Section 1

East Terrace/Payneham Road

Caitlin Tait

This pair of poems examines a relationship with Bon Iver (Justin Vernon) and his music through two romantic relationships. The poems explore the significance of that which is intangible (such as music and places), and how it can hold memories, people, and a particular time, as well as past versions of self.

Music is able to make us relive moments in such overwhelming ways, that over five years on when another relationship is forged and they play the same album; we flinch. Through the poems, the reader can live the experiences through me, and understand the parts of the relationships they are privy to.

A gentle love for these people remains, however any affection for Bon Iver’s music is significantly less.


queer; Bon Iver; music; Adelaide; relationships; poetry


East Terrace


You made it impossible to listen to Bon Iver for six and a half years.


I’d punish myself by listening to his albums on repeat and crying and I’d dig my heels into the intro of Perth and felt your nails scratching at my chest – slightly to the left – and by the time I knew all the words to re: stacks, your fingers had wrapped around my lungs and my stomach and my heart.


There’s a certain chord progression that is made for people that have recently gone through a breakup and it feels like Justin Vernon knows all of them.


When a whole album is released, untainted with seventeen-year-old you, yet still reminds me of seventeen-year-old you—I turn down the volume and resign to the idea that Bon Iver… isn’t for me.


I fought hard to reclaim everything. And I almost succeeded.


I look in the window of the café we went on our first date, expecting you to be at the same table, still drinking the shitty coffee, still with a forkful of spaghetti in hand. I dare myself next time I walk by to stare straight ahead.


I skip the Jamie Cullum song that’s honey-covered in teenage love. Dripping. Sticky. Suffocating.


I walk into the gardens looking for you, as though you’ll test my sense of direction again, I’ll get us lost again, and we’ll sit on the bench by the lake. Again. You’ll compare my hair to the drooping tree. I cut it all off after we broke up.


Maybe one day I’ll see you again and ask for my book back. Ask where I went wrong. Wonder if you can tell how much I’ve changed. If you notice the ink on my arm or the holes in my ears and that I still bite my nails. And if I can please listen to Bon Iver in peace without having to think about baby-faced you with soft hips and long curls before you cut them off to be professional and if I can please walk down East Terrace without looking for you?


Payneham Road


I mentioned a video of Bon Iver performing re: stacks live with The Staves and you told me about how magical his gig in Sydney was last year and that you don’t cry often, but you cried in the Opera House, so I decided to listen to albums I hadn’t touched in years.


You know when it’s October and it’s 32 degrees and so you sit outside and try to get some Vitamin D and then when you’re brushing your teeth before bed you realise your nose is burnt? But the rest of you is two shades darker and you look healthier than you have since April?


Of course you live on a main road. Five kilometres of you. No one else has the confidence or ego or power for that. Who else can spread themselves this thick over even the most mundane, bleak parts of this city? Only you.


The world bends at your convenience and for your ease. Your favourite Chinese shop is around the corner. So is sushi. A bottle shop for Monday red wine. Even people. They don’t fall at your feet; they walk with purpose toward you, pull up a chair and make themselves known. It’s all on purpose.


I hate running but I’d run this road like I ran at you.


Holocene feels like rebirth now. I look at you and think, ‘How the fuck did I manage this?’


I meet your friends and I hug them all and your best friend feels like my best friend and we had five sleepovers last week and I have a pink toothbrush at your house and you made me breakfast and I made you dinner and when you read my poetry you told me I impress you, and last week when you played a Bon Iver song in the car I didn’t flinch.


I look at you and I see all the worlds inside me. And they stop. And all my waves become tsunamis. And I create six more hours a day to spend with you, and all the while, you know what we put on.


Now we aren’t what we were, but I’d still be happy as hell if you stayed for tea

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