Kurtz of the Kitchen

Have the decency to ask.

You under­stand – everything you take from that fridge – you take from my chil­drens’ hands.
Don’t get me wrong. If you’re good to me. I’m fuck­ing good as fam­ily to you. You need this place for a birth­day, a func­tion, we’ll book it out for you. You smile at the cus­tom­ers. Do what you’re told, I pay you on time. You fuck me around, take sick days,  I won’t pay you. You can go to hos­pital – Taih­nah went to hos­pital to get a hip oper­a­tion last year – I let her go. I’m good to yah, you fuck­ing tell me what ward you’re in when you go though. I’ll send you flowers. I’ll come and see yah make sure I see ya. I don’t want no one sick­ing out on me.


If I catch you talk­ing to your friends, I’ll tell ‘em to fuck off. You will hear those words com­ing out of my mouth. Fuck off.


If I ask for a cof­fee. That’s what I want to get. My cof­fee. Pretty fuck­ing simple right.  I come first. Doesn’t mat­ter who you’re serving, you make me my cof­fee. Frank’s cof­fee.  You all been trained how to make my cof­fee right? Doesn’t mat­ter who’s in line. When Kevin Rudd came to cam­pus last year, he asked where to go, and he was told here. You know why, because every­one knows this is the place you go. He lined up. I had my cof­fee before his. I met him he said ‘you a Lib­eral sup­porter are you?’ I said ‘damn right I’m a lib­eral voter! I’m the one who fuck­ing got John Howard in!’ doesn’t mat­ter who’s in line – you make Frank’s cof­fee first.


I might be an arse­hole. I come in in the morn­ing, I’m fuck­ing tired, been here since mid­night the night before. I’m grumpy as shit. You can call me that after hours, but you don’t call me arse­hole behind the counter though – you call me sir or boss. Alex – finally got her name only took me what Tiahn­nah, six weeks? – Alex got it this morn­ing I came in, told her what to do, she said ‘fine’ you know why she said fine, because I’m pay­ing her. She’s got the right attitude.


I’m not all arse­hole though. I’m a good fuck­ing boss. I’ll look after you. You need any­thing, I mean any­thing, I’ll help you with it. I’m the per­son to ask, I’ve got friends. I’ll take you out on boats on the lake. I got a friend with a big yacht, we went out there last year, had a party, I might even take you to the Gold Coast for a train­ing ses­sion. We go shop­ping, you can get whatever you want. Ain’t that right T, got you a Prada bag last year. Yeah. She’s all upset cos her boy­friend wouldn’t get her a Prada bag. I said, isn’t it your birth­day soon? She said, yeah, so? I said let’s get you a bag. Ok so she was happy to get any nice bag right, I took her to Prada and I said pick whatever you want. If you’re good to me I’ll look after ya.


I treat you like I treat my fam­ily. You give to me, I’ll give ten times to you. You do long hours here, don’t fuck me around with leave, you can come to Sydney with us for train­ing. Same token, you treat me bad I’ll treat you ten times as fuck­ing bad. I work like a fuck­ing dog to sup­port my fam­ily so I walk in at night, I dump my jeans on the floor where I take them off my wife says can’t I put them in the wash­ing bas­ket. I’ll leave them where I fuck­ing take them off.  I’ll take you to Sydney, get you whatever you want if you work hard for me. You rip me off though, and you’ll wish you’d never been born. Ain’t that right T’. Who was the last girl we found out had been giv­ing free cof­fee to her friends eh? Fired her on the spot. In front of every­one, didn’t pay her for her last two weeks. But you know what the cus­tom­ers they love that drama don’t they. That’s what they come here for. The drama and the girls. Last week I wanted my cof­fee right – I say to Tiah­nah – ‘Frank’s cof­fee!’ – you know what she says to me – she says – ‘does that come with a please?’. I went in to that kit­chen I got the biggest fuck­ing plate I could find – and I threw if from there – you see near the kit­chen door on that side of the room – to that wall. You know what happened it smashed and bounced off the fridge and hit her on the leg didn’t it T? The whole queue was watch­ing too. Mouths open like this. They loved it. They were say­ing to her ‘you know that’s har­ass­ment right?’ you know what she said ‘let me get him his cof­fee first’. There ain’t no such thing as harassment.


They love it. They come here for it. They don’t come here for the food or the cof­fee. The food’s bad and twice as expens­ive as next door – how much is a lasagne next door? $6? It’s $11.80 here. And they don’t come here for the cof­fee, the coffee’s shit. They come here for the drama. And they come here cos they get a girl with everything they order. All female staff notice that? I even tried to get a female fuck­ing chief. Beau­ti­ful girl right. But a lesbo. Such a fuck­ing waste.”

Take A Look At You

This man without eyes
I dunno
He just doesn’t have ‘em.
He searches the skies with
A radio wave length
Leans against a back yard fence
Woven in wire
And says that our thoughts are like fish
That don’t swim very far
Dis­tract by things
Here we for­get to search far
Fur­ther fur­thest worth it
Mind and heart beat drum works it.
We run round in circles or on cycles
In gyms
Run­ning run­ning run­ning our guts down thin
While the man without eyes
I dunno
He just doesn’t have ‘em
Leans on a fence
Sits in the park
Listens and touches the skin of the sounds:
the wind in the grass
the early, the hungry the late bird call and dog bark.
And says
I didn’t choose this
I didn’t choose this -
And says
That we listen to
Things without pur­pose
Tin words about loss
By a young per­son in ser­vice with a rose and a cross
on days where we line up to pay
homage to her­it­age
built on the bravery of broken bones,
on the sling­ing of shots and stones
into other brother’s homes
for the pur­pose of -
We didn’t choose this.
We didn’t choose this.
Dis­trac­ted by things here
We for­get to search far
Fur­ther fur­thest worth it.
Mind and heart beat drum works it.
Listen­ing to stor­ies and songs
One sided no won­der we fight it
And people died did no one stop
to sit and won­der
or just stand and
try to untie this?
At which point did hope become mis­guided?
This man without eyes
I dunno
He just doesn’t have ‘em,
He says our minds
are like leaves
In autum chan­ging col­our
when dif­fer­ent sea­sons come
Fall­ing and flit­ting in breezes
Where are the reas­ons?
He says we believe what oth­ers say
more than is needed.
When I heard him say
‘I didn’t chose this’
I believed it.


We try to predict.

We try to predict.

We ration­al­ise, using his­tor­ical eyes

star­ing backwards

try­ing to sew smoke into

nar­rat­ives that are

com­pon­ent parts

find­ing com­mon motiv­a­tions in

polit­ics and art.

And they’re true



mind wanderd­ings

empir­ical sensations.

Until the next wave

breaks though the fog

of time, of his­tory, of war

and we believe

the next mechanical

break­down of the

com­pound world.

The next com­pon­ent cog

in the integrated


of fractals.

There Is A Girl In The Office

Feel­ing cyn­ical today.


There is a girl in the office
Who wants to be famous.


She has a yel­low poster on her wall
Telling her to do better.


She has dis­cus­sions with import­ant
Men. And wears a tight beige skirt.


She doesn’t smile at me. But
There are pos­sum droppings


Lit­ter­ing the hall­way by her door
Like black beetles.


And the sun cracks its knuckles
Against the roof hour by hour.


And the ceil­ing fans do noth­ing
And dead ants lie in lines


In the staff kitchen.

Saturday Morning (She Flew)

This is a true story. Cross-posted on my Tumblr.

The clouds were burn­ing,
That was likely the reason
She flew
like that
like a bird
into the cars.
The clouds were burn­ing
And the road was dron­ing with
The six o’clock shuffle,
A jig of metal bod­ies across the
Dusk-coloured tarmac.


The clouds were burn­ing
And her boy­friend was rid­ing after her
Like a train along the bike path
Jesus stop Rhi­an­non
But she did not hear or
Did not want to hear
And flew
like that
like a bird
hair boun­cing in her own wind
grin a full moon
into the cars.


She was ped­dal­ing faster and faster
Her bike was chew­ing up its chain
Like it was the last thing it would do
Like it could prove it was more than a bike
Like she could prove she was more
She lif­ted her hands off the handle­bars
And flew
like that
like a bird
(like she could lift her­self off the hard earth)
into the cars.


Brake lights flashed red behind her
As the traffic waltz
Came to a clumsy halt
In the middle of the road
Where it had never come to a halt before
Where the tar­mac had only felt the
Hard bite of tyres and now
Buckled a little
Not so any­body would notice
Or care
But later, they said,
When it was all said and done
And she had ped­alled onto the median strip
And her boy­friend had slammed into her
Jesus Rhi­an­non
What the fuck
They said,
The cars in their sud­den pause
Had made new potholes
Where no potholes had been before
And the rain pooled in them some­times
And reflec­ted the sun
And the clouds
When they were burning.

When my body speaks to your body

This poem is writ­ten with apo­lo­gies and thanks to e.e. cum­mings and Claire Askew. e.e. cum­mings wrote a poem called i like my body, which is one of the best poems I know. Claire Askew wrote a poem called When the Heart Speaks to the Body It Says, which is a beau­ti­ful poem and avail­able in her highly recom­men­ded col­lec­tion The Mer­maid and the Sail­ors (also her Twit­ter handle is @OneNightStanzas, so, y’know, all the reas­ons). That poem wasn’t a spe­cific influ­ence on this one, but I’ve had that title rat­tling around my head for months, so it came out in poetry. Thanks, Claire Askew.


It is cross-posted on Tumblr if Tumblr is your thing.


Also, thank you to the sub­ject of this poem. The naughty bits have been removed.



my body speaks to
your body -
not through my mouth
though my mouth speaks to
your mouth, and is coy
or bold and
always irrev­er­ent -
my body speaks to
your body
with legs and arms
rhym­ing muscles with bones
eyes with ears
breasts with backs
because my body speaks
to your body, and shares
its every pink inch of skin,
my fin­gers make couplets and my
fin­ger­nails blank verse
with your body,
my body speaks and argues,
whis­pers and pleads and plans
with your body,
and some­times
it speaks in Rus­sian and then
моё тело говорит с твоим телом;


your neigh­bours
though they peek over garden walls
and thread micro­phones under pot­plants
can­not hear us when
the talk of our bod­ies
drifts through the night
comes to rest in bed
and then while
our droswy pil­lows talk pil­lowtalk
we sleep entwined
safe in the atlonglast silence
of our bodies.


Just like Zoe’s story, this one was writ­ten with the encour­age­ment of Scis­sors Paper Pen and presen­ted at their night of storytelling, Some­thing Else (monthly at Smith’s Altern­at­ive Book­shop in Can­berra – go!). Every Some­thing Else has a theme and this time it was ‘A touch of…’, so this is a story about a cer­tain sort of touch. It is loosely struc­tured and rambly because it was writ­ten to be read aloud, and for this I hope you will for­give me.


For Emma


You know the story, of course. There was once a king in a far-away land who loved gold above all things. And the gods, being the gods, being capri­cious and prone to cheap tricks, gave him all the riches he could ever want – whatever he touched became gold. And so, goes the story, he touched his beau­ti­ful daugh­ter and turned her heavy and golden and silent, and refus­ing in his grief and his pride to be fed, died of thirst and star­va­tion in his bed­room, which was all gold.

Of course, the gods love hope above any­thing else, even above teach­ing men les­sons, and in another world, Midas plunged his hands into the icy waters of the river Pactolus, and his golden touch was cured.

Or per­haps ‘hope’ is inac­cur­ate. What the gods love most of all, their very favour­ite thing, is a good story. Hope and loss will always come from a good story. And this is a story about a very dif­fer­ent touch. (more…)

The Lucubratory goes to TiNA

On the week­end we will be inhab­it­ing New­castle, in the man­ner of poets, for This is Not Art fest­ival.
The Luc­ub­rat­ory is look­ing for­ward to imbib­ing the old coal town’s heady breezes and pun­gent cul­ture, or if it all gets too much, maybe just a beer or two. Come find us at the Zine fair, so that we can attempt to sell you poetry, writ­ten down, on paper.


Cloudy wet days in early spring

are like hit­ting the snooze button

again… and again in the morn­ing.
The sun shines for a day or two

and fills me and my city with dreams

of spring

time used productively

dan­cing into sum­mer spent blissfully



And then slip, trip stumble back into cold.

Cozy thoughts of hiberna­tion return

push­ing in over thoughts of spring,

like morn­ing rain wash­ing away intentions

of get­ting out of bed….

leav­ing the house,

and actu­ally doing anything.

Ugg, shrug, snuggle,

mumble some­thing about doing it later.

Stare from bed out at the day,

windy trees and drip­ping eaves…


But the nap is a trap

I wake frus­trated, gluggy and foggy,

cold house, bored doggy.

What happened to feel­ing inspired and elated?


I brew a pot of affirmation

my own take on herbal tea blends

from that elu­sive woman at the markets.

I mix “focus” with “nerve soother”

like drink­ing pos­it­ive thoughts

as if to flush the win­tery day away.

I need a tea called “Sunshine”

So I may brew and pour that

into my state of mind.


Never been, but I know of the place,

hasn’t yet aged with taste,

A friend of mine went to uni there

and there’s lots of jobs, or so I hear.


…Yes that’s all that will bring you here

most born here soon flee the nest

and the rest…

They linger

held home by something

one can’t quite place a fin­ger on

but even­tu­ally, resigned to see it through

they look beyond

and then they find

little depos­its of culture

hid­den among the degrees

and care­fully planted trees

like moss, gradu­ally peeking

through cracks in weathered rocks.

A patch of blue between thick clouds

and when you sat down to write a plea for pity

you found your­self writ­ing a love poem to your city.