The Look

A point of focus. There.
The dog’s eye, fixed.
She crouches, belly on grass.
Not to kill; to bewitch.
A foreleg forward.
Then the rear – slowly.
The chin lowers
and the quarry recoils,
fear in her yellow eyes.
This is not a dog, it is a
forebear – wolf’s mind
imparting terror;
what might be;
howls of ages, screaming
from two dark unblinking eyes

fraught

       fraught
written of a dusk

the black ship
black hull
white cabin
a small freighter
anchored on
the lull
the accordion of
sky in ripple and
wave in an
inner harbour
seeing its
name, in straight
up letters the ‘Ulysses’*
what fool would
name a craft
after a flagrant
wanderer a man
who could shoot
an arrow
at nothing
yet lose it in
the next world
beyond the ditch
let this ship
steer clear
of his command
clear of storm,
keep on
the plotted
path the safe
drawing of a
mermaid and
ocean of soundings
figures on a slant
or i foresee
wretched years
for the crew lost
to a drunken fall
like Elpenor*
lost to a siren
in platform heels,
lost between
the beer the sweat
and brown hips
the beast* running
far with them
running them
far from the ship
the black hull
fast under the
captain’s eye
heartless as sun
a ship that
even if they
made it back to,
the deck of
reef and cloud
the long lines
to be taken
up and put away
shorn of dreams,
would never
see them home,
endless journey
burning in them
like an offering
of fresh kill,
charcoalled
meat smoking
out the soul
with dusk.

feburary 15-18, 2012
auckland viaduct harbour

*Latin version of the Greek name ‘Odysseus’

*allusion to the sorceress Circe, who changed many of Odysseus’s crew to beasts. Refer also to the George Seferis poem cycle, ‘The Arognauts’.

*One of the young crew of Odysseus’s ship. Seferis makes Elpenor and his fall the subject of one of the poems in the cycle.

 

three poems (more disparate lines)

Morning Dew                                                   5 September 2015

 

You’re the girl on the swing

I still think about.

 

I have lain

among the clustered

flowers on the lawn

 

winter-long, for the soft

fall of little feet.

 

The Master Fled                                                                                                          6 September 2015

 

The master

fled, driven

downwind; to scrub the floor

and toil the field;

 

hard after

years of wilderness;

where wisdom’s nurtured

by thought alone;

 

to be undone by experience –

the bitter years to come.

 

 

in green                                                                                                  1 September 2015

 

I

‘eco’ is in green lettering,

which is good business.

Smart.

 

(In private most of us own up

to ourselves, away from the crowd,

the casual rounds of work friends et-

c).

 

II

Most of those guys on the

building sites are ok. Tho

misfit, I fared better there than when

I wore a suit; unless I dressed

to be cool, which I did, distinguished

from City business men, con-men –

liars.

 

Here it’s all harleys and

grease and leather,

which makes me sick.

 

20 years on, well,

I’ve a Parka, good for shelter

when it sucks and blows.

The Planter

Now he is almost out of sight, a hat pulled down and bent at the wheel;

eyes on the crop as the curving steel forms little mountains of soil; an

old man with strong hands guides the little orange tractor.

Here he is again, spanner on the tines, tightened just so, and

they flex in the deep earth and the motor shows its displeasure.

He comes here every year to grow food for everyone but himself:

Baggy trousers smeared in grease, old shirt and rising dust,

the gulls trailing and wheeling, wings against the purple hills,

orange beaks stabbing at the turned earth.

It is a man’s pleasure: alone with a machine, set fine

 

The Window

A lace curtain dancing
on an oak window,
drawn up for the air.
I want you to be there,
in a bent-cane chair,
a beret – perhaps,
a book on a knee,
cotton dress and the
scent of wild roses
lifted and swirled;
for the chapter on love.
Close your eyes, now.
Listen for the wind,
its teasing whisper

3 poems (sailor)

  1. Counterpane

 

The Sailor flung his bag upon his shoulder

to ease the dark day

that weighed upon his soul.

 

You have flown

the coast  to be

his sole companion;

laid

 

beneath the counterpane,

struck high

Atlantic  waves.

 

You have found

beast and man

magnificent; and

 

confronted by this, lost

eloquence.

 

Immeasurable

solitude.

 

Glorious.

Seasons! Castles!

 

I too

wanted to

 

disappear;

be,

elsewhere;

 

anywhere but

here; with you.

 

Christ, I know

I’m no sailor, tho

1 day the Idea

 

of a Man may walk

the water,

 

who knows what for

 

  1. Love, our nerves are fingered

 

love, our nerves are

fingered like strings.

 

Those memorable images

still trembling,

shadows on the water.

 

These oceans are

illimitable

 

(for all intents

and purposes).

 

Sundays,

I intuit

2 eternities.

 

The nausea

returns.

 

The eternal return

of Ritual murder,

say.  Roll, oh;

 

be kind. Tho I feel

like a shadow sometimes –

a bare soul,

 

in my mind it’s

skin to skin

with you

here. I think

you know.

 

3  We should sail

 

We should board a ship,

do you think? Sail

the brooding miles and

miles

 

from here.

Roll

by my

window.

 

We drive and I’m

in another world.

 

As far as I know. I’m

51 in 2 months

but,

 

young in some

ways

immature.

 

This is rubbish, but still

we should sail.

 

 

 

The Cedar Lodge Motel, Hamilton 31 August – 1 September

Just The Wind

Just the wind, silted grey stone,

the gangly tree, tracks of animals

moving east and west, and

time has stood still.

The birds – shrill and clear,

across the wandering braids.

A home to lupin, pink and yellow,

glazed by teardrop rain, falling

to the blown rippled sand.

Plantain, rabbits’ feet, press

the earth: imprinted.

A riverbed. A home.

A landscape. A place to dream.

In the crying wind, flecked

stone footprints of time

ice-block crossing

     ice-block crossing

summer at
the pedestrian crossing
the girl could feel
the cold of that iceblock
down to the soles
of her feet
crossing the hot asphalt
on the way back
from the shops
licking her way along
with a bag of prosaic
groceries in her other
burdened hand

ellerslie highway
january 2015

Summer Fruit

The slender boughs dip low

flush with deep-green fruit.

In a month – maybe two

the plums will swell,  brighten

and birds will play in shadows,

dip beaks into red flesh,

beat the fallen globes on flat rock

in this silent threading path.

Tap tap. Split. Red flesh exposed.

Then they retreat, plump and preened.

Below, the way of man is blood red,

summer’s juice spilt

film

But this is just a phase we pass through, the moonlit

by-way, heavenly Way to the sunfields of heaven;

fraught, as it is, with filmic visions, dream-corridors

that cut the mind: the idea/and the realization

 

of the idea. I am the way, means to an end

and the end wherever that is, and whatever

and ever. Shan’t always be the bare-foot creep

treading the wooden floorboards at midnight,

 

profaning the tombstones, pulpits, the aisles of churches;

heavenly acoustics! O, choir, god-inspired,

resonant to the bone, your inner being. I guess

I’m falling; celestial ceiling! I do believe it,

 

when eyes course the intricate masonry

of the cathedral; where, as I’ve said, the mind

reels. And out in the cool vernal light everything

splendours; which hurts – my inside’s out – to dry:

 

I have wandered into the garden, diffused among

fragrant flowers after rain, the first lucid

morning, when the light is raw. I recall

delirium. He held you tight against the wall;

 

his golden thighs, older now, an Odysseus,

battle-hard, after war. I’m touched by the soft curves

of these images, the shadowplay, storm-tossed;

spartan furniture, the cracked wall; a well-fucked,

 

sprung, sodden mattress. I grow old and more

crazed than I ever was; never have I been

more tormented, image-haunted; by the fair

skin and black or flaxen hair I would possess.

 

19-21 August 2015

likes

  1. I’m black and I’m beautiful

 

The shadow cast upon my heart

remains, an indelible mark.

 

Alone, I stroke it in the dark,

a stolen treasure in my heart.

 

  1. Christ in every man

 

Francis saw Christ in every man.

I can’t see Christ in every man.

 

Like shadow cast upon my heart,

my eyes are open in the dark.

 

  1. Shame

 

I feel shame like the stain he left

upon my shirt before he left

 

to go. It’s mine, not his; it is:

shame. Whatever and ever it is.

 

  1. Help me in my weakness

 

I wear these beads about my neck,

little pearls of wood, a trinket

 

I finger like a sentiment,

upon my bare and manly chest.

 

November 2015

The Church Hall

Milky tea and fudge, warm hands and hearts

in this cold little hall; shiny buttons

on tired navy sports coat sleeves,

handed in with cardies and heavy belts.

Those with least gave most; always do,

and crave no recognition. A garden, too.

This is where they dispense love:

it comes in a cup, on a best plate, and

when they lean in close to listen, when

you can smell the charity and the cakes,

feel a working man’s hand on yours and see

the veins jump; see the frayed cuff.

Come here to learn the art of charity;

come here to see what a man grows

after raking and tumbling the earth.

Come here to hear the floor creak,

to feel the little heater’s warmth,

to see a hug and the power wrought