POEM: The Last Road Dogs

BY ROSA LYSTER

Challenge extended-
We wonder would you spend an afternoon
In the dark and foreign corners
Of the Wikipedia category “Australian Criminals”

Which offers no surprises –
They are a loose and unhinged people after all
That has happened there,
The men, the flies, proximity to the sun.

They make up a considerable percentage
Of the internationally imprisoned,
They traffic in amphetamines on a regular basis –
In jail they write Shantaram.

I knew
That I could spend a whole afternoon
Reading the statements of the accused
To myself in an Australian accent.

The courtroom is packed,
The woman on the stand looks left, looks right
At the man who will not look at her,
And says yes it’s him.

Yes he is one of Melbourne’s main dealers
In what the papers refer to as party drugs
There’s a scar on his face that I gave him –
We were road dogs together, I admit it.

This is how the underworld speaks
In Australia today —
Like a Charles Manson interview
I once read on a plane.

The jury reels back as one
At the road dogs admission,
And the verdict is sealed – they don’t care
About what happens now.

She leaves the courtroom
And he walks past her shackled in the passage,
Wearing a stripy uniform and wearing a hat with corks on,
The scar that she gave him still vivid.

She had mugged him for a joke outside a party
To show which one of them was meaner,
One minute was I love you,
The next she stuck her keys in his face and dragged.

They brush past each other like the corks on his hat
Jostling together
He into the dark and she into the day,
And him the only road dog she would ever come to love.

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