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Venice - Conor Maxwell

Never thought we’d be here—

ass-end of
the Event’s Centre,
tracing 
artichokes and cupcakes
into the fog of a birdshit windscreen
turned opaque by
hot Chemistry.
Snails getting high off
dashboard salt,
a frayed AUX cord 
and volume capped at 30.
Head back,
churning ballads with your wrists
in the red-orange-yellow
of the speaker lights.
Songs about thunder,
battleships.
Your gear stick’s chaos neutral but 
the vacuum between us
is blown tight
so
maybe our fingers will touch by accident.

Never thought

your gaze 
would spend so long in my direction
that I could map the splatter-green
of your eyes
       that I’d
taste your Zero on my tongue
       that I’d be
sharing skin with a jet-black miracle;
face stained with lilac
and all the words to Perfect Places
buzzing from your lips.

We’d be

counting strobe beats
and sirens
in town.
Switching cars like we swap stories of
exes and whys and
how no one can handle me quite like
        you
haven’t slept in twenty-four hours.
Tomorrow, my sensibilities will be
mustard on the tar seal,
but fingers-in-mine we’re

here,

up St John’s Hill—
cheating on the sunrise
with something brighter.

All My Clothes Smell Like Me Now - Conor Maxwell

Give me an hour
 and I’ll banter your bra off;
rustle your solar plexus
with assortments of M’s,
daffodils in macramé boxes
and crime documentaries
on Netflix.

There, tonight.
Up at six and Audi.
Watermark kisses on your shoulder blades
        —spiderbites under
        spaghetti straps—
a keepsake
in latex
as expected
as corsage 

(or chlamydia)

at the school ball.
Drizzle your perfume
through my letterman
so my car reeks of
naked weather.
Clutch me like a boa
‘till your polycotton starts to sweat.
‘Till I strip
the paint 
from your nails.

You think
I’ve got no time for you.
You think today I am trying
to plug a waterfall with 
a bamboo mattress but

you are the hands
you are the face.
You’re the eclipse
I never hoped to see.
A monsoon in the South
in September.

I can’t lob a rock around the sun
or tip a trawler in the Atlantic
without your breath
for company.
A hunchback rots
on the steps of a churchyard

and all the king’s horses
can’t reach the bells.

Smiling (as the shit comes down) - Conor Maxwell

I

Six months is a lifetime in 
dragonfly years.
Our love is 
        half 
        a chameleon
        a house mouse
        the timespan 
        of Tony Award-winning musical
        Rent.
In six months you’d flip your mattress to
work out the kinks 
that I left when I
worked out your kinks
you’d loveme and love                 me
choke me
with your fingernails
then vermicelli 
then BPD

II

I’m shell-shattered
and don’t you think it
im         proper
that I’m trading ragers with
twenties
and twenty-somethings
Funneling pizza becauselike I’m
going out of style.

I’ll drum the baseline to One Week
on the headboard in your bedroom
if you suss the Uber
and get us home

I’m at my Van Wildest
singing Air Supply through a desk fan
to find out if robots can cry.

III

You left me
with a baseball cap
from a brewery tour
that you bought as a joke.
I’ve tried to
wash the you from me
but it’s Winter—
and my sheets won’t dry.

IV

Most nights end with
joyrides through tsunami
the windows cracked
flooded to the neck
low enough not to
drown but I
want to

V

Once
there was a tui on the Meteor 
        but that was Summer
        you had lavender hair.

You’re sweating through your toga;
posing like white Nike
next to psychedelic pups,
war paint passive
in all colours but red
and charcoal as bright as our future.

Our future is black.
        The joke is that it’s black.

VI

I told you 
I’d learn all the lyrics to 3005
Take you water walking
on Waiheke Island

and you told me you’d never do me like that but I guess this is where we are now

Contributor's Note

Conor Maxwell is the Taylor Swift of poetry: he’s tall, gorgeous, divisive, and gets all his best material from recent break ups.

 

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