Sunday, December 4, 2011

Joan Sedorkin

♣ ♣

Dharma for Joan Sedorkin
five years ago she came to the art class I ran
with five different groups over four years
Joan came to the first and stayed till the last
it was two years before she told me she’d read
‘On The Road’ in 1958 and with a girlfriend hitched
north from Sydney n stopped at Cairns
met and married a Russian fisherman
made a home raised a family buried a husband
Then - aged seventy-eight she left Cairns
with two suitcases
to get away from demands of family
‘to find her self’
moved into a rooming-house in Brisbane
started to paint and write haiku
we had both lived a life knee-capped
by low self-esteem non existent self confidence 
but over the years I’d learned how
to change that handicap
n learned how to dismantle
its power bit by bit
n I showed her how to do it
later I found out she was blind
in one eye - sight failing in the other
no wonder she couldn’t draw details
then an Indian doctor and laser surgery
restored the sight in her good eye

enter a king-tide of wild colour like a sudden burst
of parrakeets among a crush of blue blossoms
I watched her discover a sense of her Self
n become a terrific painter
she drew with an intoxicating fragile line
admiring of her own work
no longer putting it down
her death a few months ago affected me
more than I would have thought
Dharma Bums was her favourite Kerouac book
for her I later wrote of the silent encounter
I’d had with Gary Snyder
her favourite poet
in a bar in Melbourne
in the later years of my alcoholism 

Karl Gallagher, 2000


A GHOST BETWEEN US (for Joan Sedorkin)

Around 1980, aged 37 I was standing
at the bar of the
Albion in Carlton
taking notice of nobody
watching life passing by the window
in the early afternoon drinking alone
although several friends were around

I was away with my own thoughts
so long as I had a drink in front of me
and one on the way
that's all i really cared about.

Jukebox sounds came from the back bar
I was lightly swaying to the music
friends passed by saying hallo
smiling generously I replied
feeling good man feeling good
but I was disinterested

interested only in myself
listening to some hidden beat
some universal soul
alone in a crowded bar.

A voice I hadn't heard in years said
'Hey Karlos how are you man.'
I turn and face Nigel a sydney poet who's
grinning grabbing my arm telling me he's
here for the poetry festival
talking loud he says
'Why don't you say hallo to Gary Snyder, over there.'
which I don't believe but look anyway
I see two guys nearby leaning against the wall
drinks in hand watching me
one I recognise from photos as Snyder

it dawns on me
that maybe they have been there
for some time
for how long?
I've been at the bar for over an hour.

We are about eight feet apart
and for a few seconds our eyes lock
and suddenly I feel ashamed to be seen
getting drunk
alone in a crowded bar
at mid day
disinterested in the company of others.

I felt the ghost of Kerouac pass between us
Snyder takes it in
sees a well liked guy
sees that I am on the same greased slide
of alcoholism
that took Jack down
the path of bitter loneliness

the scrambled brains
the mindless bad mouth
the deep disconnection
the desolation

I didn't go over and say hallo
we both knew what we had seen
I turned back to the bar
picked up my drink, downed it
and ordered another.

karl gallagher


1 comment:

Terry S. Amstutz said...

Love this. wonderful post.