Michael J. Leach – Contemporary Complaints

Leach LE P&W June 2024

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Live Encounters Poetry & Writing June 2024.

Contemporary Complaints by Michael J Leach.

Contemporary Complaints

someone loitering out the front of a fast-food restaurant late one night sucker punched me in the ear for briefly being out the front of a fast-food restaurant late one night

a passenger in a speeding car threw a beer bottle out the window and said bottle just missed my skull

I’m constantly br(e)aking as fellow drivers enter roundabouts right in front of me

a fellow driver suddenly resolved to race me rather than merge with me, accelerating to overtake my almost-speeding car as our respective lanes finished merging into one lane that was about to pass through the narrow arch of a railway bridge

my next-door neighbour started up a souped-up car at 6 am without lowering the loud volume of the thrash metal spewing from said car’s subwoofers

rubbish from my next-door-neighbour’s red bin keeps overflowing & blowing onto my nature strip & front yard, remaining there till I finally give in, pick up all the items, and sort them into my red, yellow & green bins

someone dumped enough broken-up cement in my red bin to prevent the garbage collector from collecting my red bin

when I tried to exit an edifice via its emergency exit, I couldn’t exit because someone had placed a full skip in front of the emergency exit door

sometimes, I need to have a short conversation with people having a long conversation in a store’s front doorway

I turned up at an out-of-the-way business fifteen minutes before its closing time and, upon asking to buy a small item, heard the words I can’t serve you because we’re closing soon—without one word of actual explanation—from a cashier who stood still behind the counter

commuters keep making or taking long, confidential business calls in the train’s ‘quiet’ carriage

dogwalkers keep illegally walking their large, ‘well-behaved’ dogs in public places without leashes, leading to instances where said large, ‘well-behaved’ dogs disobediently dash out into traffic or try to attack leashed dogs, including my miniature cavoodle

scooter riders keep illegally electrically scooting on walking tracks, alarming or harming pedestrians & pets in the process

I regularly received threatening letters from an energy retailer I never signed up with

someone without a face mask approached me in a supermarket aisle amidst an airborne disease pandemic and, upon reaching me and noticing me wearing a face mask, forcefully coughed once in my face rather than in the preferred place: the crook of the elbow

a chain store refused to let me return an incompatible item because days of Victoria’s lockdowns counted towards its 30-day returns period

I ordered something online but got nothing

a phone company kept charging my late mother’s unused account upon receiving notifications of her death, even after receiving a copy of her death certificate, culminating in a debt collector harassing my father and stealing his hard-earned money

a repeat offender stole heirlooms from my widowed grandmother’s home

I received the following info from the airline that cancelled my evening flight:

– the initial instruction to keep checking an airline app that I didn’t have and didn’t want to get because it required me to enter my credit card details for no reason

– the later instruction to wait around the airport for the next three hours to listen out for a PA announcement naming the nine lucky passengers hand-picked by the airline to board a near-full flight later that night

– the belated news that I hadn’t been hand-picked by the airline to board a near-full flight later that night

– the late-night announcement of a replacement flight the following morning

– the last-minute delay of the replacement flight the following morning

someone reversed into my first car, insisted we resolve the matter without involving my car insurer and later rejected all my car repair quotes

someone crashed into my legally parked car then left without leaving behind a note

I received a rates notice overvaluing my first home to the tune of a quarter of a million Australian dollars

I stayed at a BnB with a spa bath that was advertised as a spa but only functioned as a bath

I keep failing to get full use out of electronic devices that were carefully made not to last

I keep tuning out tainted news driven by political leanings rather than truths

I keep seeing (not-so-)subtle signs of institutional discrimination against person after person after person, including the one I love

© Michael J Leach

Michael J. Leach (@m_jleach) is an Australian poet, critic and academic who lives on unceded Dja Dja Wurrung Country and acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of the land. Michael’s poems have appeared in journals such as Cordite Poetry Review, exhibitions such as the Antarctic Poetry Exhibition, anthologies such as Poetry d’Amour 2022: Love Poems (WA Poets Incorporated, 2022), and his two poetry books: Chronicity (Melbourne Poets Union, 2020) and Natural Philosophies (Recent Work Press, 2022). Michael has won the UniSA Mental Health and Wellbeing Poetry Competition (2015), received a commendation in the Hippocrates Prize for Poetry and Medicine (2021), jointly won the poetry category of the Minds Shine Bright Confidence Writing Competition (2022), and had a poem shortlisted for the Woollahra Digital Literary Award (2023). During 2024, Michael will publish two new poetry books: a collection of haiku and senryu (In Case of Emergency Press) followed by a collection of poems exploring sounds and emotions (Ginninderra Press).

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