The Wrong Address index
Waterloo Street, Howick, New Zealand 1976
You've seen them populating the landscape
Like embarrassed teenage girls not built
For fashion and the flirting style :
Cheap investments by the newly rich,
Economical apartments trimmed and tarted up
With mini balconies and aluminium eyebrows,
Their flushed face-brick neatness scarcely concealing
Identical interiors of pre-assembled pastel boredom.
But then you're quick to judge and slow
To find our hidden passions. Upstairs downstairs
High class or low - Shall we be labelled
By a speculator's whim ?
No! they said; come to Gino's shop
And have an equalizing mozarella pizza,
So I did and we weren't.
I moved in. Downstairs
To a studio-bedroom (as the agent said)
Half carpeted, a sinful double bed thrown in.
For the memory of grass and halycon skies
I painted the concrete floor green
And planted hints of summer :
Languorous chairs , a garden table
Brilliant white, shaded from fluorescent suntan
By a giant striped beach umbrella.
The menagerie above caged nature's pride,
An amiable chaos of randy fellows.
Terry shuffled a shifting pack,
Women won on patter, sympathy and brawn
While hollow-chested Evan with his music scored
Harmony, a girl like Spring; and Michael was condemned
By black fingernails and halting speech to making love
With hard sleek engines on the garage floor.
The slash and burn barbecue à la wheelbarrow
(Bush waggon for the coke)
Was a man-made catastrophe,
Planned (so we said) to stake out a holding-paddock
For skittering women and other dumb pets.
We had to let it happen, had to strike for fame
In the wastelands of hey-wacha-doin-tonight.
Nouvelle cuisine is a curley ask in a bachelor's dive;
Cabbage is cabbage, so when I was asked
To cut the coleslaw for our great shibang
It seemed a natural to serve it neat
With a dose of vinegar shot in - well
How's a guy to know the genteel tastes
Of maids and carpet salesmen :
Whose idea was this commando mission
Into the mysteries of social style ?
Pink luminescent strobes painted the ether
And assaulted our domestic souls;
Snatches of uncomprehended niceties clung
Between the hammer-beat of heavy rock,
While a thin harvest of restless sweet things
Dropped NOT VACANT signs over their gilded eyeballs.
Catching a general view of life,the barbecue objected,
Sank into deep gloom and sent its acrid smoke bombs
Spiralling up the staircase.
We quit, and settled for a burial :
Requiem to burnt sausages without honour.
So much for mating customs, we thought,
Get on with life, don't judge us by our coleslaw.
So we did, and would you believe it,
Terry went funny, fell in love,
Wooed a blind pianist and got a job
Selling corks to rumbustious vintiers;
Evan floated off in a bubble of semi-quavers
While Michael sought solace, sprawled luxuriously
Amongst cartons of beer, fiddled and tuned
The temperamental carburettors of rich men's Jaguars.
My concrete Riviere with its neon sun
Remained uncluttered by languorous bodies
For in truth
I like the psychic space of silence.
© copyright Thorold May 1995 All Rights Reserved
published by The Plain & Fancy Language Company ACN 1116240S Sydney, Australia
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