Samuel Wagan Watson Poems

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White stucco dreaming

Sprinkled in the happy dark of my mind
Is early childhood and black humour
White stucco dreaming


I can't speak my grandmother's tongue and I've never been on my grandfather's land,
I've travelled here and I've travelled there,
my culture replicated in government-funded laboratories;


Today, I am the caretaker for one of Brisbane's oldest evils; the retired gaol of Boggo Road. There are still a few walls, towers and buildings,

Visiting Hours

Stand back . . . Keep your body and hands away from the bars . . . The bars, the frets; of the instruments that played with the dark . . . Stand back . . .

Throw Salt

Our Elders are well-acquainted with the Unlucky,
And they acknowledge Death by his sign,
Don't cross a knife and fork on the kitchen table
'Cause you're just inviting the Devil to dine,

Terror ( Welcome to No Man's Land.)

"You talk about terror . . . I been terrorized all my days!"
from ‘Terrorized' by Mr Willie King, Alabama Blues Legend (1943-2009)
All the signs read, SMILE . . .

itinerant blue

it comes to that morning
when finally you realise: it's all going to collapse

there is a conclusion that's yet to be seen
while loose ends are stacking high to a volatile degree

eyes peering through sun-kissed slits
at a landscape bathing in a varnish of itinerant blue
as if the sky has reminded the earth of loneliness
and the old days of communion

a dawn when gamblers get slapped into remission
and the ball starts rolling again with rogue impetus

time to move and abandon what is built
and may later bleed
after days and nights of bargaining into the mirror's subversion

as the only muse that serenades you
is a computer generated image

wishing to advise
you have limited credit to make this call…


the late shift erupts;
Greek boys in turbo-fitted 4s
open the back streets
of bitumen lines built for mice

a gear-crunching
nightscape howl

embraced and ejected
into the dire congestion of the city's spectral pitch

like the fading trumpet oratorio
of an emphysema-riddled jazz musician

ohne titel

die spätschicht bricht aus;
griechische jungs in 4-zylinder turbos
öffnen die hintergassen
der asphaltlinien für mäuse gebaut
ein gang-knirschendes
aufheulen der nachtlandschaft
geborgen und herausgeschleudert
in die äußerste stockung des stadtlichtspektrums

wie das verebbende trompetenoratorium
eines emphysemgeblähten jazzmusikers

Übersetzt von Raphael Urweider

when dogs gamble

lying on the floor
with its concrete and ammonia tongue
reading Charles Bukowski, ‘Living On Luck'
my split-level mind and its contradictory ghosts
at once condemning his ribald desires of flesh
and praising the simplified schematics of his Richard Nixon landscapes,

I've placed a block of cheese on my doorstep
and the ants are drawn to it,
I have no couch to lie on and read
thus, the ants attack my flesh
and I reciprocate, squashing them between my fingers
to produce a gasoline inspired perfume,
the smell of victory

some guy is at it, upstairs, screaming at an accomplice
but between breaths he allows the other tenants movement
and loads a fresh tirade into the breach
under the smoggy glow of tube lighting
frozen images of dogs playing poker
accommodating the warm reception
of a surprise attack
from within the whites of their eyes
tambourines tied to their feet

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