The Wrong Address index

Working Christmas
Harris Street, Ultimo, Sydney 1967 


The place was jerry-built a hundred years ago -

An agglomerate of mortar and cheap bricks

To pack in inches of free air, an allotment

Yielded by the gill for pound by pound of flesh.

The working men of Sydney, depreciating every year,

Kept remnants of life at rest; when cast forth

From factories and driven from the pubs

They came to terms with every antic dream,

Stank, cried, ate sausages and bled

From death till morning on this wobbly bed.


My room is long and narrow, facing west.

Fresh linen with the rent mister,

Ten-fifty every week.

A bed covered in green candlewick, a chair

Slapped over with grey paint.

The wardrobe is propped backwards

On a wad, to keep its door in check.

There is a view for thirty feet

Of rancid, heavy air.

The rest is bricks from sash to sill,

A factory in the rear.


The sun comes in, just briefly

On the final yellow dustbeamed shot of day,

Breaks on each brick and body cooling

And then fades.

The heat goes on though

Dully through the nights,

While a hangover of memories tugs and whines -

They are pencilled on the walls,

"I love you Marg", "The foreman is a mongrel",

"Fuck you Sally", and "tomorrow's piss is mine".


My sustenance of light,

A single frosted bulb, populates the hour,

Thin shadows flit and wane,

For the walls reflect my predecessors

Supping on tinned pudding - join our snack;

It's Christmas, and I'm getting boozed

In a town that's out of whack.


Fragments from an Australasian Life
Thorold MAY
copyright Thorold May 1995 All Rights Reserved 
published by The Plain & Fancy Language Company ACN 1116240S Sydney, Australia
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