The Wrong Address index
Luxury was assigned by government ration :
One bed, single, a vinyl lounge chair, green,
One small desk inscribed with memories,
A wardrobe and a mirror on the wall;
You could edge in sideways,
But push-ups were a squeeze;
It all came cheap with creeping cold,
With an early morning sensory assault
From industrial disinfectant in the shower block
And thick quantities of shapeless food
For bloated public servants.
We were chosen (not THE chosen),
Picked by playing a game with triangles
And some psychologist's notion of logic;
Marked with a code of spurious certainty
That presumed us intelligent but docile,
Suitable ciphers to annointed clowns
In for a grab at fame.
The grey containers, fibro rooms
Strung like toy boxes along bare linoleum corridors
Were an escape from indirection to certainty,
The cafeteria tables to which we were tethered,
Australia's version of the iron rice bowl,
A great reward for being born lucky
And if you were smart, one day -
ONE DAY, the ultimate, a chauffeur to open your limousine door
And drive you three miles to work.
The Plan however, like all things made by committee,
Lacked charm or asperity; it needed a ratbag
With two odd socks and hobnailed boots
To kick it in the arse...
Well, no. The padded rear of that species,
The one we nick-name The Majority,
Will always seek bed and board
In exchange for the gentle favour of serving,
Pleasing powerful men and women.
My spirit was at fault, a rebel in paradise.
But heroes crave admirers
And for such brave sentiment the body was weak,
A traitorous affair of trembling lips and mechanical twitches,
A chaos of corpuscles
That seemed to work from their own power source :
Some auxilliary generator with a fault
In the voltage regulation. The great engine of reason
Steered my cool and disbelieving eyes
But how could legions fall to such command
While every muscle screamed terror and retreat ?
At twenty the wild, the strong and the free
Lend a mantle to romance, but I was no visible model
For the Marlboro cigarette ad' man on his chestnut filly.
Each bumbling superior and fairy floss slip of a girl
Thought their worldly power had crushed another wretched creature
(... how illusion corrupts us)
While my inner eye stripped their rituals
One by one.
Listen Huey, I said, forgive me my body,
And I'll forgive them the old school tie and powder puff.
But God being indifferent to multilateral trade deals,
Humanity and I persisted blindly side by side,
Tending private fantasies.
Actually the Eye in the Sky could tell you
If it deigned to talk
That the scene was different altogether.
Moment to moment, passing the butter
There was a cameranderie
Bequeathed by the grace of isolation;
A whole generation of gals and guys
Flown in from the cities of the coast
To bunyip country, to the imagined real Australia :
Crows on fences and paddocks
Infected with a concrete blotch of buildings
They called the nation's capital.
The important things,
Saturday night parties, quick flirts, hard drinking,
Marriage and babies in the suburbs,
Proclaimed these folk sane enough to shuffle manilla folders
Between Monday coffee break and Friday down the club.
I felt like a dingo in a chicken coop.
Alive! Now there is a state of genuine pleasure,
With frost in the grass, ears tingling;
When warm blood wins over biting air,
You know that zap smiles and vacant farewells,
The minutae of looming embarrassments,
Are a trivial pursuit.
It was time to leave, time to grow.
Strange how we find our rewards :
The crowd's roar of approval
So precious to the inner psychic dramas
Of each Schickelgruber toeing a chorus line
In his Threepenny Opera at the office
Could not capture my skeptic's soul in the end;
Already I was apprenticed
To ranging across untrodden territory,
Hard, solitary journeys,
The poetic life of a boundary rider.
© copyright Thorold May 1995 All Rights Reserved
published by The Plain & Fancy Language Company ACN 1116240S Sydney, Australia
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