the monster. by Stephen House

when i was forty i lived in new york for two months
after a funded playwright residency at banff in canada
that i’d received through the australian arts department.
it was a special time of travelling around and writing plays.
i found a cheap room in an old character building in harlem.
this part of my travel was self-funded, i wasn’t flash with cash
but the room was fine, low budget was how i was existing
and there were interesting and unusual people living there.
in the mornings i’d do yoga in my room as i do everywhere,
grab some fruit and bagels from a mini-mart for breakfast
and head to my local café to work on my new monologue,
drink coffee and chat to a few other artists i’d met there.

every day after eating lunch i’d take the subway downtown
to hang out in washington square with a poet and musician i’d met,
smoke weed with them and other pot-heads they knew there,
and watch new yorkers with their dogs in the dog park nearby.
towards sunset i’d head to an old un-used hudson river pier
and sometimes hook up with some random guy cruising for sex;
and have fun in an abandoned warehouse or empty industrial lot.
it was near the notorious meatworks district i’d read about in novels
by some of my gay literary heroes, so it felt cool to be in that area.
after eating great food in a either a cheap chinese or mexican joint
i’d go to christopher street and play snooker in a leather gay bar
and drink beer; meeting different guys of all races and leanings.
i wasn’t there to pick up men; avoiding complexities of leaving the bar,
but there was always plenty of action happening in the back room.

every night for fifty four nights i went to a gay club, “the monster”;
line up with others at midnight for my after-dark hit of new york.
it was a mixed race, gender identity, age and socio economics place,
and that’s my thing entirely. some locals called it rough; i loved it.
again i wasn’t there to score men, though i remember meeting a latino
taxi driver and a black architect from jersey city; both were cool dudes.
my last night there a drag-queen, “ima-bitch”, gave me lines of coke
in the toilet and we danced together until sun-rise, and had coffee
before i rode the subway up town to my room to sleep and pack
to leave new york. that was twenty years ago. i’ve never been back.
“the monster” is still there i discovered when i looked it up online.


Stephen House is an award winning playwright, poet and actor. He has had many plays commissioned and produced. He’s won two Awgie Awards (Australian Writer’s Guild), an Adelaide Fringe Award, First Prize Rhonda Jancovich Poetry Award for Social Justice, The Goolwa Poetry Cup, First Prize SA Writers / Feast Short Story Prize and Second Prize Poetry at Sawmillers. He has been shortlisted / highly commended for Lane Cove Poetry Award, Overland’s Fair Australia Fiction Prize, Patrick White Playwright and Queensland Premier Drama Awards, the Tom Collins, Robyn Mathison, Eyre writers, Mindshare, Rhonda Jankovic Poetry Awards, Di Cranston Script Award, and a Greenroom best actor Award. He has received Australia Council Canada and Ireland literature residencies, and an Asia-link India literature residency. He has seen his plays and poems published, including by Currency Press, Australian Script Centre, Australian Poetry Journal, The Blue Nib Ireland and many websites internationally. His poetry collection “real and unreal” was selected for publication by ICOE Press Australia. He travels widely and continues to perform his acclaimed monologues, “Almost Face To Face” and “Appalling Behaviour”.

Website c/o Australian Plays

Publishers link to poetry chapbook, “real and unreal” by Stephen House
Review of “real and unreal” (Glam Adelaide / Australia)
Article / Review “real and unreal” (The Conversation / Australia)