Lionheart Summer
Adelaide, 1980)


The vines twisted around the pergola

in my grandmother’s backyard

were gnarled and old;

the afternoon heat unbearable.

But when evening came

the sea breeze wafted through

and we’d sit outside drinking beer or wine

until darkness fell.

Inside the bluestone house,

the temperature never rose;

afternoons I’d fold

into a comfy chair,

frosty Southwark Bitter in hand,

and watch Test cricket on TV.

Or else I’d lounge in the parlour,

on the carpet, near the piano,

leafing through sheet music like “Ramona”,

a South Sea maiden on its sepia title page.

On the wall was a hand-tinted photo

of my step-grandfather in soldier garb,

blue-eyed and full of vigour,

taken before New Guinea.

Now he’d be coughing

in the next room, battling

emphysema and losing.

That summer at my grandmother’s,

I’d bought Kate Bush’s Lionheart LP.

Flame-haired English beauty Kate

posed on the cover in a lionsuit,

a pantomime lion head nearby.

A song on her record

was the summer’s refrain:

“Oh England, my lionheart,

I’m in your garden

fading fast in your arms …”



(First published in Platform, Issue 6, June 2010, Victoria University; then in the book-length collection, Lionheart Summer, Picaro Press, 2011, now available in reprint, Ginninderra Press, 2018)

Kevin Densley’s poetry has appeared in Australian, English and American journals. Densley’s latest poetry collection, his third, Orpheus in the Undershirt, was published by Ginninderra Press in early 2018. He is also the co-author of many plays with Steve Taylor, including Last Chance Gas, published by Currency Press