poems by Brenton Rossow


sticky hours with good intentions
arms all glue against the table
searching for a glimpse of a fleshy coin slot
as the noodle girl works the steam

legs and knees
nose and eyebrow
after all these years
it almost seems pointless
begging for a smile and a glance

when it comes
I often get nervous
and look away


I’m quite a simple guy really,
probably shouldn’t be a writer,
probably shouldn’t be a lover,
probably should be a monk

problem is I’m too horny and volatile
problem is I hate mosquitoes
and feel a need to strut my stuff

I look around
and I’m surrounded by great men;
my father, my brother, Joseph Conrad,
Ferdinand Marcos
who do I really want to be?
and what do I care?
problem is I do
worry what people think,
what people believe,
what people see,
how people feel…

I need a liberator,
a hilltop on Sicily,
a comb with golden teeth,
and an immaculate songbird
that flies into my heart
and scorches all my misconceptions,
picks me up tinker-bell
and rests my in sunny grass,
picks me up tinker-bell
and carries me towards the light


heart attacks, heart attacks
for goodness sake
… almost three in the afternoon

they come at me in waves
of rapid flutters
when I haven’t got a beer,
make me fire
a bunch of turds
out my ass,
make the dog echoes warble

stupid personal shit
… who gives a damn
… who gives a damn

need to rearrange my headspace,
climb inside a colourful scene
and get crazy with the marimba shakers,
hit the streets and let orange fuzz
fly from my arms

and in a way, he was right,
when he said I was a slave

… a slave to comfort
… a slave to predictable outcomes

I sit in my tomb
and count my compositions
… just a few more,
and you’ll click into the groove,
fire out a big one
and everybody will clap and cheer

a great long mysterious life
and it all boils down
to claps and cheers

the artist… god bless him;
godlike he wanted to be;
yellow flowers
he said
yellow flowers
                                 trickle into the stream


Fobson… they called him,

the small man inside the pipes
with a wrench that echoed
and bounced about their heads

somebody released a mongoose;
a horrible weasel-like thing
that gnashed and twisted around ankles

picking his nose as if invisible
… yet so obvious, through the glass,

he said:
teacher to the blind,
idiot-come-genius thing
spider-leg on a button-down jump-suit,

we kept on jogging and laughed;
the cricket in the water-weeds,
the garbage-men


the rare creeping winged-one
the hands of one who is not human
imploding red mist
above the curtain of the washing machine

we stop what we were doing

the barn netted in berries and thorns
the French car—so very impractical
the things we remember on ice
the impassable noise of life
the welded shoulders of a copper chimney
nowadays so rarely used

the hairy thoughts of meticulous
feet that go this way and that
as if god was a genius
… heaven forbid—not me

stiff hair, gummy eyes;
somebody reprogrammed my dreams;
took out all the good stuff
and left me with a reality
more creepy than dreams


he painted everything
the house
the car
the dog

rosy as a Chaplin’s speech;
he painted
until the hurt
went away

he swung
from the rungs
of a gutted fire station;
he arched into the echoes of self

he came said everything was flower
went from pearl of seamen
to catastrophic man

the elaborate simplicity of sugarcane
the toad under the wheel of fate

come splash everything in new heart:
from the deepest
part of my soul

                                 RIGHT PLACE AT THE WRONG TIME

she comes to stay with me
gives me a cold
and screws up my routine
I punch her in the eye
by accident,
as I sit at the computer
she comes up from behind
and suddenly screams
as my knuckles sink into her flesh
“oh… fuck… sweet,
I’m so sorry
you frightened
the piss out of me”

weeping and hollering
I try to comfort her
but she just pushes me away
and abuses me

these things always
seem to happen to me
I have a knack
of being in the right place
at the wrong time,
shouted at by someone
who swears
I’m a villain and a swine


sitting on the toilet,
enjoying the last pages of a novel
the telephone rings
and I realize
how much I enjoy
quite time and solitude

flat battery;
the phone
begins to cut-out

if I don’t squirt my ass now,
wipe it with paper,
pull up my pants,
and dash into the room
I won’t know who’s calling me;
then they’ll be pissed
and think I’m avoiding them

fuck it!
fuck telephones!
I’m content being an island

I go to the computer
and write a poem about it,
because that’s what great writers do;
inspired by the simplest of things
like a missed telephone call,
a turd,
and their desire to be alone

fuck fuck fuck it
the mystery is killing me
I take a chance
and call my girlfriend up

“hey, baby
did you call me
a few minutes ago?”

“yeh… I did, how are you?”

“yeh… good… really good,
sorry I haven’t called for a while
I miss you babe.”


first time
I came to Bangsean
street dogs
one of them died
on the pavement
in the hot sun
security guard’s
face swelled up blue
from some bad seafood
me sitting on a chair
with the office girl
flirting dumb-idiot foreigner
making an arse out of myself
stingy, stingy
disgustingly tight-fisted to the point
I still feel embarrassed by it
… I blame you Mum
>>>back to the business
of my first time in Bangsean,
wandering around taking photos
in the boiling hot sun
shedding kilos, bad stomach
and the beginnings of insomnia
and anxiety attacks
all alone in a swirling Asian dream
beautiful girls and butterflies
curious personalities
frightened by almost everything
spent a night in hospital
connected to a drip
with chronic stomach pains
now it seems like every day
is a holiday since I came to terms
with the fact
I will always be somewhat
comically removed;
the sunburnt


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