The boys at school and I disappeared between classes
passed tobacco between our hands like water at the well
smoke signals provided translation
between multi-coloured kids
wagging in a vacant lot
We met there between family and school
felt most at home in the no-man’s land
where the old and the new worlds couldn’t find us
we even met there for fights
first kisses
swigs of alcohol on weekend nights
It’s even where my friend Mark told me about how our friend Omar
had died
and I found the truth somewhere
his explanations
Us kids grew up in that vacant lot
between being Greek
and Australian
Knowing we were no longer truly either one
but somehow both
Migrant kids are like rivers
always moving
but somehow still enough to be given a name
like Wog, Nip, ‘Fake’ – hyphen – Australian
So of course when we learnt how to drive
we’d ride for hours in the only place where we felt like we belonged
somewhere between points A and B
between the green and the red
I learnt to love the traffic lights when they turned amber because I realised our teachers also slowed down on their approach to us
and tapped their feet impatiently for our answers
I’ve learnt to rest my head in the elbows of my lovers
somewhere between their hearts and their hands
like the moon
I keep my distance
because it’s the only thing that makes me look
like I’m standing still enough to get close to
So now I write my best work in transit
in hotel rooms where the linen is transparent and the paintings by no-one
I write so the silences between my words can begin to make sense and I exist somewhere between the surface of the page
and the tip of the pen
so I wrote this piece
Like my life
In the margins
but the whole thing
is the TITLE
at dawn and at dusk
somewhere between the ridges
the pinnacle and the cusp
So when they tell me I’m not political enough
not Greek enough
not Australian enough
not a poet enough
not street enough or not me…enough
I tell them I am a star
and I exist somewhere between you seeing me shine and realising I’m already dead to you I just let you witness some of my burning
I am not a hyphen
I am a 100-metre dash
between my history
and your make believe
between White-Australia policies and being saved by the colony
between having to drag my past, kicking, back into my
and then hide it behind my back
in your presence
So be careful when you place that hyphen in my name
or I’ll use it to cut your throat
just to show you how much I love this country
but that I will always have some Sparta in me
I may be the amber light
but amber is the only gemstone that is a living, flowing liquid
permanently fossilised
that keeps itself warm
that is used as medicine
that smells sweet when it gets burnt
that in Roman times was worth more than a slave
that was named ‘elektron’ by the Greeks a precursor to the English word for electricity because they discovered that if rubbed the wrong way
Amber will always create a spark
and amber is only ever increased in value
when some of us insects
are discovered stuck in it
So of course us in-betweens
would gather around the fires in that vacant lot
Share fleeting moments of belonging
and tell stories
in our silences
of how our friend Omar
was sent flying
between the hood of a Holden
and the wall of a house
like a shooting star
I’m just glad we got to witness some of his burning…

-Luka Lesson
Shot and edited by Being Here
Music by No-one Beats


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