Ghost of the Ghan
“I seriously don’t know if Gianluca will feed himself.”
“Worst case scenario he’ll have a Nutella sandwich.”
A young couple board an old steam train,
For old people with nothing left to do with their days,
Old ears struggle to hear the husband’s “g’day,”
Old gears struggle to push the train away.
Grey hair blowing off wrinkly scalps
Like steam from the locomotive.
A dying breed of machine,
“It’s worn but it’s got years left,”
The husband takes the initiative –
The trip’s first hopeful fiction,
Said with no conviction.
“Oh what I’d do to have hair like that again,”
A nonna, that never was, intrudes.
The wife knows her true hair was not so tame,
But the nonna was not trying to be rude.
The couple don’t make a big deal of the bold,
Instead embracing the complimentary small talk.
They enjoy the pointless anecdotes told,
And offer their own from short-lived lives.
This chit-chat over luxury dining;
Decadent food and a crescent knife,
Bordered by windows to the mesmerising –
Panoramas of a red deeper than the lips of the wife.
They are a barren land now,
Enjoying their final days of splendour,
Every now and again rivers flow,
But Mother, Nature is a professional pretender,
Her bones are brittle as chalk,
And with that she writes the Hope Manifesto,
But it’s all talk.
Both partners know she’s about to go.
“I loved this husband,”
Her tears weren’t explicit.
“Well,” he lied again,
“You have many more years to revisit…”
“Next stop: Sydney,” the loudspeaker said.
“Stay aboard to visit the moon...”
“Francesca, we’ll be home soon.”
“Joe, I’m not getting off.”
“But Marco and Gianluca are waiting for us?”
“Joe, I don’t think you understand; I’m not coming back.”
“I’m a ghost.”
On the Ghan.
I’ve got a desk with the whole set:
and a felt tip bayonet.
But fancy pens need precision
And when tears blur your vision,
Shivering fingers won’t let,
A word be fired.
Spill that gun-hole pain on paper.
And like oil paint, that wound doesn’t ever dry,
But drips, crudely down my fingers.
I clean that red-coloured guilt with a white handkerchief.
No one notices the stain.
That would take a woman’s eye,
And I’m running short on those.
I’m also running short on people that care for those l’s, and me’s, and soon you’ll see’s, and all those other dreams that I stitch up at their seams,
I used to release the fullness of my imagination to you, but now, all I can imagine is a life that would be so different if I could actually read this to you,
Because only you can wipe away those tears, without judging me for how water re-awakens blood like watercolour art.
Living people, just add their own bodily fluid to the canvas,
and look, I love abstract art, but a red canvas doesn’t sell for much in a cynical world,
when the weight of red paint is left to stagnate.