The opposite of Ken Bolton

In the shed II

In the shed II

It’s happened already – the desperate raid on the failed poem file. So sad it should come to this so soon. Things don’t bode well for the end of the month poems if I’m depleting the storehouse already!

Anyway, the notes for this poem were written during a writing retreat last year on the shores of the Hindmarsh Island marina.  Not my favourite place in the world by any stretch of the imagination given its local history and being involved in the protests against the bridge back in the 1990s (see the Hindmarsh Island Bridge controversy and the entry of “secret women’s business” into Australian vernacular).  My disdain may be showing, just a little… Anyway, I’d been reading some Ken Bolton poetry and wishing for his facility with weaving flow-of-consciousness writing with interesting snippets of art history and local goings-on.  My attempt at “Ken Bolton style” failed miserably, hence the title.

In the shed III

In the shed III

The opposite of Ken Bolton


I sit like a vagrant here on the bank

of this egg-carton marina, watching

the water rush its crinkles to nowhere,

the scent of coffee filters filling the air

with the taste of ash and coins.

The low sky is pushing me down

like a penitent before an altar,

offering a sacrifice of pavers

and astro-turf to the gods of suburbia,

while at my back hot-pink geraniums

shout their chorus of battle hymns.


Sitting here in patched sun,

watched by the wine bottles waiting for dusk,

I feel as old and awkward as a rusted bike

and all I want is home and silence broken only by the sound

of my husband hammering in his shed, his work clothes

a canvas spattered with a Modernist depiction of the last year.


I watch an ant crawl across the page

like punctuation gone wild and right now

the world shakes off its domestication,

reasserting itself even in this place where

pelicans seem as kitsch as lawn flamingos.

As televisions wake from their afternoon naps,

across the water ducks shoulder their way

through the air and the wind sows the grasses

with fistfuls of tiny birds that dart and weave

among the rattling seed heads as if the wind itself

is a city bristling with alleyways and thieves.

In the shed

In the shed I

2 thoughts on “The opposite of Ken Bolton

  1. That’s high quality work Rachael,f or which you should take full credit, so I’d give it a non-Ken Bolton title!

    I’ve never been able to bring myself to drive over that damned bridge to Hindmarsh Island, and I think I’d feel the same as you about being there. You conjure up a sense of discomfort and longing to be away from it.

  2. Thanks Mike – it was an interesting experience to finally relent and cross that bridge. The rest of the writers at the retreat were all not living in Adelaide back in the 1990s and so had no idea about the history of the place. It’s an indication of how much I’ve changed in the last decade that I made the decision to put writing before politics – something I never dreamed I would do! So I’m glad my discomfort with it shone through. Still not proud of myself though.

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