Friday, October 31, 2014



'In the midst of' though not quite, for instance walk to Clifton Hill station to catch train to the City, quick smart through waiting-room, past groups of Cats supporters, bedecked in blue & white scarves & bonnets, onto train to sit a few seats behind black & yellow swathed Tigers fans, and reminded instantly of growing up in England, die hard follower of the Saints in football & speedway, qualified thus as a local, at last graduating from a kind of emigre family's uninvolvement, yet no more connected than that… All the fans alight at Jolimont-MCG for their big game. Saw the huge flood-lights from a station or two before the famous destination, as ever outside looking in…

Similarly in England, first years of home visits after the Exile which twelve continuous years in Oz created… Vicarious for want of belonging, the experience defined as "Ghost" --an invisible man in the middle of jumpin' seaside town. Tried on Dorset accent once as I intersected transaction between gypsy posy vendor & holiday-maker, yet remained unremarked as though unheard, unseen… But it's the writing which delivers me from the nebulous arrangement. In Melbourne I become poet of the Delphi cafe or the Elwood Beach kiosk, in Weymouth poet of the Old Harbour or Radipole Lake --poet of the place the writing makes. Become person --feet on solid ground, head rocking through a very particular air --why wouldn't it riffle reeds, bobble viscous water, prick hot cheeks emerging from The Boot's close atmosphere --loaded with one or another of Ringwood Brewery's traditional beers, primarily Old Thumper but nothing wrong with Fortyniner, even the Best Bitter or, for a complete change of taste, the Guinness…

[4th May,'14 (July, '14)]


Take your chances in Young & Jackson's main bar since this time the side bar's too cramped & Twilight Zone-ish, if you know what I mean, like the one arm bandits bar at the Clocks on Princes Bridge, last section of which overlooks the river, not only society's flotsam & jetsam but Time's. In the main bar, plenty of room by the taps to order & peaceably wait. It's Guinness so that's hardly loose talk. Young Gurkha who serves me is yet to acclimatise. It won't be long he says. But at Y & J' s you pays your money & happily wait.

NRL on the big screen, Rugby League's halftime rap, which then reverts to Aussie Rules, Gold Coast Suns vs Sydney Swans. The camera only has eyes for Ablett, class act of the competition, picked out for merely breathing, gold dusted, shimmering in the winter sunshine, like the woman suddenly alongside me, not drinking but studying the screen, in her own space, and truth is I'd noticed her when I bought my Guinness, sitting high on a stool she was, at the long table at the top of the bar, distinctive blond hair escaping brown cowboy hat. Then I'm aware of brown coat long to her ankle boots & her unflinching self-containedness. And at last the Guinness has risen, the beautiful long drop, full bodied, cream on top.

In a way this fraction of a session is compensation for not finding either Michael Hartnett's or Peter Fallon's poems on the Irish shelves at the Shop, urged on me by Libby Hart one Thursday afternoon which was confirmation of the feeling growing in me for Irish writing but also Scottish, anything not English, which comes upon me from time to time, the marvellous resource it is, like Guinness. I'd come in, extra-mural, for the Gary Snyder I'd forgotten there & needed at home to work with. Found the Snyder at once but wandered over to the Irish section like a kid in a  candy store, alone among the books. No individual collection, as I say, but some Hartnett translation of Nuala Ni Dhomhnaill, yet enough of an eyeful to boost the image of the impending drink at Y & J's! Hurried down the stairs of the Nicholas building, onto the chocka Swanston Street, through the blue sky chill which may as well be the same cut piercing t-shirt & jumper as accosts you in the England I remember or the Ireland Libby had talked about.

Entered the bar with the Hartnett translations from the Gaelic in my shoulder bag and straight into the pint thought of all the way into town. And suddenly popping into my head the actual comment I wanted to make to the man requesting the new Gerald Murnane back in the Shop recently, instead of the small talk, though accurate, around a flicked upon upon sentence which grew into several pages, a section I could have followed forever, with which I entertained the both of us. And now I realise it was the first paragraph of the promotional sheet accompanying A Million Windows, "Gerald Murnane, from a letter to Teju Cole, April 2013", as follows : "I hardly needed to remind you that I think of mind as space. I long ago rejected the popular theories of the mind advanced in the Twentieth century. For me, mind is extent and, quite possibly, endless, that is to say, infinite. This would entail, I suppose, the belief that all minds are one or even that everything is mind, but that sort of speculation is not for me. I have enough to do during my lifetime with uncovering the patterns of imagery in my corner of mind without seeking further." All of which is to say that whatever's in mind, or what's in place or in train, in or as mind, enjoys coalescence, seamless adhesion, of time & space, known as the incidents & objects thereof.

All of that, all of this, the public bar's voluminous etcetera --and why not stand on ceremony --of Melbourne itself, ancestor felons, free or freed settlers (though no one like me can talk credibly of 'ancestors' --our account's dribbled out in & as generations on no parchment but the black ink entries of births, deaths & marriages in cased municipal Domesday registers)-- I am johnny-come-lately in what pundits of every complexion call the end of time. And all of this the only Australia I stand up in, leaning on an Ireland, so it seems, compacted in poetry & stout, for as long as fate's deemed I'm removed from fatherland, compromised as that may be for the both of us, Dad & I, our mothers protractored either pole of the immense & pink blushed continent of Africa…

[8-19/6/14 (October, '14)]

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