Ed Wright is a Newcastle based poet, author and critic. He published a chapbook with Vagabond Press in 2002 and his first full-length volume of poetry, When Sky Becomes the Space Inside Your Head was published in 2012. His poems have appeared in various journals including Overland, Snorkel, Cordite and Ulitarra. He has also published an award-winning novella, An End to Hope and six popular histories.
A fat boy on school holidays
away from the playground’s
fat shit, lard arse, beach ball teasings
that force his psyche thin,
hurtles down Hall St
his face set grim
to collect the ingredients for dinner
which will be eaten in front of the TV
when his mother gets home from work.
Away from the taunts and his Play Station’s martial beepings
he hurtles down Hall St and hears
the wind’s cold whisper coming off the winter sea,
Noel, you are all on your own:
Gods here are made in gyms to rule the beach
the mirrors of the sunglasses say as they slip by,
you have not been appointed a saviour
is what he gleans from the sea-salted aroma of greasy chicken and chips
as the ads for chocolate and ice-cream flash indelibly past.
Your role will be to desire more than you can possibly ever consume.
As he hurtles down Hall St
the society of his thoughts weave self-loathings
which are blown to nothing by the wind
or startled by the revelation of a cheesecake binge
into beginning all over again.
When he slows for the mini-mart
his mind full of pie
he discovers brake failure
and for all his squeezing the levers
he is hurtling faster, faster
down the hill towards the beach.
The cinematic circus of escape:
an amazing slalom run
through the pedestrians on the pavement,
an unforgettable slide between two busses on Campbell Parade,
a miraculous Evil Knieval leap over the Bondi promenade
to a soft landing in the sand
lasts ten seconds
before his monster of velocity
with his feet splayed out the sides
avoiding the savagery of the pedals
connects with a bodybuilder and his twig-legged
once upon a time a model girlfriend,
cracking their embrace
before he flies over the handlebars
to join them sprawling over the pavement.
Years later as he sits at the helm of his budget gym set empire,
his eyes grim beads of greed,
his gut resting half way down his fat thighs,
his secretary waiting on him
to speak dodgy deals into a dictaphone,
he remembers how the beach god upped and kicked him in the face,
‘fat little shit, watch where you’re going next time,’
as the woman lay moaning
and the pain in his grazes soared towards tears,
and how it wasn’t his fault.
After a second’s reflection he sees
in the antique lines of his cedar desk
that this is how he crashed quite accidentally
into the beginnings of his revenge,
then thinks, ‘if he doesn’t come up with the money,
I’ll get someone to break his legs.’
Sentiment is wasted on those
paralysed by completed destinies.
There is no further justice for the dead,
history is just a place to store your outrage.
The afterlife is living memory –
all else is bunk; poets plan
their words for centuries hence –
posterity’s a lottery picked from the ruins,
a sonnet, a chip wrapper, the bills.
Whose words are they anyway?
New Shakespeare’s are concocted every year
to pump up the Professors’ staid careers.
The dead no longer read.
Does it matter how we die?
Only while we do it.
Our stains survive in heirs,
then they too are gone
to where white is black
and black all the colours in between.
Billions have gone before us,
billions more will follow –
wonder and meaninglessness –
what to do when gods have gone
to the long view’s hungry sun?
Be brave! Be insignificant!
When Sky Becomes the Space Inside Your Head 1
When sky becomes the space inside your head
and the escalator of ambitions
which could constellate your surfaces
into dizzy reflected specks
has stopped at the probability of gas and vacuum,
you turn back to face the teeming earth.
In frames of fear you tell the world
to swallow your stargazing mind
and plant it firm,
but it puts fountains under your skin instead –
so the evening ends at the railway station
with a separation, and the way home
to a congested insomniac conscience
is a leaking tap of never again.
When Sky Becomes the Space Inside Your Head 2
When sky becomes the space inside your head
and the skin’s purpose of division melts,
the liquid core of the soul or its illusion
rises like oil through its watery earth
to seek beyond all blues.
A rising and a thinness,
it’s everywhere at once,
your eyes are momentarily the vastness of all light
and you wonder if you’ll ever get back
into the blinkers of your binocular concerns.
Yet a pragmatic God, or its impersonation,
speaks in a tone you know
– that’s far enough, baby, time to go home –
and you ride this whisper down like a giddy leaf
to where your body’s waiting on the ground.
So the adventure has ended in the long Spring grass
of the local churchyard. It is dusk.
There is a family dinner to go to
where there will be arguments
and there is no-one you can think of
to tell about this event.
Lake Eyre, South Australia – a twenty minute stop on a tourist bus
Between the caves of Coober Pedy and The Rock,
long enough just to cake the boots with mud.
It’s wasn’t why I’d come.
Twenty minutes – to walk into an eternity of mud and salt,
the fish were already dry, the pelicans had flown,
and the dirty crystals on the horizon shimmered like
an explorer’s fatal dream.
Two weeks earlier I would have found an inland sea.
But it wasn’t why I’d come.
I’d come to learn how to say goodbye to you.
Your presence inside me was powerful and oppressive.
I felt both occupied and unloved.
So I went to the outback
to lose you in the desert,
to bleach myself of ugly emotions in the emptiness,
to turn myself to stone.
Space. Silence. Awe.
The bus driver though was frightened of himself,
And played ABBA on the stereo all the way to dusk.
A girl from Melbourne yapped symbiotically in his ears,
Turning a good childhood into a catastrophe,
As if breathing only counted when you spoke.
My mind was open and my teeth were clenched.
Staring out the window,
I began to see how small things could lead to murder.
At the Roadhouse, a Japanese girl started when I talked to her.
Something hard was trying to escape through my eyes and
I doubled the sentries on my thoughts
just in case.
That night we camped outside.
After drinking, I shared my swag with an English girl who was horny and almost beautiful,
but I didn’t make a move –
just lay there thinking while she nuzzled
how you were a star,
one of the Milky Way millions,
a small dazzler, as cool and as far as fate.
Thatha is a Bird Now
I thought I saw you
in the garden
through the doorway.
it was wet and we had just
scattered your ashes in the river
The fan was slapping the thick air,
you were ruffling your feathers,
black with three stripes of muted blue.
You seemed at home,
unbothered by the squeals of your grandchildren
you perched at a teasing remove, like a koan,
and I thought, if not a spectacular choice
for a new life,
it was nonetheless a wise one.
Small gardens bring great contentment,
what is wild is made familiar,
our ignorance seems less bleak.
There is bread on the wall
to steal from the squirrels,
nothing in the shadows even
to hunt you.
Were you whistling along
to the warm tears
of your remembrance, or thinking
how good it is to belong,
to belong with wings?
My deepest gratitude to Ed for sending me these and allowing me to republish his fantastic work on this website.