Ken Bolton: poem: Coffee & John Forbes poem

Ken Bolton: poem: Coffee & John Forbes poem

Funny, the Guston selfportrait
I always associated with myself
I associate with you — ‘he
became his admirers’
not much of a fate
for you in my case.
Your new book is out
I’m reading it in
exactly the place you’d have
imagined me in — a
nondescript Adelaide coffee shop
your picture of me too cruelly true
— well, not ‘cruelly’, but ‘true’ —
taking the world in manageable bites:
there was me, there was the
art world (I knew all the artists)
there was Poetry — an idea
I held in my head —
there was politics in the papers
& out the windows Hindley Street —
reality, the
‘modern world’ —
I could have a think
maybe a bit of a write
putting things, keeping things,
in their place.
                            The new poems
are great. But that’s it
the end of the supply —
poems that as they came along
seemed admonitions, a wake-up call —
& we rose or didn’t
to the occasion
knowing there’d be more,
thinking of you. I pictured
you, typically, in late night concentration —
in your place, rather barren
a naked light maybe over you —
your head, your glasses, a
T-shirt, maybe TV going
in the corner — the sound down
behind you. Was it like that?               I feel like phoning Gig —
saying what did he look like
there writing?
                              Late at night?
in the morning? kitchen table?
did he face the wall, the
fireplace?
I visited — once or
twice —
I remember the scene.
He liked it. It was not what you would call
‘comfortable’.

                The young look cute to me
just for being young. A couple
walks by her hand for warmth
in his hippocket, arms around each other.
John saw them
as he saw everything maybe
more accurately. I don’t know.
I think it’ll be weird —
those wake-up calls that were
the poems will now come to seem
a period, a ‘moment’ as we
Marxists say (parentheses here for
har har) now passed —
to which Australian poetry
never responded.

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