Saturday morning in The Punter’s Club -
strips of amber morning light cut past the old blinds
that have seen a thousand drunks urgently knock
at the doors, impatient with the opening hours. Tony enjoys
a quiet beer in the swirling smoke, pungent hops atmosphere.
His sad, moist-grey, clairvoyant eyes watch me leave.

I cross Brunswick Street, coolness as thick as the fumes
coughed from cars so old students wear them like badges
on tattered old jackets. Towards me, Veronica storms
the road - her face a cocked pistol, her lips pursed, words
poised to be fired – eyes focused with intent upon the Pub I had left.

I pay the five dollars, enter an exhibition; wander past
paintings of tumbling buildings and their broken windows
staring blindly into the white light of the exhibition,
hidden paddocks littered with oily puddles that seep
rainbows. Beside the pools, syringes, silvery and still,
emit air bubbles – fish gasping for breath.

I reach Tony’s painting, a galley ship, sails stretched
taut in a gale wind, the sea-washed prow crashes
a wave higher than man’s folly. Everywhere the vicious
deep green sea wild, wet, Mistress of the ship’s fate.

The picture’s violence leaps out, punches me
where lunch would be if poet’s had any money. Beneath,
written in black - the painting’s title ‘Veronica’. I remembered
her face crossing the road and Tony’s aura of sadness as he sat
on a barstool sipping beer, nodding farewell as I made my leave,
his cigarette turning to ash in his quiet, unsteady hand.