Bordeaux (New Year’s Eve)

Tonight, in this strange town,

I asked five men directions.

The first did not know the place

and led his dog onwards, eyes smiling.

Suit man couldn’t understand

my poor French pronunciation.

The third, standing by a taxi,

pointed, but still I could not find.

The fourth, suspiciously helpful,

walked with me, astray.

The fifth, aged, drunk,

was stepping from his flat.

His slurred commands got me there,

where I drank my beer, alone.

There is no moral to this story.

              Tourists take bicitaxi, Havana

                      On coverless cushions

                               we sit

                      looking at his back.

                Slowly as he cycles sweat

                     wets his t-shirt and

                 reflects light from his neck.

                      Taut calf muscles

                       patched sandals

                      a flat tyre protest.

“There are good and bad things about Cuba” he says.

                   A missing tooth smile.

               He rides, he rides, he rides.

                    With dollars in purses

                   avoiding police glances

                            we sit

                    looking at his back.

Hostel Blues

Been travelling a year.
I missed people till I came here.



Big rooms
full of bunks
and people coming / leaving / not sure/


The indifferent kitchen
breeds feral dishcloths,
families of crusty cutlery
and chipped, scum-lipped plates.
A stoic fridge hoards name-labelled
and out-dated food.


The funky common room
exudes conversations without subjects,
cigarettes, nonchalance
and subtle moves of acceptance and exclusion.


In my dorm I am accosted by
a miasma of unwashed socks and self-interest,
strewn oddments and
the any-hour rustle for cosmetics.


Here my loneliness is public.


I roll from the light and curl
on tonight’s expired mattress.

© Susan Austin

Peter Macrow,
Tasmanian Times Poetry Editor.
Tasmanian poets or those with a Tasmanian link are invited to send up to 5 poems which have not appeared previously in print or electronic media to:
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For the complete collection, click here: Poetry, Peter Macrow

Susan Austin