by S. K. Kelen
S. K. Kelen is an Australian poet who has
been published widely in his own country and overseas.
His books include Atomic Ballet (1991), Dingo Sky (1993) and Trans-Sumatran Highway & Other Poems.
He was Visiting Poet at the University of South Dakota for Spring Semester 1996.
"Trans-Sumatran Highway" is the title poem of his latest book which can be ordered
on the web at Australian Writing Online (AWOL) or direct from the publisher:
35 Wybalena Grove
COOK ACT 2614
Shared mountains & roadside
Quilt the scenery. Houses float in prairie haze
Warm to their cousins the trees who,
Undressing, begin their Fall embrace.
The line down the centre of the
Goes round the world.
Looking out at the smiling crowd
They love the land they cultivate,
And they love what I am doing
for this State.
I've done bad & I've done good
The champion, a minor curse
Who hopes to be a blessing.
History gives so much worse -
Abominations at the centre
Sicker than sin and more holy -
Today there are still chancres
Erupting from this world
Creating the lowest common denominator
But any politician worth his salt
Lets scum become entertainment.
Razzmatazz, loyal constituents
And wave cowboy hats. Only the losers
Heckle me, me-----first citizen and law------
Rough as guts, sure and the things I done
Are legends like these hills
And now it is I who confer or condemn,
To tighten and loosen the belt at will.
I smash the champagne bottle, follow
A young squaw, awed and
She lifts the marquee's canvas flap
Where the county's prize produce is on display
She is so terribly young, almost a child.
There's a scent of clay mixed
And suddenly those voters are far away.
The young Indian girl's shyness .
We all have our diabolical moments.
Mine have a home
Down at the river those years ago
A cocky graduate with a career
In mind, bush-bashing
In a pick-up truck
Loaded with fraternity beer & liquor
And there she is, on her own
At the river doing chores or something.
She is fragrant beyond the earth
And svelte------the fork of a stripling tree
A woman waiting.
The clay I taste
intoxicates with girl
Smells of river, grass and leaves
Slow to her delta.
Why do they call you White
The next thing she's in the front seat
& her sobs make me mad .
Gary Puckett songs hum in
Like a recurring childhood
-----Young Girl get out of my mind-----
Over and over , those
damned dreadful songs
Never leave, always ringing up,
Playing every where.
But when White Deer & I
The spirit of Crazy Horse entered me
And the land became my responsibility.
On this day of plenty
It's top hats and epaulettes
The mansion and no apologies.
Crazy Horse, the great warrior,
I have his eagle feather
Locked in the safe with a letter
In Crazy Horse's hand.
Now I've found peace the country
Is fecund, a true cornucopia
And White Deer and the witnesses
Have gone to the meet their ancestors.
Miss Prissy handing out leaflets at the function
Sees the gleam and appreciates.
Taking the microphone
I named the park "White Deer".