Three Poems from Notebook 1970
Harry Lurber’s Time
He was a friend,
I walked in on him.
He showed me his diapasonal cat.
It’s quite a cat.
It covers the whole range of catness.
It’s an English cat.
The first time he walked in on me
it was half-past three,
I was living in an attic at the time,
and he walked in quite unexpectedly
and threw his hands at the wall,
two green hands,
and rounded on me with a cup,
after a few minutes of ventilation,
and said: ‘Words!
Cobber, give me words!’
I walked in on him,
but I dropped the word
between the window and the door,
he was writing on the floor with chalks
while his wife read a book,
he was writing out every second word,
and I dropped my word,
theriac I think it was,
and when he stood up,
caught like that in his delict,
I saw he had the cat down his trousers
for the stops,’ he said,
I said Christ I was sorry
and we sat down to talk about it
over an apple
which he cut, as usual,
into thirteen equal parts,
and I finally asked him why his hands were green.
‘An old war wound,’ he made out,
snapping a piece of chalk between his fingers
with a powerful thrust.
‘Harry,’ I said,
‘Mister Kerouac’s dead.
and Sam Beckett’s got the Nobel.’
‘Sam,’ he hissed,
‘Well, well, well.’
Our two coats hanging on the one nail
beside the art reproduction.
The View From Nigel’s House
Harry, I’m in Balmain.
from here Sydney is all geometry
and a green flower flies in the sky
and I walk at the double through these streets
in another country
for the very first time, my maiden voyage,
the Telegraph in my shoes
I walk the steps of the Cross &
waiting for the unexpected lady
carrying roses to fall upon me.
Last night I made love to an Assyrian
until my heart dropped to my feet.
Her name was Sophia and she was wilder than dust.
In Darlinghurst Street I bought a mushroom
from a man with a cart
and a nobbled dobbin,
he tested my coin with his teeth.
They don’t trust us over here.
Winter claimed my heart
and the motors of my mind wound down.
I took myself inside and ordered a recall.
I’ve got an employment form from the Post Ofiice.
I can’t find my heart.
I can’t think of anything to say.
I’ve been here for five days and I’m still largely speechless.
A word when I wake is all.
On Sunday the gift of tongues! Nigel says.
I add nothing to this land of noise.
I’m working on inconspicuity
and being one of the boys.
The femmes jolies wave at long black cars
not at poets, self-proclaimed in waistcoats,
who can’t even get a job as a bus-conductor. Alas.
Harry, I think I met her.
She was merry and quaint
as one would wish in June
and with weddings in her eyes.
I’ve yet to find out if she’s made of flesh.
Alphabets fell in my hair
and the rain lifted,
such a June!
Harry, she’s very well guarded.
She’s at home with the stars.
She follows them in magazines.
It was one of those casual affairs.
She gave me change for the telephone
at the Sydney CPO,
I didn’t have any-one to call,
Nigel said it was a trick he’d used
and look where it got him.
The sun is a storybook sun
but she is a moon,
she makes my blood flood
from side to side
and the tide
I ferry across it on a sentence.
Tonight she left,
left me a basket of thorns.
Harry, I’m bound to travel on.
Botany Bay broke my heart.
Walking Down Collins Street with Charles Buckmaster
Walking down Collins Street in the middle of the night
and smoking Chinese Elm leaves
that Charles has rolled tight in-between 2 skins
suddenly, it’s 3 AM.
I draw a circle and call Sophia to it
dancing with a candle
with a transparent FLAME.
Sophia, some men become wise
just by saying your name.
I can see you now
heavy with my child,
oh no, it’s just the night.
The tramcars chase us with their yellow numbers
gleaming in the dark,
Charles leaps onto the running board,
I hear Sophia shouting:
‘Dogs, go on, go on,
bite his penis!’
She carries tobacco between her legs.
‘Dogs, go on!’
Flames shoot from the windows of Melbourne.
I’m running down Collins Street
trying to catch a tram.