A skateboarder hisses down Salisbury Crescent,
the sound of a soluble Panadol in the glass.
The night is packed full of fog. Only the rolling
planet keeps the white air under control, delays
the emissions of cinnabar, indigo,
umber and jet, madder, vermilion, cerise.

So the polity slides; the head-on traffic
is to negotiate. What we are wrapped in
blurs vision no less. Headlines are in black
even on the radio so as to offer
their own illumination. We became motorists
back when the polls lit up like country pubs.

Trucks, motorbikes are louder but I have learned
to sleep through everything except what these tiny wheels
do to the bones in my ears, knocking my brain
out of sleep, loosening the lid of whatever dream
was bottled up, bright and persuasive. Fragility
is overrated, but it has its uses.

Somewhere on a minor island something worthy
of literal tragedy plays out. Meanwhile
the circus tents are planted firmly, even though
the clowns could never be trusted, and we realise
they are there ‘for the long haul’ like some earnest
NGO but without the moral compass.

3I find it hard to imagine myself into
a critical instant, a need to swerve.
Yet there is vicarious fear, adrenal,
almost fugitive. When I wake up I’ll know
that I was hearing him flow down the hill
like cascading preferences on a ballot paper.

Tim Thorne

Tim Thorne’s fourteenth and most recent poetry collection is The Unspeak Poems and other verses (Walleah Press, 2014). In 2012 he was awarded the Christopher Brennan Award for his contribution to Australian poetry.

More by Tim Thorne ›

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