Serving House: A Journal of Literary Arts
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SHJ Issue 16
Spring 2017

He unstraps his leg, works on the head

by Ian C. Smith

Wage-hounds. Doug spray-painted panels I built,
a masked Caliban enshrouded in a fog of fumes,
interests: shooting, engines, porn magazines.
He also knew about car auctions. I needed a car.
He bids, I pay, we fix the engine at his place.

His neighbourhood, a caste of its own,
a locked-out drunk buries an axe in his own front door.
Doug, who lost a leg coming off a bike,
crossed his arms, laughed, tattoos jiggling on muscles,
the ravelled range of the working-class manifest.

His entire back yard was garage, his idiom arcane.
We drank cloudy home brew. I handed him wrong spanners.
Radio soft, wife ignored, he loved lubricity’s waft,
amused by my bullshit each money-saving evening
I dreamed aloud of faraway places, another life.

Doug’s lingering workmanship sparked my getaway,
growly engine towing a caravan to outback Queensland,
duco’s lustre shimmering like these memories now.
Guilty, I had let our tenuous friendship run dry,
still can’t remember names of engine parts.


SHJ Issue 16
Spring 2017

Ian C. Smith

was born in the UK and after migrating to Australia eventually settled in the Gippsland Lake District of Victoria, where he lives with his wife and four sons. Smith’s poetry has appeared in venues worldwide, including The Best Australian Poetry, Australian Book Review, Australian Poetry Journal, Chiron Review, Cordite, Cream City Review, Descant, Heat, London Grip, Magma, New Contrast (South Africa), Poetry New Zealand, Poetry Salzburg Review, The Malahat Review, The Stony Thursday Book, Two-Thirds North (Sweden), and others. His seventh book is wonder sadness madness joy (Ginninderra, Port Adelaide).

“...we have been born here to witness and celebrate. We wonder at our purpose for living. Our purpose
is to perceive the fantastic. Why have a universe if there is no audience?” — Ray Bradbury