one of us has chosen to come to the sea

as calmly as a trader buying debt
one of us has chosen to come to the sea
the one marching behind
as surely as the standover man’s shotgun
nudges the victim to
		a freshly dug bush grave
why when confronted by grave responsibility
are we unable to run why have you bought
those rusted chains trawled through the dust
the night settles on the lips of dusk
smiling as sinister as carrion crow
as surely as the sand gritted between our toes
we woke early to cross alleyways and boulevards
whistled jingles skipping the length of the piazza
broken denizens milling around the central train station
refugees laden with violins and passports
that last look at a living room
before the bombs shrieked like kettles
forgotten on a stove in a crumbling kitchen
in your wallet there was only leather
where once you’d kept a photo of me
but who can be sure and of how much
at least that’s what you said and when asked
i remembered that much remembered it clearly
i have accepted my choice to die every time
you remind me i cry

if you want to set me to sea – do it swiftly,
you want no witnesses as i bob beyond the breakers
storm bracken knotting on the wet dunes
– you are mistaken to think i can be saved
we are acquaintances nothing more
the dampness of your sex must tell you that
i may have said i loved you but i never meant it
do it quickly set me to my haulers so i may
cut a swathe through the rip tides and spray

but if you mean to do it do it swiftly
i am no ahab these years shall forget you as i shall
is that vanity enough for you i have bought up the rear
of funeral processions lingered too long over coffins

i cannot be saved
you said you loved me you were my hauler
but i have grown weary of sand despise its distractions
hate it as no man ever has

Do you believe in the rapture?
            I can’t be sure. So long have I drifted without death.


For four years I have pondered what you said,
your face ashwhite and eyes hollowed
shunting me into the sea.
That day, the sky, breaking like a vow,
the tiny fish and their tentative nibbles.
We had no debts, we had always agreed
	            that was the way it should be.
You lay weeping in the woods
they were not lycan we spotted flitting through the trees.
I flinched at every cracked twig, every possessed loon.
It was too early to flee but too late to escape
their hoods skipping into the shadows
mosquitoes searching for the freshest flesh.
If there were warnings we had ignored them.

You were the master who reared me.
Sold me as a slave to the tides. After many years,
I will meet you again, and love you as a sister.

why were you always there when there was killing to be done
you were never brave enough to leave the bodies in back fields
you threw me a handful of dirt to build an island
when there was no killing you found some to be done
we had world enough and time but it was not enough
could not be enough at least thats what you said
it was not for nothing though i think i lost
the sea will swallow me punish you
                my promise to the waves, as i slip slowly under

Liam Ferney

Liam Ferney’s most recent collection, is Hot Take His previous collection, Content, was shortlisted for the Prime Minister's Literary Award and the Judith Wright Calanthe Award. His other books include Boom (Grande Parade Poets), Career (Vagabond Press) and Popular Mechanics (Interactive Press). He is a media manager, holder of the all-time games record for the New Farm Traktor Collective and convener of the Saturdays readings in Brisbane.

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