Sunday, December 28, 2014


To be an innocent just hit town, walking down Flinders Lane from the Nicholas Building toward Elizabeth Street, and cross paths with loping, lunging, grimacing, gesturing man, waving bleeding hand & shouting This is Hell, demanding of the figures to the left & right of him or even in the air since his gaze is there, Cant you see? ---Imagine dreamy kid, any summer since "Flowers In Our Hair" but haywire Spring 2014 which one day'll have that handle to it, as beginnings are memorialised as must be, the mystical angle anyone brings to the resonant years ---Innocent as Charles Buckmaster summoned from tunnel of 42 years only yesterday by Barry Dickins who puffed out relief & smile that at last he'd found the Bookshop & myself in residence, a long time he'd been looking for or thinking of or wishing it ---I met Charles Buckmaster once, he said, at his bookshop, The Source, & invited him to come to my show of paintings at the Athenaeum, and took him there right then & opened up the gallery for him, put the lights on, and he looked at the paintings but didn't say much ---Barry says Charles' father was a painter, beautiful chocolate-box landscapist, Ernest Buckmaster---Um, uncle I say, ---and we drank some wine, and I liked him Barry says ---and saw him another time ---and then heard he'd shot himself --same as his brother, same gun I say ---same as Hemingway he says ---Barry right then eyes lowered from the postered wall and my face, down to the counter level, stopped in his tracks by our naming of suicide ---And I'm not sure whether Barry isn't the more likely figure of the innocence I've retained for Charles via memory of the knowing of him in 1968-'69, corresponding with the schoolboy for weeks before we physically met, and then after leaving Melbourne for England '69-'72 receiving his hopeful epistles, returning to Melbourne then but not to see him, put off by mutual friends that he was in a deeply anti-social phase ---Could be that I was being protected by them from the total deshabille of a fallen angel given my language had fashioned a Melbourne family of poets, Melbourne's Black Mountain (& read commune for college) if you will, whose collective love & genius was poetry's carapace, impregnable whatever politics' & personalities' tumult ---And they'd known of our correspondence, the teaching & nurturing, the expectation of most joyous restoration upon long awaited return ---as Black Mountain's mysterium had transferred to the West's hinterland & coast so now, after England, the bush & beach, mountains & sea of Australia promised similar extension---partly fulfilled but maintained thereafter in & as the Dream ---To be protected from the reality of  addiction & its degradation, similarly depression, the dissolution of dreams, the letting it all go, everyone's failing? ---Ken Taylor's Nothing Could Be Done echoed by the others, Michael, John, Ian, Garrie et al ---so strong the investment in 'our' & 'us', poetry scene & poem-making as togetherness, Charles' death was a mortal blow ---Despite the three years of Whitlam-Cairns Australia, hippiedom's Indian Summer, whatever-it-was was over ---Innocent as I seem to have been, innocent as Barry himself appreciating the humour & absurdity of our daily lives but constantly amazed by the cruelties, incredulous that the heaven on earth should or could be undermined, each long sentence of his stories ending with a sigh ---A long long lane it is though, irregularly spaced by drops of the troubled soul's blood upon the pavement, like tears or big raindrops on hot dusty road, tracking his lurch all the way back to the Elizabeth Street crossing ---Innocent at start of this tale would have passed the man who crouches in the alley, eyes averted, chain-smoking, all day every day, burrowing into the flagstones from which he may have emerged  --And the Middle-eastern belly-dancer whom I've picked for an exhibitionist, arms above his close-cropped head, revolving pelvis to the music percolating from his little amp, but then brings hand to face & produces impish peek-a-boo, and suddenly it's a performance, his nasty grin, tiny steps, abdominal gyration a species of theatre, sacred transvestite albeit unshaven in couldnt-care-less grey trackies & sandals ---My point is that it's all to be interpreted as Amazing World ---Now innocent's all eyes for queues outside of new coffee-shop (which once housed ancestor bookseller Ross Reading's final store), & tourist group following guide's description of historic architecture, & buskers in-between sets sitting on milk-crates, & students of all ages in & out the CAE,  & hairdressing trainees in white uniforms lighting-up, & lame & elderly's discombombulated snail-pace overtaken by the determined blind, & skateboarders, & young corporates without ties, & travellers carrying mountains of equipment departing backpacker hostel for airport Skybus, & slow prams, & fast pushchairs, & bikes ridden or wheeled or padlocked to racks, knocked flat by passers by or awkwardly parking truck ---And within the innocence described another feeling or gleaning which makes of this present cavalcade a match for the culture's previous great change ---It's as if we've returned to the Sixties or that the Sixties never disappeared, that is to say on this particular strip & on this day, its signature is reinstated in the strolling, ambling, eating, drinking, everyday Sunday Market's perpetual pedestrian traffic surrounded by the city's music, daily festival of Flinders Lane including though not every day Ross Hannaford's quintessential jazz & blues, every whichway guitar with tablas mate alongside, scruffly toughly duo,  real class for not so fast passers by, remembering something? ---Same flowers & hair of once-upon-a-time Right Here…

[November, 2014]

No comments: