Tuesday, March 1, 2011

karl gallagher

 woman with a painting. 2002, karl gallagher

“A Flash Of Lighting In A Summer Cloud”
            for Alison.

was the last time we were face to face
that shitty night in ‘71
when I was fetched to that big house
in the old money suburb?

we stood so close our bodies touched
our eyes inches apart
on a landing at the top of the stairs
at an open window
our eyes locked, for a moment
I was suddenly taken aback

I went out on the rooftop
where your wife sat at the far end
thirty feet above a brick courtyard
my oldest friend from art college days
I sat beside her and talked
of God knows what for what
seemed like an hour
then she smiled

aah fuck it  
what does it matter now anyway?
this life is nothing more than a dream
a phantom reality
a flickering lamp in the night

within months it all went mad for me
the days crumbled
old friends abruptly disappeared
the inner city Melbourne streets
had become chasms
that suddenly opened and closed

I was taken from the counter-culture scene
poems n paintings n Big Pink
those things
had to be set aside like a child’s playthings
other demands were made of me
older loyalties asked of me
a different season fated for me
to move among the densest shadows
right there on the midday Carlton streets
in front of everyone’s eyes
amidst everyday appearances
the disappearances
the treacheries 
the killings
the mad-houses
the prisons
the living dead and the dead living
who could tell one from the other
everyday reality melted into dream
as effortlessly as sugar in tea

I came out the other end of that decade alive
but broken and I thought unfixable
entered the eighties as a crazy drunken fool
talking gibberish after two beers 
or standing at some bar arm in arm
with the phantoms of dead friends
deep in conversation

fuck it
what does it matter now
when I last saw you


an earlier version was previously published on  

painting. 1984, karl gallagher

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