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July 17, 2017 | by  | in Poetry |
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Bogan Beautiful (The Musical)

CW: Drug use and violence


Baby I’m bogan beautiful

My mum always gave me grief for the clothes I wore

She didn’t understand I had to stand out.

(Hi-vis can be a fashion statement)

So I’m used to the raised eyebrows,

But I pay them no mind unless they’re shaved.

I’m too wrapped up in my puffer jacket, feet squeezed into jandals as I play with the red, green, and yellow beads in my rats tail.

I am neck tattoos, hand tattoos, face tattoos

I’m a snapback on a Saturday night and grubby shoes that have walked across one too many paddocks.

I’m the scent of hand-rolled cigarettes and the deft movements of nail-bitten fingers

I’m the grin of the Zig-Zag man,

And hurried sprays of Lynx to hide the telltale scent of alcohol,

Nevermind the bourbon cans rattling in the work van.


I’m the doppling roar of the speedway and the stink of burning rubber,

I’m the dust in a scout hall appropriated as a boxing club.

I’m the patches of affiliation, gang signs in the WINZ queue, and daily calls to Rimutaka,

See how the family is holding up.

I’m the perpetual grey sky of the Hutt Valley,

And the unconstrained bedlam of the district court at 8:30 in the morning.

I’m a pair of meatworks gumboots on a threadbare pub carpet, or I’m Nike slides and tattered socks,

But I’m always a flashing pokie machine, tripping the light fantastic.

I’m a neon ‘open’ sign in the window of a chinese takeaways and fish and chip shop, and I’m the skinned knees of the children darting in and out of the streamer curtain.

(If your fish and chip shop doesn’t have the fisheries poster, leave immediately.)

I’m barefeet on greasy lino,

And the spark of a lighter on a lightbulb in a dilapidated bungalow in the backblocks of Naenae.


I’m burnouts in a carpark,

And a good shirt for a date

(pity it’s with the Court Registrar).

I’m breakfast on the porch,

A milky tea, piece of toast, and a cigarette.


I’m a widow checking the death notices,

Us all outliving our mokopuna and cleaning up the perpetual mistakes of our men.

Broken glass, bruised knuckles, and

bloodied faces.


I’m a new convert to Christianity,

The TAB or the collection basket; the taxman has many guises

Pick the one that’s less painful.


I’m beautiful in my belligerence,

Born to live and die somewhere between fourth and fifth gear.

I’m a rambling family tree,

Some branches blooming, burdened with fruit

Others wilting, parasite-laden.

But I won’t be sequestered into a tidy garden plot,

Nor made to constrain my celebration,

What can noise control do?

You see I cannot be kept down for too long,

The light will catch my hi-vis, soon enough.

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