The Muted Colours

by Ellen Shelley

A small-town rocks back and forth on time. 
       Hymn-less vibrations. Religion built with a view. 
Fishermen sucked in. Statistics rise tidally. 
       The moon has lost her face! 
             Tight knit this bunch, never drop a stitch.
No untidy natives, just gums with broken tongues. Shame on anyone 
       who tries to add colour to the many shades of green. 
Boys leave the tracks in packs. One drove into the harbour. 
             Another swung by a rope. They follow suit like a game 
of UNO. Only this is no game. Basalt and banality 
             mess with the mind. 
       Smile for the cameras, everything is just passing by. 
We stepped off for a while. Took a break from the city. 
       Saw light hang from trees, homelessness 
moved over the hills, black gritty beaches and those rips, you can’t see. 
       The local’ rule; shop fronts make tidy towns. 
             So pretty but lean in close
you won’t hear a thing. Watch how you become that view, 
             those lustreless rocks, the lighthouse so dark, 
pointing the wrong way. 
       And those winds that keep you up at night, rip through. 

This poem was inspired by the photography of Daniel Tran.

I lived in a small coastal town and the effects on me live on. While we were there we lost a dear young friend to suicide and then three more of his friends followed. We knew them all. Up the road in an adjacent town recently six young men have also taken their lives. I feel it is because they have no one to listen to them. Resources are almost non existent, as I found when I was there.

Ellen Shelley is from Newcastle N.S.W. She is a poet who likes to write in response to real life events and emotions. Published in Eureka, Backstory, Other Terrain, Not very Quiet, Eucalypt, Canberra Times, Highly Commended for the Philip Bacon Ekphrastic, It’s Raining Poetry in Adelaide, Cordite, Dámour, Australian Poetry Collaboration and The Blue Nib.  

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