Neil Paech

Neil Paech is an occasional fruit-picker and English teacher. He has had a long association with Friendly Street poets, having been first published in a Friendly Street reader in 1979, publishing his first collection, The Bitumen Rhino (1986) with Friendly Street, co-edited the No. 14 Friendly St. Poetry Reader (1990) and anthologised in Tuesday Night Live (1993). He has published several further collections of poetry including k is for keeper a is for t.v. (1994).

The Bitumen Rhino

the rhinoceros snorts
and snow falls like dandruff
inside my head

i have a haircut
on the inside out/
and shove shave myself clear back
to the balding bone
to clear enough space
to breathe white frost and catch it
before it hits the ground with a thud

with a spade
i dig the white roots of my hair up
and out of my burrowing brain
white worms for fishing myself up and over

i shake off the clods of thought
and watch them crackle and burn
into a hazy white smoke
white ash

a tourist
i take my head in my hands
and roll it around in my fingers for the feel
of the putty of dream
shake myself up
and tip myself over
to watch the snowing ash fall through my breathing/
i create swirls in a silent movie of wind

and i believe again in the con
of the slow motion grab

and i own the horizon i see over
and corners are straight lines
easily unravelled unbent
while upside down

i am in hunger
with touch

i wolf myself down

From Friendly Street No. 9 and Tuesday Night Live


when i’m away from her for just one day
i climb down into that day like a black hole
and pull its gravity up over my head
and slowly sink into myself

i lose all my edges
and start to eat myself

i start at my bowels
and move up through my stomach to my head
which i suck out like an oyster in bone
until all that’s left is my mouth

until even that goes

and that’s only the first day. the second
doesn’t bear thinking about

From Friendly Street No. 12 and Tuesday Night Live

zoo: bats/the flying foxes

they hang there
                            like upside down socks
                                                                    stuffed with feet
and when they approach too close to each other’s geometries of space
               they scream blue murder
                                                                            like a riot of cats
    their heads are doglike
                                                   they are dog-gods
        that brokenly manipulate their way along the wire on the roof
        like pieces of suspicious victoriana
                                cloaked and shuffling figures shambling their way
        through the dusk
                                    on bent sticks
like umbrellas they unfurl and furl
                                                their fog thoughts
they are an architecture of skin
                                                and bone
                                                                and fur is an afterthought
    as they occasionally drop
                                                to the eucalyptus branches
and shiver and shake as they clumber along
                                                                under the cover of dead leaves
                                                        everything is the wrong way up
                                                        except themselves
    they have their own perspective
    on the moral order of things
                                            by nature
                                                                they are apocolytes of the dark
              and they shit on you
From Friendly Street No. 16