By Chris Palmer


Even his apron’s a relaxed smile

as he arcs between movement and sound


a performer in a constant encore.

He knows what they want merely by their presence:


a back alley trick, black as a secret

finished with a love heart that fades to a kiss.


Each is a trophy bearing his name

presented to the winner. They see


a matador, strutting in a suit of lights

the machine hissing into submission.


He sees the hours evaporating to stillness

glances through steam at the waitress.



Chris Palmer’s poetry has been published in Australian Poetry Journal, Brasilia Review, Shot Glass Journal, Meanjin, Quadrant, and the Weekend Australian, among others. His first collection, Afterlives, was published by Ginninderra Press in 2016. He lives in Canberra, Australia.