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These Days


Vietnamese Bridal boutiques
fruit sweating on the footpath
shop owners spitting into gutters
English spoken only at the counter.  


A woman nods off
astride a rocking horse next to the auto-teller.
Slowly, with practised grace
she brings a cigarette to her lips  


I stuff notes into my wallet
suddenly aware of a queue forming.
Watching shop owners greet families
I’m reminded of a country suspicion  


aren’t you the son of, slow talk
light blazing outside a pub door,
nothing makes sense like familiar territory.
I step out the back door   


preoccupied with a view of corrugated roofs
wedge of sky, traffic surfing past.
From the backyard, the fluttering roar
of an MCG crowd building momentum.  


These days you can’t be too thin, too tanned or too rich.
In the shadows of the Commission Flats
spindly men are bouncing with options,  


mothers with prams take their chances at the lights.
Our milk bar owner serves us
in an anorak but no shoes.
Like myself he is making do   


with what each day settles -
neighbours in black spilling
onto the footpath nights walking back streets
the smell of other people's dinner