The Footings are Poured on the Future

Trying to be a man of the people
(no people in particular, just people generally),
I got out where the limo stopped,
(having blown a tire, or run out of fuel or something),
there was no time to arrange a media opportunity
so I engaged one of the workers there in conversation
(to keep my hand in, so to speak).
He was grimed in powdery dust
shovelling at cement with curt monotony,
behind him, scaffolding and rebar
brooded and coagulated in uneasy geometries.
I asked him what he was building,
but he could not tell me what he was working on,
(evidently, contractors had been called in).
Wouldn’t you want to know what thing was being made?
He gave me a short grin as I walked back to the car
(like a Unionist disembowelling a contract negotiator).
We never get to see all the plans on these rush jobs.
There’s a lesson in that, he said.

Damen O'Brien (Queensland)

Korora Beach, Dusk

What did I see or thought I saw
as the slatted sun closed down the beach
and the crescent-sanded shadows reached
and fishermen pulled their hooks from the wave’s jaw?
I saw a man step helplessly off the break,
or perhaps an oystercatcher sewing fish.
I wonder if my breath was a windy wish
held gulped and filtered by flathead and flake.

What did I see, or hope I saw?
I saw a man step silently into the panes
of glass and steel, but who knows if he rose again.
Soon I’ll pick through the lantana’s claw,
but marking the site of a cormorant’s plunge, I stare
at the grey water, until the sandpiper wind steals a blink.
He’s swimming somewhere out there still, I think,
with the strange strokes of a seal, coming up for air.

Damen O'Brien (Queensland)