Belief in the Pacific
Yes, night’s nowhere, that’s where I sleep,
till the sun wakes, stretches, begins to burn,
greeting me when my dazzled eyelids leap.
Sunday’s hymns laze on a blue horizon.
Cloud feathers like white sand as ants seethe
across wide leaves, across yellow fronds’ weave;
and coconut trees vault green to the sky’s
clang of church bells.
his Bible, thumbs gilt like a hitchhiker,
smooth brow filled with calm lagoon light,
though engine drone drowns surf’s slow sigh.
From sleep’s hurricane my mind heaves
forth island maps, and I’m this wind-drifter
on a frayed mat, dreaming of a comeback.
The plane dreams across lumpy kapok
to follow the crease-marks of the atlas
over horizons where outer islands
rise amongst dolphins, humpback whales.
Islands there, pulsing with breadfruit sap,
unwrap mats from coconut cordage.
The flukes and tails of those islands thwack,
then shimmer back in ocean spray.
Outer islands beneath trade winds sail,
showered in storms of frangipani stars.
Untamed sea horses escort them through
nights maned in swirls of dark rum,
and garlands of surf decorate them.
Days, lit up with guava fragrance, bud
into banyan roots, flowers of wild banana,
candlenut trees, sweet mango’s sacrament.
Only now does the smudge of the Great Wall
of China café burning become visible.
Only now do rusty freighters and fleets
begin to leak as if they cannot stop,
and the jelly-green glass wobble with tadpoles
that strain to break into toads the size of trucks.
The sky drains its kava bowl, the sea chucks
up a tsunami of canned Pacificana,
and a jack-in-the-box is surfacing
amid shoals, reefs, sands, as a sign:
a drowned volcano risen on a raft
of birthstones loosened from the globe’s grip.
A scorched cinder cone, it climbs and shines.
It might herald the re-entry of Christ
into the Pacific, or a radioactive atoll,
ringing like an alarm clock for the end of time.
Weapons of Mass Deception, March 2003
The destabilising delivery system throw-weight,
the on-board map-guidance system techno-creep,
the general-dynamic, press-the-flesh, blast yield,
the Minuteman’s foot-print on a window of
the super-hard target break-out of cosmetic warfare,
bearing the oily fingers of Uncle Sam-the-Man,
backed up by echelons of chest-beating mini-
and those incredible hulks of Americana
who are number one in Texas and Florida,
as, behind double rows of junk microphones
and dictation machines, those good-old-boy
world-eaters, world-beaters, world-leaders
announce the triumphant new-season-release
of warehouses of robotic, President-endorsed,
trigger-happy-trillionaire, rodeo-clown robots
of the free-quote-unquote world, meaning
the Global-Multi-Death-Corporation time-bomb,
that is War-o-graphic Terminal Industries Unlimited,
growing new harvests of missiles to be delivered
by blood-spangled peace-keepers of lethal efficiency,
operating with absolute zero visibility,
displaying total moral power without credibility —
Roll back from the shotgun mike held waist-high,
zoom away from the closed-up surveillance eye,
the big-bang lock-down which goes up-and-down
to every level of person found,
keeping it all dead level, dead level, dead level —
such those militant gate-keepers of lethal efficiency,
such moral power running on empty
and using the shapes of missiles to suppress or impress…
Those grievous oily fingers will sift the ashes of flags —
the ashes of flags, the ashes of flags.
Varieties of Religious Experience
Amidst crowd hiss from the deflated globe,
enter world eaters, led by a psychic robed.
Beards of prophets shaved, binned and biffed;
Christ between skyscrapers is crucified.
Where deserts only grow missile silos,
sandstorm devils test the fatigue of faces.
Ghettoised gods go out on the ebb tide,
as colonised hulks under rust subside.
Saint Frappuccino, New Renaissance Man,
takes book club groups round the Holy Land.
Jog-trot militias surround camera crews
in muscle-flexed postures of twisted irony.
Dominoes fall and raise panic of nations;
microphones launch funeral orations.
Thunderstorms of land mines dig up mass graves,
as Google tells Google that Google saves.
All Armageddon replicas are logged;
all ends by disaster movies are clogged.
Empty thought balloons float over dunes:
Zen daydreams of a zillion hopeful sperm.
Some new planet finds the solar plexus centre,
its ocean arcs traced by an astronaut’s finger.
Visions of Michael Joseph Savage
Old centennial parades gather forest weight,
roll out settler floats, as dream code talkers
once climbed from migrant ships, their mouths
spawning a God who cracked open earth and ate.
The land rush was thunder cracking open heads
of the tapu; tracts were slipped into ledgers of debt:
cargo cult pinnacles of a small green archipelago.
Diggers humped swags; prospectors rode horseback;
dairy herds tarantella’d through the Taranaki gate.
Now it’s pig-stick martyrs in tartan bush-shirts;
axe-masters nailing light that nicks chain-saws;
tv show homesteaders who can communicate.
Taste of gumboot tea; sounds of coconut wireless;
baches bodged and poozled out of iceblock sticks;
enough pine trees to keep the Japanese in chopsticks.
Savage didn’t foretell it, but to contemplate
his photo over a dozen stubbies is not to glimpse
a glorified mickey-taker smiling like the Pope,
but rather — not seen since Seddon — a visionary.
Pioneer hands, squeezing bagpipes of udders,
or streaked by greasy wool lanolins, helped hinge (on
pintles) gates to the nation, while ladies bring a plate
was phased out by nouveau kiwifruit chefs
garnishing cuisines of orange roughy with saffron.
January used to be dry with soft, threshing grass;
across sunny canvas, chestnuts from shanghais flew;
lofty attitudes by windy platitudes were marked.
Each mountain then, an altar-table uplifted
over half-pints of school milk in a metal crate.
Those out took it on the chin; and embarrassment
was too many tea coupons, or else butterpats,
as, in honeyed memories of summer limbs,
one lolled or gambolled, followed a calling,
threw a sickie, or teased a go-kart into life,
watched a stubby Bristol Freighter carry its weight:
all the believers who sailed in Captain Cook’s wake.
Now mellow whisky drinkers charge glasses;
now a free-range chill wind blows above
the high tide margin of seabed and foreshore,
beachside’s whip-crack towel and spilled lotion.
Codgers praise New Happyland with cries of: oh, mate!
Yes, Pukeko clowns troop in, upstage the Kea Party.
So korero Maori to the tamariki, to the kids,
to the hundred alpine kiwi calling by moonlight.
And a hoha to the iwi by the fireside, the beacons.
When the pounamu harvest that’s in flax baskets bulges,
a kapa haka for colonial warhorses led to their fate.