imaginary cities: cities of pau

stripes of dry land trapped beneath a pale halogen daymurk, the cities of pau teem with anchors of all persuasions, latching onto protruding rusted vehicle parts and the hind treads of mopeds, vine-like and all-pervasive, the innards of the sea's communication channels clamped fast to a series of dry wharves and makeshift station platforms, interconnecting with the steel rain. pau station mainline midway between palmerston sprawl and the nominal city, terminus of the now-extinct east-west line, pigmented sunshades and the abundance of tarpaulins, corrugated iron huts and the humanity of a hawker at the invisible entrance. one's only reminder a faint nagging at consciousness, feeding straight into the cerebral cortex, its dreams. snapshot memory of a shadow that was missing, when you looked down that street and saw instead a long, empty plane perpendicular, beyond it the rustling of animated leaves. pau is rearriving and leaving simultaneously, climbing overpasses to nowhere, traveller's lights. toxic rearrangements of carbon credit frontier passes, boot camp at the base, a ten to one chance of white out, or hallucinations. then the velo's bento box skyline looming out of the campfire flames and dust, or vera's green light explosions as background noise, bringing whiplash and auditory overload. pau injecting a new sense of speed into the latticed veins of the roadhouse nation, at once destroying the notion that all good things survive on information drugs, like blue, or the code. breathing in the hard drug called reality, in the magnetised field of a bivouac, something clicked in the mind, and the forcefield became rare. suddenly submerged in the sub-strata of steps and shadows surrounding the station stuffed with subterannean sealight. tidal slow-motion demonstrating grave tugs of the moon on an ocean's sleeve, impossible to ignore. a child's rhyme morphs into the shoreline's advancing roar and hiss, returning with fresh news of the moon every heartbeat. the humming of a droid electric poised behind a mooring line, its left eye sparkling in the diamond dark, stylised to the nth proportional. mooring towers spewing coolant into the mangrove reaches of scrap stealers, beginnings of the long atom bends, arriving cold and witless at a plateau mindless, where the wind is magnetic and noise colours. tidal stations and their arrivals, stunted declensions of an airtight noun, indelibly stained by fireblasts and amphibian landings. pestilential sunshine casting ingots out of canvas. driveways old and empty, bollards wrapped in multi-coloured wire. First published in Going Down Swinging (2003)

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