John Adams

An order is sought for the destruction of the stapler

The athlete takes up position in the apparatus,
prepared for several circuits. Tension
cranked up, the pain of those late
extensions can be anticipated
already, and it’s only ten o’clock.

The press bench empties after one
murder; eleven men beat their partners; fifteen men
and women drive drunk, one injures
a passenger; methamphetamine, indecency, cannabis,
methamphetamine again; two benefit fraudsters;
then a cheque fraudster with forty-seven
charges, forty-seven informations, forty-
seven repetitive notations to make; defended
bails, and it’s lunch-time already.

The athlete checks with the trainer: how many
still to go? Thirty-two. But there were twenty-nine
at ten and we’ve done heaps more than that.
OK, a special Police operation so we’ll be here
until six, maybe longer. Could top
ninety today.

We are on the river now: the mind must assess
each stroke; the arm reach in each case, dip
for the law, pull powerfully, cleanly. The river
maintains a placid surface, seemingly serene
in relentless flow, while the athlete
sweats at the sculls, exercising the iron
craft, evenly, evenly, achingly, to day’s end.

Author’s Note


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