Almanac Poetry (and Music): ‘Lionheart Summer’


Kate Bush, Lionheart LP (1978), front cover. (Source: Wikipedia.)


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, Victoria University, 2010; then in my second collection, Lionheart Summer, Picaro Press, 2011, reissued by Ginninderra Press, 2018; then Stereo Stories, 2018.)



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Kevin Densley is a poet and writer-in-general. His fourth book-length poetry collection, Sacredly Profane, was published in late 2020 by Ginninderra Press. He is also the co-author of ten play collections for young people, as well as a multi Green Room Award nominated play, Last Chance Gas, which was published by Currency Press. Other writing includes screenplays for educational films.


  1. Colin Ritchie says

    Ripper Kevin, really enjoyed this one! The atmosphere oozes out and surrounds one.

  2. Kevin Densley says

    Many thanks, Col! The poem is certainly about a memorable time and place.

  3. KD- really enjoyed the evocations of this as generated by the details: Kate Bush, Largs Bay, cricket, Southwark Bitter. Thanks.

  4. Kevin Densley says

    Cheers, Mickey.

    Knowing your written work a bit, I did have in mind that you’d enjoy the poem, actually. I’m so glad you did.

    The poem was certainly prompted by a special, almost dreamlike time in my life.

  5. Nice work Kevin. And extremely evocative. Kate Bush is a ripper. I still get the chills when I hear ‘Wuthering Heights”.

  6. Kevin Densley says

    Thanks, DB.

    And yes, Kate B is an all-time favourite singer/songwriter of mine.

    I don’t think it’s excessive to say that when I first heard and saw her “Wuthering Heights” video, there was a kind of seismic shift in my youthful world!

  7. Hi Kevin

    Lovely piece, as others have noted, drawing you into a place, a home and people. After reading it several times it feels like a poem about what is not stated. Your response to Mickey Randall intrigued me as I was wondering what was happening to the protagonist at the time this poem is set. It feels like a moment suspended before all whatever breaks loose. Or it could just be a languid summer. It certainly moved me.


  8. Kevin Densley says

    Many thanks, Rick.

    Your comments are very perceptive. The poem, originally written more than a decade ago, is set in a dreamy, almost idyllic time in my life just after the end of secondary school, before the start of some very difficult years for me; in other words, beautiful calm before storm.

  9. A nice, reflective piece, Kevin

  10. Kevin Densley says

    Thank you, Smokie.

    Often, I think back to that summer.

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