[Poems I wrote when I was 20]

Vegas after the Grand Canyon

We’ve met inevitable lights; too bright

for the stars, lurching like families

from somewhere southwest.


Below that breakage:

we cannot contemplate –

that drove us away.


Humming to the sound of manufacture

and mountains; legs stretch in the rubble of meals.

Warmed beneath the remains of burritos and kid’s serves of fries,

to clamber looking for beds between pyramids and tents.

It is a pink night and everyone is getting married.

Like mid-morning in the dark and never sleeping

it is louder than I imagined, coins drop lullabiies

into the ears of children dragged to this place. Everything

tastes of donut or has forgotten speech.


And out there all that blankness

and dazed vantage – the trying to see –

that echoed mine.

I saw the earth

break today

and fall,


as if trying to outdo nature itself,

someone has built this.


LA. 1

That first night,

your head bowled in a rim of wool kept

quiet drinking mocha while

The Bourgeois Pig beamed

with lap-top squares of green.

Looking at

the city and missing

laser shows winding up Los Feliz.

Through shabby and smart

the planes dip like

puppets into orange.

A chubby hand floating strings of light:

humming with helicopters.


The observatory stood over a city with

more stars than the sky.


Later the balcony,

too narrow to walk on

became a ledge.

Between mist and palm trees,

bent and dripping,

touching muddy skies

so we had to remember

the mountains were there,

laughing at fears of plastic and summer

after two days together

deciding that here was ok.



The Bourgeois Pig

the café is call the bourgeois pig

it has a room that beckons with

a red tongue and speaks to sneaker clad

youth who ride franklin and

drink mocha not beer. It is laden with cakes and brownies lit by

squares of green and stars and a mirror ball

Joe calls this his LA: ‘it’s heroine in the red room, man’, sipping

hot chocolate Sarah is scared of not being cool enough.

Two people smoke cigarettes, eating cookies engulfed

by velvet sofas while the news agency next door calls for sleep.


LA. 2

This is California,

we live in the sun.

Watching Sunset gleam white

with topiary and become littered

as it nears us.

At night we are soft-glow orange,

our sky rimmed with the dip of aeroplanes. We

view live coverage of Bentley’s on fire, see road rage

in Rancho Cucamonga as the FBI


The Chinese Theatre, Hollywood and Vine = dirt

and grime. Cha cha cha carribean the best

barbecued salmon, reading phone numbers that

end in binder or B.E.S.T. Remind ourselves that

this stands for us finding the dream we try and keep time

with the beat of possibility.


Approaching Albuquerque

Dotted here between blue, tussocks of matter

wrenching breaths of ice in desert.


A dry, cold beaming

and sparks of illicit factories. Here


they make stories of aliens warped by a sky

leering over a daunted earth.


With sea obsolete, land secondary

steel structures mimic people.


All legs and curled hairs, winking at night

with dual eyes; seeping oil. They hear


hums beneath cities – newspapers cry

strange theories of metal, governments and landings,


held captive underground in tunnels

that traverse communicating with stars or stripes.


Bewildered. Small – knowing never to question

that even nature shrinks them becoming


rubber enactments on television

in global fillers between commercials,


drawling insistence

they entertain us.


But out here

this greatness is why.



ticket held tightly

in one hand finding instead

observable breath


and pebbles that mix

silent molecules of light



elk tracks in snow, passing

into air that which should have been



with cactus and westerns like

the kangaroos that line our streets.

[These poems were written prior to my twentieth birthday and have been published here, 18 years later, unedited and in full]

2 thoughts on “TWENTY: Series 1 – AMERICA

  1. Wowzer- a blast from the past! I always thought you hated that trip but now I’m not so sure. Especially loved Approaching Albuquerque.


    • I remember feeling uneasy traveling on my own for the very first time but that trip was amazingly inspiring and challenged what I thought about America! Plus hanging with you was heaps of fun x


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