Poetry | // City Loop //

I wake up, standing                     to a horizontal glare

             in eyes I can’t remember shutting

     on a platform              at a station          

      of a line                           that must be elsewhere

Where the night chill

pricks like daybreak                a helium


at being alive

and born clothed

– – – – – – –


A few minutes past seven, the cashier

            hands back the card       that was cutting                         

a rectangle under

my underwear. The card that has been tried,

and cleared of sweat. But the signal    

proves the theory of the woman,

who is sad despite her earrings. She says           

this is my third                        attempt at buying                        

the very same sausage roll, and asks me

Where my bag is, and is there           

Anyone she can call?

– – – – – – –


Technically, my eyes

were open the whole time,

and it was me

who did the unbuckling – before the black cat

glitched, and I flipped/                         out,

accused the silent fucker    (myself)  

of betraying benign conversation and a friend

– until, introducing himself

from behind, as nobody I know 

an un/welcome whisper          saves at least                

one part of me

from collapse

– – – – – – –


Waiting for the first train,

on the front room floor

where the blinds are drawn,  I  underhear  them  warp

while secretly scouring the carpet

                                                                     for parentheses    

                           (a callous gust of muscle,

or, flash of tipping alley,                                the shame of exile

         (for the empty-handed               crime

    of possession:                        daring, for just a second,

to let my eyes close in the bar))

– – – – – – –


Intrepid,          we are a land-bound pigeon,               

       clambering diagonal fences to nest.                  

            And wake,                   recoiling from a kitten

in the arms of a child also cowering,

behind a bigger child,

who confronts me sideways: hands on hips

like a diamond, backlit          

by an estate-agent’s delight.

When we make them vertical, the children double

undouble         and quake

Their mother will be home soon,

this is not your house             

and could you


just go

– – – – – – –


At the convenience store, I appeal

to the night staff again, hounded

by pity and an ancient man

whose eyes                  are as yellow

as the dirty coins

he pushes into my hands, crying

with mistaken penance

for abandoning me

in a violence               

pre-dating my birth

– – – – – – –



             with the absence of belongings,

I’m unable to stand    

the reverb                                            of a familiar voice

across the tracks:         / The eleven-twenty-seven

to Flinders Street / Stops all stations /

Now departing /                     


for a terminal 

where unclaimed coupons            

clog the vortex

I  keep  for






Jean Velasco

Jean Velasco is a teacher, writer, and translator from Naarm/Melbourne who lives in Madrid. Her work has appeared in Kill Your Darlings, Going Down Swinging, Rabbit Poetry, and Growing Up Queer in Australia. She can be found online @jean_sprout

More by Jean Velasco ›

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