Jackie Louie & Sally - Poem by Robert West
Sally woke early, knowing the day was different, she could feel it in her bones.
She could tell from the restless night he’d had, and the empty bottle that he’d thrown.
The sun was at least an hour away, preparing for another day,
should she wake him up, get things moving? She wasn’t sure..
But then, there was Louie, at the door.
Louie turned out of Kelly Road, a matchstick rolling in his teeth.
Changed into four by four, low range, to get across Stoney Creek.
By the time he hit the highway his decision was chewing inside,
all green and shaky and squinting, the sunrise hit his eyes.
The bends got tight, the shadows gone,
the sun so bright as they flicked along
The pistons purred, the tyres hummed,
but it was his heart.. that drove him on.
Sally slouched against her door, obedient to the breeze.
Didn’t matter much to her, faithful, she wanted just to please.
Ears back and fluttering she turned and sent a glance his way.
But he was stony faced as that old creek, rigid, giving none of it away.
Louie’s plan an hour ago seemed plausible.. well, he thought so,
full of possibilities.. responsibilities.
Change gear, grip the wheel, the tyres squeal,
it drives him on.
Roma Street Station oozed waves of worn-out pairs,
shoes filled with shuffling souls as they made their way upstairs.
Jackie waited and pulled the scarf around her hair
looked out at the station then moved her own old worn-out pair.
Leaving the train she lugged her bag, she sagged,
breathing the tar-like air, filled with clunking, wondering,
just moving along.
The window of the bus had shared itself with grubby fingers, previously.
Her catching breath left cloudy, gluey patterns rising up and going free.
Was her freedom just as easy, just as simple, and just as plain to understand?
Staring at the passing road Jackie watched the city disappearing into land.
What had she left behind? How could she stay? What could she do?
The wide tarmac sucked them in,
was finding him just a phase she was going through?
As they moved along.
Six hundred and thirty clicks, eight hours, and the diesel was getting low.
The signs said fuel, fish and chips, and hamburgers to go.
Louie pulled in, not wanting to stop but Sally needed to go.
Proserpine coffee looked like crude oil but tasted.. well? So, so.
He bought a Harry Chapin CD, just to hear W.O.L.D,
gave Sally some water, and reckoned they orta,
get back on the road..
and moving on.
With the half eaten pie on the seat Sally was about to get a lecture
on the cost of eighty five litres of fuel, a cold pie, CD, some Bonios, etc.
Louie was tired, his mind beginning to have doubts, they should be gone.
Still nine hundred to go, he turned the key, but it was his heart that
drove him on.
Sally sniffed at the wrapper, producing saliva,
but lifted her head and looked at the driver,
pointed, delivered a bark that hung in the air,
out there, somewhere,
it echoed through the air.
Jackie moved to the back of the bus, sat down and put her things on an empty seat.
Fought to pull the spring roll through the neck of its greasy wrapper with her teeth.
The texture of the coating and the cabbage sent a message not to eat it.
The bus bumped over the kerb, the roll collapsing on the floor in a broken heap.
She looked around, exasperated
the bus accelerated.
Was that a bark?
Somewhere, .. out there?
Through the window at the rear of the bus an old red dog was gaining,
in crazy flight, eyes wild, ears back, legs pumping and heart straining.
Jackie screamed loudly, “Sally? Stop! Wait! ” the bus capitulated and shuddered.
The door hissed, the dog scrambled wildly, negotiated, thudded
a passage over seats, fallen bags, a yelling beard,
and something that used to be knitting
flew from withered hands with screams emitting.
Like a good cattle dog going on a hunch
Sally got to the back of the bus over the bunch,
And there was Jackie, crying,
with a spring roll for Sally’s lunch.
And there was Louie, at the door.
Topic(s) of this poem: life
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