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Cynics in Modern Times
Christopher Konrad (Edith Cowan University, Australia)




She catapults off the railing, nose ring and aptly torn stockings
one chewing gum short of the stereotype
smoke in hand, gives her boy arms flung around his neck:
all the bustle of the adolescent breviary

This scene soon fades and a Friday full of familiar vignettes follow:
clouded over, gulls circling, swooping
the city kick starts for one more go
Still they’re out there, the office chicks, apparatchiks
and stressed out managers: a clump of kids hanging around

A dark clutch of Indian Ocean cloud is clearing
some sun and blue sky breaking through: one of those autumn equinox days
pigeons picking at scraps, maybe distant rels of those that scabbed
around Diogenes’ feet
as he brown-eyed the high-brows of his day, maybe just before
he asked Alexander to get out of the sunlight

A gaggle of school kids scrabbles past, following mother teacher
A tourist veil wearer sits nearby reflecting over the pool of her own coffee
maybe going over the current list of various international laws against her
piece of cloth: mobiles, MP3s and other e-devices splice into the streetscape
Pigeons and gulls anchor the feather and stone of the place

Italy is in a crisis up to their three trillion Euro-debt ears

Diogenes, the homeless guy, picks up a discarded butt and coaxes it back to life
Tourists haven’t changed much either, arriving for their blessings or to cast
a curse into the river            The in-between of it all
the from-then-till-now and its leaf, sky and people noise:
the scowl, glimmer, glare and that kid on the railings
The this-too-will-be-one-day-weeded over of it all

I wondered what the veil wearer made of it
recouping her thoughts as she looks up at me watching her



There’s a tourist falling from the Medina Hotel on Barrack Street
I think he’s Japanese, no, that was yesterday
Today I think she’s Iranian: I’ve seen them falling before
like drops of human water from a watering can

What will the letters home say: Aisha fell today

Her name it means living and prosperous
it would mean the same in another mining town
The Great Western Desert too brings its oil only in rock form

Aisha was only passing through Perth
heading to the more exciting towns on the east coast
(her husband would stay longer to sample the glitter of the West)
he would stay to soak up this refulgence hanging over the Indian Ocean
this recuperation from English occupations and Southeast Asian excursions

Aisha only today sat at a local cafe in the mall writing a letter
Some western guy was looking at her in a suspect way
pretending to write something: some local western kids
disrespectful as ever                Her letter ended abruptly
like she had run out of things to say, but not before she relayed
the latest injunctions on the veil and how a woman wearing the Burqa
was made to remove it in court and how the papers are saying the first fines
are being handed out in France to women wearing Niqabs

Aisha’s thinking about the Circular Quay and the Opera House:
how terrible it would be to fall from a hotel window
like the guy she read about the other day and how it would be a sin
if she did so deliberately       It did not matter, she would be on the plane tomorrow

That is insha’Allah



Christopher Konrad has lived in the hills around Perth pretty much his whole life. He works currently with the new and emerging communities. Recently completed a PhD in creative writing at Edith Cowan University, Perth. Chris has had a new bunch of poems published with two other WA poets in an anthology called Sandfire (2012) and in many journals and online zines. He was the winner of the Tom Collins Prize in 2009 and the Creatrix Prize (WA) in 2009.

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