Friday, January 5, 2018

TOPOGRAPHY



[---> Elwood
1/1/18

10.05's allowed to  be late any time missus
if it means ma & pa kettle
can stumble up to Clifton Hill terminus
from the 'Garth
& catch it at ten past ten --
long runs of clear traffic on New Year's Day
deserted roads no one aboard the bus --
after first fusillade of midnight fireworks
hit the hay (a la Heaney "I dreamt we slept in a moss
in Donegal / On turf banks under blankets
"
misremembered always from P. Gebhardt's
rare edition of Glanmore Sonnet number ten
"laid down my head on a square of turf"  --Peter ay?
last post cuts through all the crap right here --as Retta
in '73 upon waking --of Buckmaster
"the dead come back to us / like clear water
in a dream
" --how to deal with this
unannounced convocation
Seamus --Peter -- Charles?)
slept like a --like the proverbial --

cop cars & ambulance pass bus unhurriedly --
dance of cirrus across pure azure --
down Punt Road's gentle hill & icons
Bill Nuttall's Niagara Gallery the cricket ground & no parking
park --the Cricketers pub & the topless barmaids other one --
thirty years since "The Last Gardens" preoccupied me --
Judith Rodriguez at Penguin Books when was that?
late '80s '90? wrote despite this or that part
it was "intractable" ( i.e. didn't give a shit
for 'readers'?) --both Nick Johnson & John Kinsella
read & liked it but it got lost
& then i lost the yen for publishing it!
mystical milieu of my poem all around the Royal Botanical --
& the river --
South Yarra's posh European tone --
like Gauloises wafting Italian equivalent --
tonal mist the gist of it --
scuffing past the fine houses --
does periphery qualify as stuff of history?
invisible at the edges Poet's remit
though Poetry itself another element
amidst the powers that be!

down down now into the hip hop of St Kilda Junction
the massive dial --
fifty years ago another configuration
pre-motorway historic shops & housing
old world's demolition --
ritzy then as now --Kings Cross's little Melbourne
cousin --same vibe now as before on
Fitzroy Street --recognize the "bums
beatniks & bastards"from pre-Oz Emigration manuscript --
anticipated in Southampton
holding out for another world --
after library & gallery the general cemetery
far preferable for mooning teenage artist
to our village bloated by housing boom
into anonymous nowhere's-ville

every summer's destination ELWOOD --hollowed from
sea's reverberation heard on late afternoon's approach
escaped from City "Gone Fishing" the notice
pinned on bookshop door --
a sense of pre-fabs among the grand olds
extending from St Kilda --the ephemeral straggle
DHL identified Sydney to Thirroul
that "next wind might blow away" --
Elwood's beach house encampment
emigres' struggles resolved within cooee
of beach & water --pre-de luxe marina
& walking paths era --
rough & ready 'off the rocks'
at year's turn 1966 --
closest ever came to Greece --Miller's Colossus 
fomented idée fixe --free at last
& subject only to sand & sea & wave-slapped rocks
beneath great southern sun --
Greek idyll dreamt of in
Southampton parks laid in
fully clothed in summer
huddled in winter
Old Dart's natural season --

ten minutes stroll from Thackeray Street
over the Beach Road & rugged landfill to the sea --
lodging with Penny Poynton in her little house
whose mercy delivered me from the calamity
across town in Ascot Vale --
how could love come undone so?
not love but its ambivalent rhetoric --
young & old tied in knots by it --
much vaunted home of free-spirits
free-love FREEDOM contorted into haunted house --
ghosts of suicide & murder spooking art-of-life's
studio --as tho (& no flippant reference
as my ideal reader could guess)
Dostoevsky's darkest direst testament
had obliterated Khalil Gibran's enlightenment --
overnight! --
curses threats desperate sex --
death's door off the latch & not the half of it!

last January fifty years ago
took new met girl there to greet
could say fellow exiles part-
Bohemian part-suburban
in the almost sweet Peace of Penny's house
by the sea ("the sea! the sea!") --
after Ascot Vale such equanimity
a kind of blasphemy they might have said --
and the Peace lasted --
for a while --
and can only smile now
by the sea
the sea


[1-5 January, 2018]

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