Tyrant Sun

The wind shifts south to tear at the land, and

stressed tufts of green sway and roll then hang limp.

Men look out, eyes narrowing and say it’s been drier,

that a shower will come to bring back life; 

and the sky blackens, a boiling belt of black,

swollen with promise, and thunder booms 

and the men look and run hands over chins:

this will be it, they say. It will rain.

Still the wind pulls at the ragged leaves and they flap

and fall, tired little roots prying the dusty soil for moisture.

Then it is gone, a retreating blackness

shot through with china-blue and the wind dies

and there is an awful calm, where men look at each other and nothing is said.

There is nothing to say, just sadness roaming the eyes

 

 

mangere settler

mangere settler

i came across the headstone of Thomas Troan while wandering through the grounds of the Anglican Church of St Peters in Onehunga one early morning. Intrigued by the family name ‘Troan’, i searched for its origin on the Internet and was much astonished to find an article in the annals of the New Zealand Herald dated 23 June 1882 concerning the circumstances surrounding the death of a ‘mangere settler’, Mr. Thomas Troan. The phrases/words with quote marks are drawn directly from this article. The article itself, ‘The Late Fatal Accident to a Mangere Settler’,can found at:
http://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/cgi-bin/paperspast?a=d&d=NZH18820623.2.30

Reading of Mr. Troan’s passing left me with a sense that any life gone needs a song however insubstantial, at least, to remark its passing.

This poem consists of 3 pieces. The first, as noted above is based on the newspaper account. The second is a speculation on the last thoughts of Thomas Troan and the third a meditation on the remnant fact of his headstone.

mangere settler

what seas
what rains
you saw from
the north of
ireland
to mangere
erin’s harp
broke strings in
the rigging
on that ship
you gambled
many a time
in your poor
mind wretched
with lurching
in the hold
would not
make it
your luck
felt to burst
its tight purse
on landing with
a whole land
come again to
your feet a
land you would
purchase a
breadth of
under the
mountain
that blown
hill of mangere
atip the manukau
you raised your
beasts on that
farm alone gaining
‘thereby a competence’
buying and selling
them in that market
aswill with animal

what sweetheart
did you carry
in the deeper
pocket of your
heart a picture
put between the
pages of an
untouched bible
we know not

the thread of
your life began
to run swift
in a single
night
under klotho’s*
hand

night of the
election nine
o’clock the
’15th instant’
‘worse for drink’
the paper wrote
of you on a
‘spirited pony’
you tore down the
road into a winter
evening likely wet.
not seen again
till morning met
walking on the
road you’d run
into old nick** in
the spin of that
night not even
knowing how your
clothes were clumped
with mud your hat
well gone thinking
only you had been
thrown
from that horse
and kicked or
old nick had
tapped your
breastbone
a harder
slam.

a ‘young man’
who came across
you there kind of
nature bought
you a glass of
brandy in the
‘Star Hotel’ which
you downed
and lay down
on the bed
offered you
by the publican
while the doctor
came felt your
chest and pronounced
you ‘dangerously hurt’.

placed on a
stranger’s buggy
another helping
soul you were
driven to the
hospital conversing
‘freely and sensible’
but were gone by
wednesday night
a hard corpse all
you left behind
some pounds
that piece of
land at the
foot of mangere

Thomas Troan
the facts known
of you fewer than
the telling of them
more sober than this
blarney a strum
on erin’s harp
buried in your
thirty third year
the age of
the Christ.

onehunga/panmure/howick
november/december 2012

*One of the ancient Greek ‘Three Fates’, she who spun life’s thread

**the Devil

last minute

This is naturally not based on any known record since it intends to show the thoughts of Thomas Troan’s last minute of life on this earth.

for a full
green minute
i made it
home
mother in
the field
looking out
toward the
sunshower
just off the
peninsula
the ‘almost
island’ *and its
church of slate
where i learned
latin and the
smells of christ
i heard a prayer
on her lips felt
a joy wide as the
sun coming out
from the cloud
on the westward
sea looked
back
from the
sunshower
at the church
of slate saw the
ivory cast of
her bonnet
afar.

ridge rd, howick
evening, 29 june 2013

*the literal meaning of the word ‘peninsula’, ‘paeninsula’ in Latin

headstone

at least
this,
a stone,
letters saying
‘this life was
unlike the
others for
the ages
unhonoured
their names
chiselled then
with grief into
the wind,
shouted once
from the tangled
rope ladders of
the blood.

onehunga – panmure
18 february, 2014

Church of Tokenpoke

Saturday, shimmering sea-blue;
the hot summer, suggested
by the cabbage trees flowering
the hot summer has started early.
quickly. I worked a 3hr shift
at the recycling job, moving cages
about the compound on a battered
yellow forklift, emptying the refuse
in the old white tip truck
with the broken door that flies open
on corners unless held with the elbow
on the always down window,
and a bare, bent, thick wire
instead of the accelerator peddle.
Then I came home, and by one 15
I was working on the paintings on the floor,
the door to the ocean open,
filling the room faintly with motor fuel
and hot concrete and tap water
from the slipway. for the last hour,
on this original sabbatic day of Saturn,
from the neighbours somewhere
Bob Marley’s Greatest Hits has been playing
the same repeating loops which I drew
into the lungs on the white sticks
of ‘nope, I aint goin’ home yet’,
I haven’t packed a cone for I don’t
remember how long ago. but hearing
the boat growl, the insects of Summer, feel
still the Stoner’s hip-nah-tism
and the taunting of the wrkng dna
to Get up, Stand up— and I had
to get up, off the floor, where I was painting
tonal squares to accentuate the depth
of a central window effect, got up and got
the pencil out to wonder
what, exactly, my Rights were?
What are these rights we’re asked
to stand together to defend? I do not
know for sure, but I’m confidant, I am certain
enough to say I doubt mister Marley,
or his cricketing entourage really
considered Zion the right path,
Bah, Jhal or Hova neither. Know
women who cry at every little thing?
She does. It’s magic.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

The sun, through Summer,
shines directly onto the sea
-facing windows, and is often bright
beyond useful.
We do not hurt each other
we attack an idea a system of words
an order of mathematical portents
we cannot possess a hurtful feature
we are one water into another
a medium in which things may be added
and these additions clash not us
the unhurt water of any disaster
whatever calamity of person, splash.

Wind’s Call

Now it has come to this:

an old man bent and thin,

shaking finger on a stick,

and the eyes stare, lost in the

hills of his youth.

He does not hear the chatter,

the witless commentary,

only the stir of the wind

through bracken.

For him it is the collie’s crouch,

hot tea and a bun on high.

Not now. Not in this place,

with its rictus mouths

and podgy cats.

Now the hills are closing in,

and he hears his name

on a rising cold wind

 

The Day The Poet Swore

How much she knew, the woman of words.

Latin and grammar, her voice high, full of laughter, culture

in a drear room of smiles and nods, stiff-back chairs.

She read and walked, pale eyes searching.

And she warned a poem had a naughty word,

and read it out aloud anyway, giving that word

a guttural push, and it leapt from her beautiful mouth

and sailed,  ripe and rich, to settle on delicate minds.

No one said a word, though one lady gave a little shudder

 

low

Worm, is it too much

to be picked-on

by a bird?

 

Could you begin again,

shed skin that is

reptilian…but

 

Understand it is

how it is for

no reason

 

we know. You exist

repressed by this

ponderous

 

system of reward

and punishment

until

 

an angel

descends and

drops you in

 

the same ditch

from which you came.

 

14/9/15

a mountain

a mountain

you open the door
a door that is friend
in its wood its paint that
smells still of its making
such a door its panels
sawn patted & nailed
into place by a knowing
hand such a door

outside you look in that
direction
whence come your days
a mountain there of
what was, what is & what
is coming through shade
fed with handfuls of sun
that something almost
a word so close to
the tongue or sense
of speaking it comes

somebody is waving
from those flanks
of journey horse-drawn
shadows on the slopes
wind ploughing stones
& memories of grass

somebody is waving
just one of their words
like a letter
from the hand of
the dear dead
the dear lost dead
this mountain
is the backstop
of breath

near or far this mountain
is never less
a festival
burns in its night
there you hear
guitars song climbing
on the evening the
rounding of song
the dancers bunching
swaying apart again
like tufts of pine
needles somebody
there is telling you
in their song

in their drinking
their toast
to the stars

you never
let sight go
of that mountain
whatever
earth you tread
or sky you
touch in the
space of your
fingers

to Duncan Watt
Beijing, april 2008

The Bodies Buried

They can’t all fail, can they?
Each region it’s model of worship,
what ever was amalgamated,
altered, used weapon-like, then dismantled;
then rebuilt, by the victor, by the people
liberated, because out in this open air
concert, in their christian t-shirts
and muslim beards, and tattoos
samoan, viking, & Disney, boy, they
look confused. They are white, with dread
-locks, and worry knots; they are
as empty as the light
which comes out of the bulb,
but for some darkness, nothing
without a glow has convinced us
that we are less by being: this heavy
address, this heavier dress,
it sells to us a wife and vulnerability, a
husband and servility; no nation is without this
worry, and no person who has entered in
to the corporate headquarters alive
can live at the faked emptiness
of mortal craft religion
fraud and business, plans of like
showing like their curfews
and operating systems
this long
without distorting;  it’s never changing
the oil
in yr motor, never getting the q-tip
onto the old cassette head
things Associations of opinion
and terror in the language of terror
for a thing imagined, hypnotism
in the spell, buy a history in creation,
by we being as the lightness,
the mist among the water falling in Te Puke
or Niagara, the lightness of the feeling
to simply say things—we are
what the language needs to Be,
to see and not to hold to what was in the seeing
yesterday, memory enough to get home
by instinct, if necessary, make Home
where it needs to be, putting everything
else
into the great burning that is
yesterday.

troubadors

troubadors
– to John Lennon, Bob Dylan & Leonard Cohen

when John was
shot down
by a fool
in New York
i knew
this world
makes no sense
the pain of love
the pain of pain
in his voice
love won
only a
cold point
through the
back

when the universe
takes Bob back
his voice
from the bottom
of mankind
coming up
through
his voice now
as old as
he strove to
sound young
those words
in that voice
the earth will
for me
but an instant
lean into
shadow.

sweet Leonard,
when your time
has come
the fullness of
a struck bell
i’ll take your
voice down from
the upper shelf
like an old
whiskey wrapped
in a dapper
song of yours
and drink it on
till closing
time.

february – april
beijing 2011

Of Ageing

To keep up with the actual
rate of which a carbon life
form breathing air decays
I find I am making the short
trip through the painting
storage room
to the small bathroom,
more out of the condition of unbelief
that I am dying
in drips, filling a pool of dying
by the milking breast of each heartbeat,
and will be dead on a day as actual as this is,
each time the peddle turns, each night the
wheel revolves, arriving
in the bathroom to check
on the recognised ‘I’ in the white room
a magenta towel-curtain paints
rose with sunlight on late winter
afternoons, and holding the round
stainless steel Morris Minor
bonnet mirror I view the back
of the beginning to thin crown,
and the silvery band
now running from ear to ear
because who is looking out
of these eyes, isn’t older, isn’t any less
dead, look at the chest and torso,
firm, athletic, youthful & evenly built;
the latissimus fan improved; the tight
buttocks; the steady heartbeat of a runner
keeping up and passing men younger
at our young gym, all suggesting death
as some thing taught to us
to believe, a thought which is actually wrong,
put, exe.-like, into external fields
as interference, dominating
rates of internal repair, active in firmware
now, designated thereafter on auto-
update…And those about us,
dollah-sized, empire-scientific,
who endeavour Deselect
Uninstall Delete…? Dying’s alright
when living’s incomplete.

Survived

It seems romantic, looking back
on it, the withdrawing of 50¢
over the counter, before eftpos, I suppose,
to have enough for cigarettes.
It had back-story, engraved, or
engineered, as when a writer’s past
helps the reader grasp
the sardines, and half
eaten lifestyle salvaged
from dumpsters with the lumps of bread
I got free at the soup kitchen
under the overpass. I always took
the speciality loaves donated from
the supermarkets. They were unsliced,
leavened, and never in plastic,
and usually close enough to fresh
to eat un-toasted. Also, I ate… my
vitality was fluid, thats, never mind,
in this memory, I’m standing in line, with a 65¢
withdrawal slip, and a masculine dollah something
in my pocket, so dead broke, and still getting
wasted! Substance over love. Yet
the memory of it
is that I had sufficient store of each.
Love, food, sunshine, the rent, somehow,
when the time came to exit
that, sever, finally, the needs of that existence,
when the time came to leave, all that I had written,
up till then, was put in a drum for burning.
It was autumn, the drum was over by the feijoas,
on the square of pale grass made by the caravan,
the sea was less than thirty metres away
throwing up post-swell odours of rotting
weed and salted limestone bull kelp.
I  tipped out two sacks of papers, fire-engine
red scholastic exercise books, the too hastily
bound A4 manuscripts, and scraps of exegetically
impossible to interpret commando failures,
soaked it with meths, and bent in
to the drum with a lit match, and BOOM!

Far king me! blown back on my arse,
burnt eyebrows, nose hair, lashes,
fringe sizzle; hairs on the flame hand;
singed, and pumping capillaries, ALIVE!

 

 

 

 

Spun Out

The bowler has it now, spun and thrown to the sun,

to fall to a practised hand: turning, turning.

When he bends to run he sees nothing but the flight

of a ball he has yet to bowl; sees it sear from the hand,

all swept light and then swerve and dip, the seam proud,

tearing at the earth, the off-stump uprooted, spun back,

the long follow-through, the caps thrown in joy.

How it would be, if the mind would clear, the fingers unlock.

How it is when it does not, the mind a pincer on the body.

How it is now, fingers in spasm, the dream running out the arm