Read Smoke Encrypted Whispers Online

Authors: Samuel Wagan Watson

Tags: #Poetry/English Irish Scottish Welsh

Smoke Encrypted Whispers

BOOK: Smoke Encrypted Whispers

Table of Contents

Title Page

smoke encrypted whispers


of muse, meandering and midnight

a prelude

magnesium girl

after 2a.m.

back seat driver

on the river

waiting for the good man

raindrops fall in vain

chloe in the window box

the postman's privilege

musing: the graveyard shift

new farm is closed

white stucco dreaming

the crooked men

brown water looting

jetty nights


deadman's mouth harp

a verse for the cheated

the fatal garden

radio thick blood

midnight's boxer

surgery music

a bent neck black and flustered feather mallee

the gloom swans

a black bird of my mind

fly-fishing in woolloongabba

shout-me-a-wine requiem


the writer's suitcase

midnight's plague


for the wake and skeleton dance

the dingo lounge

valley man

cheap white-goods at the dreamtime sale

the mosquito room


it starts


boondall wetlands

poem 9

once was a rifle range

the kabul manifest

hotel bone

the job

hotel bone

when dogs gamble

the late shift erupts

bone yard, south brisbane

itinerant blues

cold storage

the dusk sessions

kangaroo crossing

what more

we're not truckin' around

nil by mouth

the golden skin of cowgirls

floodlight sonatas

abandoned factories

scenes from a getaway car

night racing

3a.m. escape


95 cents a litre

deo optimo maximo


literary festival bump-out

itinerant blue

products of mexico

gas tank sonnets


the last bullfighter

back road

sultry gridlock musings

brunswick st blues

ambulance chaser

talking to the airplanes

three-legged dogs


the night house

jaded olympic moments

without regret

future primitive

the night train from newcastle


the finder's fee

skeletons in the trunk

the thousand-yard stare


last exit to brisbane...

hollow squall

smoke encrypted whispers


smoke signals


scared of the dark

wecker road

cribb island



smoke water

author's notes #1


fisherman islands

paper trails to midnight

author's notes #2

ghosts of boundary street

dog tired tune

when I crossed the ditch...

author's notes #3

the dust company

from boundary street, west end, to the berlin wall, east germany


aunty grey smoke

author's notes—conclusion



smoke encrypted whispers

Samuel Wagan Watson,
born 1972, is of Bundjalung, BirriGubba, German, Scottish and Irish descent. He lives in his childhood domain of Brisbane, but still feels the lure from time to time of his teenage stomping grounds of the Sunshine Coast. He has worked as a door-to-door salesman, a public relations officer, fraud investigator, graphic artist, law clerk, film technician, actor, and arts bureaucrat.

His first collection of poetry
of muse, meandering and midnight
won the 1999 David Unaipon prize for unpublished Indigenous writers. In 2001, he published a collection of ‘road poems' titled
itinerant blues
and a chapbook ‘hotel bone' for Vagabond Press. He is also the co-author of the award-winning website, ‘blackfellas, whitefellas, wetlands'. In 2003 Samuel toured throughout Australia, New Zealand and Berlin.


Several of the poems in the new section, ‘Smoke Encrypted Whispers', appeared in

of muse, meandering and midnight
a prelude
dropping a knife
on one's foot
is nothing like
dropping tequila
on one's tongue
her floral dress
begged me to...
whereas the night
it just stayed outside
magnesium girl
I was kissing the girl
with magnesium breath,
all over me
her burning hot magnesium
ahh to touch
the boundaries of delight
and pain
for you only hurt those you can love
when lust becomes a mercenary
for the weak hearted of humanity
the magnesium breath
inviting me to her bowl of splinters
nothing but the frozen tears of her last love
picked up in the rain
and our relationship,
a shrouded threesome,
death always being
that silent partner
oh that magnesium girl
with the strawberry hair
how my black flesh and rye once lingered
to be one with you
my magnesium girl
after 2a.m.
I wept along with the night
hideous dimensions—
myself and 3a.m.
releasing a crystal tide of bottled insanity
while the shadows mocked
our embrace
and from then on
I knew that forever
would be my mistress
back seat driver
love me
oh back seat driver
love you
into a state darkest under covers
and wilful damage of day
entice me
oh back seat driver
to the dove of peace
maybe your bulldog tomorrow?
with any luck from yesterday
save me
oh back seat driver
from the bitterness
of phobia waste
and packages of human frost
kill me
oh back seat driver
for an older audience at dawn
and with my blood taken
make a name for me
nothing else matters...
on the river
it was a drive through the sleeping industrial giants
and thirty minutes before a flight
along Brisbane's vein of union disputes
to a secluded spot on the river's edge
with its cold sea breezes and dead things,
we kissed
and said goodbye
discovering that we both had feelings for deserted factories
and abandoned mechanical bits
and for each other
thirty minutes before a flight
and two writers can't find the words
to ease the tearing of departure
serenaded by a blow-torch on a rusting iron hulk upon the water
grey smoke billowing from the old power station
the landscape studded with electric fences and weeds
her and I at home amongst it all
we kissed
and said goodbye
waiting for the good man
we kissed goodbye at the terminal
and upon seeing you for the last time
I felt the good man leaving,
the good man that existed in the hotel room
the good man that loved you across the table, linen and fine wines
the good man that appreciated your perfume
and ran his fingers gently through your hair
catching in his rings as for you he listened
for the laughter while resting in your breasts
I felt the good man leaving
as if I couldn't convince him that I'd changed
that you had made a difference
and that I could breathe easy in the darkenss of early morning
I felt the good man leaving
and now
I'll be missing both of you
raindrops fall in vain
for Rebecca Edwards
raindrops fall in vain
and abuse
the kindness of my soul
I hear them landing outside,
an audience to a short-lived affair
continuum of vertigo, a song
yet, absolute
a spiral dance to an unwelcoming ground
where they are of little regard
but slaves and remedy to dry spirits
that one can envy such courage to fall
in the open
and share their end
chloe in the window box
in the darkness
it's increasingly difficult to find the corkscrew
and Chloe in the window box
with that bottle of pinot noir
or the memory of her
that left six months ago
and light no longer shining through
her window
where as a sentimental act
we clasped and watched the stormbirds
that no longer cross the shoreline
Neptune no longer taunting
peering through his transparent keyhole
no more 2am's
cut out of the darkness with a corkscrew
and as time stretches on
a distorted picture of Chloe,
an empty bottle of pinot noir
the postman's privilege
most typewriters spit out
that exact decibel
like the coughing silencer
of an assassin's weapon
or the sound of the postman's bike
through the walls of my boardinghouse room
through the walls
the postman is my assassin
blah, blah, blaaaaah, blaaaaah, blaaaaaaah
the maddest allegro to haunt me,
I dare not look out
I am a ghost of my own doing
for the knock-backs from editors
for the “we'd like to pass your work on to the senior
literary editor
before we make a decision”
for the debt collectors
and finally
the letter that says,
“please come home”
musing: the graveyard shift
for Sarah
as I enter a writers' graveyard shift
sheltered by a desk lamp
a lover is nesting within the covers
breathing softly
paper and pen on the window ledge
third floor
overlooking the river,
dark wet stretching leather
red buoys flicker
signal thoughts to the writer
on graveyard shift
looking for inspiration
in poorly lit boats shuttling past
the crew all strangers to me
as I am almost a stranger to the person in my bed
promises made as solid as the murkiness before us
where sharks hide amongst it all
vicious, devouring, still-life anecdotes
the ideal machine of consequence
and still, still
with all this darkness
no inspiration
a day of sweet caressing,
the best of my thoughts
whispers in the linen
across her body
into her eyes
chases away the dark creations
filled with something that felt like love a long, long time ago
hands left shaking
unable to paint,
a dark portrait of self
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