generational stillness

it’s one of those centre-strip
wishing wells
surrounded by lawns in increments of neat,
neater, neatest
with nice old trees too, their bark gnarled
as if waiting for the pencil
of a still-life student

but when I lean over
it’s just typical small-town grimness
with cigarette butts
half a foot deep
locked in that generational stillness,
grey water
strangling every dream

and it’s all the way across town
but I swear
that the graveyard
has sent its hoar-frost here to roost,
I can almost taste the down-payment it’s made
on every kid I used to teach

how far the stars seem now
from the grill of a fast-food sweat shop
or the single-hinge backdoor
after daddy-o
puts in another nomination for shitbag of the year
and I’m supposed to impress upon them
the everlasting importance
of proper essay structure?

on the way home I slaughter a thousand bugs
with my windscreen
and somehow it feels hopelessly right.

Ashley Capes (Victoria)

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