Two Poems|Stephen House

his cafe                                                                                             


at midday

i walk through the crowded inside room

of his cafe

and go to the backroom

where we meet


the two guys that work here

must know what’s going on in the room

or they wouldn’t let me in


there is clarity

about the safety of this time

for us


he has a wife

she is never here at midday

i am

twice weekly


i enter the room

he is not in here

i go to the sideboard

pour a cup of water from a red plastic jug

and look at the shrine to Lord Ganesh on the wall

Om Shri Ganeshaya Namah

i whisper to the image


i gasp

drop the cup

as i am pushed in the back

turn around


his wife in a sky blue sari

is standing only inches from me


she looks me in the eye

cold hard and emotionless

takes a knife out

from the folds of her shimmering material

points it at me

and says

i am going to kill you


my heart ignites

my mouth goes dry

i go to say something

but nothing comes out

is she magic

a witch


her hair is burning red

her eyes are glowing violet

her teeth in pinks and mauves gnash at me

temple bells ring in my ears


go from here now and never come back

or i will kill you

she spits

and slaps me hard across the face


holding my cheek

i leave the room


the two café guys stare at me

i hear them laughing

as i exit his cafe


her husband

is sitting in his car out the front

smoking a cigarette


he gazes straight ahead

as i pass

not even a tiny glance at me


i stop and quickly look back to him

i’m sure i see him wave

i wave


his wife appears

i turn and walk away from him

and his café



three billion


three billion creatures killed

by bushfire devastation

leaves me gasping in sadness

for wildlife burnt alive

and while i also grieve loss

of human life and construction

amount of animals not escaping

incineration screams horror


and although i was outside zone

not victim to furnace

silent suffering as i ponder

still plagues me each day

nightmares of heat blazing

howls of terror from scorched fauna

brings on distress and anxiety

one year on no relief


and as i attempt accepting

extermination of three billion

i must endure deniers spouting

climate change is not real

politicians refusing

to place planet before money

confirms we humans who care

must continue to rally


stand up vote accordingly

against nature disappearing

weather changes now rapid

greed is always placed first

halt uncaring destruction

stop ignoring extinction

unsure how we retaliate

join together may help


throw scientific proof in the faces

of those who won’t listen

they refuse to hear figures

dismiss proven data

shout in one season of bushfires

so much wiped out forever

and will continue to vanish

if world leaders won’t hear


Photo by Matt Howard on Unsplash


Stephen House is an award-winning Australian playwright, poet and actor. He’s won two Awgie Awards (Australian Writer’s Guild) , Adelaide Fringe Award, Rhonda Jancovich Poetry Award for Social Justice, Goolwa Poetry Cup, Feast Short Story Prize and more. He’s been shortlisted for Lane Cove Literary Award, Overland’s Fair Australia Fiction Prize, Patrick White Playwright and Queensland Premier Drama Awards, Greenroom best actor Award and more. He’s received Australia Council literature residencies to Ireland and Canada, and an India Asialink. His chapbook “real and unreal” was published by ICOE Press Australia. He is published often and performs his work widely.

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