record. Someone you met only at marches slipping ballbearings under horses’ hooves. But the anticipated Fall never happens: only this sensation of perpetually plunging through routine cycles of boom and bust, marked by demands for self-appraisal and negative performance reviews, the same job application resubmitted for rejection, or shuffling concrete for fifty hours a week in the shadow of sheer vacancy: the blacked-out tower blocks, deserted balconies of city apartments, freeways abandoned to juggernauts. Rose-blue fading from flat stratus. She’d had some private meetings with her workplace psychologist, just a sprinkling of aspersions, like tripping an outside light with everything exposed in their night garden. Her journal of affirmations, and clandestine library of works by Solzhenitsyn, a fragile defence against the onrush of hard liquor, his relentless negations and rescissions, evading the obstacle of his own forgotten name. This command economy attended by great famine. This superstructure of confidence that is not material. The control panel shattered, he leans into the monitor to restore another demoted track. John Hawke John Hawke's latest volume, Whirlwind Duststorm, is available from Grand Parade Poets: https://grandparadepoets.com/whirlwind-duststorm-by-john-hawke/ More by John Hawke › Overland is a not-for-profit magazine with a proud history of supporting writers, and publishing ideas and voices often excluded from other places. If you like this piece, or support Overland’s work in general, please subscribe or donate. Related articles & Essays First published in Overland Issue 228 24 November 202324 November 2023 · Friday Poetry Poem with vertical viewfinder Shari Kocher If in future an image of mine— of course, I have made the if-ness of your looking a multiple Ferris wheel turned to trolley car trundling down the street. Damn, I will show you something all right here, inside the daily or what you call private. First published in Overland Issue 228 3 November 20233 November 2023 · Poetry our neighbours poem Ender Başkan our neighbours face appears above the fence – hello. our neighbours have a chat with us. our neighbours learn our names. our neighbours become our friends. our neighbours landlord thinks the market is ripe. our neighbours are told to leave. our neighbours try to buy their house at an exorbitant price to keep their kids in the school zone. our neighbours are denied.