Coalcliff House

Coalcliff House
Ken Bolton & Sal Brereton standing beside house. Photo by Kurt Brereton (1980)

Thursday, May 20, 2010

coalcliff poems

The house stood

The house stood as though it had been washed there by an enormous tide.

Lodged above the tree line, between it and the escarpment

that rose directly behind it.

It stood weathered like a wooden raft. Still in one piece

but leaning gently in one corner.

The house had been weathered like the bare wood

growing out of the side of the cliff. Everything set at weird angles,

like the undersea frozen in a strong current.

Even the garden had something of a sunken quality to it.

as though, in order to find the existing form you might have to dig down

one foot- discover the original bones of plants

gleaned white by the moon.


Trains are shunting up and down the track. It’s early morning

and the hill cliffs beyond the road are hit by the first bits of sunlight.

A movement so slight, like the buzzing of a butterfly coming

closer to the ear.


Some construction sheds are erected across the road.

Little white ones that look like toys in comparison to the hill

that rises behind them.

I imagine what they must look like from the very top – more toy-like

probably. These sheds that have been constructed to house the thirty

or so men employed to build the new railway.


I spend too much time in front of the radio.

I hear the floorboards and I know you’re out there somewhere

drawing me into your place. Curling in the space between two large rocks

behind the sand dunes.

On the other side of the house, ocean-blue Pacific O.

Windows that open out suddenly to the extended relief of coastline.

There has been a significant change in the size and placement of the horizon.

The trees upon the hill are reflecting the sun as though they are made of

some resilient galvanized iron – they are reflecting the light everywhere in

strips of green.


I stayed up reading late. My light was the last one to go out

on the whole block. I checked.

And every now and then I leave this book in which i have been looking

for the last few hours, at poems etc… mostly not reading them

and go outside and piss over the verandah into the front garden.

Feel the cold creepy feel of August wind creeping up my bare legs and

looking up to the sky, which is unarguably full of stars and bright almost

full waning moon giving everything that moves a definite shape

that sways in what now is an energetic breeze.

Among the Living

alone in Ken’s house
it can be funny sometimes
when it’s late and you’re up
reading one of his books
from his endless collection of books

and all around you
the walls lined with the shrouds
of writers
lying next to each other
or on top of each other
or standing back to back
spine to spine

and thinking,
how some poets must be dead already
and some must be dying
and some must be living

and it makes me feel good
in a funny sort of way
to be still such a young writer
with so much yet to write about
and with such a long way to go.