Routes off the Putty Road – Berndt Sellheim


1.

Early morning pale skin
you wake without
coming to

go about
post-slumber production
outside wit

a bucket. Hookin up
th caravan
to th backend

of yr hangover,
you sprain a finger
on th jockey wheel.

Red sky at morn,
it don’t bode well
before we hit the highway.

2.

Drivin north nine fingered
you’ve got yr phone
but turned off

th map—let’s see
where th black tar lead s:
due north n Putty Road

skimming out
th skirts o another
small federation tin

shack o town
driving on, into more
into less

half-forgotten federation pubs
fringed in franchise
re-gentrified monarchy

finds th trans-fat
Big Mac primary-coloured
burbs o middle

Australia: thin edge
o country hedge;
pretty house, nice mob.

3.

Out through
th ute-filled borderlands
now mining s money

n tiered truckloads
o spoil
circle th ring road

to abject earth
yellow gnats
riding miniature

from bitumen
into heart; th heat
hangs closer here, sun-baked

whole white. Don’t worry
though th drive-through
does bitchin trade

it’s just th ice epidemic,
a meeting point
o highways—

a place to chase
Sunday afternoon blues
snippin off yr lids.

4.

Round n around
Sat-day night
a dirty business

workin th rigs
arc weldin
pissed from gourd

n eyebent n crystal meth
n who n hell
can blame em?

The radio s playing
Joe Strummer, so yr
belting out

Shareef don’t like it,
vape the roach jar
vape the roach jar

Shareef don’t like it
th air a permanent dusk
o swarming particulates

on th scale o Exodus
where all fall short
o th glory o

Rinehart.

5.

Th road goes on
but we have to stop:
how we pull over lost

how we should-a gone
left at the turn-off
how we lost

th aggregate, th rubble
n that’s one less place
for yr iPhone

to worry about
n still we’re tracking
th edge v open cut

n yr saying how th local
is national, s inter-gnat
s inter-sect n incest

n that mountain o mine
is going on and on
like a set from Fury Road

almost B-grade
its sublime monstrosity
beautiful in scale, brilliant

machines de-scrub desert skin
derealising th metric valley
in stavic excavations

till there’s no place left
to unhitch
th van