The homeless, we will term them,
jackal vultures, circle the nest
of notes and coins.

Their dissuading odour
and unmatched taste
off-put potential tippers.

If I chuck at them a few
coins they bug me even more.

One time, when I complained
I said to myself they’ve only begging
or burglary or buskers.

These junkies, poppers,
Summer’s limit sprung,
there’ll be nothing in autumn
having not planted a thing.

They come onto
my open self reliance
but do not close in
and I am expected to share

this bounty, fruit, grief—
the poem is becoming
an Aesop tale, I can pay
them for the inspiration.

They sneak in disguised
as mortal need.
Contact is better steered
to qualified rehabilitation

personal, though. See,
they are comical, I added,
flicking each a gold coin,

see how they walk, they roll, uneven
un-still, a mess in confusion;

and see how visible they live:
Perfection has not missed,

partnered accurately to the contribution
and, they do not hide from us

their hurt, chaotic patterns.
Yeah, are you desperate,

greedy pluckers, who wasted
all that moolah on tattoos,

I thought to myself.



Cuba Mall, Wellington

casual lines

Where do they go, eternal lines?

They stop the mind a mere minute


before they fly, unadorned by wings,

and fall like flakes of dead skin,


destined for nothingness, but this

here/now. How to tell it?


I’m here because…but it’s all

so horrible, an accident! I can’t


live it indefinite, do it. Even

to be is to be nothing


but what I am – in effect

what you make of me.


April 2016

All Jokes Aside, Hemi



te reo true



the heron flew


the bearded bard

spoke prayer or hymn

and onward to Jerusalem

some made the trek

five to a car

incense, myrrh – kissed his arse

hung from his word

such reverence

a reading by his eminence

the sad waiata

the long lament

leave poor old Jim to rest my friend




te reo true

let truth

be told

from me to you


©Orion Foote, 2016


Te Werahi Beach & the promised land

           *Te Werahi Beach & the promised land

from the drenched shadow of the morning cliff
looking west it lay out on the running ocean
Cape Maria van Diemen,
a name scratched down once of a time
by restless europeans on parchment,
a promised land of the dawn
mapped in early gold
sand hills forged as
simple as cloud along
the still pink rim of sky west
or a rock on the inward rush
of a wave the beach wide
hid a city on the other side
of old things,
missing friends, lost stories, altars
laden with fruits and burning meats,
old sailors of the pacific
and further seas in the tavern
dead drunk in their mermaids’ clasp.
streets that drop away like winds
in the folds of a mainsail
a city that cannot last the sun falling
from higher than the tip
of the ridge, a whole city
gone like dew in the curl of the
marram grass whipped back
and forth on the sand
the ocean riding on in
foaming across the hardened
sand, bubbles and sunken
sky in tow.
a promised land of quiet prayers that
turn across the sky a flock of birds
of terns painted like wave tips
a land of plenty, time stopping
when your thought does,
your brush, your pen dipped
in the cupped well of your silence
earned in the dripping together
of hours
a promised land
that is promised only in the little
time before the sun moves
on those sands, those hills,
and the wind overturns
it all in bare unshadowed
gone like a feather
off the back of your hand
the door
to the
open in
the day.

beijing february 2011

A poem for me is a collision of coincidences between language and memory, language and feeling. I have noted below some of the associations which this piece has for me that came to light in its writing and afterwards. I would not normally do so for any piece I’ve written, but for whatever reason, felt prompted to do so in this case.

restless europeans
reference to the following talk between C. Jung and a Hopi indian elder: At the Taos pueblo, Jung spoke for the first time with a non-white, a Hopi elder named Antonio Mirabal (also known as Ochwiay Biano and Mountain Lake), who said that whites were always uneasy and restless: “We do not understand them. We think that they are mad” (‘Memories, Dreams and Reflections’, Jung, 1973, p. 248). Jung asked him why he thought the whites were mad, and the reply was ” ‘They say that they think with their heads . . . . We think here,’ he said, indicating his heart” (p. 248).

a promised land
I was reminded by the beautiful profile of the sand hills of William Blake’s poem ‘Jerusalem’, a wonderful chariot of English words, sturdy and unbroken after 300 years

early gold
early in the morning, and a memory of gold just valued for its beauty, rather than monetary value

hid a city on the other side
couldn’t see the other side of the sand hills, but precisely for this reason I imagined a whole mystical city there, like Blake’s Jerusalem’ – not really existing anywhere

old sailors of the pacific
and further seas
all those sailors whether polynesian, european, asian or whoever else, who made it everywhere over the waters by star and sextant

streets that
drop away like winds
in the folds of a mainsail
streets of white houses in the cycladic isles, that drop off steeply down hillsides, like wind spilling out of a white mainsail I’ve always thought

gone like dew in the curl of the
marram grass
all a dream, some obscure reference in my mind to the Japanese story translated by Lafcadio Hearn (early scholar on Japanese culture/literature) about someone dreaming beside an ant nest and becoming a king in his dream, waking and realizing everything in his dream was in fact just a reflection of the ant nest (king, soldiers, castle etc)

the door
to the
dead open in
the day.
of course death is open any time for business, but somehow the image of the arch over the entrance to Agamemnon’s tomb (referred to as Agamemnon’s tomb but apparently an unknown king’s) that I saw at Mycenae some 30 years ago came to mind after thinking about this poem for a month or so, and also that I was at Te Reinga where the Maori dead depart Aotearoa to return to Hawaiki.

Cape Maria Van Diemen

from Brightcity Storyline #2


You may concern your Sunday
morning with the elves, history
is filled with virgins longing
to be lawyers, or veterinarians,
but who got pregnant before the exams
and were made to leave home
on an ass, when this was still a shame,
in the days before Dependent Parent benefits,
on a sunny Wednesday in Rome,
or Vanuatu, from a small entropic town,
at the back of the bus, brushing the screen,
brushing the whole thing off
in their headphones, playing the.. ..sounds
like the playbook of the driven to deceive.


I have held them by their jeans
belt, seeing they were adding to
the sorrow in the well Tears evaporate

before they ever reach the end.
I have lingered, in their lingerie,
upmarket in my solitary, found

a superior state
freed from
the common accidents
reported in
Religion’s orphanage—
not exclusively, but victims

in the poorer suburbs,
treeless zones
waiting for the bottom to fall out.

I have had a calling, really,
to collect up all my feelings,
and a map be made of all my thoughts,
to predict that reading-eyes expect.
I, and I alone,

climbed out. Or so I thought,
but all around me

others, solo mothers,
from the concuss of their falls,
climbed out and out alone

into The Light
into the logarithmic semblance of
the clouds.



my cat works at night

My cat works at night,

same as me. He’s there

when I leave tho and

home first, asleep

on the chair, or floor,

same spot he occupied

before I left

to go.


I know:

I’ve only his word

that he works but,

if so I think

it must be hard –

some say, a security

guard. I caught

him once


flashing his suit

in the looking

glass: our eyes met

for a split

second. My cat

is reticent. When I think

of it I don’t think

that I trust him


at all. This

morning for instance

I caught him


my drawers,


my coin, and

pondering my card.



Count Me In

tonight – far from

the last

the one before

sometime later

where gleaming bottles

some near full

hang in mock suspense

in silent rows

high above the bar

– solid Rata


and it wasn’t far

to walk – ponder

but the mind it likes

tends to wander

to this – evening later


where the siren’s hair

could surely awaken

raise the dead

her breasts – good lord

tried not to look

and Jesus wept

– that lucky devil


she really thought

said she – that he

might have been

the one

though I reckon she knew

as the fairer do

that it takes two

– baby

but we’re all still learning

how to play


and things hadn’t been

all they could – should

might have been

she slurred

well no, my dear

they never are

her year from hell

she whispers

the eyes descend

into the pit

of no way back it seems

from the living

nor the dead

where Jesus wept




they come in three’s

said she

and so I thought

i thought ‘one more’

and her

on all fours would do

until they come

perhaps tomorrow

the one after

evening later


©Orion Foote, 2015.


come, sun

come, sun

wrecked here
on the edge of
these weathers
i wait for you
like a sun
to lift me
to hold
to love
me in
broken on
this shore
hurry, love,
hurry, the
eyes of
that lap
above the
tide are
they wait to
see me rest
there like
sick with
salt, forever,
hurry, my
love, hurry
the birds of
sad wing
may yet
take me

june 30 2016

a post


and although i have failed

i feel that i have lived

and live still.



I remember my little room,

the hard bed by the window

pane. I liked winter best,

the frosted glass,



the white sun struck

the day. i was in love

with everything.


at night, strung

like a dream, i lay

upon the sheet,


rose again; bowed

to the solemn street

below. I was


alone with

nothing to live

for but this,


and i was happy then

i thought – i knew

there was nothing


i could do.


30 March 2016

The Book Store

There is dust in the sunlight

slanting from the roof

and you are lost in Poetry,

or is it New Fiction?

We are all lost, here

Where the shelves lean

out to talk, nudge shoulders

and the books beckon.

The books smell

of people’s homes;

where they lay undisturbed

or hidden, or put out for effect.

They have come here to wait:

for you and your eyes.

For your hand – to feel

the ridge of a spine, feel

the raised lettering:

I am yours. Take me.

Let my words spill

before the pain of your eyes.

I will be in Poetry.

In a soft chair, waiting

will Paul

       will Paul*

was wondering
when Paul finally
slips out that
back door
the last chord
ringing still
the last song
sung and
yesterday* has
at last become
today was
wondering when
Paul puts down
the hoffner* on
the stand closes
the piano lid
straightens his
lapels and
the market place
of our delight
is closed down
with a final bow
will Paul
run into John*
just through
that door
before he
gets away?

19 june 2013

*The songwriter, musician Paul McCartney
*’Yesterday’, perhaps Paul’s most well-known song
*’Hoffner’, the make of bass guitar he is famous for playing
*’Ob-la-di, ob-la-da’, the refrain of Paul’s song by the same name with its Desmond running his barrow in the market place
*’John’, John Lennon



from: Brightcity Storyline


Sometimes I hope that
the worst will happen soon
the inexplicable & coarse
satisfaction when Chaos swoops
over rattling the windows

in retaliatory earthquakes
and I sigh, sate, hearing the high
totals buried in tsunami, bodies
lifeless as tinsel in trees temporarily—

strange pleasure of the fail
and the crash: the implosion
of Bank, disclosure from the brink…

You could stand right up
on the edge, and sail off,
though the air, is it
a different fresh? Here,
I’d never push: what
is this vulture fetish
carrion thing in myself?

I can feel it, the emotion,
like a fragrance: poets, the lovers
of roses, the fracas, & the faeces:
we prosper in the chaos of the species:
mosh-pit of the alter,
the programmes, the triggers
and pull-tech.
MK:Ultra, and folders
labeled NONcents.


A casual calm driver, I am who
the bus would overtake; pulled over

on the street, our complex
commitment in my hand,

I present the permission
slip allowing common bondsmen

command of their registered ship.
I display good behaviour, in public,

in the vehicle, being an emotion-studier
of our polymorphic situation

-determined Race of odds and ends
woven majestically

into a presence sought after
in the merchant permanent

praxis of galaxy.