Poetry: Diversionary Tactics | clivejames.com
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Diversionary Tactics

Surely, here at the heart of things,
Here is the ideal place for the attempt,
Here where the Christmas sales dispose
Their day-late offerings
(From which, it seems, scarcely a soul’s exempt):
Whitegoods and videos,
The manchester, the saucepans and CDs,
The swimwear, lingerie that sings
The body and its moistening promises.

In parks and by the harbourside,
Along the crescent from the Opera House
To Lady... Mrs Macquarie’s Chair,
They saunter, stroll and stride
In variegated thousands with the nous,
The timing and the flair
Of cast auditions for the late Buñuel
(Where the surreal is satisfied
In the plain day), determined to be well.

But on the train, leave them behind.
Among the suburbs summer has its way
And foreign scripts on once habitual
Shopfronts flash to remind
The joggling passenger that still today
Continues the old ritual
With a new but undeflectable endeavour,
For all that childhood has resigned
Its codes and haloed circumstance forever.

A few more stops and the wide blue bay
Waits with its yachts and dinghies and houseboats,
And around the shore big houses dream
In glass. Not far away
The beach calls in like promissory notes
Its combers, down which teem
With barefoot mastery boys who improvise
Diagonals across the play
Of wave and dazzle and their girlfriends’ eyes,

But make no difference. And so
Just down these steps, along where that car turned,
The ranks of roses, the grass floor,
The notices that show
The times, even the names of those concerned:
James Whelan, Dulcie Moore,
Baby Joanna Harrington — and the eye,
Drawn by a low-pitched tremolo,
Watches the fine smudge rise in the summer sky.