Jason Monios lives in Edinburgh. His publications include Acumen, Poetry
, New Writing Scotland, nthposition, Umbrella and The Guardian.

Book Shopping On Oxford St, Sydney

A sultry spirograph,
a hyperbolic sham,
the late unexpected curve
in the long road,
the longer antique dram.
A paisley tear drop
stretches to the horizon.

We follow the adulterous curve,
taking its heady cue.
Little shops cluster beneath awnings,
sheltered from the rain,
taken by our charm,
hidden from our view.

Above each shop the evidence,
colonial past pours forth its ache,
a business or a residence,
a purchased mongoose rears its head,
the tiles for their cobras bake.

Slip against the salmon stream,
slink unheeded up the hill.
A city from a harbour,
a city from a harbour spilled.
Flip unloved the angry queens,
clip again their tawdry dream.

Bowl from the Paddington end,
jade its shrieking market morning.
Cockle in its bay-dreamed bindi windrow,
dare to eat a fig, in Port Jackson,
from Moreton Bay.

Crown the rise, a three foot welcome storey.
Find a second book, a second hand.
Gaze the milky wheatsoft evening,
by our wasting magnified,
by our wasting balanced
on one side.

Route denied to one way home.
Lizards flatten to the call,
belly rockwards, stone faced hazing.
Do not take it, do not think it,
the things that wait there wait for all.

Gaze the milky wheatsoft evening,
by our wasting magnified,
by our wasting balanced
on one side.
Four lanes wide of traffic,
coloured light that bathes in breezes,
bathes in seas of gum.

Spinoza Takes The Train

Extended substance in so far as it is substance cannot be divided.
—Baruch Spinoza

Coal smoke, train tracks and borrowed symbols
relieve the languid morning of its burden.
Spread sunlight across the Thames,
like caramel it drawls down a copper spoon.

Breath humid with intimacy and sweets,
cardboard coffee and last-minute magazines
enact a mumbled mantra of distraction.
The destination board parades in algebra
my hastily lithographed feelings,
simple caricatures of my timid expanse.

Romance in absentia shrieves its promise,
corresponding patterns of abuse and recall,
the violence done to my dream
by rivet, plate and Victorian steam
a narcotic memory, an emotional necessity.

Wrapped in Spinozan withdrawal, one
substance in one universe, one belief
in the impossibility of separation,
one length of track extends my temporal home:
an imperfect symbol of my northern goal.

A Woman Walked

A woman walked with
the grace of her sister,
who was dead.

"Drugs," sniffed the ambulance lady,
saying more in one word than
she would ever mean.

A man had seen the entire episode
as he sipped coffee from a glass
across the street.

His emotional response was stronger
than either of the women,
and he knew.

He did not know the source of his pain,
as the walking woman did not know
the end of hers.

The dead woman's hand gestured at
the feet of the calm observer,
sending her sister's gaze like
a love letter.

The pair watched the distance quietly,
acknowledging the departure of the ambulance
without disturbing their moment.

The woman walked calmly to the man
with the grace of her sister,
who was gone.

A young girl without a home
anticipated without regret the pair's
embrace without passion.

Hers was the pain of loss.
His was the pain of love.

Her weakness was evident to
the stranger who held her hand
while she shook.

The ambulance lady knew what would follow
though the man was blinded by
his sense of comfort.

The woman fell to the floor,
shuddering like her sister, who had
died in pain.

The man walked away
with the step of a stranger,
unable to explain why
he loved her.

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