Les Wicks

Overload #31

A few more Poems


1. Look

Arms control –
with those eyes hard as a wet winter beach
you have no idea.

At 14, I worked in a store
where loitering pipe smoke prowled gun oil, licked
sharp edges of senescent inventory, frozen bait.
I was an ear in a tooled-timber box of rationed words.

Occasional weekends out on the property, men with time, their
tinkering congregation of etched hands.
The smell of rolled cigarettes/
tree stumps blown away with a hand-made charge.
Posts planted, then wire braid –
cajoling the assumption of earth.
Later, while pissing against the yard fence,
told the prudent rules of being grown up.
Breath crowded a bruised, shiver-night

I remember the luger: a Nazi, old movie grey …
nest for an orderly queue of bullets
each immobile before its turn to replace the previous.
Malicious, still precision.

War surplus 303, a cannon on the shoulder.
Wilful as a workhorse, one had to be strong just to shoot the thing.
Scrap paper targets passed agreeable lives of compost,
repose on tree.

22s were the incessant kelpies;
followed you around
hauled everyone to a stop at any rabbit, crow or fox.

Every weapon had a character,
its varnished name.

2. Feel (it)

The polished wood, eyes slip on the straight judgment of schooled metal.

With all that compromise & blunder
more sensual than love.
The bullets, the weapon sits there
& ready
even horny as fingers will brush marble buttocks on a townsquare statue
cupping a breast or balls.
This is the best men can do –
manufactured, calibrated
sings under blunt fingers
then explodes with a husked condensation of intent.

3. Taste

Sharpest in the memory,
a time beneath a hills-hoist North Coast sun
when Tom & I were shooting air rifle slugs
just loose, up into the gums.
Until (colours implausible beyond the palette)
a thing of green & gold fell
clipping branches – rushed, heedless as though
this was the most important event in a life.

Then at our feet, a slapstick red
on its sunglass lime –
tiny chest heaving
grey eyelids locked.
That parrot demanded further butchery
to hide the crime & leave
a flat decency of death,
the jury of worms.

Two small males learnt,
went down the hill in search of a spade
followed by creamcake hours
amongst the baked company of women.
We thought they knew everything
except our filth.


1. Train to

When satellites write the history
they can say man has built.
Eaten, then built.

Unknowable archaeologists will one-day crunch
through a snow of powdered glass –
excavate layers of concrete, hairspray, rayon & paper –

the cocky hope of one highheel boot.
Our inner-city monologues
written in mascara.

Escalators take us, straight down 10 minutes.
Purpose – a new billboard every metre, we live
for information/
sit in our tunnels
to practise the crash of the world.

2. Kings Cross

Turn the corner, then just like another apartment block
or parking lot … the USS Kitty Hawk
incandescent flags on iniquitous grey.
HERE the last chapter starts its murmur
& I am walking in unscheduled zones.
Spies in crocodile akubras click happy snaps/ volunteers yell abuse
as sausages sizzle in a tent.
Open Day.

There’s art in the huge – port complexes, jobs transformed into coffee
Middle Australia queues for hours
to touch hunched, shuddering Hornets.

Amidst this field of torpid families
one homeless guy’s unlikely loudness
emanates a feral glee.
He is choice beyond reason.
Above the blasted pink
of logic
why do anything but drink
when science is doing THIS?

3. Secured

Onboard – wet green missiles dance
in nuclear/fluorocarbon air.
Personalised choppers are flown by
“Roadkill” & “Flea”.
Sanyo vacuum cleaners, gunmetal dustpans beside the “Defcon-3 Supply Box”
/a job/
/for life/ for any boys’n’girls
who made it through US public education.
This is real work, to open
singing silicon, woven steel. You can feel God’s offence
when this splendour isn’t used.
War keeps us busy
productive, right
to the end.


1. Like a bundling of magnets
they do not fit here – all
crowded on one stage.
Beauty belongs on each its own
garden-art pedestal.

2. Lorikeets toss bright ink
across the dabbed army green
of our subtropical coastal choice.
Flaking gums stretch across a massage-table sky,
branches drop like worries
on an exhausted lawn.

Game Fishing Week & the bay is clogged
with a purchased
sometimes drunk
but tightly supervised heroism.
They pursue the greater,
dark lives … fellow predators
not used to a fight.

The tides have left.
Someone else’s catch
has cluttered up the restaurant tables, then
the Pageant starts – a second competition
in softened sun
portable stereo
post gravy gravitas.

3. Growing up here is both pretty cool
& a monstrosity. Lycra rules.
The young compose for battle –
ones granted prime DNA, blonde charms,
thin charms & parent-paid-for
straight white teeth.
Armed with speeches they have their war
beneath boorish tourist applause.

This remnant is not the role you’d hope for women
but perhaps Beauty is a thing you cannot own in isolation.
Must it see the light,
be fertilised by eyes
to retain its foliage?
Friendship here is tutored –
a practised peck & goodwill voiced.
But grim as tackle/
the hook versus life …
defeat marks everyone like a scar.

We can’t all wear scientist coats
or fall across olympic lines.
Still, any human feels the itch … at least for a time.
Jobs (within reach), university (daily bus service)
A bit scant but
today Jodie Thompson wears one crown.
Ron Griffin’s 245 kg black marlin wins the other.

This poem has been accepted to form part of his 7th book,
Stories of the Feet, due out from Five Islands, April 2004.


Padded sky – needlepoint showers & a rainbow.

Churning topaz, delinquent Derwent River.
Our feet about an old growth stand
waterlogged eucalypts give long
vertebrae cracks – the forest moans.

The cloudstruck greens of southern rosellas rustle tree to tree
like couriers. Fresh winds thrash the leaves – hyped & flighty.

A wallaby flops back into cover
surprised, distracted slapstick.
Two Tasmanian devils rumble in the scrub
ferns flung aside in rage
as the lake stops to listen.


Fear nothing more
than young men’s passion.

It smashes the teeth,
the brittle delineation, words slipped
between great loves & rape.

They invented sport
& war
to keep it in the lines
“Call it quits, eh?”

The heat
can eat the oxygen in an old car.
Great art with big tits and spaceships.
Anti-politics, cheap gossip, the put down.
Led – stoned & frantic.

Despite everything, to still see this
as the moment alive …
your self emerging
from the sculpture of fists or an outbreak of truth.
You & your mates
Saturday night.

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