Man with a gun

In the queue in the chemist this afternoon
I stood behind a man with a gun
An armed guard from the ATM money truck

The gun was in a holster on his right hip
I wondered whether it
was loaded

I thought about the barrel
the trigger
the bullet at ease
in its little room

The gun had a wooden handle
smooth, honey-blonde
warm-looking
I tried to imagine
the man drawing the gun and shooting it
He aimed for the leg
I saw a suburb
a woman
a baby
I tried to imagine him
shooting to kill
The terror, the blood-rage
The eyes
afterwards
blown to bits

I have halved with a kitchen knife a small snake
beheaded with a hatchet a chicken for soup
clubbed with a log a cat-ruined mouse
but I haven't fired a gun
Not yet

My father had a butcher's knife for sheep
an axe for chooks and ducks
a shotgun for birds
a rifle for steers and cancer-ridden cats
I saw how he worked the knife and the axe
but he didn't teach me the guns

The man in the queue was no more than 30
He had short wavy hair and a pale neck
He asked for strong headache pills
Pulled out his wallet

First published in Creatrix 34, September 2016

Special Class

I dreamed X in a swimming pool a man on the side with a stopwatch a race I in the water too with others all competing

I dreamed X won because part of the scoring was on how elegantly you moved your body I just couldn't match her flow I would move nicely for a while but then my muscles would rebel a distracted twitch I couldn't get my parts to synchronise whereas she

She won a trophy “Special Class” it said and I was both jealous and glad jealous because I didn't win glad because I didn't want the trophy object cluttering my bookshelf and needing to be dusted and justified

First published in Uneven Floor, October 2016

Dadda

At Cottesloe Beach, 2015

Dadda! Dadda! a toddler screams
Dadda! Dadda! Dadda! Dadda! Dadda! Dadda!

Dadda is chiselled, hard-bodied, striding up the beach
in rash top, mid-thigh shorts, expensive, tight
Under his right arm like a rugby ball
he carts a little girl
held horizontal, facing the ground
wriggling and kicking against his grip
screaming what she thinks is his name

By the shower he dumps her
She lands on her feet with a visible thud
He pulls her dress off over her head
yanks down her pink suit
with its frill around the hips
Having gotten her naked
he turns on the cold shower
shoves her under
She flinches, clings to his legs
He brushes water over her
with flat swipes of his palm

All this time she is screaming
All this time he says nothing
and his face does not move

A group of tourists stare
Even some of the locals look

He turns off the water
pulls a white and brown striped towel
off his shoulder

At last he will wrap and embrace her
I tell myself

He wrestles the towel around her
twists it into a knot
hoists her under his arm again
marches down the beach
Her wet things dangle from his left hand

All this time she is screaming
All this time he says nothing
and his face does not move
All this time I watch

First published in Creatrix 34, September 2016

Enough

Bananas sound like chop chop chop.
My daughter (18) with her stick-insect wrists
cutting them up to freeze and blend.
My kitchen is full of their fat-free sweat.
I don’t know how to talk about it.

I pick one up and touch it
to my nose. Close, the skin
has its own dun scent. Some creatures

consume the skin, I think.
I tried that once to see. Between the teeth
a stringy density. On the mouth’s membrane
a drying, withering chalk.
The banana in my hand is cool and smooth

like a wax effigy. My fingers wrap it
with just enough of a lap
to feel secure. Its body

is firm and curvily slim
like the limb of a well-made woman,
the woman my daughter might
become, if she eats
bananas enough.

First published in The High Window, issue 1, Spring 2016