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Cream Cheese, Snus and Salt Water

In a Byron Bay unit,
there was cream cheese
and snus left in the fridge. 

The last to stay must’ve been
some handsome Swedish couple,
blonde and in their mid-twenties,
the boy with slightly browning gums. 

They must’ve escaped the Nordic winter
for an east coast Australian jaunt.
Flew to Brisbane and headed south.
Picked up grass in Nimbin,
mushrooms in Mullumbimby. 

They probably drank beer
at The Beach Hotel.
Maybe even made love
on Main Beach. 

Overlooking Bay Lane,
they must’ve peered into
the same ladies and gents toilets.

In a Byron Bay unit,
my wife and I left our troubles 
at the aluminium gate. 

We didn’t take our clothes
out of the carry-on suitcases.
They were fine
where they were. 

We must’ve been intoxicated
on the sun, nicotine and change.
We had sex on each of the four days. 
Every morning, we ate the cream cheese 
on sourdough – toasted and warm. 

When we got home,
the kids didn’t notice much. 
Perhaps they did,
when we let them stay up late. 

Now there’s work that needs doing,
school fees that need paying, 
before we go back to that unit. 

The Hotelier’s Silence

The hotelier’s silence 
is as stirring as any song. 
And for what he lacks 
in justice and fortitude, 
he has in spades 
of temperance and prudence. 

He nods to the businessman 
for whom he only calls
by surname;
smiles at the working girl
who is in on an outcall
for the third time this week;
attends to the chambermaid’s concern
regarding the blood and the glass,
bright red and translucent,
on the ends of carpet fibres.

The bellboy is still learning his trade,
where to direct his eyes,
when to say good evening,
when not to.
He juggles all the guests’ luggage
with his tertiary education.
But the hotelier thinks the bellboy
is learning more about the world
right here;
behind the ancient sandstone façade;
beyond the dramatic porte cochère;
in front of the hurried pedestrian streets;
above the hard rock in the ground.

‘Some among us
were born to talk,
born to judge the world,’
the hotelier tells the bellboy.
‘But we were not.’


Chloe and Madeleine

Ninety percent of the time 
there are two women.

Chloe picks up your socks from the floor— 
a habit she subtly,
begrudgingly developed. 
If there was even a chance that
Madeleine might visit,
then you would’ve 
picked them up yourself.

Chloe doesn’t want wine 
with dinner on a weekday. 
Madeleine will drink with you—
Burgundy or Fireball. 
Chloe wants a quiet one this weekend.
Madeleine wants to party. 

You take hours to reply to
Chloe’s messages, despite
knowing she knows
you’ve read them.
You take eight elongated 
minutes to respond to Madeleine’s,
spending every last bit 
of your chill. 

Chloe feigns interest
in your Nietzsche books,
but privately thinks
you're pretentious. 
Madeleine mocks you
for them openly,
but privately finds
you interesting. 

Chloe has no interest 
in the commercial world. 
A P&L might as well
be in Swahili. 
Madeleine agrees with Warhol
that business is the best art. 

Chloe knows that you breathe heavily,
and that your moods 
are prone to swings. 
Madeleine doesn’t know
the half of it. 

Chloe really, really loves you.     
And I guess you love her too. 
She clings to you like 
the last fling
in a fading empire,
the last corporate trip
to the strippers. 

Madeleine enters your psyche
like a Nike ad,
then conquers
your consciousness
like a pathogen—

The same way you
assume that Chloe
once did.
If only 
you could remember

those glorious days,
one tenth of the whole,
after you went
and made her 
your own. 

Truest, thinnest,
heaviest, cleverest. 
Another superlative
reported missing
on Everest. 

The defeated volunteer
search party could not 
hide the frustration 
on their faces
when they brought to
you a woman who
matched the description,

only to be told
that it was not Madeleine.

It was only Chloe
in disguise.