Ghost Town 1972

In going through a box of papers I came a cross a pile of old old poems written in late 60’s, early 70’s. So having no shame I’m resurrecting them with minimal editing. I was using a cheaper, yellow copy for many of these – the paper hasn’t yellowed with age. Enjoy 🙂

Ghost Town 1972


I wanted to catch that feeling

of stars tossed by the wind

a fistful clutched of glass

twinkling sparkling stars

suddenly flashing so fast

through the blackest night sky

that wind

feeling its caress

its warmth

scurrying flurries of fragment silver

across an evergreen tree 


take that wind

moan it through a saxophone daydream

through empty shuddered grey-wooded saloons

stables jails & whorehouses

through the dry dust bowl of a ghost town


I wanted to taste that surge

of power released by the sun

a mouthful savoured of laughing

bubbling flooding power

suddenly bursting so loud

through the brightest sunrise

that taste

feeling its lingering

its invitation

escaping teasing lure of memory

in a black oaken cask


take that sun

moan it through a clarinet daydream

through empty shuddered grey-wooden saloons

stables jails & whorehouses

through the dry dust bowl of a ghost town


catch that wind & sun

then let them drift away

softly into your treasure trove

gently into your everyday

take them before they return

to the ghost town


calico bonnets & wooden sidewalks

a street turns to mud in the rain

some youngold prospector with gold in his socks

& a boy who talks of cotton & grain

a good old town

small getting big

caught by the sudden boom

discovered down by the lake

or in them were hills

the word flashed around

thousands to dig

so little to take

stomachs aching with greedy ills


calico bonnets my mother wore

jars of candy in the everything store

gone all gone never even mine

just an image I found just in time

of a bustling deal come to shore

landing firmly in this ghost town


a shoot out at noon

cattle drive by night

smokey kitchens baked beans

hand clappin’ revival

& other church picnic scenes

grabbed up for survival

for some pleasure of mine

movie over too soon

leaving traces of flight

across the rocket ripped room


slinging gun so low

red Indian moonshine glow

buffalos moved to make room

with little babies waiting for birth

coming across tv screen dreams

hazy & grainy & end of the show

turn it down

who wants any sound

in this dust windy ghost town


flies buzzing into windows

stumbling through the street

horse drawn wagons & stages to meet

widows starving on

childless fathers drinking on

shadows flickering into the night

hoping for the sheriff or the cavalry

to save them from the Indian fight


speak softly now

lights down so low

nowhere better to be

no need to go

linger & long

in this dust windy ghost town

About this time I was collecting the Time-Life series on the Old West. The set had wonderfully embossed covers & I’d get a new volume every other month. Wonderfully illustrated & unexpectedly detailed they fuelled me with a sense of the real West, as opposed to the TV & movie version. I was a fan of the books, not of the movies.

Though such of the imagery here comes from tv & movies, with that dash of surrealism i.e. ‘saxophone daydream.’ The ‘I’ speaks from being there, of having experienced this place using the accumulated details to sound more authentic. Then the reveal ‘just an image I found’ – so the piece is about imagination as an escape. Imagining one ghost town to escape from another ghost town. Sydney, my home town, being the real ghost town.

Going though this now I enjoy the images, even the use of alliteration isn’t as heavy handed as it got is some pieces – ‘scurrying flurries of fragment silver’ has a nice flow. 

I have been back to Sydney, & will be there again this summer. It has pretty much become a ghost town – most of business exists for the many cruise ships & liners that stop there for the ‘quaint’ factor. “Ooo look beer fudge.” I look forward to visiting my old haunts.
Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee on my trip to Cape Breton – sweet,eh? 

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