Mogo (a coastal town)

the little girl with the gobstopper
plays chess
giant pieces
she must bend her knees to carry
her brother almost knows the rules
and tells her what to do
when a stream of watered down milkshake
runs through the board

"you've already got wet"
he says
"at the beach"
he watches the liquid
puddle around his foot

her gobstopper falls out 
in moments of concentration
it rolls under our table
she picks it up and pops it back in

her brother says nothing
he has no rules
for gobstoppers


the water is patched
a quilt of blues and greens
billowing slowly
from an under breeze

i lie in the sun,
a wet shirt and an akubra pillow
feeling how the sand
cakes between my toes

people are smoking
and a woman in a denim skirt
hangs out of her clothes.
the wind and the sea
whisper over their conversation
but i can still admire their tattoos


i fall in love with a bookshelf
full of colourful shirts
while i try them on
i hear laughter
and see him in a pimp hat

leopard skin
perched on him

i laugh too
and solo in a slinky sundress
that makes me feel 
like a mantis

driving home
a splatter of rain
and the delicious smell
of steaming tar

but in Canberra
we are smoked in
a tan fog
and an elongated sun
the colour of
watermelon flesh

seeing the beauty
in bushfire season

Lazily, I have posted something I wrote many years ago – from the days when husband and I could just drive off and spend a day at the beach – shopping, eating, watching other people’s children, lying on the sand. Yesterday we went down to the coast too, with our children and the dog. It’s a very different day. Not better, not worse. Just different. But this poem raised nostalgia for the freedom of those early days in our marriage.

22 thoughts on “Mogo (a coastal town)

  1. I love the lyricism, the simplicity of this and the one feature that makes this poem authentic: specificity, the little. plain details that evoke the image; the last two stanzas are sheer magic; it’s like that poet who saw sunset magic over oil refineries: ‘that petrochemical sky’ or that Rod Stewart song composed while looking at an oil; slick on the road: ‘a Gasoline rainbow’ [ from ‘Gasoline Alley’

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  2. I loved this, particularly the first part with the girl with the gobstopper, and the boy who almost knows the rules of chess. That was clever observation. This poem definitely deserved it’s second airing.

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  3. Oh I love these! Especially the gobstopper. There are so many obligations as parents – like telling our kids not to put things back in their mouths when they’ve fallen out… It was so much easier before we knew the rules, and felt obliged (to at least pretend) to care about them.
    I meant to take my kids to the coast these holidays but didn’t get around to it… ooops… I haven’t been to Mogo since before the fires.

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