South-west. A poem by Geoff Lemon


By Geoff Lemon

I’m driving south. Or roughly south
I’m sure of that. The car’s a Mustang, 60s build
rich with that old leather smell. Adam West
is in the passenger seat, window halfway down.
It’s night and warm outside. The air rolls in like oil.
Adam West is smoking – Chesterfields.
Somehow this car is right-hand drive, although
the whole scenario distinctly seems American.
Just me and Adam West, cradling his smoke
by the slipstream.

The inside light is on, but
so orange-dim through the ancient plastic
the whole car feels like sleep.
Adam West won’t look at me.
He’s picking at the seams in the upholstery.
There’s a mayonnaise stain on his left knee
from an errant chicken burger.
Seems like days ago. I think it was.

Look. I don’t wanna have a go, I say at last.
But…I believed in you. I really thought
you were the coolest. Then I grow up
and find out you were just taking the piss.

Yeah, well you were twelve, he says
or eight, or ten. You didn’t know the difference.

Come on! I say. The end of season three?
You walk into that showdown
with your gut hanging over your utility belt.
How does Batman have a gut?

Like I said, you didn’t know the difference.
Still wouldn’t, if you hadn’t watched it since.

It’s definitely America. We’re driving on the right.
Flickers through our dusty headlight cones:
fences; grass; dishevelled heaps of fur.
There’s a crumpled kind of music
every time he moves his feet
among the cans and bottles on the floor.
I’m driving south with Adam West.
Three hundred miles gone today
and still no place to stop for gas or food.

This poem appears in Geoff Lemon’s collection Sunblind (Picaro Press, 2008). Geoff is one of Melbourne’s most well-known and best poets, poetry editors and one of the founders of the Wordplay spoken word collective. He has won a barrage of performance poetry awards and his work has been published all over the joint, including in Best Australian Stories, HEAT, Blue Dog, Island, Etchings, Herding Kites, Going Down Swinging, Wet Ink, Cutwater, and One Trick Pony.

Sunblind acts as a ‘best of’ of Geoff’s work so far, from the small, quiet and moving pieces, to the intertextual, the intelligent, the satirical, the humorous, and the bold rhythmic pieces written for performance. Some are narratival and transportive, such as the wonderful ‘Nevada’ suite, told from a female point-of-view. Many are playful of both language and culture such as ‘Albatross’ and ‘Da Vinci’. Sunblind is in parts clever, amusing, imaginative, entertaining, and moving. Best read bit by bit rather than all in one go due to the variety of material and mood.

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