The Rebel and His Ruin – Patricia Jones

This poem contains language and references regarded as ‘Mature Content’. Reader discretion recommended.One day in the dull roar of trucks, the brittle spittle boredom of Brisbane
streets, my friend and I waited at a tram stop.
Sharles was nonchalant, vibrant and in a strange mood. She had insisted
we not wear our uniforms but carry them. We stood in our shorts and T-

Shirts.The harsh iron clank of a tram heaved into view.

‘ Don’t get on it’ Sharles hissed, ‘ the conductor is a pervert.’
I looked at the conductor’s amiable smiling face as the silver bullet sped
by.
A roar of motorbikes (Thunderbirds) pulled up beside us and two
teenager men rode them. I realized Sharles had arranged this.
‘Get on the bike with Yosie’ she commanded me. I stared at Yosie, black
leather, hair cowlick Brylcream black. Thin wide shoulders smile half shy
beckoned me on to the steed. I always obeyed Sharles; she had excavated
me out of a hopeless sick bed to lead me out into the world.
We roared down highways splitting open with our speed of the then 100
miles an hour. We stopped at Yatalas pies ‘ the best in the world the
universe infinity.’
Yosie wiped my chin with laughter oozing out of him I relaxed somewhat.
I was fifteen years old.
We stopped at the Coolangatta skating rink to watch girls in short white
skirts and legs burnt sugar brown. They glided like miniature queens, I
ached, they defined something I would never be, physical and out there.
Yosie mocked them. Said something in Russian in my ear and I startled,
fueled his laughter.
                             “ In waist high flowers we are drowning
I am wondering what flowers are they”
The sea opened up like a great blue fist of diamonds exploding onto
yellow sand.
I gasped and suddenly Yosie sized the moment and kissed me.
‘ I don’t know you’ I cried.
‘Yes you do, you know it’
I smiled and he caught me in a hug.
Then he was quiet and we both looked out to sea. They didn’t swim, too
tough to strip off their leather.

We returned past the skating rink and it was empty, I felt sadness.                           “ Everything ghostly lost in the mist/

Like a garden in March, emptied of men and women.”
We parted, I declined any more rides I was too young but I saw him one
day with another girl and he looked back.
Years went by and I was seventeen and desperate to escape a brutal
home.
Sharles told me Yosie was back and looking for me.
‘ Where has he been’ I asked. Sharles rolled her eyes. I met up with him.
The motorbike was gone and so was the leather, he looked more
vulnerable and he drove an old souped up Holden, which would take us
on endless journeys.
Later the car would be replaced by numerous second hand deals. We
would also frequent Pawnbrokers with  ‘the’ engagement ring and crafty
old Jews would peer down at us with benevolence.
We talked for months until he laughed me into sex one night on that same
ocean spot we had frequented years ago. ‘ I don’t know you’ he taunted,
he couldn’t swim, it was funny and it was all easy, he was a gifted lover.
We caught the wave of bliss and we entered into each other’s secret
world. Our skin filled with light and glowing green like fish, we swam into
our bruised hideaway the other side of rage.
Yosie came to me one night in a state of agitation.
‘I want to leave Brisbane and I want you to come with me.’
 I looked at him, three years older than me and I was all of seventeen.
I nodded.
Before we left we went to see my friend Sharles who was in a home for
unmarried pregnant girls.
Fear seeped icelike into my bones when I saw the change in her
appearance.
Some one had cut off the golden girl’s head.
The bike wheeling gum-chewing finger in the air to boys, blue jeaned,
white T-Shirt suburban film star called  ‘ Dynamite.’
Blind boils invaded her once honey skin. Her eyes had moved into a
vacant lot.
Heavy with six months of unwanted pregnancy she sank to the floor
weeping.
 ‘ No one ever wanted me’ she sobbed.
‘ I loved you’ I whispered.
Yosie leaned down and held her.
I looked back once after we said goodbye, seeing in my mind’s eye;
catching in the retina, an etching of lost innocence lying as soiled as 
the dirty laundry she was forced to wash six hours a day.
A grim nun eyeballed us as we left and I felt the first bitter taste of anger
at the self-righteous.
Yosie whispered
                             “ The rose is blowing now/ a shattered thing
That once held beauty high above the thorn”
Yosie pushed his car over a cliff the night before we left Brisbane.
I was heart broken at his silence. The car we had fought in, loved in,
laughed in fell away into the blackness. Although I didn’t know symbols, I
sensed it was a sign of some sort.
We hitchhiked.
 Oh those dark highways. The eyes of men who gave us lifts, scoured my
young face matching it to Yosie’s dark stubble and green eyes the colour
of the Mediterranean sea.
                            “ The black night flowed on/
Holding a water lily/ a star between its teeth”
We’ll be in Newcastle soon,’ Yosie said ‘ We’ll get a room.’
In that cold hotel room we made gentle love.
He stood at one moment looking out the window, soiled white curtains
speckled with life. The yellow sodium glare of the outside street light
illuminated his white skin, angel thin shoulders and his black hair cutting
into his shoulders.
 ‘ Its not exactly paradise is it’ laughing his wild erratic laugh, which
knew no tyranny.
In the dawn he slept like a child and I viewed the spilt semen on the sheets.
I thought of Sharles, would I ever see her again?
                           “ Some kind of howling thing puts out a claw
To catch at kids”
A brawl had gone for hours in the night the pub erupting with violence.
I was glad Yosie had not been awake, or in the midst of it. He would have
been labelled a ‘ Wog bastard’ I had heard it before.
‘ Good old Aussie mateship’ he murmured when I told him, covering his
body with a wet white towel. He had been self-conscious about displaying
himself as I had been. Years later I heard he had killed a pedophile when
he was sixteen.
And Yosie drowned at twenty-eight, flew off the Grey St Bridge.
His bird in flight he had called ‘ hope’ had blinded him.
He may have tried to embrace the moon’s reflection in the water, as the
Chinese poet Li Po had done.  
                            Voices echo now.
My drunken sister displaying her poetic side screaming out
‘ Are you going to marry that Edgar Allen Poe reffo’?
‘ You killed him you bitch’ a mate of his yelled at me years later  ‘he
never got over you leaving’.
Another friend said gently. ‘ Yosie got lost on the fault line, he was a
refugee’.
One day the refugees will return to their homelands. Children will shout
with laughter. Men will plant bounteous crops again. The sick will be
treated with dignity and good medicine.
As a child I ran with wild dingoes. In the morning thick yellow cream
spilled out of separators. I ran into the sun’s mouth eating oranges that
matched the color of dawn cracking open.
Cities of poetry would await me.
 Nothing is lost really. We press them between our pages.
                        Our first love/
                        Our first hotel room/
                         Reality versus love.
The first suicide.
                        A small tale of the rebel and his ruin.
The Rebel and his Ruin.
If we had mated for life
As Kobrin your Russian wolf had done
Would all those myths have turned to
 Ashes in your aged mouth.
Our tongues harnessed,
The marriage grave yawning open
Our back door swinging unhinged
Dante and Beatrice now Darby and Joan.
If I had diverged from my dreams
And boarded the train into the past
Waving goodbye to tinsel and glitterati,
Would we be sitting now in that Newtown pub
Sipping at our bitter gin.
You in a grey cardigan and me in faded blue
Wobbling our teeth and humming
To some old jukebox song.
Watching the new immaculate young.
Would your insatiable thrust
have diminished to a weekly joke.
Would we have pottered in our willful garden
Or prowled through our revered books
I had hid under the mattress from you
When you had decided brutally to sell
All wonder mystery and ritual.
And bright with life grandchildren come
As you had craved they would.
If we had mated for wolfen life
Would our hearts have bypassed finally.
Would your courtesy have gone
To a mumbled ‘ you first’ your tired hands
Buttoning up our winter coats
Walking again through Newtown
Passing the pawnbrokers and the priest
The bride and groom
The rebel and his ruin.