Midnight in the Tropics

midnight in the tropics

An unzipped backpack at another Holiday Inn
beside a plastic kettle and a yellowing bar fridge.
Soap in plastic sheaths; soiled underpants
like confetti spread across the floral duvet.

Two weeks, three weeks, six – enough to furnish
the illusion that I live here. Outside, the highway
stretches on. Midnight in the tropics –
eyes closed in my best impersonation of sleep

while trucks thrum; an earthquake’s premonition.
By day, my examinations of the town’s
outer edges reveal weatherboard houses
trimmed with faded flamingos and bird baths

long since baked dry. Residents who finger
pieces of paper with numbers printed on them,
patient in the deli queue. A place
where conversational beats are trundled through

and all the wonderment of childhood
is treated as suspicious if clung to.
Sun stoned, tapping their feet to circadian
rhythms, eyes trained on the price of cucumbers

and capsicums. Five ninety-nine
a kilo? I’m not paying that! Meanwhile,
dawn emboldens itself like an orgasm
in another galaxy as I rip open a Nescafe

sachet and dump it in a beige mug.
Yes, today I will be checking out.

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