Ern Malley: A Fool To Care

26 November 2005

Hell – now what could be
more vernacular than that? –
he was an agent merely, mother, don't
you see? But I see myself you are
plotzed, or becoming so. Raffiné, sure,
distingué too, we'll allow, but well on the way
to shickered, my louche little maman
all unbonneted. No more for you.
For me there should be everything. I
loved him. That shirt, those boots, the tragedy –
as you remarked – of having so much the essence
of day time TV star nailed it
for me. Nailed it to me: me
& impossibility. Ha ha. For you to spy on
& laugh at through your glass. I
will not keep his number. You have spoiled that
for me. I don't think I will even have
another drink on this verandah.
I'm going to bed now – you should too –
to dream of him against the balustrade
the sere waves & wind & tufted sand dunes behind,
wind in his hair. Or not to dream. Why
bother? That corner where I lean sometimes
& have liked to look mornings at the incoming waves
tiny, scudding, pale & clear
or darkened in the evening, which say only, now,
“Fool to care”.

A gay, light-hearted bastard, ERN MALLEY cuts a moodily romantic figure within the dun Australian literary scene, his name inevitably conjuring perhaps that best known image of him, bow-tie askew, grinning cheerfully, at the wheel of his 1958 Jaguar sports car, El Cid. It is this image that also carries in its train the stories of later suffering-the affairs, the women, the bad teeth-and, speaking of teeth, the beautiful poems wrenched from the teeth of despair & written on the wrist of happiness “where happiness happens to like its poems written best” (in his inordinate phrase).

As reported on Cordite News Explosion: “… despite our initial glee at receiving ten new poems by Ern Malley himself, we are humbled and disappointed to announce that three of these poems – namely Escape Clause, A Fool To Care and Prospect of KB as a Young Critic – were in fact written by Ken Bolton. .”

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About Ken Bolton

A loony tune, something of a zany, a yo-yo with money, Ken Bolton has been variously described. In truth, he is a curious figure— irascible, intemperate, vituperative, yet devoted, apparently, to an idea of 'the Beautiful', as somehow defined. Lord David Cecil held him to be 'the Hulk Hogan des nos jours' — and found in him 'a Pol Pot, perhaps the very Pol Pot, of the aesthetic.' Bolton has published many books, the most recent being Lonnie's Lament (Wakefield Press). Forthcoming in 2018 are Starting At Basheer's (from Vagabond Press) and Species of Spaces (Shearsman Books).

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