Damaged Glamour

‘Why didn’t life turn out the way it looked
in Cronulla in 1967?’ Or at least
how it does in a Go-Betweens film clip?
On the streets of this town no one cares where
                              you come from, or
                              why / what’s important
                              is you’re here, joining
               the ranks of the body beautiful
               basking in sunshine & glory, having bid
                                             farewell
to late-night yeeros
& subsisting, as I do, on the whiff
               of a lettuce leaf &
               eau de spray tan.
 
This is how we live now
between images & grime–O brave
                                             new hairstyle
                                             that has such
                                             product in’t!–
               everyone on the take, asking
                              ‘So / what do you do?’
If there really is one weird trick
they’re not telling us, just as they’ll never
concrete in the harbour – why would they?
What’s rent
               if not protection money?
 
Stuff it. Buy a lottery ticket, have a
cold one while you wait
for a solution to arrive
               on the wing
               of the ibis of chips past
swooping down
               & saying
                              ‘Relax
                              put your finger back in’
before stealing the remote.
Hear that?
               It’s the sweet serenade
of eighties, nineties & new stuff
belched from the car radio, the buying of
which did NOTHING to negate
the billboard, by the way / it’s simply
what you get for being outside. But then
               ‘fuck a pig’
                              a jacketless night
                              drifts in & you can smell
                              the ocean from Redfern
               to Redleaf, thick air parting like a bath
                                             the atmosphere electric
                              with ions & sweat & the city
                                             making breathing easy.
 
‘Emotions are not Hawaiian shirts’ but
the occasion calls for one, desire
               skating out to merge
               with the infinite
               & the scent
               of an unforgiving summer
just around the bend.


This poem takes its title from the collection John Forbes was working on when he died. It includes quotes and paraphrases from ‘thin ice’ by John Forbes, and from correspondence between Forbes and Laurie Duggan (‘Return to Sender’).

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