By Maxine Beneba Clarke

Edited by André Dao

elias and i
at the train station
his arm draped slack round my neck

the train cops

hey miss
is everything alright

like they can’t see elias is with me
and that we’re both fucken fried
            he’s my boyfriend
he’s with me
he’s with me
everything is fine

but elias runs underneath the announcement board
under the scrolling orange letter-lighting
spelling out the platforms
and times
for the sunbury
and werribee


elias looks back at me and the coppers
with this super-dickhead smile
and says
i swear to god officers
i don’t want no strife

but i don’t even know that girl
i don’t know why she’s lying


elias runs ahead
towards the station steps
slides bannister instead

the cops look at me
they stare at me strange
both of them shaking their heads

out on the street
out on the street
slows in front of me

because he knows
cause he knows i’m watching

brute cool
a brute cool black boy

but shit
i mean
what am i gonna do


sometimes a good long look
is like a long hard pash

his blue jeans slung low
like they’re making to slide off
pilled black hoodie pulled all the way up



he’s walking
walking like he knows
i’m watching
drunk-weaving in front of me
down droop street

elias is bad fucking news
the street-tar is glam-black
from january flash-storm aftermath
my swigged-dry
cola bottle is swinging
dead plastic
by my side

there is fire in the sky
from up the oil refinery
four suburbs down
twin burning giant torches spit ash
all over this beat-up town
dressed in its evening best
footscray looks like a shiny new bin
taken to with a baseball bat
but still sparkling
still definitely doing its thing

you can still piss your vodka cruisers in
flick your kfc bones and chewed chicken grit
but now it’s found art
as well as a bin

now it says
someone was angry here
someone lived someone ate
someone got fucked-up with rage

if we have to do garbage
then hell
we’ll make it ugly-beautiful

now it says
            you are not in fucking kansas anymore kid


these summer-showered streets
believe it
become some lit wonderland shit

all the ciggie butts get storm-drained
and dirty-pavement gum-circles shine
like glitter-fall from above

elias turns
and when elias turns
and looks at me
oh god

curled black goatee
and that goddamn devil smile
he’s jet dread locks
round dead-tracks-handsome face

and i try
i fucken try

but i just can’t look away


walking backwards now

neon shoelace
undone and dragging


cause elias doesn’t need to look down
elias knows he won’t trip
won’t trip huh
least not the falling kind that is

cause elias glides through life
like he’s fucken hovering
cause nothing touches him

earnest pug-dog eyes
lit up by yolk-yellow street light
but a pug is still a canine
and a canine is still a dog

i love elias
but i know what he is capable of
walking backwards with outstretched arms
            give us a hug lex
give us a fucken hug

hands either side my face
too-soft lips on mine
and that rugged-wrestling tongue

his hands
running up-down
the sides of my body

under my top
under my bra
under more
on the sidewalk

night is falling
in the folds of eli’s baggy clothes
is a tall black figure
by the red demon eyes
of speeding geelong road hyundai’s

give us a fuck lex
give us a fucken fuck

eli’s laugh
can be a warm hug
a wolf howl
or a gunshot

Maxine Beneba Clarke is the author of memoir The Hate Race, the short fiction collection Foreign Soil, the poetry collection Carrying The World, and the picture book The Patchwork Bike. Melbourne is her home; poetry is her first love.