The Boy's Own Paper

Tag: Peter Kocan

Poetry Corner : Peter Kocan

THE DIFFICULTY
by Peter Kocan (HT Club Troppo [now a dead link])

“It is difficult to eat well outside the capital cities.” — Food writer Cherry Ripe on ABC Radio, 1/10/97

It’s a heartrending thing to see
A gourmet who’s been caught peckish
And who knows he will never make it back
To the capital by dinner time.

There’s the look of mute despair in the eye,
The slack lips and distended belly,
The hand clutching the empty champers bottle,
The weak voice crying out for caviar.

We found a whole car-load of them once,
Their BMW stalled by the roadside.
We somehow got them back to the homestead
And offered what we could for pity’s sake.

There was nothing appropriate in the house,
Just Mum’s Sunday roast with the trimmings,
Followed by the apple-pie and cream.
Of course they couldn’t swallow muck like that.

We had to watch them wasting away.
We buried the pitiful bodies by the creek.
You blame yourself, thinking they might’ve lived
If only you’d had a French chef standing by.

Now we brood continually upon
Hardships that we have never known,
The endless compassion that we owe
To palates more exquisite than our own.

Peter Kocan on the Quaint and Outmoded

Jimmy came afterwards to apologise for going against Tait’s wishes and when they really got talking they found they related easily to one another. They were both in their late twenties and found they liked many of the same things, like poetry and history and folk music and all that was quaint and outmoded. “Quaint and outmoded” became their key term of approval. Then they shortened it to “Q and O”, and finally to “QO”, which they pronounced as a word rhyming with “glow”. The QO stood for an entire value system, and when Jimmy did night duty they would sit and talk about it into the wee hours.

After about three years Jimmy had had enough of the place, or at least of that aspect of it that he and Tait called “the Regime”. Inmates consoling each other with a birthday song was a QO concept, while the spirit that turned it into derision was that of the Regime. They began to see the QO and the Regime as warring principles that were locked in bitter struggle in every sphere of life.

~~Peter Kocan. The fable of all our lives. p. 3-4.