Mark Young
New Zealand

Born Hokitika, 1941. First poems published in the NZ Listener in 1959. Published widely both in New Zealand & Australia through the sixties & first half of the seventies, but then drifted away from writing.
A request for permission to include my work in the anthology Big Smoke: New Zealand Poems, 1960-1975  prompted me to start looking at it again. Out of this has come The right foot of the giant, a selection of poems published by Bumper Books in 1999, & the initial stimulus to start writing once more.
Recent work has appeared in Jacket, brief, Poetry NZ, Another Sun & is to appear in sidereality & Big Bridge early next year.
Have lived in Sydney since December 1969.
WITH BASHO ON THE FRONT PORCH                                                                        furuike ya
                                                                                                              kawazu tobikonu
                                                                                                              mizu no oto
                                                                                                              Basho Mitsuo
Light rain, & the sounds that come
with it. Drops leaking from leaf to leaf
or sizzling on the high voltage lines that run
behind the house. Chordal structure of two
tones of cicada noise above the deeper
sound that is rainwater trickling into a
drain across the road. A single frog.

"Pumpkins" he said. " I'd have to include
something like that since it's autumn, &
seasonal ciphers are expected of a haijin,
a haiku poet like myself. & even these
simple events that now surround us have
a continuity I am not allowed - unless, of
course, I'm writing with someone else,
trading verses back & forth like in that poem
by Gregory Corso about poets hitchhiking
on the highway. Hokku, haikai, haiku --
they're all the same with their restrictions &
constrictions. I've turned into an incidental
poet, have become a travel writer who
uses poems instead of photographs."

A pause as he lit the cigarette I'd given him.
"Each time I put brush to paper I am
confronted by that old head / heart
conundrum. The head knows how to use
one or two lines to sketch the surroundings,
then puncture them with an observation
that occurs at right angles to everything
else around. It's the Zen thing, the A-ha
effect; & I am good at it & comfortable
with both form & style. But the heart
still dreams of poems that have no
formal structure, that are / full of music, that
burst forth with the energy of the down pour
that came through here an hour ago."

Then he laughed." Enough of this fanciful
talk. I'd better go & judge that haiku
competition that brought me over here
in he first place." & set off down the path,
moving quietly, without disturbing anything.

                              The frog croaks again
                              Staff in the traveler's hand
                              mizu no oto

                              The sound of water


I lie on my side on the examination
couch, left arm stretched upwards,
a mirror image of the Statue of Liberty
but without her drapes & torch. Instead
I am covered with electrodes, attached
to various portions of my upper torso.
By straining my neck slightly I can
watch the monitor; &, as the nurse
moves the greased roller ball across
my chest, I see the valves of my heart
opening & closing, opening & closing,
like kissing fish. Then the ECG kicks
in. It becomes a multimedia show,
sound waves displayed across the
bottom of the screen like subtitles to a
foreign movie & a solid bass line that
tells me I am well enough to dance to it.


came so easily I could not wait
to start / the poem. & yet,
ironically, it was this eagerness
to get on with it that made the
starting difficult. I thought I knew
the journey, knew how the
poem would shape & show
itself. Instead found almost nothing,
a few pieces of past so brittle
that they crumbled as the mind
alighted on them. & in this absence
of obvious landmarks realised
that most of our life is not
momentous, is instead made up
of a series of minor moments that dart
back & forth between each other,
underpinning & overlaying, being
added to until each series achieves
a momentum of its own, a thread
worn smooth by time where I,
impatient, had hoped to find a
knotted cord, a message stick..