Saturday, December 17, 2016

Kit Kelen #353 - 58


for Beatrice Machet and Beth Spencer and David Wooster
and all the other old dawgies

it's summer in the orchard green
and hatless for the wet
won't last long
clouds drift


a sun swims over and
here we are in the healing place
that's why we call these aches home

it's summer
insects are a comin' in
and kookaburra at 'em!
be birthday with
and frogs – you too!
get a grubby mouthful

myself – I've had the birthday apples
I've had the birthday cherries
I'll read through this number
with the birthday carrot
when it feels like there's a draft

though the end seems always further away
which is how it should be on your birthday

now what's it for we party here
in and between the lines?

all those years back
world beginning

a sputnik
fell early
in the summer before
it was an omen I tell you

Fidel began broadcasting
Bertrand Russell started CND
the peace sign was invented
someone walked over Antarctica, why?
Elvis became U.S. Private #53310761
Lego began

you see how things were back then
one sees one's place in the planet's progress
and while we're with the big picture

in only a matter of years
I would be making my first
(and perhaps not yet last)
effort to swim to America
that was at Balmoral Beach

now I have my own five meter pool
and Carol fixed the leaks
with Mick helping
and we'll leave out the pool blokes
from Taree, though they were pretty handy
at the time

no record ever ran this speed
unless the power supply was shonky, I suppose
there might be a reason for that

but vinyl certainly span that year –
Bo Didley's Bo Didley
Chuck Berry with Johnny B. Goode

Miles Davis released
L'ascenseur pour l'échafaud

there was a certain amount of do run run run
the Shirelles met him on a Sunday
'All you have to do is dream'
was a chart topper

Kate Bush and Wong Kar Wai
Prince, Tim Burton, Andie MacDowell
all little dawgies like us

we were the dreamboat
joy bundles perambulating that year
presently we would be the pitter patter

no one remembers the copper full of nappies
boiled till the seams might fray
it was an hygenic era

Lolita was published
Imre Nagy hanged
the Great Chinese Famine began

Menzies' fifth term
the parking meter
the Beatles recorded their first song

think Chevy Impala
think Morris Major
think Austin-Healey Sprite

The Birthday Party
Suddenly Last Summer
The Dharma Bums
Winnie the Pooh came out in Latin
that's the kind of a year it was

three years since 'Howl'
Brecht was two years gone
Ko Un was getting going
Paz published La estación violenta

someone discovered the magnetosphere
they took the serrated edges off the ten yen coin
all when we came along

I always looked to the north
my childhood digs were full of Japan
and Thai girls from the Colombo Plan

it was always a little north I had to be
but it's nice to be home for my birthday
and I can swim with it some days
fill the lungs with, float

I wave away the insects after
pick off the ants by ones

bird makes a branch of anything
and as for myself
I have collected here
so many things that have long ceased working
I now regard as fixed
(as in not going anywhere at this point)

this could be the place to grind to a halt
we'll just have to wait and see

we're not the kind who buy ripped jeans
not the tattoo kind

I got a glockenspiel
and a pool cue
and some of my favourite socks
coddling and cuddling of the birthday kind

58 from 58
can't help but take stock
it's a moment
and true, they all are

certain joys I've never had
I know would make me human
but give us a growl

you spend a whole life
learning to sign your name

in every word got down
got out

day by day more worthy in one's works
so deeper in that sense

have we not a conversation?
and must I drift to prose?
let me swerve in and out
of the line as suits
now and then be left to rhyme
the text like a lake laps shore to shore
like a paragraph the rats were at
and so we'll say it's tested

shall I speak of the descent into paint?
shall I attest the garden?

now rising to the top of the stave
rest there
what birthday's not blessed with siesta?

and with a certain cadence in mind
so soon for lunch must leave you

ah dawgies!
we are almost Christmas

it's our nativity!
2-2 was a racehorse

wan wan
one dog will say to another
that's a greeting and a jibe
it's romance and invention
the way of things as well

from finite numbers
find an open door

wan wan
won one


  1. Happy Birthday, Kit. Great poem and thanks, from someone who arrived in Oz in - you guessed it - 1958.

  2. I love this - "that’s why we call these aches home” - such a rich summation for the year, and life.


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