1963: A young, scrawny kid walks on to the stage
guitar in hand, mop of curly hair, a voice
that bends time. The crowd is close
and the songs ring out
from a new favourite son
who somehow gets inside what's changing -
his youthful wisdom raw on the wind.
In a safe backyard world
a child stalks enemies
with his plastic Winchester rifle.
The Jacaranda tree
his lookout, hideout, battlement.
His vivid inner life
he hides from prying eyes.
1964: He's grown into his own phenomenon.
He knows it. Comes on stage with ease and assurance,
a man filled-out in his body.
The songs have grown, too:
the collisions of love; acerbic visions
naked on the street.
Playing with his cars
in the dirt
at the foot of the Jacaranda tree
the child, alone, dreams up worlds
that live intensely behind his eyes.
He doesn't notice
life on the street, or the TV news.
1965: He will not be contained.
Restless, creative, arrogant, sure of his vision,
he plugs in an electric guitar
and, amidst a sea of boos and catcalls,
announces that music has changed.
He'll sing those old songs again
but, for now, has let his own desire free.
The child has started reading.
Perched in the Jacaranda tree, book in hand,
he flies with Biggles
into Africa, dodging bullets, landing planes,
discovering whole worlds
that, dancing in among the words,
release his dreams.
encountering the world for the first time,
he will hear those songs
not seeing, yet, his own first poem
drawing towards him. The Jacaranda tree
will shiver its leaves in the wind.
29 May 2009