An Abecedarian on Provincial Drinking


An Abecedarian on Provincial Drinking


bomb!’ boomed the FIFOers. ‘Get yer AIDS away from our mate, yer filthy
catapulting me into that ’95 midnight—high school’s star footballer,
dolled up in Johnnie Walker Blue and opportunity, pushing
(fawners, bartenders, busboys) to chorus, over silty jazz,
‘Gays give the gift of AIDS!’
Had a rep to maintain, my friend pouring European beer, I suppose. Later,
in noisy lino corridors, he’d crimson, lower eyes. Dumb blond
jock, on the other hand, blitz
-krieged till end of year phys ed—one rugby ball, two legs interlacing, as
luck would have it, three fractures in his talus (and poise, poor dear).
                At the hands of those
miners packing XXXX Bitter and immunity in the pub on Friday
night I would’ve been a mass
of fragments at the foot of a cliff had I
put a foot wrong. Sweet Jesus, I held up my hands—a
quietness swarmed like a maculopapular
rash. ‘Never wrestle with
swine,’ my grandfather, supping home-brew from the
toby jug, once cautioned. Though no lager lashed my back, though
unlit streets leashed their
vehemence as I scrambled home, bush stone-curlews, those nocturnal
wept ‘Teenaged experience will
Xerox itself again.’ Still I get night sweats—
yobbos and yuppies, tanked on swill and top-shelf grog, drilling the earth
                and milling about like



Author photo: Leigh Brackhouse

Stuart Barnes

Author: Stuart Barnes

Stuart Barnes was born and raised in Hobart, Tasmania, and educated at Monash University, Victoria. He's the author of Glasshouses (UQP, 2016), which won the Thomas Shapcott Poetry Prize, was commended for the Anne Elder Award and shortlisted for the Mary Gilmore Award, and his poetry appears in anthologies and journals such as Australian Book Review's States of Poetry, Cordite, Overland, Rabbit and Southerly. Stuart lives in Rockhampton, Queensland, and is poetry editor for Tincture Journal. / @StuartABarnes

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