20170905

Ken Bolton



A TRAVELIN' MAN

                    all afternoon in a car
                    parked at the ferry wharf

                                                                      Pam Brown



                                  At the beginning of Laurie's  Crab & Winkle
the quote, I note, is the Shangri-las

                                                              the word "rumori"
is in there too

                                 faint echoes  of Australia
as he begins to settle in
                                                begins determinedly

(their possessions   as Laurie says
                                                        —their "worldly goods"—
"still somewhere  in the Indian ocean")

                                                                         He & Rosemary,
landed in Kent,
                                         Canterbury

                                                                     where Rosemary 
will take up her job, in law, professoring

                                                                             So Sasha, Denis
Pam & I,
                      Alan, others,
                                                          ghost in & out of the early
pages
                         Laurie still half in Australia

Australia, functioning maybe, as a reference point, a measure
                                                                                ('imperial',
the empire come back   to verify things
                                                                               via
pop songs
                       via sensible or far-fetched ambitions
                                                                                           (Sasha)—

till Laurie, I expect
                                         —till Laurie as he
must expect  or anticipate—
                                                            begins to feel 
                                                             on-the-pace

less foreign 
                              'here'   ('Here'?)
                                                                   ("Here" being ''there",

(Kent)   (England)   (London)
                                                                           as
he will & did

                                      #

                              as he would & has?

                                            #

                                                            Published now eight years
—the record of a year settling in, some time spent
setting & designing—
                                            Crab & Winkle must have been written 
ten or more years ago

                                                          now he might allow 
                    his mind to drift south again, as they
prepare to leave
                                        for Sydney, I think
                                                                                  —tho
                                                                                               a year
or two away.

                                   Here he'll miss them, might be
missing them now already
                                                            the mind, as it will,
ahead of itself.
                                            Mine always is.
                                                                                   Who can live
'in the moment'?

                              #

                       Not me.
                                                   "No time!"  ha ha ha

                                                #

I'm reading
                              for the first time
                                                                    Under Western Eyes
no I'm not—I'm reading Heart Of Darkness

                              #

the early pages   set   maybe   close to Kent
                                                                                   evocative
                                                                                                                of
a serene mildness

                                       #

                                                     & Johnson's Lives Of The Poets

which is amusing
                                           & intelligent

                                                                           (tho who needs me
to remark it?)
                                         some of the lives  & their passions
reminding of literary figures still current
                                                                                maybe
'perennial' these acts & motivations


                                                                    —& Tim Wright's
small collection

                                             lines & phrases in it that I love

am drawn to
                               that I can maybe   draw heat from

                                          I am situated
                                                                          in or 
                                                                             between
Laurie's last decade
                                            Conrad's what?  1890s?
                                                                                            Tim
(in Melbourne, now more or less)
                                                            Pam Brown
                                                                                         & me & Cath

(—now definitely—& currently on Bruny Island),

& Johnson's eighteenth century  & sure, generalising, imperial
latinity & secure English good sense
                                                                       (Get the picture?)

                                                                                           (to quote 
                            Laurie Duggan 
                                        & 
                           'Shadow' Morton)

Sasha
              —the editor, & sole writer, of The Only Sensible News—

whose project was the resurrection of Harry Hooton

And now a younger friend of Pam's
                                                                     —Pam was closer
than us to Sasha—
                                       has gone into bat for him.  Harry Hooton.

I thought Hooton was an awful poet.
                                                                         Which I told Sasha.

                                          #

                                                      timor mortis conturbat me, 
                                                                                          Laurie quotes,

recalling John Forbes

                                                  occasioned by
                                                            a high voltage warning
                                                                                          Laurie sees
on the side of a generator.

Thinking, I suppose, Here I am in England,
                                     where John went before me
                                                                              the strangeness of it

                                                 #

                                                                                                Will this
continue, as a line by line commentary on Laurie's poem?

Not the worst thing one could do.

                                                  #

                                                                    Tho I'd soon
catch him up
                          —he already having done the hard thinking—

the heavy lifting,
in John's phrase

                              & then where would I be?


                                    here?
                                   there?


                   "footsteps in the courtyard
                    the rattle of leaves on the path"
                                                                            (Womack & Womack)

                  "In the offing the sea & sky
                   welded together without a joint"

                                           &

                  "A haze rested on the low shores
                   that ran out to sea in vanishing flatness"

                  "What greatness had not floated on the ebb
                   of that river into the mystery of 'an unknown earth!'

                                                                           & so on


Hmm, I should quote Sam & Tim
                                                                   & perhaps I will

inevitable?
                              irresistible?
                                                            a bad idea?
                                                                                           (but
                                                                                     'none the less'?)



                 at the cafe  past the turn-off to Adventure Bay

on the way to Alonnah

                                                       with Cath

                                                                                          she reading
                                                                                          Zadie Smith

which I'll read after her
                                                            I read Crab & Winkle.  

                                                                                                       At
first
          —for a moment—the shop seems too crowded:
tourists—New Zealanders, Aussies, some Singaporeans

                                                                                          the owner very
                                                                                                    talkative

so it is very noisy.

                                                        But where else to go
                                                                 on an island?

                                                                                          So we
                                                                                           stay

there is somewhere else to go because the crowd moves on
& we sit & read   & write   exchange remarks

                                                                                          then 'go'—

to buy petrol, groceries, have a walk on the beach

                                                      'Adventure Bay'

                      tho the bay, the beach, live up to it
                      the automatic thought: what can Cook & Co have made of it
                                                                                       all those years ago?

                                           idyllic?


                  the berry farm is shut
                  contrary to its advertisement


                  pale blue, silvery, the sands
                  white as I have ever seen them

                  our prints the first today,
                  aside from those of a dog

                  & numerous small birds

                                    #

                  two plovers, a dotterel
                  a pacific gull (a 'dominican')

                                    #

                  see Ian & Lorraine in the afternoon
                  see Dan & Sophie that night


Three days later, a trip to Adventure Bay, again for groceries—
a trip for promised meals, with Ian & Lorraine, & Pat & Chris 
the next few days.

                                                               "No nice milk,"
so Cath rings Lorraine (just, at that moment, at the checkout in 
Kingston).  Lorraine will bring us some tonight.

                                                                                 A walk
on the beach near the berry farm ("closed till October")

tourists photographing each other on the rocks before the
swell of incoming waves & the enormous panorama—
that says 'Endless space',  'time'  & 'miles away'.  Cath goes
for a skinny dip at the other end, the water invigorating
& cold.  Small puffins & large gulls gathered near by, 
keeping thirty metres' distance from us as we move down
the beach.  Cath has seen the eagle this morning, a sea 
eagle, perched in a large tree in the neighbour's yard.  I 
see it too.  (Gabe's idea of Cath's motto—"I've seen an 
eagle" & "I'm going in"—proved true.)

I take some photos for Cath.  They resemble Richard 
Hamilton's of Marilyn—tho of course the special virtue 
of those was to have her resemble every woman In That 
Same Situation: full of enjoyment, endorsed, & 
communicating these things, their smile addressed not 
to the camera but the person behind it.  These photos
verify that Cath did, in fact, go in.

Zadie Smith.  I finish Heart Of Darkness: a mess finally.  
As Conrad must surely have known.  I haven't read much 
of him for forty years now, except for The Nigger Of The 
Narcissus a year or two back.  Also impossible.)  Should 
I read more?  Nostromo? Lord Jim?

                                                               For now, tho,
Zadie, The Autograph Man.  Three years back I read
NW & liked it very much.

We go home, rest & cook.

Lorraine & Ian show up early.  After an exhausting day
on the mainland, seeing to various things.  They have
disinterred, from years in storage, a standard lamp that 
we can use.  They leave.  (No dinner tonight.)  And we 
go squidding at Lunawanna—return for late tea.

#

Once or twice a day the phone pings, telling us of photos 
arriving, of the grandchildren in Adelaide—Noah mooning
in the parking lot of Marion shopping centre, Gabe looking 
on, Max, a small general or fearless merchant banker—a 
'commando' merchant banker perhaps—short videos of him 
learning words from Anna.  Say "garden," Max.  Max, say 
"cat".

I must remember that I want to end with Tim's "I move thru 
the traffic like a pin."
                                                   Tho, why do I
like it?—Tho I know I do.

#

Pat & Chris for a day or two, then the drive back with them—
ferry (abjure cheese shop—no time!) & prep for dinner that 
night at their place, Olga & Paul coming.

#

We go on an amusing op-shop crawl, with Chris, the next day.  
Pat stays home to prepare his Spanish for an end-of-day 
weekly tutorial.



Chris phones from just up the street—she has gone for 
vegetables—telling us to come out & see the spectacular sky.  
We set off with Pat in the lead, see the fabulous sky—whorls 
of red, Altdorfery clouds against beautiful bruised, plum-blue 
background cloud & patches of silver & moonstone grey.  Call 
into Betts Gallery on the way back & see the paintings there.  A 
designer's take on the possibilities of various modes of 
representation, contrasted together: scumbled expressionist paint 
used representationally over mirror-enamel surfaces & offset 
against geometric abstraction, bits of stencilled nineteenth-century 
drawing or cartoon.  Salle-meets-Patrick Caulfield-meets-
Gordon Bennett, pop art & Rauschenberg distantly behind it.  
His earlier work reminded of Stephen Bram schooled on Kenneth 
Noland.

#

                        "I glide thru the traffic like a pin"



Ken Bolton has published many books, the most recent being Lonnie's Lament (Wakefield Press, earlier this year). Forthcoming in 2018 are Starting At Basheer's (from Vagabond Press in Sydney) and Species Of Spaces (from Shearsman Books in the UK).
 
 
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