In which the Reverend Hellfire takes his Act on the road. Field notes as follows..


Travelling Poetry Man

Pt 1: Bohemia by Bus

The Pain of rising at the unaccustomed hour of 6AM hits the Reverend like a cold, wet slab of concrete. With a shock of disbelief it occurs to him that people do this every single day! “No wonder they’re so bad-tempered all the time”, he thinks.

The Siren song of his warm, rank bed calls him, but today he takes his Act on the Road and the Reverend Hellfire’s Commitment to his Art is Total. He has promised the charming Mz Riddhi, the red-haired, eclectic host of Bay FM 99.9‘s popular Bohemian Beat show, that he would manifest in her Studio at 11am this very day to discuss his Art. Duty calls! So loading up on strong Caffeine and pain-killing drugs the Reverend Hellfire strides forth into the rosy fingered dawn..


The Reverend’s charming host; Bohemian Beat’s Mz Riddhi

The sun is just peeking between the skyscrapers as the Reverend joins half a dozen wanna-be flower-children on the express shuttle-bus to Byron Bay. Making himself comfortable as possible on the lumpy, lop-sided, threadbare seat, the Rev easily resumes his REM state as sunlight and shadows flicker across his eyelids and the bus rolls smoothly out of town..

Waking to see the sun shining over green fields, khaki trees, and far away the wine dark sea itself. The bus stops briefly somewhere absurdly green and lush deep in the NSW countryside.

A sign declared “Watch for Snakes”!, but the Reverend was not fortunate enough to see one. Nevertheless, despite the absence of Serpents it was good to breathe the clean fresh air and he took the opportunity to Salute the Sun by running smoothly thru the timeless, liquid movements of his Tai Chi routine.

The sinuses and lungs begin to clear now free from the city’s constant pall and haze. Damn, but Brisbane is a great, greasy dustbowl of a town, the asthma capital of Australia..

relentlessly bohemian Byron Bay.

relentlessly bohemian Byron Bay.

The Bus rolls into upmarket but relentlessly Bohemian Byron Bay.

Here the air is redolent with the smell of sandalwood, sea air and money.

Byron bay is in fact the main shop-front of the Northern Rivers area.

Here the hipsters and alternatives play in bands in the Pub

or hold markets to sell pots of organic honey to the tourists.

Most of the staff employed in the shops tho seem to be backpackers or other blow-ins from somewhere-else. A Scandinavian Earth-child with perfect cheekbones and clothed in a carefully tattered and layered $500 Hippie ensemble, eventually deigns to serve me a coffee.

 She could have come off the cover of Vogue Magazine, circa 1972 and seems to exist in a constant State of Heightened Awareness of her own ethereal Beauty.

The Rev takes his Styrofoam cup of Caffeine and joins the Homeless in the park to have a quiet Joint.

It’s a fine day and he feels sleepy as a lizard in the sun but the grass is wet and as soon as he moves again the Rev is wracked with crampy aches from sitting on damp ground too long. The Rev walks it off, feeling sorry for the poor bastards crashed out in sleeping bags who, from the detritus scattered around them, clearly sleep there on a regular basis. They must be wracked with rheumatism..

There are more Street people at the Community Centre where the Radio Station is located. Here they queue for the Free Lunch and food parcels provided by a local community group. There’s a fair sized crowd gathered for the charity lunch. Clearly beneath Byron Bay’s Surface, the Upper Crust of Designer Boutiques and over-priced Cafes, there lies a substantial layer of local poverty.

The Rev is preoccupied with these thoughts when an elderly lady walking past tells him that, “you’re the Best-Dressed Man in Byron Bay“. He thanks her with a courteous sweep of the hat, but it leaves one to wonder. After all, while it is true that the Reverend affects a certain sartorial elegance, it has also to be said that, due to the inclemencies of Poetry and Poverty, his appearance can be somewhat on the ragged side. His velvet coat is badly worn at the collar, and his shirt, tho an Original “One-Off”, had seen better days, and in truth, the left cuff maintained its association with the rest of the sleeve by but a few tenuous threads! Nonetheless Friends, the Reverend was still the Best-Dressed man in Byron Bay.

Reverend Hellfire; the Best-Dressed Man in Byron Bay!

Reverend Hellfire; the Best-Dressed Man in Byron Bay!

Certainly he appeared to be the only one dressed in black, making it easy for his charming host, the apparently ever-effervescent Riddhi, to spot him.

The hour on radio passes quickly, the Reverend ruminates on his Art and reads judicious selections of his own poetry, as well as a moving rendition of Charles Baudelaire’s majestic epic, “Comes the Charming Evening“.

baudelaire commemorative stamp

Happily Ms Riddhi is a Baudelaire devotee also. The Reverend urges followers to check out her fabulous show sometime, either online or on the air itself. Cool music, unusual guests and interesting discussions.

Check here for further details..

A podcast of this occasion is said to be in the works. Those desiring to hear such a thing should send nagging requests to the appropriate people to speed up the process.


After lunch, courtesy of Ms Riddhi. and more eclectic chat 

the Reverend is set free to wander the streets once more.

A table of holidaying, Upper-Middle Class Divorcees eye him speculatively as he sips Coffee in a trendy Cafe. Is the Reverend being Objectified? Possibly, but people are addicted to window-shopping in Byron Bay.

Eventually he tires of the shops and boulevards and the Beautiful People and returns to the Park and His People,

the Dispossessed, the Homeless, the Down-and-Outs and Outcasts, in whose Company he always feels more comfortable.

He spends the rest of the afternoon in the Sun, rolling the occasional joint while listening to the birds and the wind, watching the multi-hued street parade pass by and thinking many thoughts. He doesn’t quite make it to the beach but he can smell the salt air and he feeds a seagull.

The Rev lays down the law at Byron Bays historic Rails Hotel

The Rev lays down the law at Byron Bays historic Rails Hotel

A strange place Byron Bay. Like the Reverend’s own inner-city enclave of Kurilpa, this once stolidly rural working-class, low income area became for awhile an area where Alternative Types lived. A node on the the counter-cultural Map, a niche where Outsiders of one sort or another could live the Bohemian Lifestyle.

Now Byron Bay is facing the usual pressures such enclaves undergo when the Forces of Yuppification, Progress, and Urban Development come to town. The Three Pigs of the Apocalypse as it were, who have already scarfed down most of the Rev’s own community and still seem hungry for the rest. Meanwhile, the Losers in the Urban Renewal stakes, as always, are left to queue for food parcels and sleep in the parks during the day.

But at sunset his bus rolls out of town and the Reverend is back on board. The bus heads towards the Darkening Mountains. The Western sky is a solid sheet of flaming orange. He makes himself as comfortable as possible on the lumpy, lopsided, threadbare seat, looks out the window and dreams..

baudelaire burning

“Comes the Charming Evening,

the Criminal’s friend.

Comes padding softly on wolf-paws

like a murderers apprentice,

while like some gigantic, alcove curtain

Night across the sky closes,

and Humanity undergoes

its bestial metamorphosis…”

-Charles Baudelaire


Travelling Poetry Man Part 2 to be continued Next Week;


The Suffering


reverend profile red

The Reverend Hellfire is a practising Performance Poet,

President of the Kurilpa Institute of Creativity,

and an Ordained Minister of the Church of the Universe

AND the Church of Spiritual Humanism.

His name is Legend.



~ by reverendhellfire on August 16, 2015.

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