Vale Dave Dowsett

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[Fellow Bundanoon poet Dave Dowsett died last month. Dave and I met back in the early 90s when we first got some of our poems published together in a local competition. For the last two years we had been meeting twice a month together with a few other people in a local poetry appreciation group and also in a discussion/bring a plate get-together we call the ‘convivium’. I had the honour of launching his outstanding first poetry book From Butter to Ice last winter. He will be sorely missed. Below one of Dave’s poems (one I’d strangely chosen for discussion in the poetry group 10 days before his death and then read out again at his funeral), followed by my elegy dedicated to his memory. The photo of Dave is by my friend Chris Donaldson, also a member of the poetry group and convivium.]

D.J. Dowsett: At the Funeral of a Scarcely Known Man

When images are enclosed in that box with him,
what memories are being removed from the world?
In those last moments, when low sunlight
slides across the pale walls,
while a dog is barking in the distance
and somewhere a motor mower starts,
there is a scene from half a century before:
a dirt road beside a wide cold field,
the hiss of dry grass blowing,
and a lone horse far up the side of a hill
is lifting its head towards the wind.

Peter Lach-Newinsky: Out of the Blue

i.m. Dave Dowsett (1951-2016)

1

The last time we talked
you mentioned your first presentation
at our monthly convivium
next year. I asked what
your topic would be and you said:
Blue. Two weeks later you died.

2

It wasn’t something you first noticed
reading your poems, that colour blue.
Then again, if it was one thing
your poems admonished, it was:
look again, more closely, you might
be surprised, always the familiar
becoming unfamiliar, the unfamiliar
familiar, the dream real, the real
infused with all the unbearable clarity
of dream, ‘in the dim colonnades
defining its/turquoise precincts
which contained unhurried pools’.
There is too ‘the accustomed weather:/
a north-easter, small brown clouds/
and that lifetime blue sky’, even
an ant within a landscape where
‘a bottle top like a pressed flower/
lies beside a bluestone chip.’ And
then there is Drifting, a poem drifting
between anaesthesia and dying:
‘It seems like drifting slowly out to sea/
those on the shore becoming indistinct…
all the lovely faces smiling/quietly,
a long way off./ Everything seems blue.
So blue.’

3

What blue might your milky blue eyes
have yet seen for us, Dave? The detail
in the under-feathers of a Pacific
Black Duck as it lifts from black water,
that incandescent blue blotch
on a Fairy Wren’s throat as it gyrates
like a first-time public speaker on its twig
eyeing out friend or foe, the screeching lights
on a police car at 3 am rotating through
the trembling eye of a puddle, the spikes
on a punk in Hyde Park or the strobe-lit
hair of the young girl at the blue light disco,
that black blue note rooted in the blood
and sweat of cotton plantations, the dream-
thieving light of ubiquitous screens,
the blue-chemical feast of Aussie birthday cakes,
even the absence of blue in some languages
on this mirror sky planet, a bright water drop
silently singing in black-velvet space?

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~ by Peter Lach-Newinsky on November 28, 2016.

2 Responses to “Vale Dave Dowsett”

  1. Sorry for our loss. Wondering if you’ve chanced into Maggie Nelson’s Bluets? An extensive riff on blue.

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