A Day in the Life of an Australian Poet?

It’s funny, as in awkward, I think; the word poet. And the word Australian. I can’t really say I’m either. My family and i came over from Leeds, England in 1988 so my father could work as a sand blaster for a mob down under. That went tits up but my Old boy decided to stick it out and now i work for him under our own banner. So that’s pretty much how my days are. Nothing romantic. Not even average. I crawl in and out of shit pipes most the day removing the spent blast media from the blast pot. Or I paint the steel so it doesn’t rust. I guess that’s pretty cool. If a country could be defined by a colour I think Australia’s would be rust, with all due respect, of course.

Australia, you see, is the bastard nation of a million dead fathers. That’s what makes it the strong and harden young man it is today. The angst of a fatherless child; or the resentment towards a step parent who took over when your old lady was venerable – that’s how Australia is. Australia is influenced but not controlled. And by Australia I mean the faggot side of it all, the mass of it all. The REAL Australia sleeps without us, it doesn’t need acceptance.

The REAL Australia didn’t need an old man.

But I’m not the REAL Australia. I’m the other type – the bastard son. Which is to say I’m a very normal, if a little secretly strange, young man. The opposite to the aboriginal dream lands. No culture – only land.


My nights, Like a true Bukowski wannabe, are spent drinking myself spastic and pissing all over the floor like a raving idiot. Because I live at home with my mum and dad they don’t let me keep hard liquor in my room any more. They won’t let me buy a mouse either, because they say “Mice smell too bad”. I have anxiety – which makes me a pussy – and causes me to be a little neurotic. When I get drunk in company I usually have a great time but when I drink alone I sit at the type writer and bash away like I’m some kind of lamenting genius. I say these type of things to avoid any one else getting in early.

Like the REAL Australia, I know how ugly the ego is, the objective ego I mean.

The REAL Australia sleeps alone. It fishes in lakes in holey boats. Eats steaks with flies in the backyard bush lands of the Nullarbor. The REAL Australia smokes Winfield reds and doesn’t like strangers. It struggles with sheep and shears fifty of em` a day. It drinks tea without sugar. The REAL Australia breaths smoke – fills its boots with woollen socks – spits chunky yellow snot. I’m a phoney. I’m about as Australian as I am a poet.

I have a girl friend of eight years, who stays with me beside my delusions of grandeur and self obsessive eccentricity. I self published my book and she took the photos. She is a fantastic support to me and as cliché` and wanky as it sounds, I think she is the only person that really likes me. Aside from my cat, but he has little choice. I recently worked on a book with a artist in Germany (http://www.ths.nu) and sent him a Polaroid of my dick to go along side a poem I wrote about it. I sat her down and spoke it through with her. She said “do what you think you have to do”. She’s studying to be a teacher. Not many people are good like that. She was born here. Her dad loves his dog. Drinks at home. They are good Australian folk.

We have BBQ’s and own a swimming pool. We swim in the summer and retire in winter. Some of my friends play football – sometimes I watch them. Today I lined a suitcase I found on the side of the road with purple felt. It made me feel like a queer. A REAL Australian wouldn’t do that you see. But more to the point, if a real Australian did, he sure as shit would never mention it to no one.

That’s why i should end this pretty quick.
I’m letting it all loose, like a poet poofter.

Did i just call myself a poet –
By god, how embarrassing,

How bloody Un-Australian.

– Ben John Smith

 

My first book

My first book,
Went for sale at 30 bucks
A pop
At a joint that sells porn
In a semi hippy part
Of an overly yuppie town

They took 4 copies
And
Gave me a business card with
A few numbers that would
Get my cash back
From the eventual sales.

If they all sold they would take more.

The business card had
Two girls rubbing each others
pussy on the front.

He wrote my reference number
In blue pen
next to them

Only one copy sold.

To a guy I know
Who rang me when
I was handing them in for sale.

30 bucks.

Next to paper backs
And self published
Anti magazines.

There used to be a television
In the corner of the store
That ran black and white porn flicks

The police raided it
a few days before
I gave them my 30 dollar book to sell.

They took hand cuffs.
A book about Satan

I wish they were a few days later

Maybe they would have taken
The remaining 3 books I had to sell

And I could
make the back the money
I owed the vanity press in the states

Who make fun of hacks like me
Who think people give a fuck
About what we have to say.

 

 

Half a heart

There is a little boy,
On television that only has half a heart

He says,
“ I wish I had a whole heart,
And my mum and dad.”

He says it with a beautiful smile
That could warm the world

He has a hot mother.
I remember that.

I open a beer after his scene
And run a bath

The radio plays swing.

I dance with my girl
She is wearing her pyjamas
I’m naked.

We dance quietly.
With bare feet.
Together
On the floor boards of my home.
With the television still
Playing
In the other room

And she leaves me alone

With the swing

And the radio
And an a world of guilt

And the wish
That i only had half a heart,
Too.

 

 

The lotto.

We have a super sixteen,
And the eight ball syndicate.

He hands me a photo copy of the tickets.

This is the one,
He says,
Good numbers –
Lucky ones.

“they tried to charge me
Ten cents a page for the
Photocopies.”

Old man Johnny,
With hands that
Are bloated and bumpy with
Gout and arthritis.

Ten cents, he murmurs,
One more time,
Rubs his hands together
Ten cents.

…these are the one Benny boy.

The lucky numbers.

I look up at the bookie screens,
Take a good slug of beer,
Look back at Johnny
And his broken hands.

Lucky numbers,
Shit.

My friend
I think,
that we
Are
fucked.

 

 

Church going folk.

The poor Old birds got a burnt face,
It stretches across her mouth
And twists it all around
In orgasm o’s
And painful looking
snarls.

Her nose is charcoal and
Pits two black holes
In the centre.

Judy kisses her when she comes in.

On top of a few milk crates
The Yamaha
Plays clumsy,
cheap,
unlearned keys

With a jangle
That rouses that pack
To stand up and sing.

Ian in his home knitted
Cardigan,
Shakes like Ali
And his bible bounces
like a Pick-up truck.

All the short
The lonely
and the queer,
Huddle around in this blue stone
Shack to worship.

A young lady is getting baptised
Before she gets married.

With her head over the sink
She closes her eyes and
Streams of wet
Slip across her face and
Mat her hair
Into shiny strands
That cling to her face.

She is embarrassed.

We all look and clap.

Welcome,
I say in my head.

It will only cost you a
Slim five bob note
For the collection plate
Over the offertory hymn
every week
For the rest of your life

To witness the most beautiful people
In the whole
Wide world.

She still smiles
But her hair is all wet
And wrapping around her fore head.

After service
We drink tea and kiss
And shake hands
And say, peace be with you.

Five bucks a week,
And maybe a wet fore head,
Every now and then

To rub shoulders
With the saddest,
And loneliest cats in the
Entire world…

Five bucks,
Aint
Nothing
wrong with that.

 

 

Caravan.

The budgies squawk
In little wire cages.
They dance in front of the mirror.
The ugly one is called Lucky,

He sings.

Johnny gives me a beer,
His wife barb,
Reads in the other room.

We talk about racing.

He shows me the add in the paper,
Advertising weekend tiling jobs.

He says
i lost 300 this weekend.

Barry comes in on his cane,

I have heart burn from the
Froth in this cheap
Shit
Beer.

But really,
I feel sick from everything else
An eternal headache that will never
Go away.

He pulls out the bird.
It bites his hand.
We sit in silence and drink.

This world
Is a poet.
And birds in cages should never
Be called lucky

 

 

Olinda

I remember driving through the forest.
The trees like leaning green and brown shores.

The road, pitched on black wet asphalt
that
Tailed through hermit lined streets,

With edges like shopping trolley wheels.

There was a cask of wine
In the centre of the road.
Its silver and alone and empty and used.
Metallic against everything else that is
West and afar from green.

No place between.

Who drinks in these places?
Who drinks alone in these woods?

Ferns with willows
Settle under the canopy of police trees,
That offer marriage from the run off
Of their leaves.

Who drinks alone out here,
In this un-dignified human nuance?

The radio is out of place.
Like the wine cask and my car.

I could drive for miles more,
But i feel like the ghosts of this forest hate me
And my stupid clothes
And my in ability to know who drinks
on these roads.

A fog of old man grey
Whispers around and hides the
Earth under my wheels.

There’s a solitude in being alone.
And the anxiety of someone coming
As if at any moment, I will pass,
And all my secrets with the woods
And the cask wine drinkers of the forest
Will die with me

In a head on collision
With an out of place car,
That might never come.

No distractions.
Nothing to look forward to
With an ego that would offend
The hermits that pre-occupy this silent
Space of ghosts and unheard falling tree’s.

If i ever make it through these roads,
I promise myself to return,
Without the fear of losing my stories.

And smile desperately into the oncoming lights

That will wash my face in the only yellow light
In this green,
And cask wine metal world.

 

 

Golfing

They cooked a steak
But it was too early for him to eat it,
Or he went to bed –
Im not sure,
I wasn’t there.

His sons tells me that
Their dad
Kept the steak in the front pocket of his jeans
For 18 holes of golf.

After the Pub,
At home,
He tried to eat it before he went to bed.

But his missus cracked the shits.

And no meat
is worth that kind
Of blue.

Believe me…

 

 

Ben’s book is available to buy from here: http://www.lulu.com/content/hardcover-book/air-%c3%a0-boire/6576771

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