kmart sells out of cheap fans made in china

what my friend said in an email:
it feels like a thousand years since i last saw you.
what i replied: make that two. then i told her i’d been writing.
in between sweating. so much sweat i could’ve filled lake eyre.
too many days in australia at forty degrees the world’s heating
up then trump got elected. then i went to the shopping mall,
which is depressing but the turbo charged air con is awesome.
then i got to thinking about the word awesome, how it’s over-used,
how only yesterday i asked the waitress for a second jug of milk
for my pot of earl grey & when she brought it i said thanks that’s awesome.
then mum’s friend’s dog died & i wrote an email of condolence.
then my father died & i read the eulogy. then we sold the house
on the four lane highway two years after the attempted suicide
then we moved by the sea.
it was winter.
the sand was cold. frozen air stencilled salty snowflakes onto
my cheeks the wind slurped my hair north like god was sucking
up the final strands in a bowl of holy fucking spaghetti then temperatures
fell further till the zygotes of my grief froze then trump got elected.
now the heat blisters. people can’t afford to turn on their air-con.
kmart sells out of cheap fans made in china single mothers
fill coke bottles with water, freeze them to stick between their breasts
trying to find comfort in nights as scalding as the days. guilt prevents
me from turning on our air-con. some nights i lay awake for hours crisping
at the edges like a fucking meat lover’s pizza. someone said count sheep.
i tried, but they turned into air conditioners. i must have counted a thousand
one night. watched them frolic in brittle meadows, skip gaily hand-in-hand
across the cracked beds of evaporated creeks & finally when sleep came,
my dreams were filled with people searching for water in a world dying
of thirst. then the ice caps are melting & the fucking polar bears are dying
then trump got elected now no one knows if the polar bears will eat again.
then i tried to write a poem about this heat but it ended up being about
the daughter i never had & sadness crept up behind me, put its hand
over my mouth pulled me backwards into a filthy dark alley i hadn’t
been game enough to venture into before. then the mechanic
said i needed a new car because my gear box is about to fall out.
then the mounts are fucked. i don’t even know what mounts are.
then my sister is in edinburgh. i worry she thinks i’m wasting my time
writing poetry when i could be earning money in a real job. she sent me
photos of the writers’ museum & told my niece i’d be in there one day
& even though it will never happen it still made me feel proud.
then i rearranged the lounge room to make the place feel more spacious
(i had two dining tables and ten chairs in there) then my friend told me
she’d rearranged her lounge room too & i was meant to drop in to see
how awesome it looked only the summer arrived, mum’s friend’s dog died
trump got elected now all the fucking polar bears are dead.

Ali Whitelock is a Scottish poet and writer living on the south coast of Sydney with her French chain-smoking husband. Her debut poetry collection, ‘and my heart crumples like a coke can’ has just been released by Wakefield Press, Adelaide and her memoir, ‘Poking seaweed with a stick and running away from the smell’ was launched to critical acclaim in Australia and the UK in 2010. Her poems have appeared in The Moth Magazine, The American Journal of Poetry, Gutter Magazine, NorthWords Now, The Poets’ Republic, The Red Room Company, Beautiful Losers Magazine, Backstory Journal, Other Terrain Journal, Ink Sweat & Tears, The Canberra Times, Bareknuckle Poet, The Bangor Literary Journal, The Glasgow Review of Books, Neighbourhood Paper, The Hunter Writers’ Centre ‘Grieve’ Volume 6 Anthology, Poethead, The Pittsburgh Quarterly Magazine and upcoming in The University of Wisconsin’s Forty Voices Strong: An Anthology of Contemporary Scottish Poetry. She is currently working on her 2nd poetry collection and her 2nd memoir. Ali tweets here

featured image: Bob Modem

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