Tommo Plays Tennis

from by Plains Wanderer

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Tommo's in the back with the ambo's and his dad
watching in horror as some fibrillation causes a stir.
His hand is squeezed to some odd shade of magenta, maybe fuchsia.
Time is passing slow, but in retrospect will be a blur…

All except some words heard murmured through a cancerous throat,
and tongue, and lungs, his pop was riddled with tumours.
And these last words stick will with Tommo like well cooked spag to a wall.
They give his life new purpose, the words his dad whispered as if a rumour:

'Don't ever buy kitchenware again.'

And his dad's last exhale rolls over him like a fog
or a blanket cross-weaved with threads of guilt and shame
as Tommo had purchased some new bowls earlier that day
for the new house he paid off with an insurance claim.

He rushes home, sprinting through traffic and back streets.
He gets their and smashes his porcelain receptacles.
His new home is now left with zero kitchenware
as he walks over to some boxes and adjusts his spectacles.

In thick black sharpie, he reads off their names:
Action figures, awards, linen, DVDs
but when he spies 'photo albums', he unpacks the memories within
laughing at his youth and getting tears on the sleeves.

Again and again are photos of Tommo,
playing some sport with his dad egging him on.
Yumm.. eggs, Tommo realises he's hungry
but he has no way of fixing dinner unless he orders on the phone.

And then something clicks as Tommo verbalises his epiphany
'Either Dad was a little high on pain meds,
or he wanted me to become a professional sportsmen!'

Now, that may sound absurd to your average layman,
but Tommo was never one to lay down.
He reckoned sports competitions are all about winning kitchenware
Cups, plates, kitsch cutlery, now he was glory bound.

He starts with soccer, but it just ain't kicking,
He tries league and wins a wooden spoon,
He tries netball, but gender rolls get the better of him,
He tries cricket, starts hitting balls to the moon.

But why stick with that sport when it seems
the ashes is its most important prize?
And what sort of kitchenware
is an urn of such diminutive size.

With his cool coordination and sweet swing
he reckons he's left with two things.
Tennis or golf...
Oh, how white and bourgeois an ultimatum can make you feel.

Love, love
15, love
30, love
40, love
Game, Set, Match
And some Brand New Kitchenware

Tommo's winning tournaments; left, right and centre
He goes professional within 3 weeks.
11 months pass and his world rank is number 1,
and his tennis groupies hang off every word he speaks.

He's closing every Open with a well-off win,
not having one measly point against him drawn up.
Until the only thing that he hasn't secured
is the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup.

And the world is in the palm of his hand,
and the palm of his hand is soaked in sweat,
he's nervous that he'll choke in the finals at home,
so he distracts himself with all the tennis groupies that he can get.

Tommo was receiving multitudes of free
Love, love
15, love
30, love
40, love
Gingers, blondies, brunettes
but don't forget
the brand new kitchenware of course.

Tommo's world turns upside down and inside out
when he learns the news of a groupie bearing his child
He is frightened at first, but he falls in love
with the way his month old daughter smiles.

He throws his knee out on a clay court
his physio says he'll be out for a year,
his health, both physical and mental decline,
He spends half his days with his eyes clouded in tears.

Until he ends up in the back of an emergency vehicle
with his daughter staring him in the face.
Oh what a peculiar and familiar situation
but Tommo handles it with grace:

He turns away from the light saying, 'Sorry Jesus, I gotta win one more cup.'

So Tommo trains back up
and he enters the highly prestigious Australian open.
And he makes it to the final,
This time without all the groupie gropin'.

And tonights the night he can wrap up his career,
he's eating a celebratory dinner with his fam'.
And the table is set with his accolades
as he lifts his Alfredo DuFrampe fork in his hand.

And wrapped around the fork is spaghetti and meat
which he shoves in his mouth at a tremendous speed
and he begins choking, and then his body goes limp,
and he dies face down
in his brand new kitchenware.


from Emu War, released January 26, 2014



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