Trembling across sky’s cream-dress train,
appears the arc of rainbow’s membrane,
then sun’s burst-through flame
kindles colour from overcast;
and a hawk shifts back to the river,
where a hillside has slid down a gorge,
as the river scrubs round it with a surge,
in mocking glub-glub cataract past
a wet-gold bloom of gorse and broom,
half-echoed by bellbird’s syrupy call,
beyond clumped kidney ferns slick
in iridescence from the late squall;
while on dark earth’s mudcake,
toy-like, a yellow bulldozer squats,
by rimu pit-sawn weatherboards stacked
inside a tin shed camouflaged with rust,
the greasy teeth of a chainsaw
also there, trickled with orange sawdust,
and all around a panorama
of muscular, jostling hills,
under the authority of upthrust crags,
draped with pine forest,
as the switchback road twitches
on hairpins for a timber treatment plant;
and the flare of the sun
glimmers on the river slanted in its chasm,
as if probing for incandescence,
as flow half back-turns, then forward gleams,
ripples like numerals of surplus rolling coastwards
and is squizzed at by satellite lenses,
a rivering witness-ribbon of currency,
rubbing elbows with pulp and paper,
toothpicks and matchwood;
so night engulfs each good pozzie,
beneath pinched heaven’s pot of gold,
and extinguished bird chorus.
The funambulist’s on a tightrope of signs
above all the lands sewn with landmines,
stepping towards an horizon of reckoning.
Have a good war, Juno shouts, you and your kind,
to the sugar power of overeaters anonymous,
while body liberation becomes green democracy,
sold in squiggles and doodles of dataflow
as an outsourced empty-of-content brand
for wilful coalitions of the duped, who’re
subject to weepings at detox sessions
by her alchemy of glut, of insectoid mass,
and Saturn’s men abseil from amen corner,
from bully pulpits, through the hole in the wall
that leads to banks of state: banks, those suspect
teeth sunk foundering on pulp complexes
of an oxygen-infused global community,
those haircuts by children given amidst myths.
And Vulcan vanishes from the funeral process,
to float on waves flooding factories, where souls
grind out salvation that explodes in sparkles,
lighting cities, whose glands are tumours
on top of non-stop gigantic growth spurts,
as maddened seas bow to lunar attractions,
and deadly virtues snake through cyberswamps.
Aphrodite comes down off her high horse
named Umbrageous Pulchitrude, of course,
to turn into a contractual obligation skinny,
pinging gold on the beauty meter, though her
Echo’s out-of-synch with the in-crowd as ever.
The lone eye of Cyclops blazes, a blue planet
on fire: watch his shanghaied stone head,
for armless it will body forth and re-arm.
So stop your dizzy music, Mars, in galaxies,
stop, amid crucifixes your golgotha of skulls,
your empires, burst sputniks, shark culls —
the Statue of Liberty shrouded in a bodybag,
in a pollution suit, singing the rag mama rag
of depleted uranium, of unobtainium.
Neptune the whistleblower gets obliterated
by the miracle of oil slicks on the internet,
by the honest brokers of the turbo-market,
by psychotherapists hotwired to their debt,
by dead gods, who ascend, as dog days howl
and the Infinite Toystore waits out the End.
… drive thy camels speedily in their direction …
The exquisite corpse of the dreaming poet
is shipped to France in a wooden kimono
partitioned with dishdasha fabric, with juju,
with hoodoo, with flavour of red cordial,
than which no hubble-bubble could be sweeter.
Ah, quill-sharpener! Spear carrier! Delivering
a beautiful javelin throw through the chest,
odours of hair products wafting in your yard,
tinfoil on the windows, so that smackdown
at grey paintstripper dawn for Tourette’s
syndrome charmers, throats thick with glitter
after all those tennis court oaths, might be
a little less scrapmetal, more a jangled fanatical
pilgrimage to junkyards of tossed glow-
stick lyricism and trickled poteen elixirs.
Remember Hitachi, Yamaha, Sony, Suzuki;
the abracadabra of authentic Somali pirates;
sips of sherbert in recesses of a Dubai souk
that shields a sheik away from blowtorch
breath of ships of the desert; and a din of
Turkmenistan carpet vendors in Ashgabat
bazaar; throat singers’ melismas in Ulaan
Bataar; the silent obelisks of Axum;
prophetic seal meat in Nuuk; the smile ripe
as Papeete mangos on a street in Linwood?
These shredding 1001 dreams you must have
before you wake tell you the poem is all; as
by a vortex, everything’s engulfed by the poem,
until in and of each thing — in time, in time —
clarinet, perfume bottle, yacht, the tangerine
you squeeze, how you’re put on hold, digital
smears across the accused, ways to stay alive,
to jig or jive, speak in celestial tongues, or
run off at the mouth, is just word jazz, right?
Oh, syncopate, you skid row skidders, you
stumblebums, you down-and-out park bench
beat poets on easy street, thinking of ways
to profit from an end-of-lifetime clearance.
Don’t be a chumposaurus, busting your chops;
be a stand-up guy in primeval swampland,
prime resident at that aforementioned dawn,
the last man standing in a line-up for the firing
squad, who suddenly finds he is a jumbotron
clown in a sentence queuing at a full stop,
watching a little guy called Elf, caught on a shelf,
waving a pitchfork and a warm bottle of tequila.
You want a hex with that mojo, or a symphony
of self-assembling furniture?
I bask in the glow of your burning cookbooks.
The brainwaves of your thought-crime capsize
my oil tanker complex.
What’s your god? Get it straight. Your eyes
interact with the blur of seek and destroy.
Your message to calm a tuning fork,
your memory of loyalty to graffiti,
your half-baked sneakers —
pull the pin on bubblegum.
The Opening of Toi o Tāmaki Refurbished, 3 September 2011
Each crinkle of scoped sky’s plunge to earth yawns.
The thousand distractions a mind is heir to, blink;
inmost heart’s wellspring is stained with pollen,
or piss, as mountaineers pick their way up stairs
of villas down hillsides, churches raised on clouds;
every prospect pleases and only man is vile,
caught by revolving doors of Toi o Tāmaki:
crypts for agoraphobics, stuffed with art,
vampire grottos behind sheer glass on Albert Park,
as bumble-footed, wall-eyed ones with hands
that want to wander, but must not touch, join
squirmers, my kid-could-do-that’s, the head-cocked.
Crowd spins like a rugby ball, stops in a hurry:
messengers flying lights down Queen Street’s gully.