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Nominated for the 2014 Pushcart Prize. (more)

Thursday

Topical - yet not new - based on an actual event.


Last Orders and Broken Rules 

There's been a lot of talk in Australia lately, especially New South Wales about the problems of alcohol related violence. In particular, the tameness of the sentencing. Of course, this is not a local problem but a global one. It's also a very personal one. I've been assaulted twice, both involving alcohol. The first one occurred not in the inner city but in rural Victoria.
The second was in Ireland. Without going into detail, I'm probably lucky to be alive. I spent time in hospital and suffered post traumatic stress. Given situations faced by others, I suppose I am quite lucky. 


It's a subject clearly close to me. There has always been this issue, so why is it worse today? Are young people so disengaged from the world thanks to the barrier of social media/video games etc that they lack communication skills? Is it over reporting by the media or is it something else?

All I can do is present to you a poem I wrote over a year ago in the first week of January 2013. I had hoped that it would have been published but its too topical to wait around for rejections (there were three). This is based on a story I read about that occurred here in Australia. Of course, it could be anywhere. As in much of my writing, I built upon existing truth without exposing what is real and what isn't. 






Last Orders and Broken Rules



He was looking forward to that first beer
Though for an reason he could not explain
Believed if he began drinking
Before 6 pm
It made you an alcoholic
Unlike his three friends
Who had begun
Some 80 minutes previously
And had called him pussy
He probably could have gotten away with it
Being New Year’s Eve
Eve
And 20 years old
Yet was determined to hang on for another 30 minutes
Easy enough
As they had already left the pub
And were at a 2 bit pizzeria
(Though you wouldn’t expect more
In a small coastal tourist town).

Feeling the full force
Of the sinking sun’s rays
Enough to bring on a sweat
In turn, enough to initiate a yearning
For that first beer
The irony being, that he had to wait
Until they finished eating
By which time it would be after 6
Even though he was prepared to break his own rule
This once
When they suddenly arrived
Lugging attitude
And aggression
Evident in their faces
And postures
Before they said,
‘What they fuck youse lookin' at?’

He counted 5 of them
Before turning away
And had not said a word
Though the unofficial leader of his group
Had already begun to temper
The situation
Which was already nasty
For no real reason at all
That he could think of.

He briefly fantasised
About the nearby beach
(an opposing state to his city living)
And that ice cold beer
Which abruptly seemed
So far away
When the nearest intruder lunged
(sort of fell)
onto him
And something hit him in the face
And he went back in his chair
And knew that he was going to hit the concrete
Hard
Was already destined to
His body not of his control.

His perception ceased.
Chaos followed
Shouting
Spectators
Running
Though one was left
Motionless.

Ambulance
Police
Source
Hospital
Statements, frowns and tears
67 hours later
Life support turned off.
4 days after that
Arrests made
And while a 26 second battle
Became a lifetime struggle
For all
It’s difficult to determine
What was the point.

8 comments:

  1. Oh, Anthony. Thank goodness you're okay. That's so harsh and scary, and your poem is very poignant. It's such a ruthless tragedy, hard to believe people are so vicious - under the influence or not.

    xoRobyn

    ReplyDelete
  2. Your poem is really good and right on point.
    Young males and alcohol are not a good mix. I've seen a lot of this and I've been involved in a lot of it. Clearly my stent as a bouncer/event security did not leave me with many warm and fuzzy memories.
    Great post Anthony!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thank you Robyn and Pat. It's pretty horrible. There are a lot of young thugs around. I was lucky. Yes I can imagine you saw a bit Patty. Not a job I would envy. Saw a story the other day where some bouncers have mini cameras attached to them to use as evidence as they are getting assaulted too.

    ReplyDelete
  4. We have another thing in common Anthony, I have been assulted twice two, but no real damage done to me, unlike you. There are a lot of people unhappy with their lives and just want to take it out on other people, I think people drink too much now, but there is also a lot more unhappiness in Australia, more people hating themselves. I think Australia is slowing slipping, people are getting fed up with the lies they tell to themselves and others about how great their lives are and what a great place Australia is, and as we become more dishonest, we turn to alcohol to obliterate the dishonesty, but sometimes it only enhances it, and violence erupts. The two times I was assulted ocurred over two decades ago. But I don't go out a lot these days.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Thanks for sharing Anthony. A horrible thing to have gone through. I think that it is very much a cultural thing displaying whereby 'men' (boys) in a number of cultures around the world are being raised to express themselves through physicality rather than verbally.. It's a pack mentality and all about proving yourself to be a man by drinking yourself into oblivion - the end result being you have no control over what you're doing and turn into a dick. There are plenty of societies that have far less restrictions on alcohol and nightclubs and they don't have this issue. Interestingly enough, a lot of these countries (European ones for example) that don't have this kind of issue, have most of the population speaking multiple languages... being able to express themselves well. They also have respect for the pursuit of the arts, science, and all those cultural things that just don't get a look in in sports obsessed Australia... that's my 2 cents worth anyway!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Late night,more likely early morning
    A darkened room
    A hidden face
    Violation.
    A sense of inadequacy,maybe shame.
    Of isolation,withdrawal to hide.
    A heavy beating heart of my own weakness
    A lack of protection of helplessness
    The instigator tried again
    Wrong people.
    Though not seen but heard.
    One he got his.
    Just deserts

    From Me

    ReplyDelete
  7. Love your opinion Chris - it's a very valid point. Go to Germany in October and it's full of Australians lol... A working class cultural edict that seems to have permeated through all aspects of our society. I think it's just as bad in England however. Perhaps in strong working class areas is where it thrives most, but here it's everywhere.

    ReplyDelete

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