Stephen House

Stephen House has had 20 plays, 3 short films, and several exhibitions produced. He has won many awards and nominations as a poet, playwright and actor. He’s received international literature residencies from The Australia Council to Canada, Ireland and USA, and an Asia-link India literature residency. His chapbook “real and unreal” was published by ICOE Press Australia. His next book is out soon. His poetry is published often, and he has performed his acclaimed monologues, “Appalling Behavior” and “Almost Face to Face” widely. Stephen’s play, “Johnny Chico” has been running in Spain for 2 years and continues.

dead men’s clothes

dead men’s clothes hang sadly limp
in a world of once-worn wares
beaten by time in her tin shed shell
she rubs her eyes
blinks twice
smeared pink lipstick
pasty rutted face
cloudy eyes in stance of age
acceptance of a sort

into her desert store of only what remains 
i have come on my meandering way
threadbare fear from disintegrating middle age
another tick in time on a lonely icy day
muddled from substances
coming down
no room or bed tonight for me
or friend or family either

i try on a humble vest of era long gone
add a coat of wool in olive grandpa green
she smiles slight a knowing hint
at where i may have roamed to be
fingers sleeve with bony stroke
no one comes here anymore she says with only gaze
once it was different she breathes silently

thrift shop queen won’t see me pay
gives sincerely her woven generosity
holds lost dreams in wrinkled brow
set in stone her quiet tenacity

our brittle selves meet and we freeze within our haze
knowing well our own mortality
reality of humanity probably 

i am warm now walking on my never knowing way
through another vacant dustbowl of extremity
i slow to stop
glance back
now safe in mothball tweed
she waves from pebbled path
stepped outside of her reality
and in my dead men’s clothes i signal back a simple nod
another moment wise 
still wandering and alive


it is on the second-hand nowhere bridge i cry acid 
accepting of defeated cast finally in stoning thump 
the scamper drifts to dust in movement of blame 

once meant joy but freedom falls into obedience
drives deep heartbeat of happy eroded by rhythm
we were association un-separated by plague boil

inability to save earth natural world continuum beat 
our environment grew nil our race once complex flat
apathy depressive anxious result of over-kill heating

when final has become the stop point then what now
climb in bright for this domain now controlled you say
once be it of choice self-destiny determined is halted

gasp rolling hankering smile disintegrated in wet blur
did you see ex-president controlling own lie preach   
that has become usual dragging walk peace step gone

on shattered glass we roll for no more remains solid
greenery we once loved sweet is charred death brown
and that is an ending without try to repeat exculpation  


when he spoke about the love
he had for his cat
as a boy
his eyes glazed over

misty sentiment or feeling tears
is all the same 
with us

how he hugged that beast
held on tight 
and the jaunts they would take together 
away from the house
to secret spots to be just them

and i knew 
why pain sailed into me from him
as he spoke
why i wanted to hold him across the table
in the budget restaurant 
of our excuse for dinner out

i knew
what he’d suffered as a kid
he ‘d told me about it
on a beach walk 
in a dim room looking sadly down
and at the end of a jetty over stormy sea

and so the cat-story
about the comfort 
that feline friend gave him as a kid
made me melt in quiver

and whispered a soft reminder
that i would never leave him
to his aloneness
without me to care

                          as we walked out of the eating dive
                          he smiled
                          as his hand brushed mine

                          and my eyes glazed over too 

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