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   Jacket 34 — October 2007        link Jacket 34 Contents page        link Jacket Homepage

Joel Deane: Tuk-tuk

This piece is about 3 printed pages long.
It is copyright © Joel Deane and Jacket magazine 2007.

San Francisco, O San Francisco:
I can no longer — could I ever? — dream you in dreams that smoulder
Like a deserted desert street after the explosion.
So, San Francisco, so I Google you unfiltered,
Scroll down the dimpled thumbnails of amateur porn;
Each coupling couple coupling tediously towards dawn
While I lie, an actor on the queen-sized stage,
And yawn.

San Francisco, O San Francisco:
When I dream, I dream I am riding a motorcycle
Not handmade for Frederick Seidel,
But bought second third fourth hand — a well-travelled tuk-tuk
To his virgin superbike.
And I am riding, San Francisco,
Riding through the overwritten pages of childhood
Towards Seymour;
Where my father pulled off the Hume to buy a hamburger,
And stand, smoking and eating, in the sandy car park,
Eating and smoking amidst the burnt rubber, burning animal,
Sunburnt chrome —
And I, San Francisco, I, O San Francisco, I, O, I, O, I, O San Francisco,
It’s off to work we go, San Francisco.
We go riding backwards —
Tuk-tuk through time forgotten, forgotten time,
Where I find the sandy car park swept clean of cars,
The air more dusty than smoky,
With thistle-thin weeds of young men, little more than boys,
Scattered around, wearing expressions calloused by overuse;
Waiting for someone to rouse them from their dreams
Within my dream.
San Francisco, within my dream those adolescents are fanatics
Identifiable by the way they carry their backpacks,
By the way they pre-judge those faces, like my own,
Not flawless with the promise that can never be realised, San Francisco,
Realised never, San Francisco.
Never being the moment immortal delusions are detonated,
Made human.

San Francisco, O San Francisco:
I tuk-tuked to a stop and stared back at a pair of immortal eyes
Staring into the mirror of my servo sunnies
Out of the mask of a model face
That could appear flawless if its inhumanity was blown up,
Out of proportion,
Billboard size,
To cover the slab side of some piece of concrete brutalism —
Selling the product, the promise, the lie
Of immortal youth.
And I stared and tried not to,
To not
Stink, like hunted old men stink,
Of fear of the knowledge that time is forever running
A gauntlet of thistle weeds that whip the skin raw
Until it bleeds, San Francisco, until it bleeds —
And I saw myself a pelt hung, dripping, over barbed-wire,
Felt those thistle-thin bodies close enough to sting,
And so I kicked, San Francisco, kicked to kick start my Frederick Seidel
And tuk-tuked across the car park, throwing up stones and dust,
Bouncing down the guttering.
Riding deeper, San Francisco,
Deeper still,
Into the interior of the downloaded dream
That is the nightmare of an encoded past
That is doomed, San Francisco. Doomed to last.

Joel Deane

Joel Deane

Joel Deane, a Melbourne-based poet and novelist, is currently a speechwriter for the Australian Labor Party. He grew up in country Victoria, and has worked in the United States and Australia as a journalist, producer, editor and press secretary. He has published one novel, Another (Interactive Press), one collection of poetry, Subterranean Radio Songs (IP), and, in 2006, delivered the Overland Public Lecture on language and politics. His second collection of poetry, Magisterium, will soon be published by Australian Scholarly Publishing and he is currently finishing his second novel. His blog is at

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