Out beside the highway, first thing in the morning,

nothing much in my pockets but sand

from the beach. A Shell station (with their ‘Mens’ locked),

a closed hamburger stand.

I washed at a tap down beside the changing sheds,

stepping about on mud. Through the wall,

smell of the vandals’ lavatory,

and an automatic chill flushing in the urinal.

Eat a floury apple, and stand about. At this kerb

sand crawls by, and palm fronds here

scrape dryly. Car after car now—it’s like a boxer

warming-up with the heavy bag, spitting air.

A car slows and I chase it. Two hoods

going shooting. Tattoos and greasy fifties pompadour.

Rev in High Street, drop their first can.

Plastic pennants on the distilled morning, everywhere;

a dog trotting, and someone hoses down a pavement;

our image flaps in shop fronts; smoking on

past the pink ‘Tropicana’ motel (stucco with sea shells);

the RSL, like a fancy-dress pharoah; the ‘Odeon’,

a warehouse picture show. We pass

bulldozed acres; the place is becoming chrome,

tile-facing and plate-glass, they’re making California;

pass an Abo, not attempting to hitch, outside town.

 

Notes on the Poem