Ken Bolton

A PERFECT LIFE (“My sometime weekend coffee shop”)

 

My sometime
weekend coffee-shop
one I used
still do

think of as
John’s: he used
to come here,
when he was in
town for a bit,
in ’91 or 92.  The
Boulevard.
I turned up my

nose at the Boulevard
wrong end of town,
unsophisticated.
Now I like it:
its mixed clientele,
its mittel-european
moderne style, the

staff.
The fabulous view
out thru the window
of the shabbiest of
Adelaide walking past,
bent on fun,
plus
a student or two, a couple in
from the country.  Miller
Anderson’s across the road
now closed, once the
country woman’s
store of choice &
by the 80s
a by-word for
dowdy.  An ash-blonde
girl goes by
outrageously cute & punk
& retro rock’n’rolly
sweetly excited
to be taking big steps
beside her very tall
boyfriend—big
literal steps—&
small ones: maybe buy
a beanie, mittens,
some sushi.  Or are
they going to Imprints
(I almost said Exiles)

to buy a book.  (Exiles
that is from
thirty years ago.) 
From the table nearest me
the old guy—that is,
not really old,
just ten or more
up on me—
folds his paper,
gets up & leaves,
after a word
with the team at the
till—one of whom
looks a little like
Mr Squiggle—tall,
adam’s-apple-y,
& with a long
nose, of course—
always a benign presence. 
The man, leaving,
is someone I sat near—a
table or two away—for years,
when the Flash
was the Flash—&

then when it wasn’t
& moved across the street
—he & a bunch of other guys,
Greek-Australian,
Italo-Australian I think. 
Then we went our
separate ways: the Flash
closed finally.  Tho I still

see them around.  It is
good to be united.
We are only
on nodding terms, & only
if one of us insists.
(Nostalgia, sudden recognition,
fellow-feeling.)  I am
always eager: I am one,
they are a gang.  I see
mostly the over-dressed
& too flashy nutter
amongst them, with his
glossy black toupe
& roll neck sweater,
& gold medallion
—complete with chain—
on his chest. 
And a very tall,
slightly stooped guy—
slightly ‘Roland Barthes-
looking’
(tho of course
thinner, less comfortable).
I imagine some of these
have been astute
businessmen in their time. 
They meet often, & pass
whole mornings.  I
remember—they
asked me once,
where I was
going to go, when

the Flash closed.  They were
undecided
themselves.  The Baci,
where I went, was too
down-market—
& then modernised—
& was far too chic
& new-foody.  (Too much
for me, too, but I
stayed …  &
suffered for my
art.) 
     The light in here
is terrific

& when they don’t have
the sound on—
a television—it’s perfect:
just the coffee
& its static noise,
low conversation,
someone patting, or
tapping, say, the
chocolate powder dispenser
onto cappuccino,
crockery tinkling,
the coffee-grounds
banged out,
                      some
traffic confusion outside.
This is a perfect life! 
“Ruler of my heart,”
I sing, & wonder
how Crabby’s going—
& Tubby Justice
(moved to Melbourne!
Where people think
real life is—but no.  It’s here,
at the Boulevard).

(The colour-scheme
is yellow, more or less.
somewhere between tan
& banana.  The TV sits—
high in the corner
silent & black,
& angled down—
like a Malevich.
(Not mittel-european!) 
Suprematist
& slightly scarey.)

I finish writing this,
pick up my book for a bit,
read, look out the window
intermittently—
at one point
catch the eye
of a tough sitting
outside, looking
hard at me (a

different kind of poet
maybe), our eyes
lock briefly—
zz-zz-zup!—
go back to reading—get up,
knock this
on the head.  
Head down the street
to work.  Sun, autumn,
pleasant—
                   cross
the street
a few times
(they’re still fart-arsing around
with some road work
on our corner: I’ve been
detouring
for weeks, but
I regularly forget
… )

 

 

 

 

A loony tune, something of a zany, a yo-yo with money, Ken Bolton has been variously described.  In truth he is a curious figure—irascible, intemperate, vituperative, yet devoted, apparently, to an idea of ‘the Beautiful’… as somehow defined.  Lord David Cecil held him to be “the Hulk Hogan des nos jours” — and found in him “a veritable Norman Tebbit of the heart.”

 

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