Sunday, 5 August 2012

Saturday morning in The Punter's Club

Tony, the artist, enjoys a quiet beer and cigarette
in the swirling smoke, pungent hops, Punter’s atmosphere.
His blue, clairvoyant eyes watch me leave.

I cross Brunswick Street. Towards me,
Veronica pounds the road - her face
a cocked pistol, lips gun-barrel straight.

At the doorway of an old warehouse,
stained with urine and faded graffiti politics,
I pay five dollars, enter the art exhibition.

From the high, cold walls dark paintings
stare down with the oiled anger of unknown artists,
follow me as I move from one to the next.

Paintings of derelict buildings,
of broken windows that reveal hidden paddocks,
of petrol puddles that seep rainbows.

In  stained dead weeds, a syringe,
silvery and still, emits air bubbles
like a fish gasping for breath.

I reach Tony's painting, a galley ship, sails
stretched to tear by a gale. Its sea-washed prow
crashes a wave higher than the Empire.

Everywhere the vicious green sea;
wild, wet, Mistress of the ship's fate.
Scribbled in the bottom right hand corner,


Tony on the barstool sips his beer; his cigarette,
a stem of ash in his nicotine-stained fingers. Veronica fires
her first shot. The small tremble of his quiet hand,

ash falls.

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