the detective 6: the reliability of expectations


The detective and his client continue their post-apocalyptic search for what lies beyond the obvious sea. For implausible reasons, the detective wrote a fantasy of his own death in his diary which he passed to his client, who is now keeping a record of their journey. The Detective started off here.

It was no-one’s fault, not his nor mine;
even the bivalves weren’t to blame.
They have capabilities beyond
our human constructs
yet they’re living creatures,
borne below and risen
from deep within the earth.

What we see as willed destruction
is only of their bivalve nature,
without morality, cognizance of right and wrong,
any more than earthly predators:
fiery tigers or corporations
with limited propriety.


It happened on Parramatta’s outskirts,
where we’d stopped for tea and bickies.

In the remnants of a Seventy-11,
the detective sought out mineral water,
sparkling at a pinch,
for the axolotls and the penguins,
until a ravenous bivalve joined him.

Its exothermic acid burned with alkali,

gasoline leaked and flamed,

New Year fireballs rose from the explosions, dimmed in sooty clouds,

he died.

We held a simple ceremony beneath the falling ash.
Penguin T in somber black and white
cheeped a requiem in Latin,
while I wiped my eyes and blew my nose,
whispered my name
for his ghost to know.


Now our pilgrimage continues
in the cool of morning
when the flaming penguin god
awakens from her snowy dreams,
and through the evenings when she waddles
to her nest beneath the world.*
We’ve crossed the mountains single file,
their scratchy bushland and mocking kookaburras,
left the urban ruination far behind.

Out into the western distance,
where the heat haze merges with the mistakable horizon,
I’ve seen sparks and flashes, glimmers of expectation,
day by day growing clearer.

The age of modular concrete,
of modulated inconvenience
and the incipience of magic,
is in the past, obliterated.

But somewhere on the westward plains,
our struggles will be new ones,
and I’ll recall a touch of truth
that I once knew.

to continue

*Penguins think the earth is flat.

The Tyger, William Blake (1794) with final verse:

Tyger Tyger, burning bright,
In the forests of the night;
What immortal hand or eye,
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?

mirror dance infomercial
My poem Later Magical Tourism, along with some creativity tips, appeared in the Winter 2017 Issue of Mirror Dance, with winter possibly meaning summer. Mirror Dance is a quarterly magazine with issues available free on-line. Continues →

rain cycle (four parts) detail above


22 thoughts on “the detective 6: the reliability of expectations

  1. Universal truth: Everything, happens on Paramatta’s outskirts.

    Happy New Year to you Steve.

    Hope you’ve had a great festive season. Watch out for the Hot Cross Buns which I believe have already appeared, and are indeed as savage as their name suggests.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Y’know, i just read two poems by some poet & said to myself, “holy crap this guy is terrible” then i come here & read this & the quality has salved the insipid trash of that other poet, bleating about nothing. The thing is that poet is published widely & i can’t get my noddle round it. So thank you for being here to patch up the disparity in quality.
    i am starting to think of bivalves as quite symbolic of the dichotomous mind, which we are lumbered with. Am i close? This motif carries over into the Penguin god: black & white, warmth (of religion) & the cold (shoulder of the deity who doesn’t hear but supposedly always sees).
    You say “bickies” proper English that is, haha.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks Daniel. There are a lot of different audiences out there and my experiences trying to get stuff published haven’t been wonderful. At the end of the day, we have to enjoy what we do, don’t we? Whether we have an audience or not. That’s why I’m grateful there are people like you around. 😃

      I wouldn’t argue about dichotomies at all, and now I’m changing the subject slightly so as not to reveal my writerly secrets, hahaha.

      Although I have to agree with your other comment that I do think occasionally, I wonder about my mode of thinking. There’ve been serious heat waves here (over 40C today) and I’ve noticed that sometimes when I wake at night I have dichotomous trains of thought or dream-like narratives running in my head simultaneously, one foreground, one background, although they may swap. I’m not concerned, 😜 but it’s curious…

      Liked by 1 person

      • Keep trying to publish. It isn’t very sensible: one person can think you are the best thing since sliced bread, another an amateurish quack & though the former is usually the one you want to believe is in abundance, the latter is usually the sort of editor you are dealing with. There is little quality reading by editors it seems, they trust instinct, i think. i don’t know. i keep sending them out & sometimes succeed. i have found most of my publications came after i actually got to speak more directly (still though email) & they were able to understand me better & that i wasn’t amateurish, that poetry was actually something i get & read widely. But alas, that isn’t possible with the method in which we submit, with cover letters & the formal manner of address. i find the less i say, perhaps is best just, name, where i live occupation, previous publications. any poems i genuinely liked from their journal.

        40C sounds like hell. i would give up living. My poems would be sonnets that just repeated “kill me”.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Thank Daniel, useful info. Haha, a little cooler today. I do have some fantasy dying scenarios, being shot in bed by a jealous lover is right up there. 😄 Unfortunately death by bivalve invasion is more likely.

          Liked by 1 person

    • I have to say my short story with the bivalves has the death and destruction they wrought in some detail–with the web site I tend to avoid that. Hey Randy, thanks so much for taking the time to read and comment on The Detective, I appreciate it.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I got to the Penguin god and pictured an icy polar beauty and then comes the waddle! haha. Well, why not? And then from the explosive, sooty fireball to “he died.” You do this to me all the time! The whiplash. I love it. And the penguin cheeping a requiem in Latin is a lovely touch. I’d like one at my funeral please. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks BG. I tried to put myself into the mind of a penguin. I didn’t really manage, but I’m fairly sure their deities aren’t human. 😃 I’m not sure where the requiem came from. I do love them musically, somehow they seem to bring out the best in composers, and I was probably listening to Karl Jenkins when I was writing. I have a slight understanding of Latin because sometimes it’s like Portuguese, which I can handle. Unfortunately I don’t know much about training penguins to recite Latin. You’d have to check the internet. 😄 And all the best for 2018. 🌟

      Liked by 1 person

  4. the detective is a shrewd one, his fantasy about his death could actually be strict instructions on how to pull the plug when the time came. I would not trust a penguin that did not waddle. So enjoying the world you have created in my brain! though i think it’s very different that what is appearing in yours. Happy New Year Mr Simpson!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks, Gina. You never know with fantasy, I think one of the great things about it (and with reading compared to watching) is that the reader can do quite a bit of their own world building. And Happy New Year to you too. 🎆

      Liked by 1 person

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