Growing Up In Bondi poetry

Text: Adam Gibson


On grass-clipping streets and median strips
and cracked concrete that baked in heat and
bitumen on roads that bubbled under feet,
you hurled water bombs at the kids
from around the street and
went to the beach ‘cos that’s
just what you did.
And there you sat in groups beside
North Bondi Surf Club
or near the barbeques
or down South on The Hill or in The Corner
or at First or Second or Third ramps.
And the milkbars were still standing
and at Valis’s and Raffle’s and Bill’s
you drank thickshakes and played the pinnies
and you ventured to Homestead chicken
for special hot chips.
And school came and thankfully went
and the endless six weeks of Chrissie holidays
fanned out endlessly in front of you
and it was fish and chips in the sunset park
after a day in the water and into the 9pm dark
and into sandy feet station wagons and off home
to sleep behind salt-coated windows
and open fly-screen doors
and the whole neighbourhood wearing worn rubber thongs
and the cicadas noisy all the way into night.
Then February and on into the year,
Easter being marked exactly by the sideways blow
of the westerly wind like clockwork
and into the desolate antenna evening of June,
the grass-blade sunshine of July,
The flannelette days of August,
Then again the sudden jasmine days of September and
Into the salty October mornings,
Then the nor’ easterly afternoons of November
and around again and again.
Then my life turned to high school
and the dumped couches on the footpath
and the boarded up shops of early ’80s Campbell Parade
where you’d be crazy to loiter after dark,
the needle stick stabbing streets,
the heroin sand.
And the Maori kids who caused legendary trouble chaos down there
and the thrill of the stories of them
and those hot girls down there at night
who smoked ciggies and drunk cases and beer
and smashed bottles and fucked
and in one of those still-standing sheds
I kissed one of those smoke-tasting mouths
and I have never forgotten a single moment
nor the way I felt,
just as I have never forgotten
a single other moment
of growing up in Bondi
at all


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