Sketches on Melbourne Streets ( a suite of poems)
James WF Roberts (Blue Electric Dusk, 2013, Numen Books)
Sitting in the window at Don Vicenzo’s in Fitzroy.
Drinkin’ a love heart etched Latte
Watchin’ all the world pass before me
Across my mind the whirlwind of the previous
evening engulfs me.
Sitting on a cushion on hardwood floors,
In Brunswick drinkin’ Tasmanian Riesling,
And some unpronounceable Italian table wine
as a Neil Young music video traps us all in time.
Passing around poems, and telling sad stories—
Like they were dejected lovers being passed around
For us all to have a taste.
Arguing about our Gods; Blake, Ginsberg, Homer.
Mister S. Burroughs wouldn’t be happy with
the way he is portrayed…patron saint of Celebrity?
How many bottles of wine?
How many beers?
Three like minded people
And a stranger with flame hair and a black hat.
Meanderin’ along blue cobble stones.
Down AC/DC lane—dodgy—
running rampant in the mind.
men in leather belong more to a Viking raid, than
the modern world…
And in every laneway,
every alley, every spec of decay,
stains of shit, blood, piss, vomit and
claggy, sticky cum—
Down these hidden backstreets
tells a tale—non-too-many hear.
Walkin’ streets and laneways,
I ain’t even seen in daylight.
along to the beat of the traffic
the stampeding elephants of the concrete jungle.
Junkies lie asleep in dark doorways
Not more than a few steps away
From the bright and shining world—
Pretty young things; bedazzled like mirror balls
Horny angels on the prowl.
Seeking fame, family their faces in the Who’s who of well connected inbreds.
All those lawyers—snorting up, gorging on the life saving’s
Of those poor wretches and their families;
Can’t save the poor from themselves…
Not that it is ever wanted!
they’re all guilty of the worst crime
Known to man—they got caught!
And our three poets keep dancin’
Down the street.
Passing all those fish bowl clubs and restaurants
taunting all those alabaster and caramel faces
with the freedom to drink in the street.
As we danced once more along the cobbled stones
CLANG! CLANG! DING!
Two trams racing down Brunswick street
Push me back to the here and now.
my meagre lunch. Garlic and herb bread arrive.
On the corner I see her.
it’s been almost two months since we met.
Did I really meet her? At the Brisbane Airport?
Her delightful accent. French-Canadian with
a slight hint of what was it…German?
still resounds in my head—
the science major who lives not far from
where I’m sitting now
Whom read my life—Poured over my words
like drops of the nectar of the gods
in the back of a plane.Her long brown hair. Chocolate eyes.
I blink and all that remains is her shadow
On the pavement.
Two lawyers in painted on lycra
almost get hit by a tram, then a car,
as they cycle down the busy street
with suicidal glee.
A waiter shouts out to a girl making coffee,
“Not these Wankers again!”
A Harley ridin’ bikie; sittin’ outside
rollin’ a smoke—or is it a joint?
He is old and lean.
He stirs the sugar in his latte
Sippin’ it with his little fingers cocked in the air.
He starts textin’ on his bright orange iphone
He smiles as he gives a hungry Aboriginal some change
for a tram ticket.
The painted lycra lawyers just sneer.
My next coffee comes. Fuck I need a cigarette.
How much did I smoke last night?
Etched in the foam of the latte—is that a rose?
Or an image of female anatomy
soon to be on my lips?
It felt like all the world was walking past me.
Goths, pimps, whores, emo’s, Mohawked pink haired punks
hippies. Bohemians. Granola girls. Faggots. Dykes.
And all those that were unsure.
Melbourne. The city of walking.
Of short skirted women and long, long leather boots.
Minstrels, with folded up drum kits. And guitar cases
are going by.
it’s half past two in the afternoon.
They’re either setting up or packing up.
those fitness freaks in their lycra, both having
tall lattes and short machs on the side.
Eggs Florentine and some glorious looking pasta.
For a second I put down my pen.
Sip the coffee.
Sophia is in front of me on the street.
walking right there. She stops. Looks in the window.
but doesn’t see me.
I want to wave. But am frightened.
Will she leave my memory this final time?
A family battle cruiser.
big like a tank. Not really needed in
the inner city,
Getting ever closer to the bikes.
Serious—Serious faced lycra wanna-be ninjas
about to unleash hell on a five year old girl,
whose about to open her car door—Hitting the bikes.
We all sat glued to the view before us.
Next to me. Couple in their forties
regulars known by the waitresses,
talk to me. We make beats if the bikie would care that much
If a little girl touched his Harley, as she innocently opens the door.
The woman says aloud—“those pricks would get pissy about it”.
but the girl misses the bikes. The end of entertainment for the day.
I move across the street to a funky little bar
Libation. In a suburb of would be Dylan’s, Dali’s , Kerouac’s
And street corner philosopher’s—why don’t I feel so special?
Am I destined to move from the country to the city.
Medium fish in a small pound.
To an insect burrowing into the hair of a giant?
Would I be just another, would-be poet?
just another struggling, arrogant, naïve artist
Soon to be junkie—anorexic?
I can sit here and write everything I see,
everything I feel. No-one gives a fuck.
No-one takes an interest. Nobody asks what I am doing!
Every barista, or waitress, or kitchen hand, or cleaner
Every cook, every cab driver, all night service station attendant
everyone working on the drive thru at Macdonald’s
is a fucking a poet, actor, musician, painter—conceptual street performer!
All of us trying to make it big! But next to none of us will.
Is that fatalistic? Depressing? Good reason to quit this shit..
Facing the facts—or merely just the fire in soul—no grand delusions
it’s a fucking misery. But man what a fucking misery to have.
“Two. Two. A-two. A-one. A-Two”
That monotone Dj is testing his mic for a Sunday Session—
whatever happened to Jazz combos? Or manic poets ranting in the middle of a bar.
Thick green smoke from pot and Hookahs as Ginsberg wanna-bes HOWLED
At every little problem with our country.
The night before.
Sitting in a cinema, at the Writer’s festival
a bottle of pinot noir under my leather jacket
Passing it down to the two friends I just met,
but yet, seemed to have always known
William S. Burrough’s life rolling out before us
Like a scandalous moment from Entertainment Tonight
talk about a Puff Piece—Where’s is his soul!
He was off his fucking chops, blowing a hole thru
his wife’s head—playing at William Tell!
Everybody walkin’ talkin’ fillin’ themselves up
With their own libations–
it’s startin’ to rain—but Sunday is still young.
everybody smokin’ pot, with bottles of Mascato
Or cheap and nasty Vodka—not carin’
If the screws book ‘em! Five Kilometre stretch
Of Al fresco restaurants and bars–
Surely walkin’ past them all drinkin’ is still legal?
GROSS! Soy lattes, should be called Sour Lattes!
Leather jackets. Suit jackets. Mackintosh’s
jeans and old vinyl boots. Tight red scarves and
Fake black fedoras—how can we not have the same voice
If we all wear the same bloody uniform…
Rail way tracks around their eyes; from exhaustion!
and down their arms from bliss.
Trams keep clunking by, I should get one soon.
everyone here thinks they’re an individual,
but they are all one collective pulse.
a vibrant hub of culture and ideas;
fragmented, and lacking direction,
there’s no one style, one voice,
One idea, one goal!
Are art movements dead?
Were they killed by the Beats?
Or the celebrities who have their Gods in Ginsberg, Cohen
Dylan and Cave?
Are we not all sick or raggedy
Saint Geldoff? And his bishop
and the Bono-tificating Irishman,
who thinks his own oxygen should be given to the
Poor, the third world and the lame, to keep them alive?
So many ideas running around my head.
Seldom a good one. Am I afraid to really try?
Girls distract my thoughts again.
talkin’ about dinner parties (people still have them?)
and good places to drink yourself stupid
night after night.
I see Sophia get on a tram.
I throw down the rest of my coffee and make for the door.
I get on the tram. Expired ticket. Fuck it! Who cares.
Plenty of seats but stand up. With my clothes bag and my falling apart shoulder bag,
bumping into everyone. I am at the back of the tram now. Where did she go?
Was she ever really there?
something that I may never know.
Her body lingers in my mind. Do I want to fuck her?
Or do I want to worship her?
Is just a substitute drug—
A unicorn in the nightmare forest of my soul?
a figment of my own imagination?
So soft. So wondrous.
Skin that would taste like honeyed cream
If you dare but deface the work of perfection.
Or maybe I just really need a fuck.
but beggars can’t be choosers.
12. In the gloomy sites of the city,
I walk with my bags, and I’m not noticed.
Is anyone, ever?
what would an ancient Greek? Or Roman?
Or Hebrew or African tribesman, still using the ways of old…
What would they recognize in the city?
maybe Churches…temples haven’t changed all that much?
Maybe salons and bars, and gymnasiums…
But Cars? But the monolithic banks and business high rises,
that rape and splurge all over the womb of Mother Sky.
She calls my name. I follow.
I follow her down those murky, desolate streets.
her shoes echoing along the cobbled stone paths.
I look down the alley ways, all I see is blood and bashings,
drunks and junkies bracing themselves while they vomit out
the poison we all consume.
Shadows—echoes of past sins,
Don’t wash off easily of blue cobble stoned walls.
Her broad smile—wide desirable mouth…
Leading me down a merry path, in this
Like memories that don’t exist
I see a life with her—
Running in a forest of forget me nots
and promises that can never be….
and we kiss…
I WAKE UP IN DARKNESS…
Is the Manic of Ward Enigma 23 Dr. Benway
Here I am…strapped to a bed.
While the electrodes are running around my body—hooked up to that tantalizing little screen….RIP open my mind and play around inside.
Strike a match and burn the wick of my creativity…
Directors give the order—Actors are not all? Surrounded by the inmates of modernity.
the Grand Inquisitor asks us all…
as he types out results on his pissy mobile phone—
We must all love the square…the Voice is God!
The Voice—the never-ending Voice, always numbing us in our minds…
Ringing, beeping, burning bright…
The man in the mirror above my bed…
his familiar face on the screen; is it mine or yours…
What do you believe….
the new intended must answer…
what is your God?
What or whom?
what is your God? what is your God?
what is your God? what is your God? what is your God?
what is your God?
what is your God?
what is your God?
My God has no name!
Electricity runs rampant around my body.
as I am shocked over and over again…
My face on the screen—shakes my head
”What is your goal in life, young poet?”
“ I don’t know”.
“Fame, Fortune fucking all the best people?”
“I don’t know!”
“I control your fate—don’t I boy?”
At the airport again—
Just got off the phone with my ex…
Two days after she got married—I watched the whole abysmal affair–
thinking of giving everything up!
her in my arms—weeping like a burst dam.
New husband arrested for night club brawling,
instead of being where he should’da been!
temptation on fire in my soul!
yet how did I get the chance to gain control?
Sofia—just coz I sat down at an empty chair next to you
BUSY AIRPORT—on a Monday afternoon—
Online booking, if I had of stayed with seat at the back—
Would we be now texting each other every night?
Would your lips really taste like wine?
dreams erupt into wishes,
erupt into desires as the Vampiric devices
of life we must all have constantly beep and bug me…
Sitting in the Soul Café,
drinkin’ a Corona with a slice of lime,
thinkin’ about the junkie,
I was talkin’ to on the tram;
who had such a remarkable clarity of life–
was last night all a dream?
Am I destined never to dance along those cobbled streets again?
an old Chinese guy in blue jeans, trendy shirt and a black Cowboy
Hat; sketches a mother and her little girl.
Charcoal. Pastel. And ten minutes later, has a beautiful momento.
Horses in gilded carriages,
vying for room with cabs, trams, buses,
taking young lovers and tourists, around
the cobbled stoned, labyrinth metropolis …
NOT SO MUCH LONGER.
Sitting here in the Soul Café—wantin’ another round
Of dalliances with those unapproachable babes, I see in the street..
Fashion week in the middle of the city.
walking, talking, sexy…?
Goddesses have now descended on our plane….
willowy legs and clothes that look like they’ve just been slept in,
Porcelain dolls—all slowly appearing on display…
Is Mount Olympus absent a few mistresses of the night?
are their eyes shining like diamond stars in the night?
Why am I falling behind?
Their pied piper’s click, bedazzling the rest of the city—
seem not to interest me—the fashionable, the famous—
the Fuckin envy I would get from so many men–
But not my dear sweet friends—not other poets
Or prophets—only guys at a bar…
Trams ding again, as I am lost in the throng of a thousand faceless
Spirits—all in grey—as the blue sky breaks its resolve;
Hot, hard tears pierce my lonely soul…
Sippin’ tequila at the Soul Café,
I can feel emptiness slowly creepin’ in
A blind busker sings Tangled Up in Blue, Bob Dylan
would be proud—a toothless, old, blind black man,
Rememberin’ how to keep on, keepin’ on!
News Vendors sellin’ the daily rags; Any day now, Independent’s will announce
who will form government.
Jobless rate low. Crime rate sinking—Why have I walked past so many beggars and bums, in old long coats
Clothes stained with piss from themselves, and passin’ dogs.
Isn’t that a crime right, then and there?
Hear all the little brass coins, not gold, not silver,
Fallin’ into those Leviathans of deceit, home-wreckin’
And delusions….Lucifer never got the soul of no-one
By showing them what his truth was…
The buggie and the two magnificent horses
have come back now.
Fresh fruit, vegetable vendors;
Homeless people in the orange vests
Selling their big issues magazine, not their
Pride, nor their souls…
So they can have a warm meal tonight!
Sketch artists, drawing on the pavement
No-one ever seems to be a prick and walk thru the chalk.
All just searchin’ for their own square of concrete,
To sell, to buy, to watch, to sing, to tell,
to give their lives meaning…
Deaf Painters, painting words upon our hearts,
when the world is on a five minute smoke or coffee break…
Outside work—time away from that cubicle, or register,
to see other people!
Yet, every lane way tells a story,
Dancing along Cobbled Stones
in the pouring rain….
All getting wet. CORPORATE BLINKERS PASSING BY…SLINKING BY…
Who always draw a crow!
buskers, mimes, human statues,
taking that unholy shine away from Doof. Doof.and trams.
That loud music in every shop! Tacky decorations and lousy shops!
Mister Lord Mayor—a bit of fun, laughter
They don’t need no more distractions!
FROM US BLEEDING THEM DRY!
Still sitting at the Soul Café.
thinkin’ maybe of sellin’ mine—feelin’
all alone as a thousand people crowd me.
One night—one hour cheap hotels,
Sawdust on the floor—
Guilt stains on the bed—blood on my soul.
I can hear those fucking machines, drawing me closer to sin
Against my pride….
Thank fuck I’m runnin’ low on cash.
What are you doin’ here…
Sittin’ on your ass…
in a joint like this,
Devoid of class?
Sofia is standing over me.
I thought you were a dream…
Or a nightmare!
I am the night. You are a star.
I am the clouds—you are a rain drop…
We both now are lying under the sky dome—watchin’
the world decay—destroy itself, as it always does.
her creamy thighs tight around my waist…
pinning me to her Peaccock feathered bed.
A thousand million eyes watching us—
As we—as we
As we—as we—
Fucked the fire of my soul back into life.
She bit my lip, and tried to eat my tongue—
I asked her if we could ever love?
All she said was