Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Kings Cross at 6AM

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I walk the dull and dirty city streets around 6 A.M
Sheets of newspaper blowing across the pavement
Appear like mad drunken dancers in a crazed musical
The headlined front page becomes a pissed up Gene Kelly
The T.V Listings a gin soaked Frank Sinatra
Hard-faced prostitutes catch taxicabs
Their nights work being done
They return home to, fix-up, rest their aching cunts, and count the dollars
Two middle-aged hospital workers walk hurriedly, heads bowed
Preparing mentally to start another ten-hour early shift
The pavements beneath the ATM machines are littered with hundreds of white bank receipts,
Like the remains of a ticker tape parade celebrating the eternal Saturday night out in The Cross.
The Cross never sleeps
You can grab a beer, a fix, and a feed 24/7
But at 6 A.M the place is in a strange flux.
Everything seems animated in a dream like limbo.
Drunks stagger along red-faced and glassy-eyed
Oblivious to their immediate surroundings
An emaciated junkie parts his matted blonde hair and flashes me a grievous smile
A half-empty beer bottle stands on the doorstep of a strip-club never to be drunk
Suddenly a deluge of brilliant sunshine floods the main drag
And for one exquisite moment everything seems golden like a giant cigarette butt
A frozen moment in time until the gold tide suddenly washes away
Replaced by the cold grey heroin light of early morn
The Cross is steeped in heroin history
Echoes of former deals and drug highs reverberate off the club, bar and strip-joint walls
Along with ghostly images of long dead prostitutes and doomed drug-addicts
Images that prowl the vulnerable Sunday morning streets of the Cross
As I go gliding down through the debauched and exploited decades
Back eventually to a brighter time
When Aboriginal people sat on hilltops overlooking Sydney harbour
Discussing the dreamtime, going fishing, and making stencils of their handprints
A million sun-filled days ago

Joseph Ridgwell

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