blackmail press 16
Nancy Rudkin
new zealand
Is she Schizophrenic?

"Is she Schizophrenic?"
"Actually, we call her Sue."

Sue talks at you with gusto
In a torrent of words, tumbling free associations
and obscure references.
If the Avon were the Liffey
She'd be James Joyce on speed!

Now and then the flood of words ceases,
Her eyelids droop and you know
She has retreated to a private place,
Where the door is locked
And no one has the key.

Now she's away again.  The obstacle race is on.
Scraps of quotations, jumbled memories
Weave their way past blockages and barriers
In her brain
Where once the words flowed free.

The fog lifted once. Only once, thank God,
and only for an hour.
I found her with tears streaming down her face.
"I'll never write, Mum.  I'll never paint."

Oh, she's painting again
Her wild, slashing absbstracts
And interm in ably revising the ultimate lyric
Shielded now from the cruel glare of clarity
By a so kind and compassionate fog.

Reluctant Muse

The Greeks knew the muses could be capricious.
My god, they were right!
Mine has got the sulks today,
Haven't you, Muse!
Two cups of tea, three gingernuts, margins crawling
With doodles - and STILL a blank page!

Hold on!  I think I have an idea.
Wasn't it? . . Wasn't it?  Damn!
For a moment I had it - almost had it.  But it ducked and dived
And dissolved.
OH, COME ON MUSE!  You're teasing me now.
Playing your tip-of-the tongue taunting game. 

Mmmm. That's an idea!  Something I thought of ages ago.
Something about . . . Something about . . .
It's teetering on the far fringes of memory.
I can almost SEE the words
Dangling and Dancing just above the page. . . . Gone.  Damn.  Doodles spider round the margins.  No Ideas.

OK Muse, You win this round.
I'll brew up another pot  Two more gingernuts.
Ummmm.  Hey!  What about that great idea I had at 4 am.
I wrote it somewhere . . . .Ah Here it is:
What the heck was I supposed to do with
God knows!

Ah! Now I hear words, I f-e-e-l words.
The most distant tenuous tremour of words
And there's a clamour of ideas - embryonic, but coming, COMING!
Give them birth, Muse!
Give them birth!-
I can see you over there in the corner, Muse!
Hiding behind the bookshelf
Playing Hard to Get!
Oh, go back to Olympus!
I've got a poem to write.

Kumara Revisited.

I remember when the rain came
Pelting down on our iron roof
What a joyous chorus of frogs!
Frogs are silenced now-
I heard just a few desultory croaks
There's a smart new house
Where the frog pond was.

I remember the lunar landscape of tailings
High piled like pyramids
Boulders lugged or barrowed, stories high,
Relics of gold sluicing days,
Hidden from sight now
Overgrown with manuka and bracken.

Overgrown too, the tracks we wandered.
Nothing left of the ruined remains of cottages
Sometimes, even then, just a solitary chimney
Rising above the blackberry and toi-toi.
Gone now.  Not a trace of a house.
Only a few mossy apple trees
And daffodils peeping through bracken.

At the end of the town
The once bustling Empire Hotel,
Seems deserted.
Weary weatherboards
Undulate along sinking foundations.

"Perhaps a suitable emblem now of
The crumbling Empire" you observe.
The Theatre Royal Hotel
Now down at heel Royalty
Reduced to a Backpackers.

Even so, there are signs of progress. 
"Progress? Kumara? A contradiction, surely?" you say
Even so there is a stealthy resurgence.
"Yeah, right.  Deserted sections all over."

Don't you believe it! 
Every one is sold.
Every last one! And city-smart new houses
Mushrooming.  Look there!  And over there!

But not everything changes, thank god.
Here there will always be
On clear winter nights
A brilliant, starry skyscape.

Here there will always be the great
Tourist brochure backdrop of
The Southern Alps.
So enjoy it mate,
While it stretches across your windscreen
As you head back East for your fix of culture.

Nancy (Rud) Rudkin.  I grew up on the West Coast (S.I.) Came across to Chch for Uni and teachers' college and mostly live here.  Busy with art and creative writing. Have an MA Ph.D (U. of Canty., 1992).