Tuesday, December 15, 2015


Silver-gulls & terns, some standing, some pecking, in & amongst the mat of seaweed strung along shoreline ebb & flow. I'm old man today, sat on bench absorbing late morning sun & warmth, collar up against breeze, picking in & amongst the map that living's made, this life's final lap. Almost fifty years ago I'm hereabouts too, writing in exercise book my Song of the Sea. For all they called me prolific I confess not much of it published. No regrets, certainly since publishing's yen dissolved. Compelled, though, to write, en plain air. Dinghies out to sea. Three kids in black swim-suits splashing in the warmest part, incubator pool of seaweed & old jetty, like the Russians I think whose great-grandchildren these could be, the old St Kilda Russians of fifty years ago, and all through the recent decades, bending the compass to accommodate the Caspian in this Port Phillip Bay. Room too for Hemingway, that is me as Hemingway, looking out at the sea from the beach, bathed in sun & warmth, dreaming up his old man story. I'd like him to have been in Miami but fact is he's on that beach in the Bahamas : Miami'd have been David's sling-shot to the Cuba of his good times and where his last great tale is set.   

After swimming, one stands on the sand, age dripping off like the water. Conventionally, youthfulness the only reference, present moment's bare skin defeating history. The weight of years evaporates in the sun. But today, I havent swum. I'm snug on the bench, and age is the sea-shell I'm curled inside. Sea-shell my house, without even the weight a tortoise naturally bears. The tortoise metaphor's been mine for yonks : history inextricably ours, carried wherever we go.  Perhaps the tortoise's shell was a deflection of the definitive burden accompanying my saint's name awarded by Aunt Lydia, dislodged when I exchanged nomme de plume for given name, age 16.

"Ageing gracefully" manifestly not the point : age is the grace. Instead of frustration, anxiety, unrequited ambition there's --almost embarrassed to say it, as though pompous & vain --contentment.

Like Hemingway's old fisherman, who knew how not to be angry… He no longer let anger get to him, get the better of him. He was over it, had out-gunned it, oh a long time before. Gift, like peaceful sea is, watcher's sea... dreaming the fishing only ever once experienced (this is me now, Kris Hemensley!)  three days on the water around Port Arlington, 1966, two nights dropping the dredge, sorting the coagulated catchThe overcoming deep in him & upon him, on the bench, in the sun, facing the sea…


Sunday, November 22, 2015



Wake to 'friend request' from Giona Beltrametti! (Wake to the light of day, of course. Raise bamboo blind for Ushas… Flick desk-computer on…) Giona is Franco's spitting image. Notice the birthdate in the Facebook sidebar. 1966, five years older than Tim Hemensley. Son loses father, father loses son. Good morning Giona, good mourning… Twentieth anniversary of Franco Beltrametti's death --Franco, like so many other British, American & European poets, ushered my way by Tim Longville at Grosseteste Review, editor & proselytiser supreme...

"I am not immune", said in softest caveat upon involuntary vanity that perceiving flux spares one from its fateful vicissitudes --insight more fragile than Lao monk-blessed baci such as Catherine ties around my wrist, protection ensured by animist conflation of material & metaphor (--we've been here before : the feminine's place in all of this --60s & '70s paeans to the immortal dyad; fusion then return to sovereign parts, over & again, women & men in ecstasy's every combination --and recall '80s reading of the slanders upon Lou Andreas Salome for a sister's collegiality with Nietzsche, Rilke, Freud, Buber, analogy of the further trivialisation by contemporary sexual politics of muse, soul-mate, lover, protege --and I admit my head full of fathers, sons, brothers here but sisters, mothers, neither lesser nor ever  forgotten) --yet while the moment flares with knowledge, the infinite delight of illumination subtracts from commensurate world. In no way a handicap when one belatedly realises Franco Beltrametti isn't narrator of the peripatetic (except of the means it is to experience geography as itinerary, simultaneous & indivisible), but meditator he is upon transience & impermanence, the willingly conscious & joyous recorder of world-as-time : "imagine : incurable! a precise / sensation (not unpleasant -- not pleasing) / that everything is happening somewhere else / at the speed of light SVAAAM while here / 24 hours in a bolt of lightning of 6months as it was / the twisting road / up and down across the valley [3/31/70]"

Apropos 'joyous' : I wonder what my own brother Bernard wrote to him in 1992 for Franco to hope I'd be "more joyous soon"? Twenty-three years since their correspondence & five years after Bernard published it in facsimile (Stingy Artist Editions, UK, folded card; Franco Beltrametti, Two letters to Nado / Bernard Hemensley, 2 poems i.m. Franco Beltrametti) I ask myself again : weren't those good years for me? The return to England beginning 1987, visits every or every other year. Discovering the S W Victorian coast, reflection it would be, John Anderson promised, of my new found Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, --Port Campbell to Warnambool, little towns nestled within limestone cliff & agricultural green, pummeled by Bass Straight & Southern Ocean. This time of new reading & thinking in philosophy & religion. New writing albeit substantially relinquishing publishing. Perhaps post partum anguish each time leaving England, dramatising life-long identity questions, -- but what misery implied?

After Bill Brown & Maggie Brown, most named is Franco Beltrametti in James Koller's Snows Gone By : New & Uncollected Poems, 1964-2002. For example in the poem of 30 Nov 1995 :
 "Rising before me now
these mountains are the Sierra,
where you built your house.
Remember the sign : three peaks.
You & I found them,
Truth or Consequences.
I take out the red
harp, Raffaella's, play it --
hear your shadow
caught in the wind."

Helped select it, probably build it. Friendship was never more brotherly… To see a shadow 'caught in the wind'  startling enough, but to 'hear a shadow' plays with kinaesthesia whilst eliciting 'shade' from 'shadow'.

In Jim Koller's Coyote's Journal, #10, 1974, are Franco's Five Poems : linked (and linked by Franco or Koller)? They don't follow chronologically --February '72, November '71, January '72 --but unsequenced in Face to Face (Grosseteste Review Books, UK, '73) which suggests they're random. Yet, thematically, if the (SHORT REPORT) : (TOWARDS NOVEMBER) is a five-part poem's foundation, then a psychedelic sense could be made of "a series of irresistible waves / from all directions", or "1, 2, 3 rainbows", given the explicit reference "A. Rouhier, le Peyotl, 1927 Paris"… Hadn't checked before --imagined a Paris street upon which may as well be unknown rake illicitly tripped out! But belatedly discover the pharmacist & Left Bank book publisher Alexandre Rouhier is the man, one of Andre Breton's hundred guiding heads, mescaline experimenter in the wake of Havelock Ellis & others, --the occultist Monsieur Rouhier, member of one of several underground cells, student of Fulcanelli & spoken of in same excited breath as Alistair Crowley, his "astonished eyes" as per "La Plante Qui Fait les Yeux Emeveilles : Le Peyotl", a good look for Franco & the '70s desert mountain back-country crazy gang whose total countercultural beckoning ironically induced in me the opposite reaction, freezing one in English forbidding, making perfect halfway house of Australia, as though it were the Gauguinian, Whitmanic come-all-ye Down Under, --until now that is, NOW! that these alchemical documents thaw the erstwhile timid set, flow & fly one into Illumination (poetry & world thereof)…


Nothing met, named, without contiguities which aggregate Real World. Same apparent obliquity first appreciated in Jung's reading of family tree. Nothing more certain than psyche nor misleading as genome, --synchronicity, sirrah, not logical progression...

Two peas in a pod, Aunty Lod of my brother Bernard & I. I didn't plan the radical separations 1966-69 or, as potentially corrosive for all its benefice, the exile I came to call it, 1975-87. Air-letter correspondence there was, the correspondence which carried the entire poetry scene, both local & international.  But from children to old men are the essential divergent journeys, mutually exclusive experiences & investments, partial to the Way's myriad matings. And brief or extended circumstance parents all manner of relation, chips off old block, motes in ur-family's eternal light.

For some years I've misremembered Charles Olson telling Lew Welch at the 1965 Berkeley reading (transcribed by Zoe Brown, published by Jim Koller's Coyote Books, '66), "I'm not your father, you had a father!" Now, as I read it again I find it's otherwise. Olson's talking about Worcester ("Wow, I never wrote about Gloucester like this."), reading from An Ode on Nativity, --banter with Lew Welch follows but at this stage of the night Olson confesses : "I am a perfect father, until I am not. And that's another thing I hope is happening tonight, Robert [Duncan]. And I know that beautiful story which you've told to me, that you said a thing which cleared me when you told Richard Duerden, 'He's, Olson's not your father. You had a father.' Am I right?" (The exchange with Welch always struck me as paternal, even paternalistic yet imbued with the kind of love that leadership, as epitome or at least ramification of responsibility, implies. The relationship's ambiguous for although Welch is his own man & no kid at 39, he & Olson are colleagues within a family & community of which poetry is the life-blood. --parents, aunts & uncles, siblings born & adopted… ) In the transcript, Olson is speaking about writing & publishing & the status of talking (addressing the world as if arbitrary room has become the ideal) -- : "I am now publishing. Tonight. Because I'm talking writing." Whatever he was thinking, Lew responds with the literal, "I read forty-seven times last year? Forty-seven!" Olson corrects him as he must : "Baby. Oh, I'm not-- Reading? This is a-- Are you kidding? You think this is anything but a-- […] I mean I think this is a political occasion…"

Ken Taylor wasn't my father yet his welcoming me in Melbourne,'67/'68, felt like it. I should have been prodigal son for my own father, but wouldn't have a chance to perform that role until late '69 when I returned to Southampton from Australia, by then fully fledged Melbourne poet & playwright, new husband & new Australian! But it didn't transpire; there was no reconciliation. Even the appearance of his first grandchild, Tim, didn't displace primary rancour. Not until 1987 when I was 41 and Dad 67, did he acknowledge me as an independent adult! With Ken, sixteen years my senior, amity was expressed in the combined relief & delight of mutual recognition, a relationship  which inaugurated the New Melbourne Poetry centred on the La Mama cafe theatre, late '67, early '68 and on, ultimately appreciated as a domain of the New Australian Poetry, the Australian wing of the international "new"… Back in the day, Geoff Eggleston nominated Ken & I as the La Mama poets' "elder brothers", while Ken referred to La Mama's inner circle as "brothers & sisters". Far away from Australia's sun & sea, I thrilled to reports of the brothers & sisters piling into Ken's kombi van, driving to Merricks on the Mornington Peninsula, seventy odd k from Melbourne, to commune & cavort, and why not a version of Kesey & Cassady's magic bus, Taylor's Pranksters… Thrilled & envied --my gift it seems for always missing one or the other country's great cultural events : working in London in '65 at the time of the Albert Hall Reading, I was both timid & unbelieving that the Evening Standard's headline (BEATS COME TO TOWN or BEATS TAKE OVER THE ALBERT HALL) could possibly be true; --in Melbourne in '67 missing, therefore, England's Summer of Love; --in Southampton '70-'72, missing the momentous Moratorium marches in Melbourne, and Ginsberg & Ferlinghetti's visits to Australia for good measure! Et cetera. Of course much to be counted on the other hand…

In 1970, Frank Prince was certainly old enough to have been my father, 58 to my 24. From the start he welcomed me as a new friend into his just then rejuvenating literary life --Stuart & Deirdre Montgomery at Fulcrum Press, via Lee Harwood, were bringing out his Memoirs at Oxford, his first book of poetry since The Doors of Stone, in 1963. He imagined my coming from Australia to England, albeit a return, as similar to his migration to England from South Africa in the '30s, when also in his twenties. Of course, the English wouldn't do this, he told me referring to my zeal for correspondence & communication, soliciting poems for my magazine, describing it as the "colonial energy" exemplified by Pound! Eliot wrote the better poems, he said, but Pound was the poet, the figure who attracted one to poetry as a life. Son or young friend? He complained to me once or twice of difficulties with his own children, whom I figured were older than I, as though we were contemporaries, fathers & men of the world, (--Henry Bolingbroke sotto voce in his cousin Westmoreland's ear of the disappointment young Hal was, especially compared to Hotspur)… Ken Taylor, similarly I recall, granting that parity, sounding me out, '68 or '69, on the New Age protocols concerning wives & their occasional suitors, accepting my advice that punching out the Natural History chap from BBC Bristol was ridiculous & patronising, as plainly antiquated & bad as forbidding one's spouse, he said,  to smoke cigarettes in public!

One time Frank asked me to accompany him to a  reading by poets from Southampton University, down town somewhere --the Bargate or St Michael's House?-- but at the last minute couldn't bring himself to attend. He hoped I'd still go, essentially to be his spy. I imagine he'd rather renounce his faith so adamant was he not to be there! In a sense his absence was a continuing renunciation of the literary life he'd surely conceived back in the '30s, perhaps defending himself from a repeat of the rejection which followed Eliot, his hero's, initial lionisation. Generally speaking he was a loner and until the Fulcrum Press volume not expecting a renewal of the celebrity he'd enjoyed before & after his war-time poem, Soldiers Bathing. Speculate that the Southampton University prof was at odds with the poet and only after moving on (via a series of overseas appointments) did the poet rejoin the wider world. Not quite true though --he was as happy to meet "the younger poets" as Andrew Crozier, upon hearing of our friendship, was keen for such engagement to occur. I felt then that Andrew, like me, subscribed to lineage & amelioration. It was ripe time, long overdue, for Frank Prince to meet with us, Andrew said. What did or didnt transpire at our Portswood tete-a-tete is another matter but I brought the poets (the Johns, Hall & Riley), he got the beer & Elizabeth the supper! He'd begun to subscribe to the Grosseteste Review journal & books in response to my enthusiastic prompting. He was on the board of the Poetry Review during Eric Mottram's editorship and whatever his opinion of the poetry said he believed in the younger generation, characterised by 'feeling' in terms of love & protest. It was the same feeling he was moved I'd found in his otherwise stumpy rhymed Oxford poem, as I described it in a review I blush to recall, --the feeling animating form he'd explain, --from which I extrapolate the vital part of romanticism's issue modernism, --I hear him saying that, except that he didnt, though modernism out of romanticism is his --not yet stifled by the Auden ascendancy --"a bit of a fat head" he'd quipped, rival we suppose, --over whom he briefly enjoyed Eliot's favour --but of all such brevity, jewel flash moment, is this life made...

[1-11-15 / 22-11-15]


Of Franco Beltrametti, to Judith Danciger

"whisky wont lack"? Dear Judith what
ever i'm missing of your translation
this Englishing'll do for me :

whisky no end of (wouldn't say no
black ones [bears] no end of (no shortage (overrun


curiosity no end of (vivacity (naturally turned on
Franco no end of

no end of simpatico lifting into
whole heart sky
blooming from vulnerable chest
no end of exultation
heroic for its heedlessness
of ever more tedious


exclamations !!!!!

!!!!! flowers


Wednesday, October 28, 2015

i.m. John Riley, 1937- d. October 27/8, 1978 and John Anderson, 1948-d. October 28,1997


Midnight Interrogation
(A review of John Riley's
Ways of Approaching)

the feet of the old begetters make your dozen
jump : the new images observe each other
a tickle it is the freer the line the
more wilful the stirrings : no 
one halts the caravan with such
avarice as you

you would tell the first inhabitants get
out & walk if their promenade across
the mind's peace the ash-woods the
cleared fields made parade of
Oh tis Autumn or
this view Lady & you
& by the same token would
deliver you to the dreadings of your
perennial night-walk on a platter the
lines of doomed auxiliaries felling the 
after-dinner song & 
the scents of mint & nasturtiums at the
poem's centre nothing to

the nothing at your centre the
flight of love's victims the
collision of affectations & easy
procedures with love's caravan : the nothing
of which you write it's
nothing you say secured on the
base-line of an empathy with the beautiful gardens & a
native lad running his kite 




The Last Sulk

(acausal parallelism : ) train stopped. the (unmistakable)
river bird preens its leg of our conjunction. never 
ending city reducing vitality trailing out
along the line. mile upon mile. so what "a tennis court"
but suddenly a silver generator's just fine. John Anderson'
s the poet who explodes our "white ibis". relegated*
to a footnote is simply not what we will be. what will
he be? what will we be? Last Quill & Restaurant. 
i'm looking forward to the great blank news.
the next decade is requisitioned. whether singing 
or tilling it's our first chosen beginning.
her hair or land-mist & rivulet
red lines in my fingers. he said/she said
kiss me. almost did. provided for in day-dream.
their fare's a kind of Zion. two birds on that pond.
more mist in the eucalypts of the valley.
sunshine on rising mist & smoke-stack's
grey climb. HITLER'S WAR i'm languorous
demurring "mine". its hill profusion &
dimpled plain. & trapped fog again.
i cant help thinking Our Power Was Thrown Away.
green so swiftly purple (verdigris). i'd settled
for nothing tending the abscess my fingers
trailing through air instead of their red hair.
A NIGHTMARE. tunnel through granite. then
smooth curve of river & never-a-care.
hard to proceed from there. i hanker after
rank lines. that buggerizing jalopy the
rhyme & style. resting motors on the highway
not one car to pace the train. 
think no more.
deny upbringing's cadence.
LOST!  but in which vernacular forest forest
host of heaven. i go home
i see brown rushes
i see broken branches sawn trunks
a by-road's damp patch
pulling red lines from their hair
my fingers curl flail no more the empty air
my fingers couched in the ardent there

* there now gasp!
rapture aside
aspiring on my time
red lines at my throat

[June, '79]

Sunday, October 25, 2015


On the 21st October, anniversary of Kerouac's birthday (--birthday? --his death day dammit! though any of us who've known deep loss begin at some time to confuse the birth & death dates-- a memorial conflation, both happy & sad, forever fused),  I'm reading Lee Kofman's article Muses on Fire, excerpted from Kill Your Darlings magazine, reprinted in The Victorian Writer, April '15 issue, which I'd missed having been back home in England when it arrived and not seen till now. The iconic photograph of Cassady & Kerouac on full facing page catches my eye, apt even synchronous that it should crop up at this moment what with our HOWL 60th event of the 10th October still buzzing! Nothing like an anniversary to twig period, person, place. At every switched-on turn right now there's Ginsberg, Kerouac, Ferlinghetti et al. On Dave Moore's Jack Kerouac group's Facebook page I see Duane Potosky's drawing of Neal, no hands cigarette between his lips. There's Kerouac too, and on the artist's page sketches of his own stars of film, music, literature. Reading Lee Kofman and  thinking of Karl Gallagher, who's been in my mind since Dave Ellison rang to tell me that our friend, painter, poet, on-line publisher of Fitzroy Dreaming, is in hospital, bearing up, in a good frame of mind he says, being well looked after. I mean to say, Karl Gallagher! --first candidate for what we've named the D M, that zone of heaven & earth where the desperate mystics disport, --desperate only as Lee Kofman has quoted Kerouac, "the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn like fabulous yellow candles…" --this "now legendary sentence" she calls it…

Digress here (--as though all or any of this isn't! --this hold-all prose --parenthetical --dervish-turning to reach the essence of the impulse to begin --and begin one must-- starting out with a few accessories, literary equivalents of apple, chocolate, pen-knife --thanks Boy's Own Dad for that! --thus Kerouac, Kofman, Gallagher shoring up the expedition) : found an email from Paul & Ann Smith recording same news of Karl plus a phone-number to call, which I do today, 24th October, reporting to H.Q., touching base. Kerouac's birthday I say, not yet aware of my mistake. Is it? he says. Fancy that. And how was the Howl reading? Kerouac running around with the jugs of wine, did you do that? Hah! Helped ourselves! And who read Howl? Several poets, I say, male & female voices reprising & renovating the original. Organised by George Mouratides, who's one of the four younger scholars who edited the Scroll version of On the Road --I suggested or recruited a few readers, David Pepperell, Ken Trimble, Larry Schwartz. I was Mr Rexroth as MC, joking & kindly growling --and Ken Trimble… Ah, he's the real thing isn't he, Karl says… he read the McClure poems, I said --he's off on his world tour next year with new book of poems --Melbourne, Kyneton, & New Mexico with… Begin to pronounce "Joe Bottone" but swallow what could have spun into another Beat/God saga, though every reason to extol Joe's new poems, billowing sumptuous as the refrain of the Nick Cave song Into My Arms, which Ken's current poems coincidentally chime, and judging from his Facebook, Merton & Bede fulsomely in the wings… Image in mind now of Joe's monastery, Camaldoli, often quoted by Ken following his visit to Big Sur, and of Father Bede's Shantivanam, similarly experienced --also, sudden glinting, Bede Griffiths' Prinknash Abbey in Gloucestershire preceding Dom Sylvester Houedard --hah! hardly believe it! --comes to me out of the blue --sad to say out of the nowhere the British counter-culture's largely consigned to --Dom Sylvester as various as Merton, monk & poet of that era, Sixties & Seventies increasingly incredible as one's own momentum turns full circle effecting belated consideration & remembering… And then of image of Meherabad as shown me over the years by Dave Elison, but most recently illustrating one of Paul Smith's verse memoirs from his own New Humanity Books,  inscribed in my mind from Karl's postings of his pilgrimages, with Phil Motherwell too, among fellow Baba lovers, amidst less Indian cliche dust & petals than fertile Maharashtra lawn & grove…

Returning to Lee Kofman --she's keenly aware of brilliance's terrible other half, I say to Karl --exemplary of Neal Cassady & June Miller in the article : "while 'burning people' have the gift for making those around them feel fully alive by rendering the everyday into a glittering fairytale, in the process they often burn themselves out".  I'm wary of imposing too long with this hospital phone-call. Though he's been up for it he eventually says he'll probably hang up, but not before hailing Cassady & Kerouac. You know, he says, spiritual guys would go to San Quentin to talk to the prisoners, and they'd sometimes see Cassady, at the back, and he'd be glowing…Yes, and Kerouac, --the hopeless alcoholic, Karl says matter-of-fact.You were onto him quite young too? Yes, heard of him before I first read him… Dropped out of College, '64, desperate for deliverance from the cultureless town, poet & artist I assumed I was, --looking for any way out of it --escape to Paris? --quashed --Wales then, great in some respects but fell out with the mate I'd gone with-- hung out at the wonderful Southampton Art Gallery and the amazing upstairs Reference section of the Central Library --my 'further education'! --found Ihab Hassan writing on the post WW2 Americans, describing Charles Olson, for example, as the 'Dean of the Beats', --the Beats! Read about them, took notes in little fold-over letter-pad --but the first Kerouac I actually read was Big Sur, which was one of the numerous paperbacks I was selling in tiny kiosque aboard Sitmar Line'sFairstar late '65, the job I'd been demoted to after failing to cut it in the big shop according to my managers, --obliged to wear northern waters' blues and tropical whites past the Equator but evidently not really presentable to the passengers, aside from my atrocious attempts tying products in the hold for hoisting up to the main deck! --they were glad to hide me behind that little hatch, selling cigarettes, confectionary, & paperbacks! --and one day I picked it out, BIG SUR : "The story of the crack up of the King of the Beats" --and disbelievingly opened it --but the impact of that first line : "The church is blowing a sad windblown "Kathleen" on the bells in the skid row slums as I wake up all woebegone and goopy, groaning from another drinking bout and groaning most of all because I'd ruined my 'secret return' to San Francisco by getting silly drunk" & et cetera has remained with me these fifty years --I was his boy, once & for all!  Quick thoughts in my head about autobiography as history, and the chronicle poems of my friend Philip Kanlides, and, quite a propos, the celebrated Pi O whose epic, Fitzroy, was launched a week ago. Karl says, Kerouac kills a mouse and he's guilty & sad forever. Reading Kerouac, Karl says, I was knocked out by his honesty… I never heard someone talk about God so openly, he says. We share taking-it-all-in chuckles. Boys or old men, no where else to go.

[--fin, 25th October, '15
Westgarth, Oz--]

Sunday, October 18, 2015

The HOWL Report


[Posts shared/retrieved from Facebook]

(October 4, '15)

DAVID PEPPERELL : Dear George. Thanks for the ad [HOWL reading at Collected Works Bookshop : Saturday, 10th October, '15] and thank you for including me in your Six Gallery Commemoration. I'm looking very forward to being a part of a celebration of the very beginning of the Beat Generation. Just a pedantic point - I'm sure you know that Phil Lamantia did not read his own poetry at the Six Gallery but those of his recently deceased friend John Hoffman. Those poems are in the back of Lamantia's City Lights book "Tau". Wouldn't it be good to read at least one of those as a tribute to a poet lost at 21 to a peyote overdose in Mexico?

GEORGE MOURATIDES : Thanks so much for being part of this, David. Yes, I absolutely agree with you re. Lamantia and Hoffman. I have a copy of that book and have asked Larry Schwartz to do some Hoffman and maybe one or two Lamantia... Really looking forward to meeting you... Peace and blue notes

DAVID PEPPERELL : That's great George and thank you for including me. I am delighted that casual remark of mine to Kris Hemensley a few years ago has borne fruit. Thank you so much for organising it.


(October 6, '15)
The HOWL Report!!!

Great to hear from Jude Telford : "wowee zowee HOWL it was my fave .... I used to work in a book and record shop in Toronto back in the 70`s and I placed HOWL by the cash register ." Now that's an unintentionally funny juxtaposition! Discuss $$$$$ later... !

The event on Saturday a/noon at Collected Works coordinated by George Mouratides (who as people may or may not know, is one of the 4 younger scholars who worked on Penguin's "SCROLL" edition of On The Road) is unique as far as i can see looking around the Web...
Our celebration/commemoration is anchored, as it ought to be, by Ginsberg's Howl, and includes poems by the other readers at the Six Gallery (7 Oct 1955), namely Lamantia (who read J Hoffman), McClure, Whalen, Rexroth, Snyder, --read on Saturday a/noon by, as George says, LOCAL poets! 
My own sense of the occasion is held in Doctor Pepper's ascription "the very beginning of the Beat Generation" , thus Rexroth & Lamantia as slightly older current still flowing of course and the Beats as catching the splash. 
Expand this thought to say that from the 40s Apocalypse poets onwards, late translation in part of the cross Channel surrealist excitements, something else was in the air, abounding naturally in contradictions but fomenting the condition for Beats & everything else that follows.


(October 7 '15)
The HOWL Report, 2nd

Thinking yday about the 'new poetry''s relationship to Ancient Chinese & Japanese poetry --and yes of course, Pound & Fenollosa... But along this line : when the East & Ancient became adjacent, available, it was at the expense of the exotic... or at least, since i happen to like Mr Binyon, the East & Ancient as exotic wasnt any longer the only sound or optic in town... Life as well as letters, so an equivalence, a contemporaneity to the Chinese Mountain poets, or the Japanese haiku masters... thus the mid 20C translators including Rexroth, Snyder, and so the Beats...

Another thing : listened yday to Larry Schwartz's CD gift of the Rexroth & Ferlinghetti reading at the Cellar, 1957... Rexroth's long poem Thou Shalt Not Kill (i.m. Dylan Thomas) so reminiscent of Ginsberg's Howl... and Ferlinghetti, reading from Coney Island of the Mind, --europeanly funny & ironic hitched to the same american drive out of Whitman as all the others...


(October 8, '15)
The HOWL Report, 3rd

Stephen Hamilton came by yday in acknowledgement of the magic moment : 7th October, actual 60th anniversary of the Six gallery [HOWL] reading. James had copied for him the original announcement : "6 POETS AT 6 GALLERY". The text, by Kenneth Rexroth i assume : "Philip Lamantia reading mss. of late John Hoffman-- Mike McClure, Allen Ginsberg, Gary Snyder & Phil Whalen--all sharp new straightforward writing-- remarkable collection of angels on one stage reading their poetry. No charge, small collection for wine and postcards. Charming event.
Kenneth Rexroth. M.C.
8 PM Friday Night October 7, 1955
6 Gallery 3119 Fillmore St. San Fran"

Or maybe it's Ginsberg's text re- "remarkable collection of angels"! Yet "charming event" has arch edge to it wch is why i thought Rexroth!


(October 8, '15)
The HOWL Report, the 4th

(Actually the third & a half-th!) Further to my mention of the tete a tete yesterday with Stephen Hamilton at the Bookshop (who was on his way to rendezvous with similarly maniacal Beat enthusiast James Hamilton to raise a glass to the 6 Gallery originals) : Stephen, looking along the American shelf, mentioned his interest in Jackson MacLow & the relevance of MacLow to the Beats & co --the segue i guess would be neo-dada/surrealist, Steinian, Cagean experimentalism --Ah yes, i said, JACKSON MACLOW, met him at a party once! Oh, really? says Stephen, --wch is fatal temptation for me to spin one of my stories! Yes, it was at the party in his honour thrown by Robert Vas Dias in Hampstead in 1975, June or July? --the year of the inaugural Cambridge Poetry Festival which i turned into a wonderful three month trip around the England of the British poets of my acquaint-- Robert Vas Dias the American poet, little mag publisher, residing in London --I'd set out from long way across town with John Robinson, editor of Joe di Maggio mag & little books, with whom i was staying a couple of nights --it was late afternoon, the party wasn't due to start till six or seven --We came to a pub, and it was OPEN (the maddening English after-lunch licensing restrictions of that time)! I persuaded John we should get a drink because it was HOURS until we were expected. John wasn't so sure but i persuaded him! One pint became another & another. I told him no one turned up to a party on the dot, well not in Melbourne anyway! We walked around the treed & curving streets (is that right? slight ascents too?) & eventually found Robert Vas Dias's house. And the party was in full flight! Greeted the host, (we'd met up at the Cambridge Fest, as everyone else had)and joined in! Packed. We were the last there. Jackson MacLow was seated at a long table eating dinner --salads, cold serves-- surrounded by friends, colleagues, fans, all filling their faces. We must have missed dinner or werent expected! Jackson MacLow, big grey-white beard, long wiry hair, man of the moment. And i noticed a bit of chicken caught in the fronds of his whiskers! It must have been there for a while, no one seemed to notice, respectful conversation was being had, he was talking seriously, and the chicken (was it a wish bone? or just a bit of skin?) bobbing as his head did, as he ate & talked... Many people to talk to --Bob Cobbing? Allen Fisher, Pierre Joris & Paige Mitchell, David Miller (to play music?), Derek Bailey (ditto), Anthony Barnett? The Chaloners? Lee Harwood? I cant remember. If i cld find the note-book of the time it might be there. At some point i'd moved out of the main room, was by myself having a drink, when an American woman said hello (now, her name WILL be in that notebook). We clicked. Her opener : what are you doing at this chicken-shit party?! I pointed out the uninvited guest in Jackson's fuzz. Extended laughter, joking about English high society, where we could go for a real party. Exchanged phone numbers. Her boyfriend and then John joined us. And things began breaking up. I phoned her up from Southampton but never heard back. That's life in 1975!


(9th October, '15)
The HOWL Report, the fifth

Brian Hassett is "in Lowell for the JackFest", and sends this message : "So cool and am so happy about your Six Down Under. I was just with Michael M yesterday at his rare East Coast (or anywhere) appearance and I mentioned the Sixtieth of the Six to him and ... he had no idea !! 
He said, "Oh, I must drop Gary a line."
But like — the guy's not booked anywhere. (!) (And of course, nor's Gary.)"

I guess that old joke, de Kooning's? about birds not into ornithology (he was talking about art criticism), could apply here! 
But this is surely something else. Once again intersections & connections : enthusiasts become historians eliciting palpable, tangible meaning from out of pop celebrity on one hand and the valueless abyss informed by carelessness & forgetfulness on the other.
I coined the term "active archive" thirty-odd years ago to account for the type of magazine i was publishing : a simultaneity of remembering & reflecting and the imperative to (and this'll sound like Ram Dass) be here now!
George Mouratidis programme for tomorrow, the 10th October at Collected Works Bookshop, is prime example : the local poets, never less than individuals of current vigour & personality, channeling, if you like, the Six Gallery originals! 


October 10th, '15

My cousin Mike Mullis's photos of kingfishers* pitch me headfirst into Charles Olson's marvellous poem beginning, famously,

What does not change / is the will to change

and ending,

I pose you your question:

shall you uncover honey / where maggots are?

I hunt among stones

Weird poem, wacky as brilliant --the kingfishers caged in Olson's poem, t'other end of the imagination that's surely free in Mike's pics.

I thought of the E on the stone, and of what Mao said

la lumiere"

but the kingfisher

de l'aurore"

but the kingfisher flew west

est devant nous!

he got the color of his breast

from the heat of the setting sun

--I recall a wonderful analysis by Guy Davenport of The Kingfishers which showed me how skimpy my reading had been, missing the facts (ma'm), but the poem's sound & shape (its career) got me from the start... Shake one's head now how many of us were diverted for so long by images & metaphor,  dramatised by political romance, bloated with misinformation. Now we'll have the kingfisher escape the tyrant, poet or not. Mao? Olson? Golden laughter, golden laughter...

* Mike's caption : "I've only ever taken one or two long-range, blurry images of Kingfishers in recent years but this one suddenly landed only a couple of feet from a Wheatear I'd been photo-ing on a gate-post just 5-6m away. No hide or camouflage gear but just standing still for 20 mins or so by a post and rail fence. I thought it would fly off as soon as I blinked but fortunately it stayed put for at least 10-15 seconds!"


[23-9-15] A kid, device in ear, lap-top on chair in front of him, ostentatiously sets up in the full sunshine window at Cathedral end of the corridor overlooking Swanston Street. Now dont give me he's our time's Kerouac and that I should be more accepting! JK, remember, advocated "scribbled secret notebooks, and wild typewritten pages for yr own joy" not well-heeled youngsters with portable computers etc in full view and treading on toes of ordinary people including high rent paying micro-retailers in classic Nicholas Building in the rejuvenated rag trade quarter, obstructing their customers & small parties of visitors with guides describing the history including adjacent lie of the land or people simply investigating our floor, walking up the corridor to look out on the city street below... Which growl, not so irritated as to botch another potential angle to the eternal plot --writing out of the sensational world, the given, on the platter of whatever leads to perception --refers me straight to yesterday's gift, the book Miller, Bukowski and Their Enemies : Essays on Contemporary Culture by Guillermo O'Joyce --described, "[T]his new edition with nine new essays first published in Great Britain by Pinter & Martin Ltd, 2011" (evidently then, deducing from bio/biblio notes, the first edition comprised five pieces, written/published between '68 & the present edition --he's a contemporary therefore, another brother of the time)--

which I continued reading overnight (akimbo with new book, without child's excuse of ill-abed). Spotted it in a general catalogue, hard to miss such a title & uncommon name of author. Open it on Comments on Work by Guillermo O'Joyce. Appreciative but backgrounding the reverse. Next page entitled How Censorship Operates in the United States. I'm immediately reminded of Bill Knott's self-published poetry books in 2001, to wit, "I think every poem in this book was rejected at least once by some magazine or other, and indeed the majority here never did achieve periodical publication. An 'acknowledgements page' would not be very impressive" juxtaposed with the testimonials on back-cover. 'Over three decades of critical acclaim', for example, "It is no accident that the major British and American poets of the 19th and 20th century were outsiders. The most original poet of my generation, Bill Knott, is also the greatest outsider." --Stephen Dobyns, '95, and one could have chosen blurbs from Kevin Hart, Jim Elledge, Charles Simic, Sandra McPherson, Thomas Lux et al --a literary milieu, by the way, which probably appals Guillermo judging by the argument & examples in the piece, Masturbation in the strophe factory : 4 essays on Contemporary Poetry… Not quite in the same bag as Bill Knott but subject to similar frustration. Guillermo includes a note from Harper's Magazine's Lewis Lapham, "My friends told me that if I tried to publish this [essay] I could put my career in a bottle and cast it in the wine-dark sea."  Similarly, Alice Fulton's fulminations from the University of Michigan to her student, David Levine, "I wasn't here this summer, but had I been here and seen William Joyce in your resume, you not only would not have gotten a fellowship but you wouldn't have gotten into this university." Hilarious but horrendous.

On account of what? Guillermo's writing most reminds me of the serious romanticism, simultaneously literary & political, its presumption & pursuit, synonymous with the Young &/or Progressive, even Radical, prospect, once mine too. Unlike Guillermo I was never tested by the commitment which could take one to this or that academic or professional writers' workshop as so many Americans and latterly British & Australians do, although I did teach or facilitate "creative writing" at the community access level for many years... But Guillermo's essays are all guns blazing at academics, publishers, celebrated critics & writers, in short (but at great length) The Writing Industry, --corollary he assumes of the venal & vicious Western Civ, the consequences of whose politics he describes & denounces. He's for the anti-bourgeois often working-class literature, an heir therefore to 19th & 20th Century French, Russian, British & American realism, into which frame the conflation of Bohemian & Beat writing. Outsiderdom opposes middle-class society & culture; the 'little boxes', as it were, enemies of freedom, he poxes & pillories. Anti-imperialist, anti-capitalist, promoting a kind of existentialist survivalism against careerism. Yet few of Guillermo's greats were hermits or complete disaffiliates. They were more likely democrats than guerillas, seeking to influence not annihilate. Most contributed their radicalism to the literary or political domain as I said of & to Hans Magnus Enzensberger when we met in Melbourne in 1981, opposing his notion of Australia as tabula rasa ("you can do anything!") as though history & culture were absent or counted for nothing. (Very likely Guillermo would approve Enzensberger's critique of "the consciousness industry" though Hans Magnus was hardly anarchist or outsider.)

[24-9-15] In the chapter on the artist & writer Irving Stettner (1922-2004), whom I surely do recall from a Henry Miller connection including Stroker magazine (via the mail art & small press hook ups in the late '70s), Guillermo refers to "earned innocence, a term invented by Nelson Algren" (p48). Guillermo explains, "It is comparatively easy to be light and carefree at 24 or 34 (….) But how does anyone keep their gusto, verve, humanness when the gray hairs settle in and he has an artistic audience of 14, eats out of tin cans, and buys coarse toiletpaper instead of White Cloud? This is what I mean by earned innocence. In short, how is it that the boy becomes a man, shakes off mentors and becomes a true voice in his own right…" Clearly this is our author's challenge too.

[28-9-15] He sticks with the boy for his estimation of Kerouac's vision, such informed experience predicated upon what Guillermo calls "a host of necessary virtues", thus
faith that we would be treated well by strangers
belief in our own capacity to navigate in strange territory
total belief in the present moment
ability at a glance to take in the world as a whole
the notion that everything was animated" (p202)
maintained through the decades.

The literature per se doesn't age, only the style (as in 'dated'). Narrative & characters are impervious to passing time, inviolable in poetry & prose --a world complete, truth intact.

[8/14-10-15] Three or four pages of Guillermo's take on Buk, His Own Best Friend, promote the brilliant conjunction of Bukowski & W C Fields, as he says (p56), "Fields and Bukowski are two of a dozen of the truly American voices of this [20th] century. Their lives and their work are instructional manuals on how to convert paranoia into galvanising art." Analogy like metaphor, albeit compositional manna, can also be writer's sure way of losing losing the plot. But Guillermo's on the money here. "Out of a paranoia about the motives of others, they hide money under the rug, under the ice-cube tray, in books, and then can't remember the next morning where they put it. Chaos ensues. they threw up their arms, they curse God and Walt Disney; they tear apart the house. Once, upon returning books to the library, Bukowski spotted something green peeking out of one book, and opened it to find three 20s and a10-spot, huge amount of money for him at any period of his life.this absent-mindedness isn't for lack of concentration; Fields' & Bukowski's concentrations are simply elsewhere. They find the world off, and beneath all the hijinks of their respective art forms, mostly loveless."

Guillermo could have included Kerouac in the analogy. Making another point he notes, "Other than jazz and W C Fields, there are no cultural references in On the Road." (p211) --which has become an American distinction, --says Guillermo, "A Europe that is in rubble shouldn't have much to say [post WW2] about the value of Shakespeare, Diderot, Plato, Aristotle, J S Mill, Voltaire, Goethe, Moliere, Tolstoy, Ibsen, Kafka, etc etc". Evidently Bukowski & Kerouac can begin from scratch. Perhaps Kerouac as Fields removes him from the overall sad set and however many sorry instances equips the figure with viable ambivalence about life, which is how the mystically inclined, Catholic, Buddhist, survive the crazy world.

For Guillermo, Kerouac is "the hero we needed", albeit his post-Road life becomes the martyrdom the others (Miller, Bukowski, Stettner et al) evaded, transcended --survivors each, achieving their three score years & ten, prolific to the end. One's happy to read a Kerouac of technical achievement --Guillermo's analysis of On the Road as a 4 part jazz work (and here's me writing this, ears ringing with Kenneth Rexroth's 1957 Cellar Club recording of Thou Shalt Not Kill (i.m. Dylan Thomas), --the jazz punctuation exploding the word "dead" in the most declamatory section of the famous poem!) amply funds it…

"Each of the 4 sections of On the Road culminates in a jazz scene and does so with such intensity and virtuosity that there  can be no doubt that music is the foundation with which he spent so much time building his book. So jazz forms not only the inspiration for Kerouac but becomes as well his method of construction. Because he inherits no language to recapitulate jazz's vast terrain, he must invent one and this accounts for the freshness and spontaneity of On the Road. Fifty-three years later [written in 2010?] it reads better than it did when it was first published. Each paragraph is organised along the principle of as series of jazz chords with the principal characters -- Cassady, Ginsberg, Burroughs, and others who receive their solo time wail mightily and brilliantly in the tradition of bebop but don't always make sense…till the reader reviews their rants in the context of the entire novel. This bebop, and I would assert here a host of other jazz forms -- swing, cool jazz such as the version of 'Autumn Leaves' with Cannonball Adderley and Miles Davis -- is Kerouac's answer to the slavery (Moriarty would call it "hung up") he finds about himself at all times."

Out of the blue(s), Guillermo's raised up the game from well-drilled sociology to twitching the actual music --sound-shape of existence, thus writer & writing implying & obliging total engagement -- the only hero the rest of us scribes & scribblers ever need.

[fin, 18-10-15]

Sunday, October 4, 2015

THE BEACH REPORT : Third Season, 2015-16


Now I'm one of the old men with thin legs in long shorts by the sea…

[Journal :

I had in mind to write a paragraph about the old men, which would then refer to Bill Downing as the oldest of them as per his visit to the Shop a few days ago*. Ive been thinking about him as one of the many characters around La Mama (the place and, importantly, the Poets Workshop, the poetry sheets, little mags, poetry readings, meetings) ca '68/'69. For example, have begun piece about Paul Smith describing our dispute about self-immolation political protest, wch i'd mocked in poem & he'd responded, rebuked me. May well refer to Garrie Hutchinson's reconnoiter of Vietnam War era in his book from '99 wch ive  picked up again recently. Ive described Michael Dugan in the Paul Smith piece --Michael being our reporter from the Melbourne front during '68 when we met, filling us in on all the history other side of Loretta's red flagging & Eltham lore i'd learnt through '67, thus Geoff Eggleston, Paul, Meher Baba, home grown mysticism, Beats etc… Michael prime candidate for retrieval, certainly as a character (a figure) and surely a place for his poetry as well…
Time doesn't stand still when one's youthful/active. It does later --a chance to recuperate, retrieve, right the wrongs…

*Saturday, 5-9-15
Bill Downing dropped in & then without goodbye shuffled out. Returned a few minutes later to ask me how he cld use his mobile phone to get money! I wouldn't have a clue of course so i took him to see Mary Farrugia next door. Introduced him to Mary & explained the problem and she & her customers said we shld go to the 7Eleven!  Down in the lift we went, luckily no one in their shop & they were able to explain Bill needed 'sim card' & ID & etc. Said we shld find Vodaphone shop in Bourke Street… I suggested to well & truly baffled Bill it was too complicated & that we shld now ring his wife who might then be able to come to the City? Upstairs at the Shop again i rang her (Bill knew how to locate her phone number on his mobile), explained the situation, and she said he wld have to return home & she'd help him from there! So off Bill went to catch the train. Loretta said i'm 'very kind'. Let's hope people are as kind when we're old i said. Which is the truth of it…]


Sunday, October 4th, '15

The third season begins.
Corp on cell behind me, appropriately disembodied voice : "Harry? Harry? You're dropping out. I cant hear you." But I can amigo!
God help us!
OK, it's behind me, literally. Focus instead upon the white sand & placid sea & cloudless blue sky from umbrella-less chair & table on the esplanade.
First weekend in October's pre-summer heat wraps around old bones like The Past --the past, as aggregate of equanimity that is --as --as just this, --this sea-side, --this sea-side note-book jotting, as though all perfect unbounded Mind. Then, across the sand, down to the sea and first immersion!
Cold, predictably, but not like some occasions previous summer's end. It's approaching midday & I'm the only bod in the sea, old or young. Old or young same difference in swimming togs in the sea.
Head under the water, can claim real swim now. Kick legs behind me, eyes wide open dead man's float.
Tread around small rocks on pleasantest gradation, seaweeds bobbing.
Then sudden return to the sand and stand for blissful minutes in comparative tropics --hah! --as it always was for English migrant, remember first Melbourne autumn & winter, 1966, --such cold as English made summer of…
Now ah & ah

Thursday, September 3, 2015



Regarding Ian Brinton's post of the news of Charles Tomlinson's death : First read Tomlinson around '67, at the State Library of Victoria actually, the Dome reading room. Introduced by criticism I came across as the foremost British connection to / interpretation of William Carlos Williams... not insignificant in an age when there was no free flow, so to speak, across the Atlantic or between Australia & the US for that matter... I vividly recall Q & A with Al Alvarez , an extension lecture at the Univ of Melbourne, would have been in 1968 sometime, --Bill Beard heard Alvarez was in town so we attended-- Alvarez fielded a question/comment about WCW with a terse "William Carlos Williams has always been a blind spot for me!" OK as a  personal response, but Alvarez was talking in Melbourne with the authority still vested in British opinion... There was laughter & applause from a section of the lecture theatre wch Bill identified as the English department claqueurs! Now that's half a century ago, and tangential to response to Tomlinson... Hearing this news I initially searched the Web for Tacita Dean's film of The Orchard, then realized I'd muddled Tomlinson with Michael Hamburger! --yet when I reread C T I'll be interested to see how the Englishness plays off with the poet's pro Americanism & internationalism...

Sad news as e/one says... but hopefully a good innings... RIP


So here we are, renewing acquaintance with Charles Tomlinson, in particular & what's often my own concern : the status of the English home or base, the English locality, from perspective of cosmopolitan.

Notes as I  read Tomlinson's Oxfords & Carcanets at the Shop, pen in hand.

Tomlinson vs John Berger in The Garden? : "this crass reading forgets that imagination / Outgrows itself, outgrows aim / And origin; forgets that art / Does not offer the sweat of parturition / As proof of its sincerity."

The almighty 'what if' : "Had you stayed on / Twenty years ago, had I gone" , apparently resolved in "we / Were right to choose the differing parsimonies / Of the places we belonged to." Echo of Celan, via Billeter advocacy & translation, Melbourne '70s, "our own particular narrowness".

Tomlinson's take on Hopkins, Hardy --which I found myself reading as if about GMH! but is suitably Hardyesque, "You were a poet who put on the manners of ghosts." ('he was a man who remembered such things…')Memorable passage : "Even in paradise, what you would wish for, / Would be to lie out in the changing weathers here, / And feel them flush through the earth and through you, / Side by side with those you had known, who never quite knew you, / Dreaming a limbo away of loam, of bone, / One Stygian current buoying up gravestone on gravestone."

I rise to the figure of Ivor Gurney invoked in the poem for Donald Davie's 70th birthday, To a Yorkshireman in Devon, --Gurney one of my own, enigmatic & unfinished despite Carcanet's great project to retrieve everything from the notebooks & manuscripts… "And yet, is it, Donald, utterly absurd / Like Edward Thomas to accept a war / Convinced it was Eden you were fighting for? -- / That Eden Gurney found on midnight walks / Glimmering along boughs, up nettle stalks, / Through constellations that the Romans knew / Standing on that same damp of Cotswold dew / On sentry go." etc The literary task of the poem is to marry the American & British poetry of mid-century Modernist acclaim. Tomlinson describes the "approbation of your level gaze, / Though not so partial that you cannot praise / Writers whose premisses dispute your own, / Oppen and Olson, Niedecker and Dorn", and then "Gurney himself whom we rejoice to see / With Bunting at our island's apogee."

Good memory of visiting the exhibition of Charles Tomlinson's prints at Cambridge during the inaugural poetry festival of 1975. Reminded now by Timothy Clark's The Poet as Painter chapter in his monograph on Tomlinson, published in '99 in Writers & Their Work. Cezanne's 'objectivity' via Rilke adds another dimension to the discussion of Objectivist poetry with which Tomlinson early interacted (Oppen, Zukofsky, Niedecker et al). 

Sunday, August 23, 2015


Well, why shouldn't Brian Hassett's The Hitchhiker's Guide to Jack Kerouac [The Adventure of the Boulder '82 On The Road Conference --Finding Kerouac, Kesey and The Grateful Dead Alive & Rockin' in the Rockies; introduction by John Allen Cassady; published by Get Things Done Publishing, USA, 2015] read like a breathless telephone call or letter, a cassette-tape transcription, an inventory, itinerary, annotated bibliography, since it's all of these, --a fifty-four year old catching up on his own twenty-one year old's [on-the-] road trip, a teen&twenty out of rock 'n roll, and his reader, such as I am here on the cusp of seventy, happily hooked on the spirals of my own life story and always knew it as story, even my first pages from 1963 of manuscript so grateful I haven't lost entitled JOURNEY with in-between parts called PETER WHICH WAY, SONG OF THE SEA, THE CHANGES, flirting with overall title BOOK around '73 as 'writing' seemed to transcend 'autobiography'  --thus my fellow-feeling for the young guy, Brian Hassett, forever younger, unembarrassed by the notion of heroes & hero worship, the Beats his hearth gods & goddesses, his pantheon, thus another way into history, what I call intersections --utterly at home with his thinking aloud, reportage, fast & free, as I cant or wont let myself completely be, devoted to British English's musicality, both street talk & literature, its textured ear, the more so as it collides with one's parallel love, the American colloquial, particularly the post-literary, the journalistic, the epistolary & journal-ism, --except that I conjure a 'literary' which swallows it all, spitting it out, compelled to truth, thus clarity however close to blurting's effluvium, adjacent to effulgence,  humorous, true however knowingly comic, without spoiling or obscuring the candid, naked, generous moment!


B H of Vancouver, teenage veteran of touring with Yes, The Rolling Stones, Cheap Trick, Dr John etc, gets himself a gig back in '82 with the staging of the first Jack Kerouac Conference --could say, gets the gig for the rest of his life. Of course he's already a reader --Ken Kesey one of his stars, & Kerouac... Hilarious story of the frustrations of trying to find a copy of On The Road to inspire his girl-friend's sister, finally locating it at a store which has "this giant [Kerouac conference] poster on the wall and there in large print --"KEN KESEY" And in tiny print at the bottom--"partially funded by The Grateful Dead." !!! Right away I got on the phone before I got On The Road. The conference cost about $200 or something, which is like two million today, so I told them I was a show person and could help them stage it from a production standpoint, and the coordinator said, "Yeah, we could use you. Come on down."

Having hitchhiked from Canada to Boulder --and how familiar his description to anyone who's stuck out a thumb, hoping, praying, cursing --though he's the lucky one, scoring rides with like-minded drivers --he falls among friends, Kit & Arthur Knight for example, lends his ear to J C Holmes, Michael McClure, Herbert Huncke et al, clicks with one & all, and immediately starts scribbling in his own, let's say it, holy notebooks, which were lost or hidden or unattended for all the years until the day in 2013 when he sat down to write a resume of the conference, which grew like Topsy, listed in the book as Some of the ingredients in the kitchen, to wit, "Two different road notebooks from the trip; three hitchhiking logs; typed post-trip Log Notes; multiple cassette recordings made at the conference and on the road/; an inch-thick folder of papers from the conference including schedules and newspaper clippings and to-do lists; other Beat folders full of gems; my 1982 datebook; my Grateful Dead set lists and show notes; photo albums; Cliff Miller's photos and memories; letters and postcards home; letters to friends during and after it; recent conversations and emails with fellow attendees."


 Literature, as I always say, voracious of appetite, its capacity determined by overview not insight, the absolute hold-all unlike its alienating attribute the literary which insists itself between subject & evocation or is of such an imposition that subject's mistaken, misperceived, which it never can be in genre writing --sports, crime, music --and no distinguishing here between succinct & rhapsodic since the particular may be caught in either.



Welcome to the Fan-ily! A comment from Neal & Carolyn's son John Cassady says it all : "For some reason, Brian ended up in the middle of our family, and we were never sure why, but maybe he reminded us of someone who was always part of it." And the fan from NYU & rock & roll promotion, who aggregates the intel, surrogate chronicler, quasi historian, --fan as devotee, implicitly democratic therefore as to how & where his interest falls, affectionate to main & bit players equally --undergrowth as fascinating & instructive as the grand stand, the nub of local history, indeed the invigorating factor of history per se, the proximity that makes it bearable, demystified because tangible, present.


Sunday, July 12, 2015


Irish Murphy's, Ballarat on the site of Camp Hotel, 38 Sturt Street, erected 1907, original 1861 on the site of the Little Engine Mine. Haha! Best Guinness on tap I've swallowed since ever! Trailed around the town for ye olde but although the streetscape promised plenty there was nuthin! No pubs at all, sir! Continued through the drizzle & wind in wrong-weather sandals, admiring the solid city architecture. Top of town spotted pub-like appearance across the road from the Cathedral but disappointingly it was an immense cafe, generic post-pub, bah!  Almost gave up then & there, prepared to investigate the Cathedral but breakfast was long overdue (surprisingly no buffet car on the train). Asked Chimney & Friend at pavement table if there were any old style pubs or any pubs at all in Ballarat? And, joy of joys, they offered simple directions to Irish Murphy's at the bottom of Sturt Street, further down from where we'd already fruitlessly & soggily tramped. 

Installed now beneath pressed ceiling, charmed by the woodwork & various signage, Test cricket on wall television, small stage in the corner by the street windows for the music Ms Chimney said she'd be attending "tonight", and judging by the traffic off street through the rooms seems we're only at the beginning of the infinite pub. Likewise, only the beginning of the infinite Guinness, the tallest, creamiest pint. Thus begins a round of salutes to the living & to the passed, recalled in absentia in the infinity of recollection, --recollection of infinite regard, so much so I repeat the thought came by years ago, at Wollongong university, guest of Ron Pretty & John Scott, in the course of writing, making a poem, --natural enough to our own though generally bizarre : is life lived, I thought, only in order to be remembered? The extraordinary length & breadth of it, Twentieth Century's literary practice of elongation, mind loosed to infinite expansion of what daily life loses as the assimilable thus forgettable minutes, days, --longeueres…  

Sunday, June 28, 2015

NOTHING DOING IN DARZET : April 2015 Journey

 6th April, '15

On the Downs, beyond Bowleaze, ascend first 'height', sit on bench (inscription : IN MEMORY OF BILL FROST WHO LOVED THE SEA). Man comes up from the beach/holiday-camp path. I comment that the path is further inland every year-- "maybe not every year but since I first came here" -- "yes" he says, "& that's what it'll keep doing, it's the way it was made!" -- Indeed --the geological truth spares vain handwringing -- first cause of erosion is God!


"MAN WHO LOVED THE SEA" --looking at it, --like me sat here? --sailing on it? --fishing? Everything connected with it --the sea, the sea --local to his boots or in retirement in Dorset, up onto the Downs, this place, for sweet reverie, all weathers, can suppose jumpers, coats, or like today kissed by sun, combed by breeze. "WHO LOVED THE SEA" --at the end what else to say? (Poet take note, all verbiage lost, poem like carved last words, resonant, constant.)


Other day as we approached The Old Rooms on the harbour, B. nudged me to look at a man hunched over a courtyard table --It's --Yes, Sir G! --no longer resplendently His Honour's familiar self --I mean, jacket & shirt to hang a crevat on, an aura around the courtly, portly, golightly authority, permanent lunch-time feature at the Dorset Brewers, oh the golden age one begins to reclaim with fat jar of the Reverend James this Easter Monday mid-afternoon when 'heatwave' came to town! No, he was sunken, another kind of erosion, with awful short-in-the-leg troos & white socks filling the gap, Falstaff's demise, o the pity of it.

Tall-masts glide through the Harbour --from my chair-less stand only have partial view of the Harbour, but evidently the Bridge is up, open, like eyes & mouths of Easter visitors, cameras primed for several-times daily Weymouth event...



Easton Square, Portland. Walking around with B's prospect[u]s in mind and think this section of the island has a distinctive (that is non-suburban) feel & look... And a short bus-ride down the hill & you have the Cove & yours truly sitting at bench at wall overlooking Chesil in full earshot of that incredible advance & retreat of the sea, --thrust & crash, rush & smashing suck as the long wave breaks along the beach-mile of pebbles, --that phrase about shells singing the ocean pops into my head --echo deep-&-wide shattering boom as though, like the Southern Ocean at Port Campbell in South-west Victoria, undermining the cliff itself, --like ocean tunneling beneath the limestone --echo upon echo, echo within echo within echo--

Fishermen lying on the stones, rod & line upended, looking after the business I'm listening to--

Middle-distance, horizon half a thumb further, three black dots. Not flat-bottomed, chap corrected me another day, double-ended--

Complaining about the service he received, the Portland surfer says he was doin nuthin more than payin their wages, --I'm good for five pints but at three pounds eighty a pint you deserve better...
(Mate passing by asked by girlfriend of the posse if he's working? Who works more than 2 or 3 hours a day? he says, especially on a day like this...)

Ah --the Cove's Adnams goes down very smoothly --cool temp, refreshing, Old Thumper-ish, that is the darkest an ale will be before shape-changing into stout...

Oh my --on such a day --But is Portland all of that? --on its day closest thing between Lands End & Dover to St Ives magic --but starved of sun perhaps its society's brought down to grey stone, grey outlook, grey bottom-line? Add winter, bleak house minus shelf of anything resembling O'Brien sisters' Belleek booty (but they were the beauties sir, even if I say so myself, oh doze photies from their ancestral journey way way back in me funny famleys' album, treasured yet in both hemispheres)...

'On its day' is docile, fait accompli --Thing is, to make of it what you will --thus vision --your creation, the inner compulsion...

[April 15, 2015]



In the quintessential English churchyard at St Nicholas's, Abbotsbury, with St Catherine's Chapel on the Mount in direct view's first quadrant from where I'm sitting, relaxing on solid bench. An afternoon with the Lord, tasting country village Anglicanism again, and the Summer's day that Spring's extraordinarily produced --bumble & honey bees around shrubs & flowers, and the shiveringly sweet scents of Easter Lillies in large vase in the porch, filling nostril. What to say? North-country tourists : "What a beautiful little village" "Doing a nice sketch are you?" "No!"

(April 15/17, 2015)


Bridport Report

Off to meet David Miller for 2pm at The Bull in Bridport. Excitement of reconnecting after decades and only because the more recent Australian ex-pat Laurie Duggan let me know of D M's imminent move to Dorset. Given continuing self-doubt regarding my own patrimony, I set out as The Chronicler or, short of that exalted role, The Journalist (that is, regional roundsman aka rat-bag & rouse-about). (Looking out of the X53's top deck across at The Fleet on Chesil Beach as we pass Australia Road! Mightnt that say it all?)

Winding road to Portesham & Abbotsbury is one of Dorset's joys. (Victoria Inn's free house, a minor spell.) Even the coast-side field of rape-seed flashes as the light pierces the fine mist. Have to be a curmudgeon not to smile in return. How decline that bright yellow summoning? (Possum House? Come on!) Since 1987, Portesham, St Catherine's Mount, Abbotsbury village --can now say mine (like the gout claims an unfortunate's big toe, like the sea-mist drifting over claims the ridge before the descent to Swyre)? Mine, oh mine...

The Three Horseshoes, Burton Bradstock, --blackthorn snowing in littlest breeze, brother Bernard's proud reckoning of the village in his inventory, his own really-me awakened every time the X53 barrels through the narrow road, bargaining with the twist & turn like deeply felt memory.

Ahead of the meeting, mist & rain heavy about the bus, fog beyond the steamed-up windows.

[April 24th' 15]


[previously published as "Notes" on Facebook]


Crossing from the Northcote Shopping Plaza to the older market section revamped by the Aldi store, I don't immediately recognise the tall man in shades as Andrew Sant but it's him alright, obviously so when he removes the sunglasses. What are you doing here? he says --it's Thursday : shouldn't you be sitting in a cafe near here writing? I'm going there now, I say, --done my shopping… Just doing mine, he says… Ive been in England for a month, I say… I'm going later, he says --how was it? I'm pulling a face, composing a proper reply… You didn't want to come back! he says --adds : I know how you feel, haven't got it as bad as you but I know exactly… I begin explaining & describing :  Got further into the West Country I'm forever dreaming… discovered more people & places & art & beer… you know! He smiles & nods, shakes my hand again, --got to go, he says… One day when we're both in England, he says… Yes! that'll be great!

On the spur of which I speed through the run-down arcade, blocking nostrils to the combined fug of Vietnamese nail repair salon and Greek fast food, onto High Street , cross on the lights & whaddayaknow see Pi O at the tram stop, saluting me I think, so I respond, "hello again" forming on my lips but perhaps it was someone else entirely he'd acknowledged, -- he's turned to the kerb as I pass full-tilt for the Delphi… Two whom I could imagine bumping into are Lloyd & Trimble, locals after all, around & about my own cafe & the Northcote Social Club & the old Town Hall et al --the Village in other words --the Greek village --but oh no, suddenly overcome by the image of the Widow's beating & stoning in Zorba the Greek --Irene Papas --what horror! --and then killed! --first time the other night seeing it again for many years --superstitious, bloody-minded, pre-modern, peasants-- islanders, just like Anne Axenskold was saying, treating me to afternoon tea, the day before I left Weymouth for Australia couple of weeks ago, talking about Portlanders in same tone of voice as we've reconnoitered Thomas Hardy's & JC Powys's weird & wondrous characters, --that other tribe across the Causeway, mysterious & hostile not the half of it…

[7-May, 2015/ 27-28 June, 15 tweeked]




Damen O'Brien (to whom congratulations for taking out the WB Yeats Poetry Prize, announced yesterday at Village Roadshow Theaterette/ SLV) asked fellow contributors to the YEATS DAY '15, if anyone has heard the Waterboys' album of Yeats settings and what did they think of it (and of contemporary musicians' versions in general)? And Ronan McDonald, who organises a Bloomsday in Sydney I believe, whose morning paper, 'Common Things that crave : animal cries in Yeats's Poetry', I'd missed, piped up that he'd heard the album and in a word it was magnificent (whether or not with Bono's imprimatur), part of a long tradition of such collaboration… And I thought to myself this banter would be perfect for a note I could write about our long Irish weekend (Yeats x 2 and Joyce (Bloomsday) on Tuesday) --the bridge between Declan Foley's Yeats 150 seminar on Saturday and Yeats' second coming this afternoon & evening at the Evelyn in Brunswick street…

Having managed to get away from Collected Works Bookshop around 1-30, made it to the State Library in time to greet Declan, Caz Masel, Bob Di Napoli and grab a pew in the auditorium for the afternoon session, my own head still reverberating from the conversation with Carrie Tiffany & Lloyd Jones at the Shop about aspects of my recent English trip, the contradictions between South & West England and Melbourne Oz assuaged only by an investment in a parallel life, that ever deeper or entangled concordance of trajectories, the writing out of which might make boon out of bane… (--almost Yeatsean that, even if I say so myself! --catch a falling gyre & etc!) 

Apparently I'd just missed Chris Wallace-Crabbe, but did see Earl Livings at the stage, & heard him introduce the Yeats Poetry Prize judge & winners… Pleased to hear Damen O'Brien & Alana Kelsall read their poems, and Carolyn Masel deliver the extensive judges' report on behalf of herself & Penny Buckley. Frank McGuire, MP, made the presentation, eloquently describing the Parliament of Victoria's embrace of Joyce last year & Yeats this, advancing poetry at the expense of the conventional paddywhackery so to speak! The afternoon's piece de resistance was the presentation of Yeats' s noh play, The Dreaming of the Bones, directed by Jessica Bellamy & performed by Tony Yap & Brendan O'Connor as a largely silent dance work. I cant say anything about the discussion, The place of the Arts and Humanities in the 21st century, because I had to be elsewhere…

So it is, ditto, in two or three hours time I'll be out of here too! At the Evelyn for Michael Plater's Before the World Was Made : A Musical Tribute to W.B.Yeats...

[June 14, '15, at 1-36pm]

Saturday, June 6, 2015


[16-20, January, '15]

Last Friday night at Kerford Road Pier (how long refurbished?) admired first large swell of the season --the facts probably contradict me but 'season' is the present's accumulation of summer sights & sensations comprising anybody's personal calendar --the first swell, of course tidal but suggests the oceanic, that potentially unbounded heave… Fishermen camped there, solo, pairs, families, like they're parts of the pier or shadows of parts, leaning over the railing, winding up long throw of line, or wandering a few steps to the left then back, in a little circle, leaving the rods to their own devices, bait in buckets, hands in pockets, some Greek, some Vietnamese, some Lebanese, one old Australian family, catching supper, grown old in their routine, three generations, old ways the best but approving of the new planks replacing the worst of the pier, that is I am, remembering it was broken, possibly bound for dismantling…

Mid-afternoon the next day at Elwood there's a surf, line upon line of frothing & crashing white water presaged in last night's churning dark green. On the Sunday I'm the only one in the sea --larger swell but warmer than before. Impossible not to go in. It's in my blood now, in my head. Two beached jellyfish hardly portend harm. But there are rocks now, uncovered or shoved there by the violent water. The force of the waves prevents swimming, but crouching then standing up as the large waves hit, or falling down before them, or floating in the furrows interspersing successive onslaught is exhilarating. A quiet bay-beach's version of staring down the sea…


[21-25, January, '15]

It was never a 'milk pond' was it? --notwithstanding the Queen of Sheba in an encyclopaedia at nine or ten, or Krishna bathing in the pool with the Gopis, story discovered during Indian reread in the '80s, voyage through seas of etymology en route intimations of the larger meaning. Yet the water's flat-white of cloud & lambent light rehabilitates misnomer invested in the remembered lines of dairy cows moving indomitably across farm yard, leaving behind the inviting, therefore warm, surface of shit & piss & mud & milk. And before it's lost or I squeamishly censor, include in this sensation of gentle ooze or curdle, imagery of the lactations & ministrations of the multitude of breast-feeding mothers one's naturally known as oldest son to young mum, or lover & chum of the women of my own generations… '50s Nursing Home --floral, sunlit, balmy --or parental bedroom's built-up pillows, starched sheets, redecorated by dad for the event… For sure, another temperament in the New Age & Feminist '70s, but same mother & child contiguity of major & minor face, throat, arms, breast, mouth-- and amidst the sometime struggle, remember long moments of their imperturbability, as the sea is, which is what this is all about, forever & ever-ness…

But  mill-pond it is, in particular Elwood's on the 20th January, a ten out of ten --warm water, sweetly welling waves, regatta flotilla out to sea whose racing dinghies equip first glance's dhows from out of Egyptian infancy, divine shape I constantly reproduced back home in first English school '52, '53, --Australian high summer's cliche sumptuously achieved. Another day I rate it the impossible Eleven because the sunbathing crowd's suddenly here as well. Beach comes into its own. Pods of swimmers but mostly well-oiled, sitting or lying on the sand, with or without umbrellas, young families, children & teens, young male & female singles, tats (sleeves, calligraphies, figures) abundant as the traditionally, now Brazilianly, bare.

But the suburb's elders, especially the matted & thatched, the double & treble tyred, where are they? Probably back in St Kilda, blackening all day, up against walls or rocks, pier rampart, dug-in --dug into Odessa's lingering dream, the older scales of St Kilda's dream, Post-War, pre-development, the old St Kilda which is my own St Kilda even from the '60s, enough of all-that's-left to attach historically --amalgamation of histories intersecting one's own to which one adds the emigrant's. Native's the one whose particulars are inherently the time & place, sung as sprung, conversely subject of emigrant's eternal wondering…


[early a.m., 7th February, '15]

Yesterday's long dash (yes, that's a contradiction but good intentions (leaving Shop at 5 for immediate train from City to the 'Garth, then change into trunks & up the road with Loretta for the 6-15 or so 246 to Elwood, but crikey! gone 7 by the time we crossed the main road & onto the beach

Long time between dips (o summer where art thou? (("Hey-la-day-la my summer's back" (a kind of Death in Venice white light of sand & smooth sea suspension, whole beach of all-day-&-night bathers ahead of us

And into the water (colder than the air temp suggested or account of L. & cousin's morning stroll there anticipated (and everything's returned, everything the ten day hiatus rescinded (other world, summer world, water world

Can't help thinking every time I'm sitting at the kiosque (this time beneath umbrella (cuppa & etc, notebook, luxuriating in the balmy air (how Dad would have relished this and did in fact when he sat back after exertion of swimming & beach games (ah, Isle of Wight memories, Whitecliff Bay etc (suddenly & poignantly in sync with the world

Young proprietor (shorter hair than last year, black crew-cut rising out of sheer scalp style (serves beverages (Ah, I say, the real English Breakfast Tea, and he says And the real French doughnut made by a real Frenchman, no kidding (ring doughnut, sugared (hugely satisfied with his lot Dad would breathe in & out audibly, comment This is the life

And it is (transformative (weight of working day lifted, dissolved (I'm still finding the words for the equation recalled from Spengler of forest & cathedral, a little piece I'm scribbling about train-carriage view of the country from Bendigo to the City but harnessed to description of the great Sacred Heart church, the art within it, the art of itself, stone & wood (in my battered green-covered notebook


[8th February,'15]

Morning to afternoon the weather turns around. Nothing else for it to do or for its word to exist, otherwise non-differentiation's literatureless world. Try saying that with the sun in your eyes or a gobfull of wave. Said by whom, to whom? Rummage old shelves for the answer. Brighton Rock for sandy, salty, mouldering hotel airs; Malcolm Lowry for solitary, strung-out soliloquy.  Racier, Wide Sargasso Sea? Rowdier, La Bateau Ivre?

I take the chance, depart autumnal, overcast; arrive summer once more. Most people seem to have been discouraged. Not for the first time I'm by myself in the sea, which is tantamount to owning it. Disowning it is the fully dressed man face down in the sand five metres from similarly hung woman whose afternoon began & ended when her Weekend Magazine threatened to fly away in the breeze.

I glance at them from the good sea. The size & force of the waves increases. I'm unconcerned. Footing's secure, drowning's someone else's fear : aged three, clinging to mother's neck, screaming blue murder.


[12th February, '15]

One-fifteen I'm the only swimmer but five minutes more and there's another, in his own space to the left of me. Entered the sea Point Ormond side of the kiosque & delightedly found it rock free. This day the water is clear again & the extreme saltiness gone. Whitecapped waves enlarge through the afternoon. It's become a day for sailboarders. How would youngest brother Robin have coped with Australia (imagine him twenty years ago in wet suit on Weymouth Bay, ahead of England's fashion have to say)? An afternoon but never a life. Go for the afternoon & stay for life? Life as though an afternoon? Does or doesn't bear thinking about? Old guys' contemplations --old emigres --old old --osteo-, arthurio-, rheumatico-, heaven help us! But sea & salt & sun surely soaking one with the necessaries. Ah, Lorenzo, escaping English constraint, embracing Idea entwined with whichever of the Elements inspired it…

Walking back from the Beach down Byrne Avenue to the bus-stop in Elwood's bright little bustle, the skipper of old terrace house, sitting on sun-caught pavement wall, legs extended across the tarmac like a shadow, greets us Good evening, adds Sorry for my smoke! But we love it, I say --which I wouldn't offer any regular chimney. Perverse if you like but daily defining individuality, autonomy… It wasn't a Sobrani (Black Russian) or Gauloise or even Camel, perhaps an aromatic roll-your-own, but rare enough this H&S era to momentarily restore an ancien regime of the senses' maximum value --smelling, seeing, tasting, --apertures of life's far-outest education… Joined the old guy's laughter as though schoolboy found-out revolved through wheel of bravado --but quite properly his right, our right --that crucial bug in our humanity increasingly stomped on by the H&S. They want H&S clones, automatons, --docility reformulated as the social norm, sterility as health --all that & more. Excuse my smoke? Excuse us for living!


[February 19th, '15]

Alternatively driftwood, sea-snake, dog, but suddenly identify the shape as large ocean gull beside me, bottom up, fishing. Two flew over the waves the length of the beach last time I was here --index of nothing of Nature, only would-be beach bum's peregrinations. (Peregrine? Nah, language isn't that helpful! --more helpless in language than the sea, tossed or becalmed, at elements' mercy.) Long skein of seaweed looks like a strayed squid. Severally folded width of white cloth-like jelly-fish. My own left-hand unintentionally brushing hip jumping me out of my skin.

At the bus-stop made to pay for Famous Five unheroics when bird on wing shits on me, wishfully misapprehended at first as leaking air-con from adjacent cafe or even broken pipe from same building's bathroom above the pavement. Bird's shit wakes me up to real world. Evidence of what food that grey brown muck smear on my house-brick coloured cotton shirt? Thank God no flying quadrupeds!


[28th February/1st March,
Summer into Autumn, 2015]

Sea's stillness last calendar day of Summer instills the timelessness often adduced. 'Time out of time' I say, as though the Beach is a self-contained cylinder, propelled from suburb to sea & back again, or even a tunnel --Wellesian, Vernean? (--image born of industrial age's sky's-the-limit inventiveness, centre of the earth & outer-space alternate playgrounds of scientific dreams --& any such dreamer an engineer on frontier of mind & matter, pith helmet optional, blessed by commerce & empire--

remember saying to my brother & father "Everything conceived eventually materialises", watching telly, 1970 or so, visiting home in what had been the village of young family's growing up, --in bed-sit now, in the Docks district across town, --prodigal's return from Oz. As a kid would have it, our eternal & infinite address : "Mon Reve", Shelley Road, Thornhill, Southampton, Hampshire, England, United Kingdom, Great Britain, Europe, The World, The Earth, The Milky Way, The Solar System, The Universe. No where else it could be! Thought but not spoken before : "anything imagined will come about!" Really? Actually? brother exclaims with troubled look. Yes, the mind's like a computer; we put in the questions & out come the answers : whatever can be imagined will eventuate… Dad straightens tighter to himself, maximising attention to the story on TV, leaves speculation to his sons. What was that film? From an elapse of 45 years, brother suggests Patrick McGoohan's The Prisoner… I'm thinking of a sci-fi thriller --maybe a better episode of Dr Who, in which a diabolical telepathic & shape-changing battle or duel with cosmic consequences ensues in rural southern England where sharp moustached army officer with detachment of men run around like headless chooks, plainly out of their depth & probably in the wrong film let alone dimension? Or could it have been Doomwatch, or even UFO?)


Such stillness, transfixion, I saw in Seurat's painting, Bathers at Asnieres, hanging at the National Gallery in London. In the piece I wrote in 1975 for my ABC BOOK, jumped from French riverscape to Melbourne's seaside, explicating the figures' "pink rotundity" & "torpor : "Even on a bay beach, where only a minor bend of the imagination recalls the Ocean & states of being not contained within a pretty border, the men & women occupy the sands & changing currents as solidly as they did the green bank. It is most of all a domestic scene, the installation of soft cubes. The seven-eighths naked men & women blob the sand. The gulls blob the first height of air. It is on the cards the tableau melts at nightfall. Each succeeding day has the sand a trifle whiter, requires a fuller foot to tread it, a wider posterior to settle upon it. Summer's seven years pass slowly."


Different friends ask if I'd ever consider moving to Elwood, but perhaps as L says our cottage at the other end of the bus line already is that house by the sea. But, seed sown, where in Elwood would it be? Byrne Avenue, old & new dwellings, renovated homes & apartments, old fences, new walls, old & young happy families, hippies, professionals, laid-back first timers, old timers, dogs, cats… Normandy Street, larger detached houses, mansions, grand in the white-glossed way, nobody & nothing along the street except luxury cars…


Big seas, surf, winds, inaugurate first day of Autumn. Couldn't be larger contrast with yesterday. The contradiction includes another : grey brown green water beneath black hills of cloud on the Point Ormond / Port Melbourne side, and clear blue sky scudded with cirrus on the Elwood Lifesaving Club side. Remarkably warm water following previous night's wind & thunderstorm, though dirty with storm detritus. As life is…

[28th February/1st March, 2015]