Thursday, May 1, 2014


A daylight ride can be magic.
The harbour tantalises
At first sight.
The western side of the city
The shimmering blue
Beginnings of the river;
The inner west,
Where steeples still stand.
On sunny days
Solar beams flash off
The glass facades
Of right-angles in the air.
Behind the windows
Armies of minor drones,
Hunched over keyboards,
Drunk on coffee
And drugged by chocolate.
When the view has gone
Dirty sandstone sidings prevail,
Invaded by weeds long ago.
Short tunnels that still house soot
From last century’s steam trains.
Glimpses of old workmen’s homes,
Some terraced,
Some freestanding.
Narrow blocks that made
No allowance for cars.
Now exclusive locales.
Brightness dazzles
Before the bridge.
In vivid outline
The coathanger rises
Like the output of a gifted child
With a slate-coloured mecanno set.
The arch is so graceful
And bird-like.
Only the immense greystone pylons
Stop it flying away
Like a colossal boomerang.
Between the iron girders
The city shines
Like a wall of unrelated crystals.
But resolutely phallic.
From the deck of the bridge
The priceless emeralds of the water
Dominate and dwarf
The feats of men.
The opera house alone
Makes a worthy challenge,
Its off-white sails
Arranged like a demented flock
Of seagulls in search
Of one remaining chip.
The cluttered west looks on
As if in perpetual envy.
Ferries, sloops and water taxis
Carve froth and bubble tracks
Of whitish foam,
Clinging to lurching hulls
Like splashes of melted ice cream.

At night the lights
Of the city and the vessels
Blaze like a tame bushfire.
The inner west is like a fairlyand.
It blots out all the stars
And replaces them
With stretched reflections
In the glassy black water.
The bridge is lit up
As if it was a reminder
Of permanent Christmas
In the lucky land around it.
Car lights – red and lurid white –
Move like torches
Pinned to a mechanical track.
Skyscrapers are festooned
With neon signs –
Household names
And foreign raiders.
Fluorescent tubes burn
As immigrants vacuum endless carpet.
The opera house draws every eye,
Apparently cut adrift
From the gaudy boxes
That block the gardens.

The place-names are wealth and privilege.
Opulent apartment buildings soar
On the lower north shore,
Rambling mansions blur
The eastern suburbs.
Money lines the foreshores
And drips into the waves
Where it floats
In the form of cruising yachts
And boats boasting
Ludicrous luxuries.

Yet most Australians sleep
By way of disturbed dozes
In the choked streets
Of landlocked outer suburbs,
Far from the postcodes
Bordering the bays,
Where life beats them down
With the pitiless schemes
Of the elite,
Devised on the waterfront.

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