Monday, 25 July 2016

Judas’ Stain James WF Roberts

Judas’ Stain

James WF Roberts

Tangled webs
unravel
guilty rides all over
and you hate yourself
for confessing all to
the guy she’s lying to,
but she’s turned you into
that ‘other guy’ you’re so desperate
no to return.
When the come for you at night,
a virtual banging down your door
begging you in tears,
just to make it all, alright
and there’s something about her
that makes you think of the other
one again—you say to yourself
if I save this one,
maybe I’ve been redeemed.

And she uses the same line
as the one before her did,

dangling you just above the water
hypnotised by Narcissist;
Dorian Gray is laughing
she twisted in the knife,
her back up plan
to burn you both,
keep everyone on their toes,
but the lies are so easy to crumble
she’s not quite the same level
sociopath as the one before her was

And she uses the same line
as the one before her did
fake bruises on her body
hide the ones on her soul,
she may talk the talk
walk the walk

but there’s too much at stake
when kids are involved,
and you tell yourself
you’ve done the right thing
by telling the wronged man
all the shit she did

but you still feel so guilty
you still hate yourself
how many showers
wash away
the familiar Judas’ stain?

And she uses the same line
as the one before her did
fake bruises on her body
hide the ones on her soul,
she may talk the talk;
but maybe it’s all revenge
for the games played on her,

so who’s lying to who?
Who’s crying to who?
cutting ties,
severing the wound
why can I still feel it bleed?

but you still feel so guilty
you still hate yourself
how many showers
wash away
the familiar Judas’ stain?

Sunday, 17 July 2016

Nandan Road, East, Shanghai, July 2016.


Nandan Road, East, Shanghai, July 2016.
James WF Roberts

The rhythm of the city
traffic and J-walkers,
scooters and electric motor bikes;




sitting in a tiny little bar, fag on my lips,
my third pint of Tsingtao in under twenty minutes.

An American blonde’s playing pool,

a young Chinese couple on a date
are giggling and playing darts.
All night convenience stores
serving dinner, selling double distilled
vodka and gin, for under $30 AUD.

Xujiahui station,

a labyrinth of Exits and Lines
vending machines
and urban screens,
curving onto the womb
of subway, not manifesto
claims, little Red book
or Marxism—advertising water parks,
Jackie Chan films, Shanghai village,
a water park where little angels
become little devils,
affluence everywhere.
We put our bags
on the conveyor belts
we are scanned and looked up
and down.




On the steps an old blind man
sings a haunting song,
a ballad I can’t understand
until he hears the clink of two Yuan coins
jingle in his jar, “Xièxiè”;
He responds.
I open the mini-can of Tsingtao
no-one seems to care.

I light a real Marlboro,
first real one had in so long.




all night restaurants and ATM’s in self-contained,
old fashioned phone booths;
ICIC, Construction Bank, Bank of China,
Bank of Shanghai.




Walking past ‘beauty parlours’ cough, cough;
where the girls are enamoured with my bright red hair,
“me…me, me number 8…’ she draws around her neck
and her fairly open shirt, than points and draws the Chinese character
of 8, around my chest, close to my heart.

ironically, the number
I am supposed to give
if I want this girl, and this girl only  to give me a full service;
but also the Chinese term for
money…Number 8 makes the world go round;
and hawkers trying to give me flyers and discount cards
for a gym, spa and pool; all I can think of are Romans
and Greeks in towels, discussing Julius or Nero, or Plato
being rubbed down…


Western bar,
end of my street,
Tiger beer on tap,
An American style burger and fries,
75RMB and pints that are only 25.




Another morning rush hour,
another ordered march,
chaotic and free flowing,
animated babies, Giraffe’s
Pandas warn about being too loud
about being rude or taking too long.
I buy my metro card.
buy a Café Latte in a can,
and move against traffic

Those urban screens
tantalise…KFC buckets
and new mobile phones,
Tsingtao ‘taking China to the world’;
but no-one watches,
no-one looks, too busy on WeChat
swapping red envelopes
and finding the best deals
one app to rule all apps.

Homeless woman weeps
pleading with all of us as
we walk on by, ten year old girl
or so, lying next to her asleep.
my heart in my throat as I pass by.
Cops walk past, on their way to their little booth,
they walk past her on the steps,
don’t tell her to move on. 

They just walk on.
Not out of inhumanity,
or indifference, but the practicality,
I’d wager of what can they actually do to
help, or apprehend.

Second day I see them,
different steps, different exit
to the station, this time I notice the boils,
the infection on the girl’s legs and arms,
she seems to only sleep. Her face is covered by
thick long mattered dark hair. My aviators hide
my red eyes,

Do I take a photo like some self-righteous Westerner
or do I just put 10RMB in her jar, I do the latter,
and wonder what will happen to her and her mother,
or grandmother in the future.

(C) 2016 Extract from " Fourteen Days in Shanghai". Red Wolf Press, 2016. 



Sunday, 3 July 2016

Streets of Shanghai No 1.James WF Roberts

Streets of Shanghai No 1.
James WF Roberts

Hazy rain
shimmers the city,
bright neons fuzzy in the
distance. A family of four
one what we would call a mope-head,
young son sitting in front of his dad,
wife and older daughter sit side-saddle,
weaving in and out of traffic. Is this normal
traffic or is it a blood sport?
Three or four boxes of fresh produce
on the handlebars.
Young girls driving motorbikes,
business attire, killer high heels
and a surgical mask.
She is texting while driving,
and weaving in out of traffic.
I wonder if you can bet on this online?

Faded glamour,
that Western cliché,
of ‘yellow music’ champagne and Jazz.
the new woman, sent to destroy family
values, fallen woman, is Shanghai a woman?
Like the poets used to say?
24 hour city
7 days a week.
Can go into a bank on a Sunday afternoon,
the creature comforts in this Paris of the East,
leaves Melbourne and Sydney so far behind it’s not funny.

Walking through a subterranean world
of concrete and steel
Labyrinth of futurism all around.
Super quiet trains. Super quiet commute.
Shanghai’s seduction has begun.