Working Men’s Dub

A bit of a do

it’s Friday

it comes around quick

around here – up and down

all around

returned serviceman

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

would notice

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

mugs away

jugs asway

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


that god

          that god

if we must
show god
to another
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
but embrace
lift each other
upward from collision
a god that disowns
us when we take
that god’s name and
enscribe it on bullet
or executioner’s
we need a god
of clear and deep
common sense
a god of no flag
no battalion
who makes it
known that
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
of love

november 2015

  Gone to Kuranui (for June – toku tuahine)


a sun blazed hour

where your smile returned

idling, dawdling – such grace

along the sands at Paekakariki

where ancient sea smiled

and hills watched

how they shone sister

like these – as green as the sea

rosary beads

her mother, she said

had thought it proper

from her to me

my daughters mother

thank Christ – the gift you gave

and blessed be

the orphaned waif

small leaden feet – ungodly fate

the trembling mouth

too scared to speak

of things only she would know

off down the road

no earthly goods

nothing really (of which

to speak)

but duffle bag of shame

driven away, cast aside

flung to sodden curb

now left for dead

Kuranui angel – risen to fly

one teeming winter night

©Orion Foote, 2016

Out Walking

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.

The Funeral

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

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