Snapshot: The Hero
He likes to watch.
Standing at his favorite spot on Hale Street, he looks upon the lights of the CBD.
With one hand, he encircles the arm of the city, feels for its heartbeat, then exerts gentle pressure until its turbulence ceases, taking careful note. He eases off, listening, sensing.
He absorbs this information, shoulders his gray bag and walks on toward Musgrave Road. A Viking in a white singlet, pausing in the moonlit night.
But this man has been noticed. He is not one of the Lost, but rather a man out of time. Not a complacent man. A man of Appetites.
I see you
Feel wolfish tonight
Snapshot: Place in Time
But here, a pause for appropriate acknowledgement to place and context:
December in Brisbane. After two summers of rain and flood, the warmth of the South Pacific meets the oscillating temperatures of the Indian Ocean. Instead of floods, meteorologists warn of bushfires, heat waves and tropical cyclones.
Throughout the month, high-pressure systems arrive from the Tasman Sea in the southeast to construct a humidity in the city that will not budge. The atmosphere builds intolerably until the city becomes colicky and begins to creak. The airlessness pulls from the pavement the smells of this urban labyrinth – sweat, car exhaust, and something akin to the stale urine smell of an old man.
Finally, low-pressure troughs assembles in the Antarctic, crosses the Great Dividing Range and curves to enfold tropical Queensland. In short time, cumulonimbus clouds fester until sudden heavy storms bring release. A climatic orgasm, a release of competing pressure systems after which the city, well burped and satisfied, sluggishly beds down for a nap.
Christmas brings its own intensity; shoppers storm the malls, as desperate for relief from lists of things to be done as for the industrial air conditioning systems, so powerful they blast frigid Squamish winds into the streets, seizing pedestrians attempting to brave the heavy tropical afternoons.
Discard the debate about daylight savings time, rebellious cows, and lusterloss drapes, had Queensland been settled by the Spanish instead of Her Majesty’s wayward rejects, men and women so self-consciously correct, attempting to assert their home nation’s virtues and subdue this fiercely delinquent landscape, – had Queensland been settled by Spaniards, her total social outlook might have been transformed by the introduction of a daily siesta. Mores that made no sense; Christmas in midsummer, houses fit to cook their inhabitants, bus shelters equipped for snow when temperatures fail to venture below 10C. It is the way of exiles to cling all the tighter to rituals of home, without ever attending to the principles that motivate these sacraments.
From the day that we landed here, on this fertile strip of fate, we mobilized in fear of disappearing and never understanding our why.
Am I a walk-on, the staff-bearer in another’s story?
When the curtain call comes
Why am I always relegated to the shadows?
Snapshot: The Hero’s Becoming
All cities need wards. There are many applicants, many hopefuls, but few know how to read below the city’s surface dowsing for truth, offering clemency or excising and debriding as needed.
There are wards who are self-appointed, craving title and office. But true wards are chosen by the place itself:
The Viking has been noticed for his empathy, his caring, his infinite patience, and has been instilled as Arbitrator.
He beckons the pleasure seekers to him
The kinky and the queer
The lonely and perverted
Those begging to get hurt
Holding out against the lonely, they come to him with questions in their eyes, discouragement on their lips.
He meets out remedies for whatever ails them, a gentle word, a loving touch, the gift of his attention, a knack for expanding time. And, when nothing else will do, he will administer the aneasthetic.
Every body has its own density, its own geography, artifacts that a careful archeological study can reveal and interpret, as well as its own astronomy of seasons; the body rises and sets, waxes and wanes, keeps to its own solstices and tides.
A body’s landscape is always changing, shaped by both chance and friction.
The words of these phenomena themselves form a sort of incantation: erosion, ley lines, alluviation, deflation, midden, megaliths
Who sustains the sustainer?
Master of all souls
Lover of none
Snapshot: The hero’s Journey
Public transportation in Brisbane is challenging at the best of times, but there is no trouble getting a taxi – unless you really need one. The Viking arrives with just enough time for a brief stopover at Mos for a kinpira rice burger and cranberry lemonade, then the 385 to Casablanca’s for improv and cocktails.
On his way, the Viking reads the city’s ley lines and scrys for news. Here, a vomit-stain spread in an angel’s wing. There, a vertical water-mark as cthulhu, or the snub-nosed eunuch beside the grate in the lane. And then he sees her.
Wary, yet wholly unaware, the black-haired girl walks alone, hugging herself against imagined dangers. He paces behind her, warding off the real ones. It’s a subtle dance, as a figure peels forward from the wall but, at a nod from the Viking, insolently drops its head and retreats. The thick-fingered, they breathe loudly through their mouths.
Can you hear it cracking when you breathe her in?
Does it break when you leave her?
And is this exquisite pain so sweet
each time you walk out that door?
Snapshot: The hero Seen. The hero Approached
He likes to watch.
You have rendered me
When he enters the private club, the Viking pulls a mantle of darkness to himself, a symmetry of shadow and twilight-gloaming, remaining unseen to most of the revelers until a moment of his choosing.
Collector of the hapless
Curator of the unfortunate
In the world, but not of the world
Desired, but not truly seen
I dress myself in barbs and tacs
And still you steal the room.
They desire the idea of you.
Watching the stage, the couches, the bodies writhing together against the grating on the balcony above.
Hundreds of emotions fly
About this place
Looking for a heart to hold them
He is ruminating in that room. There had been love for him once. Still remained, but he was learning patience, and that attachment might submit to be stretched across great distances and time zones. And suddenly his yearning evolves into a colour he cannot name, a taste he cannot name, a texture he cannot name.
With that thought, he is drawn back to the present, registering a subtle rise and fall in the pressure of the air about him, like the inside of a chest next to a beating heart. Then a gentle but persistent probing like fingers at his temples but without a hand, a visible author to the sensation. It is unsettling.
Fire without fuel will eventually die
And what is life without fire?
What is love without flame?
Around him, the carousers fill the pulsating room with dreams and fantasies.
Afterward, when it comes time for closing, partiers will return to their own beds or forage in the beds of new lovers while the Viking, solitary and untethered, walks the streets.
You see my shadow thrown ahead of you on the wall
You look back behind you
But I am no longer there
And somewhere in the city, a girl hunches vomiting in her bathroom, wondering why she has chosen this cloistered life.
And somewhere, a man selects a flogger from his wall, to play with his Kitteh.
And somewhere, a boy cries in self-pity, hungry for an appetite he cannot name.
He loves them all
Everyone dies alone
the question is
how do you spend these
Quiet hours before leaving?
Snapshot: An Interlude
A fairytale, this is just a fairytale:
Oh Grandma, what big eyes you have
Oh Grandma, what big teeth you have
Oh Grandma, can those really be your ears?
Oh Grandma, what a big c–k you have.
The wolves are out tonight, licking their incisors and so,
I hiked up my black jeans, pulled on my red hoodie, tied my Doc Marten boots, hit the streets and went hunting.
But this is a love story, and love stories never run straight and true.
It is hardest to feel this alone at night.
I am fractured but I don’t know why
I have a hunger that has never been filled
Yet am still
Snapshot: The Hunt
You are wolfish tonight
You are the meaning and I am the rhyme
You are the form and I am the sound
I see you
I know what you hunger for
You push me just a little further
You grind my flesh between your teeth until I slide free
But I will wear you like a mask
There is no safe word
No surrender but yours
I surrender to no one
– If you know
If I had them
Would shake at the thought of you
Say my name
Say my name just once
And enclose me in your hand again
come to me now!
He closed his eyes, shuddered, and came.
I am not yet
Snapshot: New Years Eve, 2012
The moon, still clings to its ripeness from the days before and lights the sky as if to obscure the family-friendly fireworks, the event that marks close of the evening for the young or the more fatalistic of cynics. For those of a mischievous bent, these same fireworks are like the crack from a starter’s pistol, declaring the beginning of a city-wide fête that can only be celebrated by the most competitive of drinking and carousing.
But stay, here small and quiet if you can bear it and look there, in the moonlight, where form and substance meet, a cloud, a place of denser air. There, on Story Bridge, where Fortitude Valley can kiss Kangaroo point.
The Viking walks the bridge alone, steadily pacing along the bridge towards this vapor.
Squint slightly and tilt your head, where this shade is backlit against the lights, and it takes on the subtle form of a woman.
Our Viking reaches forward with a gentle hand and seems to encircle and extract a smoldering arm from the smoke. With the other hand, he gently but firmly runs a pointed fingernail down the inside of the insubstantial wrist.
The shadow shivers in answer, arching her back in pleasure.
There is a pause, all sounds of the city seem to stop, scent the air, like a child testing the setting for a tantrum.
I feel wolfish tonight
In a rush, this erotic cloud, this devious shade, grows teeth and expands, engulfing the man in a quivering cloud like angry bees. With an almost audible crack, like lightening before a rainstorm, the man and shadow become hollowed reflections. They vanish into slow air.
Take a moment, here, now and notice.
There is one less sound in the city tonight.
And Brisbane is a little less Fiendish…
Snapshot: New Year’s Day, 2013
No more shall be said about the lunacy of the night before. But with the dawn of January 1st, 2013, the city could be described as having come to itself, shaking off its reverie, stretching and looking about as if to wonder at the madness that had taken control the night before.
One thing is for certain. We have all endured another year. In Fortitude Valley, celebrants and survivors awaken in beds not their own and begin to spill into the Brunswick Street Mall where people litter the streets amongst napkins and empties. Police stroll casually by. Young men tug their hair across their faces as young women tug up their sagging tops, carrying their cheap shoes. Both sexes eat McDonalds and express nostalgia for an era they never knew.
For this one day, Strangers will look on each other as friends and say “Happy New Year”.
And it will be.