Road Trip

On days such as this the road is a black mirror,

rolling out hard and long into the distance,

ridges bars of bouncing light, the tyres hot,

thrumming on coarse chip and the birds

weaving in the high thin air against the sky;

the hot air a brush on your face and

teasing your thoughts until they melt in your mind,

flick out into the rushing air to spill into the world.

And then you accelerate, reckless, and think;

nothing and everything; feel the power;

think of road trips you never had; continents, islands;

with people you trust and distrust; hand in hand,

grinning and wheeling across the hot dry land,

laughter maniacal and peeling out into a passing world:

and you are lost, subsumed, in a race all your own

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At The Beach

Sagging kapok beds, sea’s wash and moan,

sun yellowing papers, streaming over our lives,

wishing for nothing more, no will to move;

anglers in works gumboots, white and stolen

crossing a shingled shore to whip high rods at sun.

We watched lazily, the lazy,

as kahawai died bled  in the sun.

Something to do. On a Saturday.

Lettuces leaned in the wind:

a garden for all in silty soil;

Formica tables and chairs,

stick-on flowers on the cupboards,

ratty carpet on creaking floor –

our comforts – our place.

All gone, save the beach,

reaching down for its kiss-curl waves

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Tea and Poems

A high ceiling in spring,

white with a filigree border

and genteel conversation

floats over earl grey

and the waitress’s apron

rises and falls with her light step;

tea and cakes, spilling cream,

a man with a silly hat and

ill-fitting hand-knit jersey

trying to impress his mother –

or his maiden aunt.

The traffic sings in the street,

rising and dipping to the port,

and the guests sip water heavy

with cinnamon and mint.

Books of poems, Mr Betjeman,

on an old wooden shelf, and

Mr Tuwhare , too,

resting above the creaking floor,

waiting for a gentle hand

to let the words out:

time, gentlemen, for tea

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first meeting

first meeting*
based on Reiner Stach’s description of Franz Kafka’s first meeting with Felice Bauer (see page 100, ‘Kafka The Decisive Year’s by Reiner Stach, translated by Shelley Frisch)

only a few words
yet enough to
put you out
to sea
silly boy
you liked her
to the ‘point
of sighing’
you spilled out
to others there
and jammed yourself
into the revolving
door along side
her to keep
up with
her in

silly boy
you were out
to sea in a
boat of
pail and
sailing to

silly boy
with the finest
machinery of all
in that head
of yours

silly boy
a sigh is
never a
silly boy

nelson st, howick
4 october 2014



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white cross on sea

          white cross on sea*

για ο,τι μου δόθηκε απο την καρδιά αυτο του λαού,
απο τον ήλιο τους, άσπρη
  καρδιά της θάλασσας
for what was given to me by the heart of this people,
by their sun, white heart of the sea

had it hard
as any land’s lot
ever was
forced to mouth
an unaccepted peace
for centuries under
another’s sword
the ottoman yoke
to fight hand-to-hand
scuffling in snow
with mussolini’s merry
men ‘blood brothers’
he said of the olive
and grape*
when any hatred had
frozen hard and spent
as emptied cartridges
dropping away down
the goat-steps of
winter mountains
the killing just a job
known to the ancients
that had to be done
signed now to the
brutalist enemy of all
under strict agreement
and empty purse*
yet the worn heart of
any one man or woman
of them will show you
a sun that can split
marble histories
apart and
their church
of wine and island
flower a flag
that shall ever
be white cross
on sea
white cross
on summer

ware place, pakuranga heights
20 september 2015
*the greek flag
*the Italian invasion of Greece via Albania; w
hat Mussolini actually said was “Una faccia, una razza”, meaning ‘one face, one people’, a saying in Italy that expresses the shared origin of the mediterannean peoples
*reference to the german dictated agreement to the so-called economic ‘bail-out’


      dancing crazy

in the supermarket
carpark he had the
radio up to the roof
the car door open
and was dancing
hasapiko, zembekiko,
tsifteteli* beside
the car whatever
the greek rhythm was
the staggered beat
he danced to that
in the dusk cooling
off like a stone
in a westerly sydney
suburb he danced like
this was the earth of
his possession to
stamp upon to
stamp his heel
mark upon the
gazes of the shoppers
fluttered toward
him like grey
moths around a
summer evening
bulb yet their bodies
never budged
an inch from
their trundlers to
tip the everyday
garbage out
shove it
to the

20 may 2015

*various types of greek dance

        on andros

            to Keith & Rachel, let the retsina flow in honour
            of good meetings on the road

on andros
a village
of the basics
coffee burnt meat
and cross
stakes it out
on the hill
stakes it all
on the hill
turning its back
to that long fall
to the sea
that long fall
of wind of
low walls of
stone dividing
stones into
grazing fields
for stones
the wind
the white towers
the doves swing
around in flight
the sea is always
taking a piece
of the view
you stand
silently afar
in storm
paved in
dashed in
sun scoured
under the wind
there except
when closed off
in the valleys of
night the leaves
of the olive
freezing the
air in silver
the sea
a hard pillow
of dream
yet to lay
our heads

november, 2014


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the girl on the swing

The girl skipped off the swing

and walked away.


That swing is moving still;

caught, I thought at first,

by a slow wind.


But its twin, the swing

next to it, is dead still.


I think that I’m lost

in the sky, the leavings

of a butterfly;


eyes upon the ghost

that once was a girl.


4-5 September 2015

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The Road West

The road here slants west,

carving to the hill,

past the tender tumble down homes,

past the crouching thatched cottage

in its frozen secret place;

beyond the flinty corner whose face bends the wind.

It is a place of endless shadow, prickled frost.

Time has put an edge on this land – hardened it

and let it spread and spread until it beggars the eye.

Few pass this way: the lizard, wary eye circling,

the trudging trudging sheep, the woman

who looked at the sweeping blue sky and who

turned and turned until her mind shut down

and little cries caught in her throat.

Then the birds rose and called and flew west,

past the point where the road bled into the dun earth


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Was the manuscript going to be a hoax or a codex cipher
He was appointed to the imperial distillery
Then placed to take charge of the botanical gardens and be a personal physician
Linguistic patterns of language
Contextual arrangements of notes and words
The words broken down into letter by letter character cipher
Awkward to explain except as an attempt to hide information
He couldn’t give a hoax to his country origins
Verbose cipher perpetually throughout it must be
He enjoyed being a chief of the imperial distillery
He loved to study plants throughout his walks in the gardens
He would make notes and draw sketches
Agenda fuelled by a moral desire to make good on the deal
The arrangements others had made
He felt somewhat indebted
Like a Greek shorthand creating a second level of cipher
Giving an authentic cultural voice.

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Sweet Music

Trees in Ranui 012Quite florescent mist lingers after the rain

our mounts are quaking about the wind

The breeze when it blows is full of the salt of tears

They sense the incoming storm

Tenderfoot I feed them carrots pat them calm

Sweet music wills me towards you

Your stare transparent in my eyes

Me an urchin in your mirrors reflection

Dark and peaceful among the dream

The land is cracked and dried like the heart of wicked

I saddle my horse ready to ride

I shiver at the night’s air

You got me scattered in pieces

shining like stars and screaming

lighting me up like Venus

Playing your same sized violin.

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when I think

when i think
in the style of an old lament


when i think of
the friends
the few i have
that touch a distant
part of me where
the mystery of self
a flicker amongst
flickers in a vastness
is rolled back
a little
like a walk out along
a low-tide shore
when i think of
these friends
a hand across your
shoulder to lift
the yoke a little
more than enough
those friends you
sit back against like
that place where
trunk meets branch
with your feet
dangling clear of
the rip below
when i think of
these friends, death
pushing their face
into awful accident
or breaking them
down on the
bedrock of pain
clumsily slowly
as if it’s never done
the job before
when i think of
my friends, death
with its brand new
knife at their backs
i would weep
when i think of
the friends the
few i still

september 2012
howick domain

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no other weather

     no other weather

as if
there had
never been
any other kind
of weather
just this rain
settled in on
the volcanic hill
cloud right down
to the foot
as if it had rained
for a million years
before there
was grass there
ever was a hill
rain falling
out of the sky
since the sky’s
first making
falling since
that first
in grey

5 august 2015

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oranges and lemons

        oranges and lemons

‘oranges and lemons
say the bells of st clements,
oranges and lemons
say the bells of st clements
oranges and lemons…‘*
a low sung afternoon
i learnt that round
on that concrete driveway
now in rain a stone’s
quick throw from the sea
we held each other’s
hands as someone stood in
the middle between
our linked arms we swung
up and over them and
the bells rang in
our voices and
we never grew old
and we grew old
and we never forgot
and we forgot
and we were bright
and hard to catch as
sun in rain and were
dark in the going down
of the tide and on
the full and we
smelt the oranges
and lemons on
each other
and that

30 august 2014
bucklands beach, picton st, nelson st, howick

*From the children’s sung rhyme, one version which is (approximating to the one I remember) as follows:

Oranges and lemons,
Say the bells of St. Clement’s.

You owe me five farthings,
Say the bells of St. Martin’s.

When will you pay me?
Say the bells of Old Bailey.

When I grow rich,
Say the bells of Shoreditch.

When will that be?
Say the bells of Stepney.

I do not know,
Says the great bell of Bow.

Here comes a candle
to light you to bed,

And here comes a chopper
to chop off your head


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