Ashley Capes

boy’s envy

the street around the corner
and down the road is better than mine.
It’s got no bumps
and has a lot of white paint,
and even a flattened
pushbike, the kind a stickman would

and once, next to it, was a two-dollar coin
showing off in the sun.

it’s better because it’s much cleaner,
and my street has only
oil spots, from the wreck once
parked out front,
not dad’s but some goon’s.

the street around the corner
has better houses in it too, I know because

they’ve all got their own names,
in wooden blocks out front, or on
the gates. and they can all afford
to wash their concrete
in the middle of a drought,
so they must be rich.
or clean freaks.
or just arseholes.

my street has road work signs
like upside down carrots, and a Portello
bottle in the gutter.
the houses here must be sick, because when you
lose your ball on a roof
and go up and get it and walk on the nails,
it groans.



concrete buttons

the street was always a flat division
between my bed and the cemetery.
the mown grass of our front yard,
twenty something meters from
weeds round the tombstones, never worried me
for some reason. perhaps it was the makeshift
cricket pitch with its green-bin wicket,
standing between me, the ghosts
and their leathery hands.
or maybe it was the stunts, my little brother standing
on his bmx seat with arms spread wide,
and my old bike too,
with its back-pedal brakes
leaving fish tails and dust everywhere (at least until
they sealed the road.) I know it never bothered me
because my nightmares
were not of shivering skeletons
crossing a blade-white street at night,
but of things much more human. from the elm trees
I would look down on concrete buttons of death,
and see with nothing but a child’s eyes.




Ashley teaches Media and English in Victoria. He moderates online renku site ‘Issa’s Snail’ and his new poetry collection, Stepping Over Seasons, was released by IP in 2009. He occaisionally dabbles in film and is slowly learning piano. He also loves Studio Ghibli films.

10 responses to “Ashley Capes

  1. Pingback: Stylus Poetry Journal #37 – Street/Life « Another Lost Shark

  2. What a great tone for ‘boy’s envy’ – that coin ‘showing off in the sun’ sums it up. I think I lived in a street like yours (not a neat freak in sight but lots of crappy rundown cars parked on the footpath). The ‘flattened pushbike’ is a great touch.

    I really like the last line in ‘concrete buttons’. I once lived next door to a cemetery as a child and felt the same way (I also practiced driving in an old, not used anymore, cemetery at Toowong – very pretty though I wouldn’t go there at night). The title is really good – shows the childlike perspective. Good one Ashley.

    • Thanks Gabrielle!

      I was pretty worried about the tone of ‘boy’s envy’ took me a while to work it in, relieved that it works. Yeah! Those crap cars were a big feature, like little landmarks of struggle!

      You too, huh? Isn’t it a little odd that a cemetery does, at times, sit right up against residential housing. Population expansion I guess?

  3. Freida

    I love the child-like tone in boy’s envy…simple but yet deep…

    …and concrete buttons too.

    Very nice.

  4. Two very good poems of a larger set (I hope) because they both give us hard images as well as a story. I’d love to read the entire story of that boy’s life.


  5. I love nostalgia, and these are perfect little windows of moments in time 🙂

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