States of Poetry 2016 - Western Australia | 'Site Visit: Ashfield Flats’ by J.P. Quinton

Part of the river begins here, car carcasses
Filter run-off, houses fenced off
A two foot foam toy stealth bomber
Discarded in the buffalo – 'the F27C
Striker Brushless' neglected, ignored.

Broken winged, landlocked like concrete islands.
Part of the river begins here,
Sweet mud smell, the hill you slide down
On tin, the old man keen to shoot to shoo
You, his house as far as his scope.

To kill the grass they've killed the liquidambar
And the clean fill sand will absorb the poison
Near the salt bush tagged pink, ready for pruning
Bark crunching, parrots munching
Near the netball ring bolted to the fence.

A train, a truck, an aeroplane.
A fence, a concrete path
And day old dog shit scraped to the side
Below a clear blue sky hazy at the horizon.
With a video camera I imagine walking

Straight through the swamp, shoes squelching
A document, not now – not the right time, never the right time.
The DC266 Evinrude outboard dingy
Its fishermen, shiners of the torch
Throw cigarette butts in the water: 6:35pm.

The bridge monument – maximum load
Three hundred kilograms
Hugs the bank like Michelangelo's staircase
In the last of the sunlight, duck tracks
And great Egrets picking at the rushes.

They mistake feed for a chip wrapper
As salty as the day purchased
At the supermarket,
The Great Egret Supermarket.
I jump off the bridge, I'm heading home

And find a walkie talkie, possibly from the stealth bomber:
You used to be able to see the river floor, over.
Surprised at the amount of water in here
For this time of year, over. No frog noises though,
Over. Still, plenty of mozzies and guppies, over.

Copy, over. Now it dawns on me – the camps
We used to see, the piles of rubbish,
Blankets, buckets, remnants of small fires,
Fishing tackle, they were aboriginal camps, middens
Right under noses, right here, over.

'Fucking hell' spray painting blue on a sheoak
The Hades totem forces a walk through puddles
Car wrecks half way up the drain, tip islands at high tide,
Oil slicks, rusting ruins in clay sediment
And oxidised metal mixing, they don't make 'em like they used to.

Slowly leaking into the creek —
Follies of the future
The high water mark
A white horizon line made of phosphate.
Part of the river begins here, car carcasses.


J.P. Quinton

J P Quinton

J P Quinton

J.P. Quinton lives in Fremantle, Western Australia. He is an adventurer and writer. In 2011 he became inspired by the story of Bon Scott while cycling around the U.K. The novel Bad Boy Boogie: the Adventures of Bon Scott is the result of four years research and interviews with friends of Scott.

Quinton has also written multiple books of poetry. New Poets is available through Fremantle Press.

He is now researching his next novel about bushwalking. Over the next few years he will be walking the Australian Alps Walking Track, The Shikuko Island Temple walk, The Heysen trail, the Te Araroa trail in New Zealand and the Pacific Crest Trail. When he returns to Western Australia he aims to walk the Bibbulmun track in 13 days.

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