new zealand electronic poetry centre

K E N   B O L T O N


Catching Up With Kurt Brereton                                  

Hi Kurt.    
                          ( ! )             I'm sitting up
                                                                                              (at night)
the Pharoah Sanders I bought while staying
with you playing
                                                      gentle mania
waxing    waning
                                            quietly doing its nut
                                                                                          ( in the corner )
"Is Sal alright?" my main question
That I should ask her
                                                          My question to you :
"What's doing?"
                                        Right now, a Sunday night,
will you be stretching the weekend:   music spinning …
lighting a number, painting,
                                                          making notes on things
the fish zipping about, watching you, saying
I hope he plays the James Reyne tape again?
But fish—what would they know?
red & blue, flickering, the bubbles rising out of that diver
paintings of swimmers
                                                      —humanity at its rare least guarded—
                                            what are you floating about like
                    get back with the other swimmers!
                                                                                          Ya wanna know
what I think?   in Peggy's words  
ya wanna know what I think?"
"Hey, Nick! …"   Etcetera.)
                                                          A mantra
                          I should ring you
                                                                      but don't know where
                                                                      the phone will ring—
                                                                      in the house
                                                                              If it was to hand
in the studio & you picked it up on just two rings
& said, mellow & unphased,
                                                                                    that would be
the greatest thing
                                                (am I stoned?)
                                                                                          what is this thing
with being stoned—I,
                                                      who almost never come out of
my tree
                          except by coaxing myself down—
                                                                                                    a coffee, a
long quiet night?
                                            Like Krazy Kat now
                                                                                              I stand
at the foot of that tree   (in fact a lamp post
                    a foot or two beyond the perimeter of its
                    (its penumbra)
                          pretty benign
                                                                                          (by my   'own song')
                          —dumb, yeah,
                                                                but what's new—
"I never said I was smart"
                                                          to quote Lou Reed
Actually, Lou said "tasteful"
                                                                      If he can lie
why can't I?
                                        'Smart', eh?
                                                                                                        time to
                                                                attempt it
                    I pick up the phone
                                                                      & dial you
                                I do a drawing, standing, at my desk,
a hat near some papers & jars   & a jar of flowers—
looking down.
                                    Keeps me going for an hour
& call it "August 6th"    tho it's April
                                                                                    & years
                          … & the poem I do it for
                                                                                    was probably
not written on August 6th either
                                                                              the months just have
such evocative names,
                                                                      Of what are they evocative?
just evocative, that's all :
                                                                leaves, sky, weather
This hat
                                on which I look down—
                          so casual—
                                                                suggests to me scotch
tho I have none now—
                                                      & the races, gambling,
A masculine world
                                                the adult world of my father
A flat in Elizabeth Bay
                                                                frangipanis, the harbour
where Sal & Laurie live
                                                          The light from the lamp
gives a thin firm shadow
round its brim, on one side—
                                                                which my charcoal seizes
other details drop out
                                                          & as I draw & look
& draw again
                                    it is 1951—the humidity,   the slight
sweatyness   of Sydney
                                                          I feel tough & gentle
                                It is the nostalgia of the style,
                                                                                                    the hat
the flower:      the flower pink & pale—hibiscus—
against dark green leaves, the jar small &
six-sided    the hat is wheaten yellow straw, with
a band of brown    the harsh light of the lamp
whitening everything—sheets of paper, bits of writing,
a pen, pencils
                                    the drink this all suggests
is nowhere to be found    an absence that keeps the whole
provisional    suggesting   a moment, not an hour
I get two long-necked bottles from the fridge, put them
in a bag & catch a tram up the Cross meet Cath Pam
Sal & Laurie & continue down the beach
                                                                                    where we meet
              near where you lived forty five years later
                                                                                                            I'm not
wearing a hat, & neither are you, tho Laurie is
from that everyone is dressed pretty much as normal—
eh?      Pam has a rollie
                                                      Sal an Ardath
I rub Cath's neck simultaneously in 1951 & now
& Rosemary hands you the corkscrew, whose handle is a
bottle-opener, & Sarah & Laurie hold out glasses—
beer really was beer till some time in the seventies—
Laurie says Well, cheers!   & we clink the glasses

Last updated 8 May, 2006