Type
Poetry Prize

The Pirouette

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.

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Thomas Denton is a runner-up in the 2010 Overland Judith Wright Poetry Prize for New and Emerging Poets, sponsored by the Malcolm Robertson Foundation. He is arguably the most capricious and indulgent of young male poets (breathing life into a somewhat commonplace neo-Forbsian acrobatics).

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