Summer sellout (for Bruce Dawe)

The wonderful poet Bruce Dawe died on 1 April 2020, aged 90.  The poem below  was one of my first pieces of published work. 1981. It has quite a few internal references – phrases adapted from titles of Bruce Dawe poems.

Summer sellout (for Bruce Dawe)

How to go on not looking
How not to believe

You book’s going cheap. Saw it
in the ninety-nine cent bin. Well,
a stack of them in fact.
Drew a line through the dust –
Touching is seeing is believing.

‘What about these here?’
‘Been there months, Harry, months.’
The unknowing storemen just
Tossed the books into the sellout bin,
with the cheap thrillers going cheap and
novels from movies from scripts from
some original idea
(some enchanted evening)
lost long ago.

This same book I carried everywhere:
back-pocket, rucksack, glovebox.
It was the proverbial lamp and mirror.
It was a personal discovery, all my own.
Held it close with teenage enthusiasm and privacy.

But sentiment is just this dust on my finger
I won’t even know when I wash it off.
In a Chapel St bookshop there’s a summer sellout.
Your poems have no fixed address,
just drifters in a chopped-down forest.

Will you accept my condolences of the season?

First published The Bulletin Literary Supplement, December 1981.

Cover of Bruce Dawe book

One comment

  1. People pushed through the gates into the kerosene canary

    Flying East away from red dust and dreams 

    Catching rubber on tar life screaming back 

    Slowly breathing time deceiving stomach churning

    Through the door anxious to the core many thoughts ignore

    Search for peace in still water arms churning lungs burning

    Swimming the ghosts away but still I can hear them say

    The desert is calling

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