The Wrong Address index

Psychic Dramas
Canberra 1965  



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.


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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