An Ode to Sydney Road

Late at night
or is it early in the morning
just after closing time
at my favorite pub
I take a walk down Sydney road
to the place I call home

along the way there are many sights
to see and many more things that
can be explored.

I light a cigarette while I stand in a laneway
and looking around me
all I can see are buildings as old as time itself
Plaster and concrete and bricks that make up
that cover the faces of places
where people used to eat
and live and talk.

Just opposite me is a modern Chemist Warehouse
selling discount drugs
and other things
Down from that is a pie shop
then the Bunnings
and the post office, that will guarantee
your item will get there late
if at all. And that’s run by people,
I’ve found
who don’t care about the person at all
but prefer instructions written on paper. 

Turning to one wall of the alley I am in, 
the light at the tip of my cigarette
lights up prints that various artists
unknown and uncared for
have created and posted around these 
unexplored areas for free perusal.
Beside them and opposite them
the buildings are tagged with spray paint
of the disillusioned and the careless.

My cig has burned out
and I start my walk back home.
La Manna Fresh, 
then the butchers
then La Manna Fresh Organic
and just after that a Vietnamese store
that makes the best Vietnamese rolls
out of anywhere you wish to compare it to.

All modern places, with lights
electricity, friers, burners, fridges
staff in cute little uniforms
or without them
working hurriedly throughout the day
to provide the modern comforts
demanded of the modern times.
While just above them sits the facade
that has sat there for a hundred years
or more.

And now I am here.
It is 3am
and I am the only one who
is alive to appreciate each of these elements
that make up the fantastic buildings along Sydney Road.

Just next to them is a barrister’s office.
Or something to that extent.
And after that the liquor store.
It’s here that you can get a bottle of Spanish 
or Italian
For $12
And a case of Furphey’s
for $15.
Then comes the Middle Eastern bakery
It sells Koftas, and Turkish breads, and Kebabs
but it’s never open late enough
or early enough
for me to want a kebab.

Crawling along the street, now,
comes a cop car.
It’s slowing down at the presence 
of my cigarette burning.
I know what they like to see
they want to see if I even vaguely match the description
of some fellon
probably long gone.
But they’ll not let that stop them
the thrill of arresting someone
even on the flimsiest of pretences
is what they crawl down the road for.
But, tonight, I don’t match the description
so all I do is blow smoke at them
and all they do is crawl on
looking for a different victim of the night.

Equally as preposterous
and imposing
and detestable
is the first fully modern building 
that I’ve encountered
along my walk back home
And it’s a bank.
And it’s disgusting.

Just across the road is a pharmacy
Another one
And thankfully this one embraces the facade
that was handed down to it from generations past.

Then the cheese store
For some reason the only place I feel more at home
than at the bar
is at the cheese store.

Then a cafe,
that I don’t visit often
because I make my own coffee

After that a bookstore
that stocks all the latest
drivel that would be pushed
by Oprah and her lackeys.
that comfortable housewives
can sit around and tsk at
while drinking red wine
and caring nothing of the rest of the world

And now a bar
then another
and then another, but Mexican
and finally, to continue in the tradition
at the end of this section sits
another modern building
this one dedicated to phone plans

Then one of the most glorious buildings 
that I’ve ever laid eyes on.
It’s so unfortunate that what it houses
is mostly government business
but it also has the library
so that compensates for it somewhat.

Crossing the road I pass by my local tobacconist
that also serves as a liquor store
and a general store
and I see, staring through the window
and using the dim light of the sign out front
that my brand of cigs has gone up another dollar
per packet
And now they’re a quarter of a days pay
as if smoking a cigarette is some sort of a luxury
and not just an escape from the world
that prefers banks and phone carriers
to the simplistic beauty of the world already around them.

But if that’s the price I have to pay to kill myself
and get out of here as quickly as I’m comfortable with
then so be it.

After a few moments have passed
I sit myself down on the curb
as the police crawl back again
still looking to me for the thrill
of a cheap arest.
I light up another cigarette
and I reflect on what it was that people past
did on this street.
Probably nothing like what I do now
or what others do.
Probably the drunks on the street
in the days gone by
were far more drunk than I am at this moment
And I’m sure that a pack of cigs didn’t cost
a quarter of a days wage.

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