Sunday Float

Hungry for this seal at the ears,

I roll in the pool.

 

It’s long since I shut you out,

tipped my face to the sky

and swooned.  I hear

 

the dry spheres of my breath.  Only,

 

under me: the avalanche aisles

sweep; and the graze of the whale,

less ethereal in the flesh of open sea,

 

terrifies – sepulchral, and metal-grey.

I remember now, it broke skin

to the left of me – I wasn’t afraid

 

but that was a dream; the symbol:

life, conquered there

at the strange pier;

 

and me in the water – bleak as it was –

without blood.

 

February 5th, 2018

 

war

What do you do when your arm’s

torn off. Your mother’s fucked

or your son’s made to suck your cock?

 

What do you do?

Because: this will happen to you,

even if you live in America.

on organised religion

Christian, muslim, jew – god is

(let us grant it) but not how you mean it.

Is perhaps but as an abstract, not

a real person, a prime mover,

an architect, actor, an interested

party; a master of history

traversing the linear time-line

from zero to eternity.

 

There’s no such god.

When I was in Christchurch,

this guy was handing out leaflets.

I handed mine back & he said,

‘He’s up there watching us’.

I walked on, said nothing

but it came to me later –

what i should have said was Liar!

 

Because it’s true: there’s no excuse

for not knowing.

A Man Of The Land

The crop has wilted to the earth

No one told the farmer

about Nature’s cruelty;

how it breaks men

This year was the worst:

good intentions sown deep,

then teasing spring rain

Now it is almost gone –

there is nothing for the roots to seek

He holds the hot leaves and they have no life,

no veins, the cells falling in on themselves

The earth is hot and dust rises between the plants;

the sky – the bloody sky – is blue

His wife holds him at night;

wraps him in love and oil of lavender

to try to calm his heart – to show him

that she knows his torture

He wants to tell her he loves her,

that he can feel her love and warmth

but his words sink in his throat

He has a picture in his head:

it is a man standing in a field of dying corn,

buckets balanced on his shoulders

He saw the photo when he was a boy

And he thought how awful –

Now it is him and he has no answer

from Hail Gazers

‘I know, I know
that through me it will go:
sadness which shakes not
a flower, lifts
not a shadow in pain’

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

whenever I live in or visit a city
eventually I find myself wandering
between car park floors, buildings
with tight curves, low roofs, smooth
concrete light, thinking of burials,
and sex, and the organisations,
with grand names, convincing us,
the Us to blame, of over populating,
so that burials are performed standing up,
the casket lowered feet-first.

the narrow roofs and open elongation
in central city parking stations
capture the metropolitan odours
of food and fuel, and dumpsters,
and perfume I love so much; a mix
combined, the light feels layered
like book pages, the feathery rice paper
of tomes, and I’m oftener barefoot,
thinking and picturing the bones

surviving the coffins; the monsoons
of rumour, easily forgot,
of why the round Uppers
go directly in the Crop;
and the floods, floating bodies back
—half composed letters
to Death; and Cell phones,
surviving the clothing of the cadavers,
are things I use to laugh about existence

as a ‘Me’, tethered to his shadow,
pinned, at first, the threads
of memory, stitched into his flesh.

I have a carrot, a ear-size dried Otago
apricot, four Californian Date, two
tablespoons of seeds—enough to live
a day on without the body eating muscle.

Souls On The Wind

And when the wind blew

their souls were scattered

to commerce and funds

They learnt here

where the tall grass folds,

in houses black with age

They came to make a life

in fields in a faraway town

Now the cars rush by –

The stays have fallen,

the cupboards are bare

Children wrote on slates,

learnt the sums of life:

save a lot, spend a little

It’s almost all gone;

stolen by neglect, time

Quiet as you step in:

you will awaken the past

 

care of the river

care of the river
to my paternal grandmother Edith Lilian Bagge nee Von Sturmer,
died 13 June 1923, buried Aromoho Cemetry, Wanganui

you rest
over the road
from the river
at least
your name rests
there the simplest
telling of any life
the name we sign
the best the worst
of our doings with
right to that final
peace of stone

in looking for
your plot
you turned my head
firmly towards the place
i didn’t even have to
count along the row
it was almost evening
and you rained a little
as i stepped up to
your grave and read
the starkest ending
of any life
its date
recalled the family
mystery i never paid
heed to until this
lateness of day under
cloud, that the day
after you left this
sea and river town
my mother was born
the woman whom
one of your sons
would take as wife
an arrangement
so neat in its way
a dovetail joint
in time no fuss at all
just like this evening
and the simple telling
of the stone
just like
i imagine
you wanted life:
no fuss

we leave you
in keep of the river
that took your pain
your resigned silences
all those years ago

i shall write you
again care of
the river

january 2018
Wanganui

end

Who gets to write the end line

in our poem; to lie, at last,

suck their wine by the pool

when all the chores are done?

 

No-one sees the masterpiece

hung but you kneel dutifully

to swallow bread. Like a girl

or a good boy should.

everything in this room is how i want it

i’m content to do nothing

substantial. it’s better to chew

my fingers, use a torn nail as floss

than submit to the dross of

sharing my day with you.

 

*

flies listen to me, are in tune with my

vibe; the mood (i’m in) to

kill descends suddenly,

& shut

the

fuck up

&

lay still lest you die.

 

this one fly

flew round the room

a good few times

before i drew my sword. at

 

that it sat still,

 

so i let it go.

The Man Who Lost His Mind

His house was small,

a wooden affair

His front door greeted the nor-west;

the wind at the portal washed his face of care

It was rarely opened

He preferred the small side entrance,

past a little table and dying geraniums

When friends called  (and that was rare)

he would be in the garden,

walking around and up and down;

past the vegetable garden he was going to put in;

the blazes of colour in the little undug beds

Sometimes, it was all too much; the idea

that a retired man should do too much

So he pottered: in the shed and out;

around the back and the front

Sometimes he sat is his car

or watched the wind rattle the poplars at the foot of the hill

Then he was gone

He went to town for a better life

It was on those grey streets, before he noticed,

his mind fled to the hills