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Metal and palms 
slick with sweat, chewed lips slick 
with blood. Hesitate even 
for a second and they’ll all hoot:
‘You can’t hack it you can’t hack it bro’

Fingers thick as Twisties
grips hard knees high. Almoooost. Reeboks 
squeak against scaffolding. Coils of hair whip
in wind, Medusa coronets of blue-bellied 
black snakes

‘K look down now. It’s the sticks ay?’ 

2166. Tableau of flaking fences, rotting see-saws 
splattered with galah shit, muddy kicks swinging from power 
lines, latchkey kids with rat-tails and mullets and K-pop fringes 
doing donuts in Honda Civics    circles and circles of scratched 
black earth & swelling smoke

The world so open and alive that our mouths 
echo open too, expelling 
mongulated choruses of bobcat caterwauls. Pings 

off faraway calls of brothers, sisters, cousins; feral as 



This poem is part of a suite titled Scum.

Go to Claire Cao's profile to read more poems