Monday, December 16, 2013

Tuesday Poem - Blokes by Christopher Kelen


Blokes are always coming over.
Arrive in droves or in their ones.
Wear thongs in summer, boots
for weather. Won't be tied, won't
be predicted. No one says mind
my clean floor love.

Arriving in their utes and vans
they're always round here, day and
night, courting our Penelope.
Know what's next, what's what, when
why. Blokes know what to do and
what you need and even if you
can't decide. Blokes'll sort your
trouble out. If it aint broke it's
easy fixed. Take care but not
responsible. They're always late
and rude and wet. Blokes like to
be outside the best. They dare
the ozone at their backs. Sleep with
someone else. They say things you
wouldn't. Feel less, do more. You've
got to love them though. Hide in their
frothy beards to weep. You feel for
them. The camera shies. Cuddle
them and know they're bad. Take
them all for granted.

Don't like to be told. Won't take
hints. They slink away to shed when
dark. Grow blacker under moody trees,
shed their lacks among the fauna.
They won't be caught. They get away.
Get down to pub and dab and dab.
Until they're almost in the clink.
They tell their temporary comrades.
Blokes tell the truth and when they don't
they've got the story all worked out.

Blokes all know the pecking order,
how to fit, not rock the boat. They
make a play for the affections. Trust
the passing moment, loathe permanence
of plans. Won't stand still in all that distance
unless it's advertising beer. They have
terrific urgency. Already yes they've climbed
your tree, know what you've lost before it's gone.
What's down that pipe, what ails your pet.

Blokes give each other pointers. They
stand off when strain requires. Keep their
level on the job, the issue well in hand. And
prime themselves with jests, digress.

Blokes are slaves of circumstance. It's
not their fault, the way they are. Was
done to them as blokelings. They can't help
being rough with stuff. Have to give it all
a test. See if it's well made or not.

Blokes are mates or so they say.
Won't let a bastard down. The blokiest
are your best mates. Your mates are blokes
if you're a bloke. Women can be mates
or ladies. Can't be blokes. Mate with them
to make new playmates. Blokes or no. If
you're a bloke you mustn't mate with other
blokes. It doesn't work. A dreadful thing.
Unblokemanlike. Besides - how could
you tell your mates?

Some things are better left unsaid.
And out of earshot of the nagging
blokes won't need your looking after.
Dinners tabled, washing done.
Blokes go lean in filth and glue
their rotting jeans together.
Blokes know it's bad luck to speak
when gesturing would do the trick.

As insects lead the faster life
they've lost a leg before you've
finished telling them precautions.
Enemies of labour saving, scoff
at ingenuity. They do a thing
the hardest way. Heaviest, most
arduous, most danger to their backs,
their hearts. They use their tools
with no protection. Clog noses
and their ears fall off. Eyes are
full of filings. It shows what
blokey blokes they are. Drown
in beer to build a gut. They suffer
beef to have the dripping. Sneak
from the ward at last for fags and
curse their curtailed freedom.
That's with their last breath.

Bloody this and bloody that is what
your bloke ghost says at last. And
when the dirt's dug and well sifted
where are those blokey souls all fled?
They've gone to blokeland. Hellish
spot. Celestial shed. And dim or bright
to their deservings.

There's always more after that.
There never was a drought of blokes
- not since the war. Blokelings grow
to blokehood's full bloom. Blokes
abound, they pull their weight. Just
ring for blokes, they will appear.
Show some leg, offer beer. When
all else fails you needn't fear.
Just stir him up.
Your bloke is here.

'Blokes' was the winner of Westerly's 2007 Patricia Hackett Prize.  

Christopher (Kit) Kelen is a well known Australian poet, scholar and visual artist, sometime 
poet-in-his-own-residence at Markwell via Bulahdelah, and a Professor at the University of 
Macau, where he has taught Literature and Creative Writing for the last thirteen years. 
The most recent of Kelen's dozen English language poetry books are China Years – New and 
Selected Poems and a pocket kit. His next volume Scavengers Season is being published by 
Puncher and Wattman in 2014. 

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