In the café village by the sea,
Angels live among us,
Held dear to my heart,
Spreading warmth and joy.

As do the bouncy, smiling sirens
Flitting between the Bays.
From the Admiral’s to the Soldier Poet’s
Sharing comforts of a kind.

Alas, their song no longer confounds
Adventurers needless of earplugs or restraints
Who sail past heedless of their languid tunes,
Intent on younger passing prey.

On the sand and in the grassy park,
Polyglot maidens far from home, looking for fun,
Browning their hypnotic tender roundness
Glistening blissfully in the torpid sun.

In the café village by the sea
The salt breeze invigorates
Waiters, musicians, poets and travellers,
Singers and surfers and uncles and aunts.

Bacon’n’egging their way through the day
Mixing with the cousins, bros and sisters,
Yummy mummies with baby-bonus kiddies,
Local walkers and yapping furry companions.

Shadows fall in the café village by the sea
When surfaces are scraped and peeled
Blisters of silent contention burst
Spattering unpleasant legal games.

Clusters of flushing errant hormones
Disrupt the friendly yin and yang
Fluttering outbreaks of diatribe
Congeal  the lonely armchair greens.

Hungry homeless pull rank on seagulls
For discarded fishy chippies
Before blanketing down in caves
Or sheltered nests in the gully forest.

Sometimes at night in the park
Of the café village by the sea
Hordes of cosseted drunken youth
Scream their anger and bewilderment.

Smashing and fighting against confusion
Their inheritance of the shackles of privilege
Binding them to the comfort of continuity
They howl against their blessed destiny.

Not Summer

When daylight saving’s gone,
In the café village by the sea,
The sun goes down with a chilly thump.

Suddenly it’s six o’clock
And nobody’s around

Happy holiday funsters have flown
Back to Vienna, Frankfurt, Dublin and Rome
Madrid, London, Rio and Bristol

The village now a nocturnal habitat
Native creatures shyly return

Loyal local workers slumping
Off the autumn bus
Dragging home their briefcases
With take-away cuisine

“I promise I’ll bring the plate back”

Then of course, there’s Larry
Who no-one quite believes
Though the stories stay the same
His wallet has never been seen

Lounge Lizard Larry from LA
Self-described movie producer
Trader in nebulous commodities
And old mate of the stars

If half of what he says
Is somewhere near the truth
The other half is vivid madness
A bright-eyed whirlwind
Of barking mad enthusiasm

During crisp but sunny wintry daze
Locals have time and space to meet
Smugly glowing swimmers wave and greet
At some ungodly time of afternoon

“Quite warm today, really!”
They chirrup
In denial of the goose bumps
Purpling their limbs
Spiking their arm and leg hairs

But the best thing about not-summer
In the café village by the sea
Is that friends and neighbours
Have their street, park and beach back.

Slow uncrowded coffees
Ciggies in the park
Talking shit with mates
Strengthening friendships

Trident Blue

My Mum told me a story once about my brother’s mate. She said, in her inimitable manner,

“Hughie. You should write a poem about this!”

Yes, Mother. Of course, this isn’t that story verbatim. This is where I took it …

My brother has a good old mate
He’s known since sixty-one
Fifty odd years or more to date
From schooldays in the sun

The other day they’d had a drink
His mate was in a state
Asked the brother to have a think
While his tale he’d relate

The mate, we’d better call him George
(He doesn’t scrub up well)
Lives not far from Cameron’s Gorge
On a place he’d never sell

Rolling hills and lots of shade
Creeks scattered through the land
As if they’d been expressly made
By a horse-lover’s hand

Passed down, and down and down again
From fathers onto sons
The low hill country to the plain
Where crops are weighed in tons

Now racing folk from far and wide
Knew of his breeding fame
Wanted the famous sire’s ride
To plant the winning strain

A former foal was racing hot
Winning hearts like a star
Way ahead of the other lot
She was called Black Caviar

 Twenty three on the trot she’d won
A sprinter through and through
The best in all the world said some
Her pedigree was true blue

She’d even won in Pommyland
Had come home for a rest
While rumours swirled among the stands
Of her sister way out west

Plans were made and committee formed
To authorize a search
For the sibling that could perform
Knock the champ off her perch

They sent George a pompous note
Disguised as a request
“We’ll scour your farm”, was what they wrote
“For likely mares to test”

Now George, he was a funny bloke
Generous, kind and gentle
Always good for a clever joke
But never sentimental

The problem was his paperwork
It was never up to scratch
A task he would always shirk
With horses there to catch

So no surprise to know the fact
The way he  ran the place
They’d spread all over the track
Impossible to trace

Stallions out the back blocks
Yearlings growing tall
Mares with foals in socks
Geldings newly balled

There were nieces of old stayers
Famous miler’s dodgy sons
Lonely losers fed on prayers
Ponies that could’ve won

George never wrote a thing
To sort out whose from which
Though so much equine “covering”
Had made the family rich

Recently he’d cleared the scrub
Of brumbies one and all
Some he gave to blokes at the pub
Others went to the wall

What was in the yards that night
Sniffed the wind for their fate
None of them were glossy or bright
Tomorrow was the final date

Next day off to the knacker’s yard
The trucks took them away
His men had chased them long and hard
They well deserved their pay

The dust had hardly settled
When a mob of blokes arrives
Some of them on horseback
And some in All Wheel drives

“We’ve come to look for Trident Blue
Sister of  Ascot’s toast
It’s all in the letter we sent to you
We’ll be a day at most”

Horses were backed out of trailers
Two way radios on
No time or money for failures
Blink of an eye, they’re gone

George, he just stood there bewildered
Dumb blank look on his face
His heavy body was tilted
Eyes that stared into space

Slowly with incomprehension
He thought of the bay mare
The one he’d sired from Suspension
That took such wear and tear

With a cry of “Well, I’ll be buggered!”
He bounded for his den
Searched drawers and cupboards
For documents from Then

And then he stopped, and stroking his chin
Began to wryly smile
Which spread to a full-blown grin
Across his happy dial

The committee men left at dawn
Their search had been in vain
But now a new hope had been born
They’d try the Western Plain

George topped up my brother’s brew
Took a swig of his ale
Swore the story was Gospel true
A cautionary tale

The sister of Black Caviar
Known as Trident Blue
Has left the life of pastoral care
And ended up as glue