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Robert Adamson

The Flow Through: for the Johns

We loved the front, your wall of words,
and the fact that snatches made
sense to the professors. We read
The Double Dream Of Spring on a jetty
that sloped into Sydney harbour
and argued fiercely about whether it was the way
to go, as if we could have imitated
your logarithms of the soul.
We tied knots in your tangles, tendrils
of phrases that wound their way around the page.
Those were the days we exist in now
nothing made sense because living
took the the edge off our mental fishing knives,
we hacked through time as if it existed.
Gaping holes in space, we filled
them with sentences stitched together
with a grammar that was streetwise,
nothing made much sense and your impeccable
manners got us through the gates.
The mix of sweetness and a ferocity
that could burn holes was the quality
I learnt from Some Trees, those poems were
places I made friends in, I remember
Tranter standing in some classroom reading them,
and his laughter that was edged with
irony and kindness. Ashbery Days where poets
were drunk on codes within codes,
where we cracked language open and discovered
the power of whimsy and a dark abyss
where you could live in the absurd knowledge of death.

Robert Adamson, photo by John Tranter

Robert Adamson
Photograph copyright © John Tranter, 1997

Robert Adamson is a leading Australian poet. His latest book is The Language of Oysters, printed with exquisite skill by Craftsman House, in which his poems about the Hawkesbury River district near Sydney are illuminated by photographs taken by his wife Juno Gemes.

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