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The Sky




Somewhere between the upthrust land and the press of the sky

A thin wind unrolled and licked the bone earth;

the air turned bruise-black and rolled and kicked

until it was engorged with coldness and fury;

it could do nothing but arch and boil and swell

then shouldered its way between the bosom of the land – came forward as a new world, beaten and black and ready to fight,

its shadow changed the earth and its colour and it spat rain that danced:

then came claps and roars and we did not know whether to run

or throw up our hands; so we watched as it fled west,

a swollen black unburdening rampart





She begins, as we all do,
a pouring forth, a rage of cold-eye blue.
Canny ancestors smile and wink,
knowing that the river’s tumult will be forced to rest
into spreading lake by Dunstan.
Then pent up again at Roxburgh.
But no feat of engineering will tame a mother
when the heart breaks.

At Kaitangata
where treasure and secrets are buried deep.
lean over the bank.
Scoop the little dream-bird from the water.
With ease she flies
over Nugget Point and
out to sea.


A Simple Wish


the stem of her glass

a luminous, vertical arc

much the same as the line

that sweeps, glides

leads this lesser god

to another Calvary

 I trace, follow

from heel to shoulder

a river song (a child hears)

where the willow bends

and desire streams

don’t doubt it mate

just as the song is the thing

so too her  complexion

complex, unfathomable

of lascivious disposition

though still in first bloom

primavera – rites of spring

will invite the tide

give rise to indigo

is there anything more blue

than this place ?

her glass – my drowning wish

to drink from the sponge

but Christ the river’s dry

©Orion Foote, June ,2016

some other time

Was there a time

the lips met

a minute before

the glass was knocked

and the blood wine

gushed? Today


is dry; a faint

mark remains,

but the sentiment

is dead, from the waist

down. The flag-stones

now bare were


coveted by feet

that knocked about,

heels that dug the rose

bed and the plush

bed-side rug.


∞ My tale is in the telling, not the closing ∞

Roger Smith

Ink that writes upon my mind, what might I find?

Beneath oceans where blue holds me in
Drawing the causeway down to shadows black
Across paths made anew
Rising from the waves like a plastic bag
Happy to find a mad sun shouting in my face

Dreams and stories cross collide; they co-inside

Meeting with what was and what I dare not imagine
The surface of water confused by my reflection
A slight infection?
And though the waves once raced to greet me
They now run away

Dragon eggs in strange locations… my fascination

Here my own virus rears its head
Or is it only in those other eyes I feel misplaced?
My destination lies on the hills
To leap green pastures upon scaly wings
Flames and calls to the unfamiliar

Good and evil imagine nations, I must have patience

No fear of losing what lies before
Armed to the teeth these mass formations
Riot amongst their own
Yet after all they are my creations!
Set the sun and rise another morn

8/6/16 © Copyright R Smith 2016

(The first line of each of these four parts originally made one lyrical verse. This felt like I had done it too many times before, yet when I broke it up into four pieces it began to tell my story…)

Jesus Fallen

In the painting the man has a gun

and he is on a rumpled bed and, above,

a statue of Jesus is suspended upside down.

What are we to think?

That the man has lost faith?

In himself – in life – in his god?

Some were frightened, the curator said.

Not by art, surely –

But perhaps they saw themselves in that man;

saw an element of torture and loss; or a man

preparing to challenge a villain, or a man

looking for himself and finding nothing.

Perhaps they saw nothing: just a man

on a bed holding a pistol, as men do

Let Pylons be Pylons

Incensed by their utilitarian
blot on the landscape
you are. Towers.
Linking arms and
buzzing with deathly potential.
Watch them march all over
your slumped velvety couch
upturned tired armchairs
The hills you call home
Follow them if you want
They know how to do
an honest day’s march
Cook Strait, Grenada,
Transmission Gully
in the most direct route
Then go home and
turn on the light.

If My Words Were Water

If my words were water
You would drown in meaning
When I said “I love you”

The inner secret
That’s never born

Shifting sands of dreams
The zodiacs cross the planet
Each house moves same like
The way we cog and gear
Upon our shoulders we bear

The voice of your eyes
More blue than any ocean
Not even rain has any colour
As deep blue as your eyes

I would walk lucent
Wavering through any Forrest
With you at my side.

21 March 2014

passing it on

passing it on
               for Claudia

  to the mother

your cross
never knew
its story
you’d wear
it with your
blazer at
a rare
at a restaurant
mostly it
kept to itself
in the case
lined with
red felt
getting an
outing again
your daughter
in-law close
enough to
a daughter
you said
is wearing
it this day
in church
the cross
that made

   to the daughter-in-law

she was
always far
and near
as you
get by
careful of
what a
could say
should say
tried to
keep it
at any rate
down to
earth helping
out in the
kitchen those
times you were
together like
the grand-daughter’s
wedding where
she took the
honours for
having come
to attend
no-one else
knew the son
you married
as you two
yet all the
talk she could
muster would
still never
figure him out
for either
of you
a man truly
out on a limb
of his own
as many
of us are
so be it
you wear her
cross as
mothers do
in touching it

24 december 2013





the wind gallops from the hills

so that the trees in its path bow at the waist;

it is eternal supplication



the river runs cold in a gut and hugs a hill

from which the bush comes down to drink,

and it dips into water so clean it runs like oil



there is a stout house of a low terrace, its windows

pressed to the view, and tussocks roll in the wind,

and people listen and watch and think:

this is fine place, with wind and water and

views to damn the eyes

The Book

The paper curls
It’s edges drenched by sunlight
Certified chaos across the pages
Without the luxury of leaving
The pen strikes
Thoughts transcribed
An echo in such little space
Watched on from
The watchtower of repent
The stain of the pages
Strains the words
Cast across
To walk Main Street
An opaque dream.

What is not seen

Isn’t it funny, sometimes, that you see what is not there;

funny how the eye picks up the expression, the smile

yet also sees the beginning of loss; that that someone

is not looking at you but past you – to something – or someone

that you do not want to think about, but you do.

You see them in the sun and warming each other in winter.

Hesitation, the averted eye, but it adds up.

Or so you imagine.

And it is a watery sun in winter: there, just enough to warm your fears.

Then it crawls to the back of your head and begins to tap.

And that, really, is where the end starts

Yes No