Accessibility Tools

  • Content scaling 100%
  • Font size 100%
  • Line height 100%
  • Letter spacing 100%

States of Poetry 2016 - South Australia | 'Gilbert Place - Cafe Boulevard' by Ken Bolton

States of Poetry South Australia - Series One

States of Poetry 2016 - South Australia | 'Gilbert Place - Cafe Boulevard' by Ken Bolton

States of Poetry South Australia - Series One

for Lee Harwood


Softly solarised and parallel
two lines echo each other, glow slightly,
in a space that is nowhere


                                                         I am perched
– I 'find myself' so –
                                              sitting forward –
                                                     on knee

the knee I've thrown over
                                                the leg beneath:

                                                    I look left,
out the window

                                           – of the
                                                          Boulevard cafe

(does it call itself that?
                                                      I don't think so) –

to the brickwork laneway outside –
wet with the rain,

                                       that is now stopped –
people going past
                                       in Hindley Street.
Onto which
                                  the lane 'gives'

tho who talks like that?
                                                           Not me
– I'll give you 'gives' –
am I me, right now,
                                          not, say, Lee Harwood?


a little back in time
                                          – & looking at the rain, &
thru it,
                 at the harbourside road      the corso     of Trieste,

            in Italy

                                      A land I love 'unreasonably'
                                                                                    but 'love' anyhow

Hullo, bel paese,
                                      kind people,

a little out-of-time,    suspended

                                                                   between a
here & now,
                           a then, &
                                                some near, near-ish,

More fragile than I used to be.

how to explain this to my sister
                                                                Should I, in fact,
                                     'explain this to my sister'?

we have not seen each other,

'hardly' seen each other      since '73

forty years more or less
                                                       Three or four times
in that interval?


                                                This is the kind of
                                                           coffee shop,
I will tell Gabe,     where you could still buy
                                                                  a Vienna Coffee,
                                                   I think. I'll check the
as I leave

                                 The newish waitress
                                                                                       whom I like
– (who would not know how to serve one,
she will never have been asked) –
very nice today

                                                      The boss     gives me
                                                             the second
                                                                   'free'      –

                                                                I MUST
                                                           BE A REGULAR

                                                                               Now I see
or note again
                              what first caught my eye
as I approached the glass,
                                                          silver lines
reflected, in the window, on the side that I look
                                                                                         'out' :

the metal arms of the cafe chairs.
                                                                          They catch
the light
                            float, disembodied,
                                                                          'upon', or 'above',
the intricate paving without,

                              so that I look thru them
to see
                              the wet brick,
                                                                 the grated
metal drains
                             that flank at either side, &
a round cover
                  removable – like those in Italy, sometimes
still marked with the insignia, the lettering, that
'ancient Rome', 'Roman'
                                                       'SPQR' ?
                                                                        – that might be, by now,
some of them,
                               quite old :        early twentieth century.

Ours stem probably
                                          from the seventies or the eighties.

                         People walking past,   in black,
black & red,   greys,   but black mostly – for winter.
               Two people across Hindley laugh

as they help each other re-pack rubbish
                                                      spilled from a split bag

a woman, a man
                                                 I guess they work in Burp
the awfully named
                                             'eatery' (or 'food outlet'
who am I to be so snobbish,
                                        make these distinctions?)

                                                                both, at different times,
stand, hitch up their pants, bend again
rebundle the refuse
                                                         A very handsome Asian couple
                                                                                                go past
                                       she     in red coat & very high
– 'above-the-knee' –
                                                   soft black boots
                                                              soft deeply black suede

A kind of gift to the eye –

                                                                for me, a too old,
not very handsome man.

                                                    An African girl, eating chips


a guy, narrow pants, cap, on a phone.


                                                                        Gilbert Place.


                                                                Posters on the wall
for Elton John '& his band'
                                                             I thought he was
or at least retired
                                     & Dylan Moran
                                                                                      A young guy
in clothes too light – homeless I think –
                                                                                    goes past
(I look outside)   his
           – black t-shirt, black pants, low –

stumps past like a fridge, from side to side

                                                                                   A guy,
unintentionally debonair,
                                                      using a long, furled,
pink umbrella
                                  like a walking stick
but not consciously so,
                                           lost in thought.

As who isn't?

                                      – 'Thought'.

                                                             Each with
our own.


Ken Bolton


Leave a comment

If you are an ABR subscriber, you will need to sign in to post a comment.

If you have forgotten your sign in details, or if you receive an error message when trying to submit your comment, please email your comment (and the name of the article to which it relates) to ABR Comments. We will review your comment and, subject to approval, we will post it under your name.

Please note that all comments must be approved by ABR and comply with our Terms & Conditions.