new zealand electronic poetry centre

David Mitchell


A Greek Café in Kings Cross

It was a Greek café in Kings Cross
where the coffee was best lukewarm
where some sort of goulash redefined the term expressionist
where a paper rose dreamt on about a side street in Athens
where flies from the great outback crash-landed exhausted
where a blue and white flag hung like a soiled tea-towel from the wall
where George’s dark-haired pallid arm lay glued to the counter
where Achilles and Odysseus discussed the Caulfield Cup
where a window display of feta sweated out the time of day
where a poet of the Antipodes sat waiting for something GREAT to happen
where outside a busker played the chords of a city’s purple haze
where I read without interest The Australian’s situations vacant columns
where I read with passing interest Bjelke’s latest rort
(both of us being from the same crooked country)
where I realised without question that only Sydney Harbour’s
blue quick flashing waters
would be willing to give me the freedom of the city.
It was a Greek café in Kings Cross not far from the Wayside Chapel
where we both met as we said we should –
a small woman of April in blue goat-leather sandals
she walked in just like she always would.
When she lit a cigarette in that unremarkable café
Achilles and Odysseus began to vaguely dream of burning towers
George shifted one arm for the other on the counter
the busker played a silver love song on a battered tin harmonica
the Antipodean poet ordered one last glass of Pernod
knowing that something GREAT could be almost about to happen
and in a back room alone an old woman dressed in black
carefully lit a votive candle to an icon.
How could she have known that I would before too long
on other pavements seek out the one rose of all the world?
To anyone reading this poem
should that café still be open
remember me
                       to all of them


From Calypso (Auckland UP, 2008): 25


ęBob Orr

Last updated 5 March, 2010