Suzie Manzoni is full of wild peaches.
Suzie Manzoni believes a smile
and a daily treatment of hugs
can save my tortured junkie’s soul.
She was once like me but now NA has set her free.
Leaning on my kitchen bench
She’s holding a pile of carrot peelings
in her soft henna-painted hands.
‘Do you have a compost bin?’ She asks.
But Suzie Manzoni says it
like she’s asking if I believe
in the one true Christian god.
My answer only confirms her worst fears.
Suzie Manzoni always hangs out
wearing that kindly knowing smile
a breeze that softly whispers.
‘I totally forgive that psycho shit you put me through.’
Suzie Manzoni believes she IS the citadel
where the heathens desperately want to be
where our sordid souls are set finally free.
She catches me smile that old leering smile.
I still love Suzie for her caring nature
and her incurable, sweet despair
at my growing pile of sodden misdemeanors.
And I suggest we fuck - just for old times sake.
And I get the ‘I expected better of you’ frown
as Suzie drops the carrot peelings in my bin
alongside the beer cans and empty Vodka bottles.
But I know Suzie Manzoni needs me to be me.
Cause if I told her of my organic vegie patch
If I told her I’m trying hard to be good
the shock might be too much for her to bear..
So I smile, strike a match and make some tea.
She wiggles close and we flick through photos
and laugh at each other back in the day
and revisit all those crusty disappointments.
Like the vintage cloths, we both love to keep.
I’m in a mood - fouled by trendy Swedish furniture and the rolling maul of barge-arse shoppers intent on pecking over every tea cup and every damn designer cheese grater in the entire fucking IKEA superstore.
As my mood bulges from my throbbing temples, I note a prowling hyena, a cruising security guard, running point near the Turkish blue glassware.
I fear he may have overheard my disparaging remarks about that stripy lounge-suite ($445.00) somewhere back there in that madhouse, consumptive maze.
Distracted by a happy-fat family enthusiastically poking through the mustard yellow cupboards of a carry home, kit kitchen (flat packed $752.98) I nudge my brother-in-law…
‘Hey, look at those sad mother-fuckers’ I say, a little too loudly, as I rattle a Vietnamese lacquered bread bin ($18.50 for two) and the tin-foil door hinges give way.
And then he’s there at my elbow, the no-brained, bullish security guard - his eyes saying he wants to obliterate my smug smile with a white canvas folding picnic chair ($49.99) he’s lugging for some old granny.
The neon hanging lights have made me a little disorientated and I sneer and try to stare him down… a fool, I know… a god-damn fool, but I feel kinda invulnerable heftting the red plastic egg flip with a comfy ergonomic rubber handle ($4.75 or three for $10.00).
Taking my scrawny arm in his meat ball paws the security toady frog marches me towards the nearest exit.
My sister, not wanting to lose the shopping opportunity, looks like she might just throw me to the wolves - happy to see me pulverized ‘cause, where they’re from there’s not a god damn IKEA for a hundred miles.
Andrei The Giant is hog wrestling me through the Bedding and Linen section and, getting desperate, I claw at a pillow display n it comes with us - sixties style shlub-weave throw pillows ($19.00 for three) fly in all directions, till Andrei drags me onto a king-sized fucking Posture-pedic mattress ($899.00 not inc. base) and starts pile driving his elbow deep into my spine.
And now, suddenly there’s two of the big gorillas - they’re pulling at me and I’m thrashing and screaming ‘Guantanamo Bay’ as they drag me out the front doors to polish my face with their jack boots between two matching Toyota Corollas…
Dazed and confused, I notice my sister is tapping me on the shoulder saying… ‘Jesus, what the hell’s the matter with you, you frigging nut case, you’re mewing like an injured kitten for god’s sake.’
Looking around, I’m still standing, staring at a Smeg Bench Top Stove ($599.95) and the security guard has wandered off - bored – piss weak me not being worth the effort.
It was all just one of those shopper overload freak-out nightmares…
‘Come on’ my sister says… ‘We’ve got to get to the bathroom section - I need some new taps ($38.50 a set) for the ensuite - they’re from Uzbekistan… or Turkestan… or somewhere over there.’
And I’m in tow again and everything looks o.k.
But you never know what might happen in a maze of uptight Swedish furniture, frenzied crowds, hemorrhaging credit cards and an overzealous security department…
you never know… there could be bargains or there could be buggery.
Across the bay the forest
wears the dusty cloak of mourning.
It’s the driest years since…
the driest fucking year since…
A lone Grey Heron stands
a statue in the shallows.
Quietly excepting short shrift
amongst the sea grass beds.
There was a pair once,
that always fished together.
I wonder… wonder what…
I yawn and stretch
there’s a sting in the early heat.
I haven’t heard the damn frogs
singing in the water tank
I don’t know fucking when.
It all seems so pointless
without the sound of gentle rain.
A million beats of it
the drumming, lulling me to sleep.
But perhaps… but perhaps…
it’s only a small fucking hiccup…
Lining up to order at a greasy truck stop diner I notice a trucker’s fucking bum crack in the line that’s so horrendous and so hairy and so deep above his saggy oversized shorts I could post a frigging parcel in it.
I shudder and scramble to refocus
and suddenly a memory, I remember
it’s a dusty summer on the table lands.
And the long brittle grass that spills every vacant lot is just begging for the flick of a foolhardy match and I ‘m, I don’t know, maybe nine or ten, and me and Shaun are sitting outside Leo’s Take-Away Pizzeria.
There’s a red ball sinking sun
and summer holiday slowness
in the fat afternoon air.
Having scrabbled together our pocket money Shaun and I each clutch a brown paper bag containing three crispy potato cakes and that rich smell of deep fried golden batter and hot potato is driving me wild and I bite into the too hot to chew heaven and breath steam like a scaly suntanned dragon.
And for that golden moment
me and Shaun chew in silence
on the steps outside Leo’s Take-Away.
The deep fried joy in that paper bag, in that long drawn day, in tired summer legs and tangled bikes, in the boredom of new class rooms too far away to care about and in that failed music class so long ago even my parents have forgotten the big black F on my report paper.
And then I breath out
and I’m back to now
and at the counter.
And, staring into the long dead eyes of Ms Dissatisfied, I order ‘three potato cakes, no chicken salt’ and she asks me, in a voice filled with that sick-n-tired syrup, ‘beer battered or tempura SIR.’ and the glass shards of memory tinkle and I feel like walking.
But I pay the two bucks
and I stand and wait
just to smell the dream.
And, twenty minutes later, the maudlin waitress slams down my order so hard on the stained counter she almost shatters the polystyrene box that holds the soggy imitation of that summer afternoon.
Of Leo’s, and our bikes,
those potato cakes,
and my greasy fingered nostalgia.
In the car I’m staring at what can only be described as a charred Chernobyl like substance some fucking ignorant fool might call ‘batter’ and I sit and rage against prefabricated fast food and a fucked-up retro potato cake culture.
Two kids are crapping on
two seats in front
as the train pulls in
to Museum Station.
The slightly pudgy one
with a rather hairy neck
says to nerdy four-eyes -
‘Would you blow up
this whole station
for one dollar?’
I feel myself sneer
at the modern face of terrorism.
Four eyes considers it
for a long thoughtful moment
then shakes his head
as though the price was far too low.
As they grab their bags
and scramble onto the platform
I think to myself…
Maybe I would…
if that Napoleonic little Nazi
hadn’t lost the last election.
Pale ivory legs
in gentle grace.
Host soft electric
of mischievous chase.
Of mutual capture
and a fierce embrace.
His Nudie jeans were cool
and that’s a god damn fact.
They had remained unwashed
for six long, big partyin’, months.
Shiny with the oily patina
of sweaty bums, balls and beer.
And the massaged ash
of a thousand Stuyvo cigarettes.
He wears them hangin’ low
In a style found only amongst
the nubile beat boys of Eastern Patagonia.
In those soulful pipes of ill-fitted bravado
he was known as ‘Organic Pants Mendez’
And I’d love to stop and watch him
shucking down the hot tar of King Street.
I never felt an urge
to get too close.