Andrew Bifield was the winner of the 2012 Qantas Spirit of Youth Awards, Written Word category, and an official Melbourne Writers’ Festival emerging blogger. An expatriate Western Australian, he is currently working on a comic novel, Tacos at Midnight.
His website is andrewbifield.com
Ports (after Eliot)
In Fremantle, above the crowds whose half-lost voices make
unusual rhythms, the potted flowers shake
along the latticed terrace; memories
come back to me like flies:
London suburbs by the Styx; Dis astride the Thames,
and pauses by the Guadalquivir to cry;
moments by the Seine where my botched pretensions were revisited;
Drinking in Paddington
HURRY UP PLEASE ITS TIME
by neon light bottles to attention standing:
the jukebox passes all understanding –
shandy shandy shandy
Fiesta with a cast of amateurs.
Tangiers creeping in the bay;
standing in Gibraltar, knowing
It is better to have thought of Africa
than to arrive, and realise that you have come to
the end of yourself.
Invisibly, the ghost of Nick Caves Past
Hooks down the Carlton terrace’s steps a spectral bike.
My hand arrests him: Nick, I ask,
Tell me what this inner north was like
When you were flesh. These palaces, their faces
Well cut in, their gardens just a week overgrown,
Speak nothing of the boarding rooms, the races
Immigrant, your time on heroin.
Caves Past says nothing, pulls away.
No daytime drunk; no slouching fence;
A trashless street: now who would say
What this place was, with this evidence?
In a window, my own face reflects, now kempt
As any terrace on the street. Who would suggest
That in me, young rage and contempt
Once over-boiled? These lines are all that’s left,
Like the archaeologies of paint
Hung over years and years. I step to my task.
On Lygon St, the phantom Saint
Paul Kelly of Lost Youth busks.
Play me a song for those who are still young,
I ask him, spinning him a coin. Mothers steer
Their outboard prams around us. Paul’s lungs
Don’t stop, sing dumbly through the early years.
Later, in the Three Ghosts, constant Lee
Whose hands tremble when not on a beer, runs through
His script: I listen, gratefully.
It is happening to me, it is happening to you.
My sincere thanks to Andrew for allowing me to publish these poems for the first time on here.