16 Kris Hemensley

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[The New Australian Poetry. page 196]

Kris Hemensley


there is no language for the present time.
we are vested with heartlessness. the
language of times past. neither recognition
at the theatre nor the jackpot for the line
that clicks. whatever are the right words?
my stuttered ‘quelle heure est’il?’ isnt
heard by the gallery of cool movers combing
each other’s auburn hanks thru their fingers
flicking that illicit ash all over the foyer’s
high pile. observe me merge with fantasy’s
skyline. they scan thru smoke & burn me there.

they are the linguists. a row of bronze heads
by the famous sculptor. there’s
nothing so humdrum as lousy work by
the famous. they belong in the
open air but no-one will have a
bar of that. some sit & twitch
before a Bridget Riley. you can
but sympathize even with hypocrites.

this isnt the language of last
night’s soiree. consider that matter

[The New Australian Poetry. page 197]

Kris Hemensley

closed. saved by the show’s
second half. consider instead
the roses monsieur et madame. they are
the best. they come from my home town.
i dont expect you to know that! ‘why me?’
is my favourite tune. accused by Maria
Schneider’s painful pleasure is hardly
poetry. the game nowadays is
filling out the timeless spaces with
lines of the cleverest talk. not
the one about Everest or ‘Ross’s’
desert song or even ‘have you got
the time’s infernal variations. it’s
called ‘sulking in the seventies.’


the coffee-flavoured milk offers
    no great thoughts it’s not the
ultimate in anything the mind has
    absolutely nothing to say for it
what’s been weaned on Thomas Mann is
    loath to praise a simple beginning

    we’re more than happy to imbibe it
a condition of the place we inhabit
    a species of a particular & peculiar
happiness a present out of season

a Christmas rabbit!
    swell! now we’re well away from
the ‘talented earache’John Forbes
    fells our enemies with clearing the
field for our pretty picnic
    would you believe

[The New Australian Poetry. page 198]

Kris Hemensley

teetotallers every one of us
    & connoisseurs of hot water bags
as well has poetry’s proprietors
    slinging shit at us who’ve long ago
made the first heave quite content to
    leave them with humanistic insights!

      for me. Retta. Robert & Tim

there’s no way out of
beginning ‘there’s no way
out’ this is the way the
poem goes along. a blue line
by Basil Bunting or one of
David Hockney’s pretty splashes
shakes our pretensions with
out an excuse-me. we have
our limitations & anyway
there is always the garage
if we run out of steam. or
turn a page. fill it up
says Rob from the corner of
his mouth just as De Chirico
starts doing nasty things with
the shadows of the petrol pumps,
a cow twirls its tail in a
regular sort of way & A/C Ross
corners just as we do — a
heroic front of safety padding
nose to the surface of a B
road with our ‘simply mighty!’
taking in the eucalypts & all that’s
roundabouts. parakeets & a solid
sheep reap all that remains
of a small first page.

the poem stops for Fanta &
chips. we all contribute. we’re

[The New Australian Poetry, page 199]

Kris Hemensley

not being cagey. making photographs
was easier in 1968. this demonstration
of speed (related as the road
made liquid
) states our ace reporter
fantasies. the blue mountains scoop
our quiet glee. the clouds head off
for further fields. the pines tack us
back to the very similar ground
on all perceived sides. ‘all the
same’ & ‘nice’ chew on at least
two of our received sensations. our
other drives. the old jalopy thrives
on loose stones & rising dust. the
gorge begins to rise. we are higher
than the trees. where is our
favourite heave-to in the rock face
where we’ll pay drachmas to hear
the seamier side of each others’
dreams our stomachs screaming
thanks for meat-pies & ices?
that’s when the seconds finally
leave us. we are lost to ourselves
on the left of the road counting bumps.

a simple barbecue heads off our search
for the idyllic surround. we find a
clearing & a spot of sun & a barrow
for the little one who quickly
skippers a marooned car. we’re
in the bush gathering twigs &
dry sticks alternating observation
between the forest’s hush & one
Fosters Lager can. what kind of
bushman are you? My Lady pins
upon me as i burn my finger on
the frying-pan. i have a
crush on those gum-tree greens &
greys i do confess & want for
nothing when the perfume
of smoking leaves billows all

[The New Australian Poetry, page 200]

Kris Hemensley

around us. the Ranger beats the
only singing bird to warn us of
the Heidelberg School & its
original demands. feeling
fifteen & at best twenty-one Charles
Condor says he’s thru with lighting
fires & leaves the four of us to
tales of Robert Adamson &
greasy jowls & underhand directives
to the couple strayed off the
beaten path whose slobbering hound
gets the last laugh if anybody does.

nothing’s so sentimental as sunlight
abandoned on the tree-topped village-centre.
a poem confined to the bush soil
with the ashes of the barbecue has
a better time of it. isnt blinded by
the driver’s obligations to his
passengers — brakes & slides the
whole way down. we bisect the
sweet hill view of the farmhouse on
our lower right. none of these
particulars are for sale. the blue of
the sky is paler now as my ears
pop in expectation of an art
succeeding in translating the
hues of these spaces with an
Australian resolution. homeward bound
& stationed in safety beyond the
brown bull’s bellow i retrieve three
chickens & an entertainment called The Enemy
from the flashes off the highway. at this end
of the jaunt there’s only room for little bits &
pieces of road-hugging hamlets. a goat. two
fathers walking children. a tiny bridge.
a yellow jumper. &: all the other cars
bound bumper to bumper.

[The New Australian Poetry, page 201]

Kris Hemensley


riding in the train of old ones’
recollections the gulch of momentary
hysteria is marred not a carrot by
the link with Tim Thorne whose
‘Autumn’ curses us into the mouth
of the mountains. is it onwardness
convicts these facts as ‘daily torture’
strips ‘magnifique’ from the ever
lasting steeps prolongs ‘stupendous’
as rocks & pines successfully obliterate
memories of all places without them?

in truth we go on forever haggling
at a height you wouldnt believe
over the inclusion of one traveller’s
‘day in Melbourne’ or ‘traveller’
pure & simple plus alias ‘1922’ (the
rhyme with ‘kangaroo’ she pays you
now the shoot’s eschewed). growing
flossy on the clouds of a sky-Venice as
per the oils that doubtless Ezra Pound
could raise from obscure canvas to a
popular view. the pink of our journey

i am one of the crew who claims
the crows-nest long before the chugging’s
thru. a box of the frailest pinks
on the neatest platform in the State
should take out the New Poetry
Award without much ado. we
comply in spirit. everything
you say is true. bussing the black
& the white into terra incognita
makes donkeys out of sightseers
grounds them in mind blowing finis.


[The New Australian Poetry, page 202]

Kris Hemensley


the garden shed contains a
trick &/or two bricks baked
by sun. the German-language
news is trapped within. the
townsfolk recognize the
magpie’s own sweet song.
the hick who robbed your
confident air is closer to
the sound than ever you
imagine. you have been
away for a very long time


      ‘the choreography of glass’

there is a dance at
Paddy’s market. it
is blackbanned. Yugo
slav granny fashions
heartburn into badges.
Chinese who pissed on
cabbages many a league
from tra-la-la’s ad
ages. again the union
rages. inspector dis
misses all pages
what misses. is it
nobler counting lines
than courting kisses?
& where do you think
this is? Claridges?


10.30 pm. Marseille
the Hotel des Postes in a room at 22 francs per night

[The New Australian Poetry, page 203]

Kris Hemensley

white sheets & a bidet

walked up the same roads half a dozen times

stop to drink a beer

walk past the expensive restaurants

share the beat with one man who wears a shoe on the right foot & a slipper on the left who is looking for his living on the pavement

there is a plaque set in the wall dedicated to Henri Barbusse who fought ‘to control fascism’ the street is the Rue de Henri Barbusse

posters on lamp-posts & walls proclaim the candidature of Gaston Deferre to the 1968 Presidency recently we read that the only alternative to the Gaullists was the Communist Party it is both heartening & sad

mild weather for the most part

this afternoon while we slept it rained

we watched the late news on the TV in the hotel lounge

a man discusses Revolution in an interview there will be (he says) ‘talks around the table’

two Algerians passed us in the street earlier in the evening the one with the beard says ‘Hello man!’ we think there may still be hope

in Prague Mr Dubzchek is finally ousted & there is a report of a purge of the Central Committee

the strike at the port of Marseille continues? we cannot follow the interviewer

our baggage seems lost forever!

we wash our feet in the bidet

tomorrow may find us on the train to Paris & so at last to London

Blaise Cendrars photo on the cover of the Gallimard Du Monde Entier could be mistaken for Buster Keaton

there is a Keaton film at a cinema on the main shopping street it features the young Keaton

we settle down for the night

a road-gang begins its work outside

11.00 pm. Marseille

[The New Australian Poetry, page 204]

Kris Hemensley



p/13 Ch/2
‘History of the French Revolution’
                  You’ll never get to heaven…
                              ‘Realised Ideals’

‘Labour’s thousand hammers ring on her anvils:
a more miraculous Labour works noiselessly. not
with the Hand but with the Thought. How
have cunning workmen in all crafts. with their cunning
head & right hand. turned the Four Elements
to be their masters: yoking
the Winds to their Sea-chariot. making
the very stars their Nautical Timepiece’

                            the song of the brute

‘What sounds are these. muffled
ominous. new in our centuries?
Boston Harbour is black with
unexpected Tea: behold
a Pennsylvanian Congress gather;
and ere long. on Bunker Hill. DEMOCRACY
announcing. in rifle-volleys death-winged,
under her star-banner. to the tune of
Yankee-doodle-doo. that
she is born. and,
will envelope the whole world!’

                            will she?
                            wont she?

[The New Australian Poetry, page 205]

Kris Hemensley

this jeep can go any
where over any terrain —
it’s never had an
accident or a
breakdown — i
call it the
Queen Mary
after the trans
Atlantic liner — i
think she would
cross water if i
asked it
of her


in the interior

no soul three days each


of me — the birds

& the rustle of trees


so that except to

answer kookaburras or

bid myself

good-day or

curse the earth when it

tripped me

i had no call to

use my tongue.

imagine —

the first pub

i hauled in at or

holed out in —

ordered a beer

‘what’s that?’

a beer —

‘Scotch & what?’

a beer i said


‘A BEER’ i yelled

[The New Australian Poetry, page 206]

Kris Hemensley

& found the

whole mob

staring at me!

a beer i said again


hearing my voice

for the first time

in a week!



(the automobile — agh — dear /

a fond curse would do if i had

one — has served us well

the Irish trip & up & down

this country’s roads the past year

thing is i need it at least to

get me to the Goacher’s where i’ll

hole up the Winter (looks as if

Fowey is out this year &

an early return to the

grindstone fer yer wandering

poet / saint skewered again

lured into lonely ditches

screwed by the pond at

Lourdes (mercy on

four wheels is that

damned machine

god-damn it

good job i

packed me



i am reduced —

a bit old at thirty-whatever

to start thumbin again not

that i dont but

fair is fair

(i’m nearly 40 sipping

whiskey in a first-

class sleeper & they

still think i’m

[The New Australian Poetry, page 207]

Kris Hemensley

haggard lean & wild
Jack Kerouac
hitch-hiking with a
sixty-pound pack with
Walt Whitman in my
pocket Jack Kerouac (though
if they’d read my bio
graphical notes Thomas
Wolfe would be nearer
or the song of the sea
my seventh wife per
mitting (she
keeps us good &
well (hell’s
it’s a
tragedy mon
ami! i
cannot afford to
buy another
mother (Janis
Joplin &
Newcastle Brown
to restore our
phlegm. hmmmm?

hmmmm? (says

Peg forgive me it’s

the booze i dont know

what the hell i’m saying

away with you says i

there’s nothing makes the

mind more lucid than a

couple of grogs — well

she says it’s the society

in which we live you

cant live outside of it &

furthermore if the lines

you write have no audience

(you mean the masses?) in mind

why bother? as much use as

[The New Australian Poetry, page 208]

Kris Hemensley

a fifteenth-century ghost
in the concrete over there!
not so i say & i reject their
rewards — then how do you live?
by something else (& as a
citizen lend my weight to
change) an honest job…
honest job? a proper
occupation? bah fool
ish youth it’s all
for a buck all
of it.

barks also
stout inter
loper Tim? of
the small counties
harker of common
songs singer of
barrel blues as well as
deafening carousals timed
by nicotine-stained
fingers on the pygmy
tables of the
wretched lounge-
bar in the bosom of
Mammon that
raper of the clear
eye aye & of the
fine ear also —
mind your step
ruck-man Tim &
flying winger when
thunder-clouds threaten
the wonder- (of
the cliffs & there
Atlantic Ocean
where the Phoenician
harboured often) — stricken
yeomen aground in

[The New Australian Poetry, page 209]

Kris Hemensley

the present hearts
in the mouth of
the previous a
pprehensions past
aeons the last bend of
the forest path the
last gasp beneath
the pelting rains!
whose footprints do
we run in? shut-up
& run ! & why
do we run? to de
feat death baby
run! but why
not die (i’m
fit to)? be
cause we’ve
ordered the beer

‘An Englishman I Was Born
And Proud To Be & So Will Die One —’
have you no ambition
asked the barman at
the Greensborough Hotel (an


the lady of the hour
extracted from us longer
farewells than we had

expected. she held My
Lady at the door with the

[The New Australian Poetry, page 210]

Kris Hemensley

furnishings of another scene

down below us. pampas &
sassafras & flights of protected
birds dealt our red-brick rows

a crushing reduction. swept
away by all of that i
took my place at the

lady’s breast. the pith
of her goodbyes seemed to be
distress. the world’s weeping is

prolonged by whatever dereliction &
so i coddled her & manoeuvred up & over
the pain of leaving. & then we left her

      44 Pictures at the Exhibition

our portrait on the protecting glass
of Turner’s ‘Dunstanborough Castle’
includes his rocks & sea

at breast-pocket level. we are an
observant gallery & loath to leave
the hard-edged likenesses mottled

blue & green so true to the
impressions we accept for
ourselves. but

the lure of Mondrian’s chair
& the myriad particularities of
the Chinese rooms prevail. you

take my hand & award each loved
objet cL’art annotations of your
maiden discovery. the interior’s

[The New Australian Poetry, page 211]

Kris Hemensley

grey gathers to it the peach-bloom glazes
which so distinguished the Chinese
xhibits. o that there were

other old masters on which to
register self-love’s gazes. but pah!
in lieu of more mirrors

i’m happy you steer & show me
the things that you’re happy to see. now
it’s oh! & ah! i say to My Lady.


look! she said you can see
his study light. i went out
side to see. the rose-
bushes held all the rain

of the night. i withstood
the pour calculating the time
he would be enabling me
the time with her. but

even before a stolen kiss
he called her. & more:
he was on his way. i
met him in my room. i

avoided his honest eye &
urged upon him evidence
of my fecundity. he
was a man of scruples. he

said i had given him the
heart to get back to it.
the lady returned in proper
haste proffering a wealth

[The New Australian Poetry, page 212]

Kris Hemensley

of breasts & kisses. i
stole away to the water
logged garden & once
more stood barefoot

on the gravel to
attend her old man’s
light & kept a chaste
vigil all thru the night.


the place was famed for
murder. i will be
armed said My Lady.
i didn’t care that

a passing couple heard
me protest though i was dead
scared of being stabbed in
the subway. but why this

America was so small-towny
didn’t dawn upon me until
My Lady called it Norway.
entering our first de luxe cafe

was so much easier then. there was
no end to my cheek or the dollars i
furled in my pocket. i had to protect
My Lady’s chair from other

girls. & then i spied an old
friend clowning with a tray.
i lost my head! o! we were closest friends
i yelled when we were just eighteen!