An ultimate caesura


In memoriam: Poet, cartoonist, pharmacist Gus Ferguson
(1940–2020)

We dedicate this issue to the memory of our friend Gus Ferguson, pharmacist, cyclist, cartoonist, poet and publisher (of other poets’ poetry). Talented and self-deprecating; invariably kind and gently witty. He died on 27 December 2020, although his mind had gone to rest a good while earlier. Kalk Bay Books put up a chalk board outside their shop which simply read R.I.P Gus Ferguson. We immediately knew: That’s a bookshop seriously worth a visit.

Gus provided this cartoon for the very first issue of Noseweek in July 1993:

 

 

Shame, they can't even spell 'poets'

 

 

 

Most readers were caught off guard, then laughed. It was in his nature to disarm the offensive.

But the SA Reserve Bank immediately cancelled its subscription to Noseweek. Gus had a bigger reach than we had imagined!

In his memory, this from a collection of his poems and cartoons titled Arse Poetica:

Light verse at the end of the tunnel

The perfect poet lies in bed,
In vain he tries to sleep.
He counts and counts inside his head
In syllables, not sheep.

His haiku all have seventeen,
His tankas thirty-one.
His prosody has always been
More regular than Donne.

With fourteen lines and seven rhymes
His sonnets are precise –
How cleverly the music chimes,
How literally nice.

His every pulse is metrical,
Mechanical and neat.
His heart flub-dubs iambical
And never skips a beat.

His ECG scans perfectly
De dum, de dum, de dum
And measures ineluctably
Each moment’s tedium.

His heart’s a clock inside a box
That ticks each beat and rhyme
And only Death can spring the lock
To break the spell of time.

But death does not the poem end
(of this I can’t be surer),
It is, as mystics all contend,
An ultimate caesura.

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