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    The Sky




    Somewhere between the upthrust land and the press of the sky

    A thin wind unrolled and licked the bone earth;

    the air turned bruise-black and rolled and kicked

    until it was engorged with coldness and fury;

    it could do nothing but arch and boil and swell

    then shouldered its way between the bosom of the land – came forward as a new world, beaten and black and ready to fight,

    its shadow changed the earth and its colour and it spat rain that danced:

    then came claps and roars and we did not know whether to run

    or throw up our hands; so we watched as it fled west,

    a swollen black unburdening rampart





    She begins, as we all do,
    a pouring forth, a rage of cold-eye blue.
    Canny ancestors smile and wink,
    knowing that the river’s tumult will be forced to rest
    into spreading lake by Dunstan.
    Then pent up again at Roxburgh.
    But no feat of engineering will tame a mother
    when the heart breaks.

    At Kaitangata
    where treasure and secrets are buried deep.
    lean over the bank.
    Scoop the little dream-bird from the water.
    With ease she flies
    over Nugget Point and
    out to sea.


    A Simple Wish


    the stem of her glass

    a luminous, vertical arc

    much the same as the line

    that sweeps, glides

    leads this lesser god

    to another Calvary

     I trace, follow

    from heel to shoulder

    a river song (a child hears)

    where the willow bends

    and desire streams

    don’t doubt it mate

    just as the song is the thing

    so too her  complexion

    complex, unfathomable

    of lascivious disposition

    though still in first bloom

    primavera – rites of spring

    will invite the tide

    give rise to indigo

    is there anything more blue

    than this place ?

    her glass – my drowning wish

    to drink from the sponge

    but Christ the river’s dry

    ©Orion Foote, June ,2016

    some other time

    Was there a time

    the lips met

    a minute before

    the glass was knocked

    and the blood wine

    gushed? Today


    is dry; a faint

    mark remains,

    but the sentiment

    is dead, from the waist

    down. The flag-stones

    now bare were


    coveted by feet

    that knocked about,

    heels that dug the rose

    bed and the plush

    bed-side rug.


    ∞ My tale is in the telling, not the closing ∞

    Roger Smith

    Ink that writes upon my mind, what might I find?

    Beneath oceans where blue holds me in
    Drawing the causeway down to shadows black
    Across paths made anew
    Rising from the waves like a plastic bag
    Happy to find a mad sun shouting in my face

    Dreams and stories cross collide; they co-inside

    Meeting with what was and what I dare not imagine
    The surface of water confused by my reflection
    A slight infection?
    And though the waves once raced to greet me
    They now run away

    Dragon eggs in strange locations… my fascination

    Here my own virus rears its head
    Or is it only in those other eyes I feel misplaced?
    My destination lies on the hills
    To leap green pastures upon scaly wings
    Flames and calls to the unfamiliar

    Good and evil imagine nations, I must have patience

    No fear of losing what lies before
    Armed to the teeth these mass formations
    Riot amongst their own
    Yet after all they are my creations!
    Set the sun and rise another morn

    8/6/16 © Copyright R Smith 2016

    (The first line of each of these four parts originally made one lyrical verse. This felt like I had done it too many times before, yet when I broke it up into four pieces it began to tell my story…)

    Jesus Fallen

    In the painting the man has a gun

    and he is on a rumpled bed and, above,

    a statue of Jesus is suspended upside down.

    What are we to think?

    That the man has lost faith?

    In himself – in life – in his god?

    Some were frightened, the curator said.

    Not by art, surely –

    But perhaps they saw themselves in that man;

    saw an element of torture and loss; or a man

    preparing to challenge a villain, or a man

    looking for himself and finding nothing.

    Perhaps they saw nothing: just a man

    on a bed holding a pistol, as men do

    Let Pylons be Pylons

    Incensed by their utilitarian
    blot on the landscape
    you are. Towers.
    Linking arms and
    buzzing with deathly potential.
    Watch them march all over
    your slumped velvety couch
    upturned tired armchairs
    The hills you call home
    Follow them if you want
    They know how to do
    an honest day’s march
    Cook Strait, Grenada,
    Transmission Gully
    in the most direct route
    Then go home and
    turn on the light.

    If My Words Were Water

    If my words were water
    You would drown in meaning
    When I said “I love you”

    The inner secret
    That’s never born

    Shifting sands of dreams
    The zodiacs cross the planet
    Each house moves same like
    The way we cog and gear
    Upon our shoulders we bear

    The voice of your eyes
    More blue than any ocean
    Not even rain has any colour
    As deep blue as your eyes

    I would walk lucent
    Wavering through any Forrest
    With you at my side.

    21 March 2014

    passing it on

    passing it on
                   for Claudia

      to the mother

    your cross
    never knew
    its story
    you’d wear
    it with your
    blazer at
    a rare
    at a restaurant
    mostly it
    kept to itself
    in the case
    lined with
    red felt
    getting an
    outing again
    your daughter
    in-law close
    enough to
    a daughter
    you said
    is wearing
    it this day
    in church
    the cross
    that made

       to the daughter-in-law

    she was
    always far
    and near
    as you
    get by
    careful of
    what a
    could say
    should say
    tried to
    keep it
    at any rate
    down to
    earth helping
    out in the
    kitchen those
    times you were
    together like
    the grand-daughter’s
    wedding where
    she took the
    honours for
    having come
    to attend
    no-one else
    knew the son
    you married
    as you two
    yet all the
    talk she could
    muster would
    still never
    figure him out
    for either
    of you
    a man truly
    out on a limb
    of his own
    as many
    of us are
    so be it
    you wear her
    cross as
    mothers do
    in touching it

    24 december 2013





    the wind gallops from the hills

    so that the trees in its path bow at the waist;

    it is eternal supplication



    the river runs cold in a gut and hugs a hill

    from which the bush comes down to drink,

    and it dips into water so clean it runs like oil



    there is a stout house of a low terrace, its windows

    pressed to the view, and tussocks roll in the wind,

    and people listen and watch and think:

    this is fine place, with wind and water and

    views to damn the eyes

    The Book

    The paper curls
    It’s edges drenched by sunlight
    Certified chaos across the pages
    Without the luxury of leaving
    The pen strikes
    Thoughts transcribed
    An echo in such little space
    Watched on from
    The watchtower of repent
    The stain of the pages
    Strains the words
    Cast across
    To walk Main Street
    An opaque dream.

    What is not seen

    Isn’t it funny, sometimes, that you see what is not there;

    funny how the eye picks up the expression, the smile

    yet also sees the beginning of loss; that that someone

    is not looking at you but past you – to something – or someone

    that you do not want to think about, but you do.

    You see them in the sun and warming each other in winter.

    Hesitation, the averted eye, but it adds up.

    Or so you imagine.

    And it is a watery sun in winter: there, just enough to warm your fears.

    Then it crawls to the back of your head and begins to tap.

    And that, really, is where the end starts

    Yes No