Adam Aitken: poem: Gestetner

  Adam Aitken


  a poem from the past

The artists liked to live there
in the mansion where the fun appeared
in smoky fumes
and mangroves sprouted in the mud.
Lantana never seems to die.
Robert, with Tudor pride, his teeth went first,
his poems were superb.
Then he left too, though Hillsong
got him just in time. He liked to
sing in tongues and comb his hair
for the escalator going up.
Ken went west to Adelaide
Anna went to Queen Street and there was Greece
and Creek Street Glebe
was still so cheap.
There was her whose name I can’t remember
whose lover died in Chile, or Peru.
Her grief had cut her off
to solitude in a walk-up
above a sushi bar that still enjoys
a loyal clientele.
There were docks and containers,
club-foot Johnnie nursing a middie
at the Ancient Briton.
A one-legged drunk
no-one one liked
who’d rest his stump on the bus-stop bench.
In a pub the writers loved,
there were writers no-one knew.
I remember X, that time
when he was very beautiful.
Then I saw an ugly car a P76
someone hoarded in a garage,
the trots and discount prawns
and a club for signing into.
An ink arena ringed in bluish neon,
young folk reading magazines.
There were speedy kids on anti-histamines
turning a small noisy machine
with a funny German name.



Adam Aitken is a lecturer in Writing and Learning Analytics at the University of Technology, Sydney. He spent his early childhood in London, Thailand and Malaysia, before settling in Sydney. As well as numerous articles on poetry, works of creative non-fiction, a PhD thesis and academic articles on Asian Australian literature, he is the author of four full length collections of poetry. He taught English in Indonesia, was Distinguished Visiting Professor at the University of Hawaii, and Poet in Residence at the Cité Internationale des Artes, Paris. He co-edited the contemporary Asian Australian Poets anthology (Puncher & Wattmann) in 2013, and his most recent poetry and essays have recently appeared in Axon, Canadian journal Arc and in Transnational Literature. His memoir One Hundred Letters Home (Vagabond Press) was published in 2016.