States of Poetry Series Two - Victoria | 'Driving to Debating' by Brendan Ryan

Lights over the rail yards are sparklers
that never die down. Every day
is a drug test day. All that’s left at Ford
is the security lights, shadows on the pedestrian overpass.
George Pell is refusing to leave Roma
where girls were once named after their fathers
who could, if so desired, sell them at fourteen
into slavery. George is cantankerous
as the music I listen to is old, out of date,
timeless. George is of a time that haunts
like a rash, of looking the other way,
of a justice that dare not be spoken of.
The brake lights of cars have become
pulses within my thoughts. Tim Buckley
launches into ‘Sweet Surrender’ – the epic
confession to bruised love I never tire of.
The shuttered weatherboards of Norlane
give way to the spindly trees of Corio
as empathy hardens like a row of bollards.
George pauses to compose before a camera,
to restate his innocence while families in Ballarat
attend funerals, not Mass. Flash of the golden arches,
lurid glare of a Caltex, George is immovable as The Sphinx
on Thompson Road, unforgiving as a red arrow.
I turn right into the darkness of School Road.

Brendan Ryan

Brendan Ryan

Brendan Ryan

Brendan Ryan grew up on a dairy farm at Panmure in Victoria. His poetry, reviews, and essays have been published in literary journals and newspapers. He has had poems published in The Best Australian Poems series (Black Inc). His second collection of poetry, A Paddock in his Head, was shortlisted for the 2008 ACT Poetry Prize. His most recent collection of poetry, Travelling Through the Family (Hunter Publishers), was published in 2012 and was shortlisted for the 2014 Victorian Premier’s Awards. He lives in Geelong, where he teaches English at a secondary college.

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