Melbourne, Autumn 2018

I drove in peak dust
an hour of bumper vibrations
Regurgitator on repeat
(“Dear hearts get lost and lonely”)
to see a double feature
but you were the opening
and end credits
you were everything in between.

Saved from a premature death
the grande dame Astor beckoned
defiant and sprightly
the come-hither
brass and velvet welcomed
post game of dodgem cars.

The parting of those golden curtains
such kitsch action and glam horror
unspooling in technicolour frames
wrapping you up in their glory

you couldn’t see
but an osmosis of affection was transferred
cynicism held in check
as I brightened in the gloom.

A few months ago, March 2018, he’d delivered that classic line: “I’m sorry but I can only offer friendship.” For personal reasons he was unable to offer me any further romantic overtures and bruised though foolishly hopeful, I was unwilling to cut the tenuous ties that bound me to him, this man who’d become a quasi-muse and who’d inspired reams of poems in his honour. A reluctant and nervous driver, I nonetheless drove across town because he’d wanted to see two classic movies back-to-back. It was to be the first time we hung out together since he presented his platonic ideal as the base request to our relationship. I had no real desire to sit through either movie (both boys’ own adventure tales laced with superstitious and gothic elements). I just wanted to see him; to be close to him seemed to warrant such filmic sacrifices. So, with Regurgitator’s Unit CD slotted in, I listened to every song twice. As I pulled up to the Astor cinema and circled around for a park the band’s  Everyday Formula reverberated through the tinny stereo system: My whole world’s cheap and phony/ Dear hearts get lost and lonely/ I’ll get what’s coming to me soon. Despite their repeated platitude that It’s gonna be alright, it soon came to pass that indeed, as the last sentence in the song went, It’s gonna be all shit. We never managed to “just be friends”.


Poem published in Turbulence by Thuy On


Thuy is a freelance literary journalist, critic and editor whose work has appeared in various publications including The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Australian Book Review and Books+Publishing. For the last six years she has also been the Books editor of The Big Issue. Her collection, Turbulence, was published in early 2020 by UWA Publishing.