Clouds Afternoon Jazz Sprinkles – David Prater

For Jill Jones

(1) Clouds
Abercrombie Street, Chippendale

Reading your electrical poems in a Northcote bar
in winter was just too much: like trying to drink
beer sailing freely through the air: free of the glass,
sure, but harder than buckshot to catch between
your teeth. I longed for some o’ that Sydney where
July was windy and wet but not cold. I wanted to
perch in that laundromat on Abercrombie Street
just down from the Reasonably Good Café, chew
on an Incredibly All Right Ham Sandwich™, read
William Faulkner’s Light in August (i-in August!
& simply wait for September’s frangipani blooms
to disappear down the Chippendale lanes like odd
socks above Central Station or perhaps (sure, in
desperation, to close my eyes & also disappear.

(2) Afternoon
Foveaux Street, Surry Hills

I could pretend to live somewhere else, I guess
but all I can think about is how darned clichéd
Sydney must have been in the 1920s, the futurism
of Bondi travel posters aside (undergrad hat tip!
I’d already been there, once, maybe. With a girl.
I just wish I could turn to poetry the dismally banal
warehouse districts (c. bottom end of Foveaux St.
& surrounds, CTRL+ALT+DEL every whipped
palm tree by the Elizabeth St. entrance to Central,
blow up the blackboard menus outside the faux
cafes ‘adorning’ streets where journos used to
drink away the afternoon, like the one where we
caught up, once, in a previous carnation. Yeah,
everything was chic & Quadrant didn’t even exist.

(3) Jazz
Oceanic Café, Elizabeth Street

A little bird inside my cranium orders me to write
a poem on the subject of the old Oceanic Café but
I can’t do it. Who would care? All they ever seemed
to serve was steak and peas & I never ventured
inside there anyway. Too busy moping, probably.
Why? They removed the soul of Strawberry Hills
just to make houses from its yellow clay years ago
& the pub that shares its name has since stopped
playing bad jazz. Oh yes, blows away the melody
it does, just like a wind chime. Cue ragged Tibetan
prayer flags. The paper carries yet another article
about th’ Australian poetry, written for the over-
68s. Cue Transvision Vamp, baby. ‘I don’t care’.

(4) Sprinkles
Grace Bros, Broadway

I’m reminded of sprinkles, the way they insinuate
loss, or themselves. That’s insider culture! & how
we insulate ourselves from change (unless it’s the
climate at stake—in which case Sydney blows bum
notes all along ‘Broadway’. What’s left? Do I light
another Craven A? Crack a silver bullet? Or maybe
chomp down on the deadly sausages Bert Newton
ate in Fatty Finn? Gawd, I miss Noni Hazelhurst!
Pardon me while I dream of the days when trams
lit up Sydney’s skies with meteor showers (or were
they sparks? Think I might take another spacewalk,
this time in the direction of Central Station, pop in to
Our Lady of Snows. Free meals, clouds. Afternoons.
Jazz. Wherever you look, cakes & lots of sprinkles.