vj ray – Willem Tibben

in 1970 south parade was the main drag in auburn

butcher   barber   milk bar   grocer   hardware   electrical   etc

vj ray did the real estate   black-and-whites in the window

the one we were dreaming to buy   $8750   not a bad price   but we couldn’t make the 25% deposit   shifted our newly wed dreams elsewhere   doonside   lived there for years

passed that little house day after city commuting day

i could see vj ray’s hoarding as the train paused


1977   a promotion to western sydney health department

cruised along south parade in my work car

up to auburn hospital for the first meeting

pitched them ‘cultural awareness’ workshops

we joked about ‘spot the aussie’

going back to the office i stopped to look in vj ray

the asking price for a simple house was $35,000

i tried a kebab from the take-away next door


it’s 2016   i’m one of a dozen cultures waiting for the train

high rise   towers behind south parade’s row of shops

wedging it against the line   a facade of strange languages

but I can see vj ray still there   my phone app says

a decent house costs $875,000