Do not raise a fattened calf
or slaughter anything on my behalf:
I will not come back, a penitent.
Indulged so long in swill
that you thought I’d surrendered my will:
my belly filled, a familiar bulge.
I walk out on the web of prospects
withheld as threat.
You wave them grimly about,
an attempt at traction in the absence of love.
My brother holds on to his investment.
I rehearsed the magic words
that would sever us:
twin black hearses, borne in different directions.
I get out of my coffin.
Of course there is more rejoicing
over the returned prodigal:
there is nowhere left to go,
from now on he will toe the line.
I will not give you that satisfaction.
Now I am a loose man, trading on my beauty.
Your genetics have a use.
Nothing is beneath me
as long as I am not under you.
The python at your bosom
wakes from its agony of digestion
and bellies away from
the one woman it will ever love.
You writhe from its parting bite,
but it will not kill you.
Since I opted prodigal,
I no longer wish it would.
This poem was originally published in The Best Australian Poems 2004 (Black Inc.).