By Jennifer Compton | 1 July 1997
I think you ought to write a poem BUSH POET AT DEATH’S DOOR. I wonder what death’s door looks like. I’ve been there, in fact stepped through it – to be precise in an ambulance stopped at the red lights next to Kilbirnie Post Office – but I don’t remember. What I am sorry for is my mother heard them say – she’s gone – or – we’ve lost her. Not nice for a mother to hear. But I was really ready to go. A history assignment on the Weimar Republic – you know how boring the Weimar Republic was and probably still is. For my kharma’s sake I spent years of my life writing a play about Hitler. For give my excess – I am loosed on a tide of red wine and Van Morrison POETIC CHAMPIONS COMPOSE. He is a good guy Van . I can forgive anything except bore dom . Boredom kills. Keep meaning to say to you phrase – everything was burnt up on re-entry – as if you were a star or a piece of space junk falling back to earth. Not quite slipped the surly bonds. Remember what happened when Reagan quoted that? the look on that mother and father’s face as they watched their daughter explode in space. I saw a meteorite falling towards Bowral one night. I ducked. Much good that would do me. I am so glad I hope you are as glad as I am that you are in postcode 2429. Van is singing MOTHERLESS CHILD. I didn’t bargain with God – I was quite firm about it. Do what you will with him and send him back. There was no shifting me on that point. I’d rather you came to my funeral than I came to yours . That’s what it always comes down to isn’t it? Am I going to be holding Matt’s hand as he dies or is he going to be holding mine? I’m just going to get another glass of wine. Perhaps this is a poem. I may slap it on the machine and press the save button. POEM OF THANKSGIVING. Now it is all going away because I am thinking of line length. DRINK MORE PISS. TURN UP VAN. Not people die but worlds die with them. (Yevtushenko excuse me that just slipped out.) Neil said write a haiku for Les and this poem has only 17 syllables but I don’t know which 17 are the ones that make kdang! but you are alive and I don’t care if you have lost your net and can’t catch those poems any more don’t care if you walk on your knees for the rest of your life search in the dust for grains of wheat and those helicopters that you tried to wave away we re you in Vietnam or we re they giant blowies? we re you still at DEATH’S DOOR what I can never be an Australian? no one will ever know why you waved those helicopters away I heard you cough when they threw the phone down on the desk – cough Mr Murray that’s right cough. You tried so hard to cough. You couldn’t. You couldn’t remember how to cough up those helicopters. Then you remembered. You coughed from a very long way away. And I cheered on the other end of the line – good on yer Les cough up the feeding tube it’s all good pud from now on good pud! Alive. Miracle. God is good. What we truly want we can have. Then we must let it live in the light of its own nature. Or we kill it all over again. I can’t believe how much I am raving on. This is all a letter you write and don’t send. Because. I wish everyone could sit in this room of mine and feel what I am feeling. It feels something like bliss . Can I publish this poem Les? Can I? Can I? Sometimes I think the poems we write are only the thin shadows of what we think and feel. The poems are like equations that can’t prove the word starved approximations of what we grip onto it’s all that thinking about line length everything we hang onto and that hangs onto us is wordless alive you’re alive and we nearly lost you but we hung on we hung on we hung on I hope you are never sorry for this is Australia just a very little like the Weimar republic? Just a little. Lotta guys doing things. I can’t get out of this poem it is writing me I am glad for me I am glad for you I am glad for the crowd at 2429 I am glad for the PRINT CULTURE I’m like just glad all over glad all over me alive alive alive not dead alive there you are the simple mind that lives in the body that lives dear Les why did you frighten us what would I do if I could not find you if you abandoned us MORE WINE poetry does matter they all talk a lot of crap about poetry but it matters more than anything they say POETRY like they hate what lives in the poets the thing that doesn’t live in them so they can’t know what it is but they can hate it but we mustn’t let them oh dear Les I am down to one finger I have lost the caps lock key CAPS LOCK KEY found it okay Les deal give us some more of those pomes milch cow milch cow takes so long to find DEATH’S DOOR can’t leave it at that selfish selfish my papa tried to write the poems 30 years tailing out and the nailing machine in THE BOX FACTORY this machine is so much part of me as I type one finger I type words I type message I type meaning two handed now coming in for the big finish and hope that I can get the rope around its wild head when you gave yourself up to poetry you gave yourself up to us you might as well relax and enjoy you have more personae than I have had hot dinners and we can call you a cab in the rain but no one can do it for us like you can do it for us and if we quibble and squabble it’s just because just because well you know why I can’t finsih I can’t finsih misprint misprint there is nothing like the mind of a poet purest manifestation of whatever do it for my father who couldn’t write the poem he had to write I do do it because you can do it do it because we’re waiting at the bus stop and we’re bored tell us about the moment when you gave yourself up didn’t belong to yourself any more but belonged to us we’d really like to know about that MORE WINE MORE WINE FINSIHED THE BOTTLE PLENTY MORE WHERE THAT CAME FROM come back to tell us come back to tell us I don’t think we can save him well and we could and we’ve let plenty go you know we’ve let them go bright stars so he’s gone and he’s gone etc. but we dragged you back you owe us joy in the breath joy in the body like space dust that burns in the sky over Bowral falling towards us if we are afraid forgive us live like we are afraid to that’s what you promised us wasn’t it isn’t that what you promised us everything everything every breath let’s just forget you are a terrifyingly good poet let’s just welcome you back into the tribe find a place for you by the fire (next to my father) there you are where you belong you belong to us we belong to you it’s all just one big thing Van Morrison sings the wine will never run out fill the glass drink with no fear (next year?) what can they do to us? we who have died already.