The Roaring Twenties by Joseph Ridgwell

(from his book "Load the Guns", published by Blackheath Books)

I don’t know why, but there were many times
In my twenties
When I was plagued by the blue blues
A strange, re-occurring black cloud of depression
That followed me around for months and years
As a good chunk of my twenties was spent in Australia
These thoughts often occurred while I pounded those sun-baked Sydney streets

Or along those rat-infested back alleys of The Cross
Kings Cross
I lived in a succession of cheap apartments
I can remember the names of the streets
Bayswater, Roslyn, Ward, Macleay, Elizabeth, Darlinghurst, Kellett, Barncleuth, ....Orwell.., ..Victoria....,
William, Hughes, McElhone
I can also recall the interior of each apartment
Peeling paint, gloomy kitchenettes, poky rooms, and rotting bathrooms
And it was always summer, black summer
Hot, dusty streets, tarmac melting in the burning sun, hissing and popping
Heat waves shimmering
I was working and drinking, drinking and working
I never wrote anything
But instead thought about writing, compiling notes, and character sketches
Convinced that one day I’d write novels, poems, and short stories
Hundreds of thousands of words, describing those end of century Kings Cross scenes
I would plot up in my apartment, drink beer, and stare at the walls
It was my roaring twenties, but often I felt dead and listless....
Everything seemed to oppress me
Work, woman, cheap wine, the day to day living
Everyone trying to outdo each other
Petty little one-upmanship’s, grubby aspirations, flawed ambition
I felt more empathy towards the street hookers, bums and alki’s
Somehow they seemed more real, open and honest

The tediousness of so-called successful lives always shocked me
The monotony and drabness most people were prepared to put up with
Just to stay one step ahead of the game
Was depressing
But there didn’t seem to be many options
People had been dealt a lame hand
By God, or Satan, or Jesus, or science, or flashing unknowns
I’d walk to the botanical gardens and sit and watch the ducks
The life of the average duck appeared preferable
To the life of the average human being
Sometimes I spot a bug walking along a window ledge
And figured I’d rather be a bug
Then I’d walk to Elizabeth Bay and peer into the gloomy depths
Of the green harbour waters
Wondering if it would be possible to just swim away
Swim away into nothingness and the blue void of the lonely night

It was my twenties, my roaring twenties
And the world ran away
And the days ran away
And the moon was false and the sun sick
And all that was left was to teeter on the cusp
Of the abyss
And smile


About Me

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