Ken Bolton

(1949 - / Sydney / Australia)

(pinkham) - Poem by Ken Bolton

For Gregory O'Brien

I wonder how
Gregory does this
these three line

stanzas & whether I
can do them —
to any good effect.

I make coffee, check
various things around
the kitchen — find

the new clock
I got Gabe for his
birthday, note the

milk is almost
gone, bring the tea back
& sit at this finely red-&-

white checked table cloth
again, pick some rice off it
from the meal tonight

chew it, & start — which means,
mostly, I stop here
& see how I’ve done

It has my characteristic choppy
rhythms, etcetera. Oh well.
It is called after

Albert Pinkham Ryder
— Gregory’s poem —
“called after” an American

phrase, that I guess
comes to mind
as I recall

what little I know
of the American artist —
19th century? or

very early 20th?
I visualize small
emblematic paintings

with a dark image
centered — briefly

silhouetted —
against a dark background —
a sort of horse-&-rider

against a storm? (The image
my mind remembers
may even be

some late sketch by Moreau
— you know: the late,
atypical unfinished

heavily impasto
fragments that
art historians love to suggest

the Fauves might have seen —
miles from the
stillness, & detail,

of Oedipus & the Sphinx
say — or “in most ways”
Anyway this is miles

from Ryder. And I am
briefly sure
it is Ryder I can imagine

& the Moreau too — his
horse & rider
in reds & blues

lemon yellow, the American’s
black & deeply
varnished colours — browns —

against a discoloured
white, or cream
& a larger dark ground.

Tho who knows?

is not really our business

a reverberation of US
culture: local news
like CNN, the

American breakfast program
we get at night. What a
hopeless analogy. Ryder is better.

Moreau —
well, I like to bear in mind
his presence

along with Manet &
that revolution. Tho
give me Manet

any day, if I had
to choose. Tho, um, you don’t.
I like the portrait

— full face, almost filling
the frame — of Moreau
in a bowler hat

high collar, & tie, narrow
moustache — very
1900s modern

by Roualt (pupil
& friend) that is
slightly ‘cubist’:

the one eye furthest from us
— it is three-quarter on — & that
whole plane, of cheek

& wide wide forehead,
swells out, flattens,
just slightly.

It seems an irony
of history —
or perhaps the irony

was Roualt’s. It was
mine too eventually
(though less originally)

when I did a copy
of it . . .
that I liked

& seem to have lost now
Misplaced. I haven’t seen it
for a while

(I could do it
again.) I take the rest
of the tea

& toss it on the
pot-plant, beneath the goldfish.
The plant had dried out.

The fish wake slightly
& begin to move —
at this angle

a few vague red shapes,
a diaphanous white,
in a tank that looks


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Poem Submitted: Monday, May 14, 2012

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