(Late at Night Bruny Island)

By | 1 May 2014

in the bookshelves of the
holiday house is a book of
John’s poems—also
Les—a fat spine
Why is that here?
I am unlikely to read it.
I wonder what John’s got to say—
this time.
The rest of the shelf
is novels others have left.
the table from me
my jacket is draped over the chair,
reminding me a little of John—
a presence and an absence. It
looks more like what he would wear
than I would—& it’s empty,
no one there.
Why write
so often about John Forbes? I knew him
only so well.
rise to some challenge
or ‘occasion’, yes?
(No?) (Maybe?)

The radio—
ABC from Hobart—
is playing: very good music
that I don’t know—
in the adjoining room, so it’s
both on but ignored
easily enough, as if I’m
alone more or less—
opposite the chair & jacket,
looking at it, but sometimes
at the things between us on the table
a thin-striped table cloth, blue &
white—pens pencils salt & pepper shakers—
books—that Cath & I are reading—
one of those yellow Spirax notebooks
A-5, a small stub of candle …
a tape measure,
also black & yellow—black with some yellow detailing.
The light is mounted
behind me, on the wall,
rather than above:
the room is lit like a bar
or cantina—& they are those sort
of doors opposite, too—
bar-room half doors, open,
leading into the middle space
(& the radio).
Low ceiling, stucco walls, an earthen,
nougat-magenta The shelves—
the book shelves—
since I began with them,
are on my left, at
the far end of the room.

This is not the sort of poem
John would write.
He would not see the point.
And in fact I don’t see the point
as yet, tho I may hope to find one.

Christ knows where.

news is on now, following
cricket all day. It would have been
worth following it
most of the last decade, for
Kerry O’Keefe’s commentary—
his wheezy laugh, his humour—
tho I didn’t. (John might have.
But John has been gone
a bit too long.)

I always
try to write something
when I’m down here, on Bruny.
& wait & see where they go. John chimes
with the cricket—& maybe with
the cowboy bar-doors—but otherwise
he is a bit urban
to gel with the island—
& holidays. Or is that just
John-as-I-conceive-him? He
happens to be on the shelf tho.
That is a fact.
I look at the poems,
from the back: ‘Love Poem’, ‘Night Shift’,
‘History of Nostalgia’
“ … attitude
is the poems’ currency, an asset
only when it is spent” it says
on the cover. I wonder if John
wrote that copy.

I wonder
where I am going with this?

A long time trying to locate an attitude
or summon one—like someone scowling,
or non-committal, leaning against a wall
(near a corrugated iron water tank—
as I envisage it—now—tho how or why?)
who pushes himself away, finally, with
some resolve

(spits in the grass?)

throws smoke away / spits in the grass

Tho this is uncharacteristically—of me—
not quite urban, & Australian, tho
I am an Australian.

Like 24 million other people

—Is that my attitude?—

more or less the same, more or less different; up late
in my case; trying to write poetry

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