Poem number 17.
I’m just back from four days in Melbourne. It was a good weekend, people were friendly, the hotel was o.k. I had a good time. But in any strange town, I sometimes feel ‘strange’. As Jim Morrison sings: “People are strange, when you’re a stranger, faces look ugly when you’re alone”.
Most of these lines, and some of yesterday’s poem as well, came to me on a wet Monday morning run around the rather bleak Docklands area of Melbourne. Some of it happened.
Nightmare 3 – Trapped in a Strange Town
The road looks vaguely familiar, but isn’t
Cars drive to different road rules
The rubbish bins are bursting
The wet pavement is strewn with fast food discards
Posters half ripped off the windows of empty shops
The oppressive air is sucked of ions
An elderly woman in a purple dressing gown grabs your lapel, mutters curses
You escape her grip and enter a coffee bar
You are invisible to the staff
When there is no-one else to distract them, a waitress takes your order
The coffee is bitter and hot, and burns the roof of your mouth
You are overcharged but lack the will to argue
Thirty minutes pass. Your stomach cramps
You search urgently for a toilet
You find one but the cubicle is occupied
Someone inside fiddles repeatedly with the lock
A syringe rolls out from under the door
You rush out and find a pub
You relieve yourself in the functional, tiled men’s room
The barman watches you as you emerge. You feel obliged to buy a beer you don’t want
A drunk at the bar accosts you, claims you owe him a drink
You give him five dollars and make your escape
You are overcome with a vast weariness but there is nowhere to rest.
It is ten in the morning. The day stretches out like a gun barrel highway.