Monday, January 11, 2010

Ken Trimble

Melbourne Writer: Ken Trimble

prose n poems . . .

Notes Of An Idiot Inside The Whale.

I entered the Gatwick with a walking stick and a $100 in my pocket. After spending three months in India I came back broke and homeless, all my dreams of becoming a monk were shattered from a fall on a Calcutta Street.

And now I entered a world as foreign as India and I was as scared as a man facing time in prison, lost inside a sea of darkness. I was forty-six and for the most part my life was like anyone else. I had worked in good jobs and got good pay and lived in nice homes, but this all fell apart when I discovered that I could win by gambling. If only I had lost that first time, instead I won, and won big, and I was hooked like a fish that was to be gutted and used on someone's dinner table.

I worked for a company in the pre-press industry and I decided to take the redundancy package that was on offer. In relative terms it was a small one and I decided to travel to India to live in an ashram in South India. The reason was, when I saw the life story of Father Bede Griffiths, I felt the inspiration to become a monk, and I thought it was going to be easy. A walk in the park, a piece of cake.

I am an addict, a gambler, drinker, smoker, you name it I'm addicted to it. Like a man dying of thirst I entered the Casino, desperate and looking for a hit. The madness of that night is still etched in my brain because I won. It was always the pokies, an idiot’s path. I never could play cards, wasn't interested in roulette, two-up or other things, I wanted money and lots of it!

That night I won a thousand dollars and I felt good. Inside that tomb of screaming blackness, insanity reigns. We were all looking for El Dorado, all looking for the yellow brick road that would lead us out to the Promised Land.

So I decided to come back the next night for this game was easy, I thought I was born to win. The next night I lost and I lost big, I was a thousand down on my winnings and I panicked and I tried to recover the loss. Suddenly the born winner was a born loser and my guts felt the churning of an imploding universe as my money began to dwindle from crisis to crisis. Thankfully for me, my time to India had arrived but in the space of two weeks I had lost $8000 as quick as a blink of an eye.

I sat on the plane in a daze, I had blown half my life savings in a flash, and here I am with thoughts of becoming a monk. By the time I arrived in the ashram I felt disconnected and scared. It was if something had died within me. I was a rotting carcass of thoughts and fears in a strange land. I had fallen off the edge and the uncomfortable silence began its drum.

For two months I lived inside a paradise and meditated, talked with monks, lived in the silence of complete emptiness, yet I knew I had stuffed up back home and felt the nagging darkness of failure that covered me like a blanket.

Then one brilliant morning I noticed a girl walk through the gates, tall, stunningly beautiful, and it was then that life took another turn. I was infatuated with her, maybe it was her French accent, whatever, but she drove me crazy, I wanted her, I wanted to fuck her. After a month there, she left for Calcutta and shortly after she left, I followed.

I took a three day train journey and I had come down with a fever. When I got there the weather was cold and I went looking for a jumper in one of the bazaars. As I stepped down onto the street I lost my balance and as I fell to the concrete I felt my left foot snap. I could hear the crack and I wanted to throw-up but nothing came. My whole life was there on the street, a disaster waiting to happen.

For the next two months I hobbled around on crutches, I had broken the bone under the arch as far as it would go. My money was running out, and the twelve month plan to stay got short circuited to four, so I decided to come back home. The idea of becoming a monk was out, the idea of making love to her was out, I was finished and I wanted to come home.

I came back with nothing and I rang a friend who said he'd meet me in St. Kilda at 'Munroe's. He gave me a $100 and we looked over the road and there stood the Gatwick a residential hotel, in its heyday it must have been great, it had that old Victorian charm, but now it seemed battered and bruised and dark.

Owned by two Greek women the reception area was dark and men stood in the shadows. The clock on the wall had stopped, an old lounge that had seen better days and here I am with walking stick with just the clothes on my back.

I was shown to my room on the third floor, opposite my room stood a door that looked as if at one time someone had tried to kick the crap out of it. My room was an average size with an old wardrobe, a single bed, a small television and a piss stained sink. Down on the second level were the showers and toilets, yellow syringe bins were dotted around. I felt sick, scared and lonely. That first night I felt the bed bugs bite into me and I heard down the hallway laughter then voices filled with anger. I was in bedlam without a doctor’s certificate, I had crossed into madness.

In the morning I complained about the bugs and told one of the Greeks I wanted the bed changed. As I waited outside my room a young man stood leaning against his door. He said almost in a whisper, “don't worry”, I mumbled back thanks and closed the door.

That night I got down on my knees and cursed God and every other fucker. And as night became morning I was woken to the sounds of a saxophone playing down the hallway. It sounded like Coltrane and man could he play. It felt like he was playing for everyone in the Gatwick, all the pain, all the madness, all the lostness of the lost. And I sat on my bed and cried for all the shit of my life, and all the shit of everyone's lives stuck here inside the whale...

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I remember entering you.
Scared frozen body.
A man tells the time, see the clock.
Ancient Greek in shrouded black
shows me to my room.
Shattered from a Calcutta Street
I hobbled up the stairs.
A door opens- a young man stands by,
“don't worry”, I hear his whisper
O shining eyes of heroin.
A blackened sink, piss ridden bed, crawling mattress.

Dungeon of Fitzroy Street and bone jarring sounds.
Kafka haunts me!
I am finished to the kicked in doors
and needle ridden dawn.
I am on my knees
Cursing You.
Cursing me,
can't seem to find the light
can't seem to find the key.
Its 4am
and the junkies are high on white light
as Coltrane plays in his room.


 Big Wind

We were waiting for the big wind to hit,
we were all waiting that day
and I fled like a scared rabbit to a city
where everything is hard and cold.
It is a place where the unforgiven walk every day
to the house for a meal.
Dismembered by time,
the old house I left years ago is still going strong.

Smoke plumes of death rose from the table
as Edvard Munch walked by, hollowed out eyes, heroin eyes.
Tall and balding he lived in his shadow.
'they took my right away to have a gun', he said
hopping around as if had fire in his pants.
My Father taught me never to ask questions,
I just nodded and smoked
I waited for the big wind.

We all waited..
a dust storm hit from the west
a murky yellowy imprint on the city's bowels.

Another man came out of his room
hard with gut protuding, glasses burnt
'I had the gun ready, I would have killed him
but his for his two daughters that stood by him'.

The wind began its drum beat of fear
as I thought about Warburton.

I saw an old woman with a g-string
up the crack of her arse.
I saw a young man showered in sweat
waiting in line to go nowhere.
I saw people dressed in black hunting the streets.
I saw a Nepalese giving puja.
I saw the old Franciscan walking, lost in prayer.
I saw two French folk singers immersed in the rainbow.

And I wondered about the people I knew
in my small town surrounded by forests
locked in with no place to go
and I wondered if they felt I was a coward
as the soles of my shoes touched the broken heart of Fitzroy
as we waited for the
Big Wind.

The Hermit

Silent waters
yellow moon,
mountain mist,
and deer on the run.
Prayer mat and beer
which will I have first?
Drifting silence and wet afternoons
I think I''ll read Kerouac,
perhaps, St. Augustine the black.
Lonely sun
tired days,
friends come around.

Ken Trimble




Ken Trimble, Bio . . .

“I left school at 14, I read a lot when I was young, influenced by Hemingway, Dostoevsky, Sholokov, Gorky - later I read Orwell and became involved with International Socialists. In the late eighties I went to the Soviet Union via the 'trans siberian railway’ with letters of introduction from the Australian/Russian Friendship Society. In this time both parents died and in 1989 I had experience that made me question existence. In 1993 I encountered the television programme 'Compass' and saw the life of Father Bede Griffiths an English monk who lived in India for 40 years. I read his books and went to stay at his ashram in 1996. After I came back I felt unsettled in job and life and quit job to go back to India to become a monk. Things went badly and came back broke - in mind, body, and financially destitute.

Lived in rooming houses in Melbourne then discovered a meditation community in Warburton deeply committed to Bede Griffiths and Inter-Faith dialogue. Since India I have worked as a personal carer for disabled persons run by the Brotherhood of St.Laurence. I began writing poetry when I was young, but after I read Kerouac and Whitman and later Bukowski I took up writing seriously.

I have read my work at the Dan O'Connel and The Empress Hotel bars and The Burigna Café. My writing published in Windmills run by Deakin University and the poem 'Big Wind' has been played on public radio in America. Last year I published my first book Clouds on Hanover St.

I am an oblate in the Catholic tradition of a community called the Camaldolese, a hermit order founded over a thousand years ago. I classify myself as a left wing Catholic, which often leads me to question.”
Ken Trimble

[ ed. Warburton is an old ex-goldmining town about two hours drive out of Melbourne]


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Ken’s book of poems Clouds on Hanover Street is published by Little Fox

Ken is also published on

Ken’s blog

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