A bit of a do
it comes around quick
around here – up and down
and he’s worked like the devil
an Egyptian slave
in the scorching sands
of El Alamein
and what a racket !
but not as bad
as those artillery shells
Michele, I think she said
dear – her name
love me do
but tell that drummer he’s no fucking Ringo
while the strobe
shoots and dives
all over the place
not that the old girl
she’s heard it all before
…can’t see a bloody thing
but knows damn well
that he can
And she’ll give Michele
the ‘once over’…
and I know he must wonder
but Christ I could have told you
it wasn’t worth dying for
and I wouldn’t know
if the jug is half full
or half empty
these days…nor care
down the hatch and up the lazy river
and Michele ?
it’s not her round
and she’s not one to beg
hardly said a word all night
but god knows she’s asking for it
©Orion Foote, 2015
if we must
we need a
god of not kill
not a god of kill
a god that washes
hands of us like
filth when we
kill in that god’s
name do anything
in that god’s name
lift each other
upward from collision
a god that disowns
us when we take
that god’s name and
enscribe it on bullet
we need a god
of clear and deep
a god of no flag
who makes it
this god sits
in any structure
where hopes and
flowers are stacked
at that god’s altar
a god just
that little bit
harder on us
a stickler to the
letter of the law
He sets out early, the man with the dog.
The shapeless trousers bound with string,
and he holds his manuka stick high –
tap, tap, always the same speed, and the
collie is in step, glancing up, his coat
bouncing, flicked by the wind.
Man and mate, out again;
a circuit of The Downs; each knows the way.
A man of the land down from the hills.
He does not see the urban sprawl, just
changing light, slanting hills and gully drop.
Tap, tap, shiny stick, a dog hugging his knee.
Funeral coats heavy and low,
trousers riding spit-polish brown,
knuckles whitening on the handles;
old and young, surprised at the weight.
They always are, the bearers of the dead.
It was hardly a funeral at all: a hymn
to which no one knew the words, strains of notes
in a soul-less hall. No vicar. Not required.
Not today; not since the wedding, long time since.
Then the cars gathered, lights on, far and near
and they lowered him in to stony ground;
dirt rattled on the lid, down beyond the sun.
The widow turned, smart in black.
Well, she said, not a bad day for it –
and she brushed hair from her dry eyes
twentieth-century german verse
reading the Penguin book of
‘Twentieth-century German Verse’
bought of a year it sold new for
$1 & 25c, a year long before
the wall was manhandled down
and dumped, before the jokes about
putting it back up ever started.
bought of a year i was learning the
bits, bolts & grammar struts of the
language of Rilke & Trakl to read
Hermann Hesse in his own hand
the tongue of his high-gabled town
steeped in forest and shadowed stream,
bought of a year i had not yet travelled
nor felt how cold the marble of the
seats we watched the world’s harsh
dramas from, bought of a year
those poems read of things i thought
imagined not even knowing how hard-won
any poem is that blasts its truth in
like winter winds that force the door
the poet’s only mercy that they can close
the leak of it, an ocean of ice and tears
they can hem to the page, bought of a
year it took me thirty-seven years onward from
to finally read it first poem to last
to have gained enough of a life
to read off against them, for them
to be read off against.
6 april 2015,
auckland art gallery, albert park