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Owen Bullock
New Zealand

crossed cultures - special issue
Settlers I

The river

the river is larger than the sea

its grains of sand
landscapes of friction

stones bidden

you can’t hold on to sand, rock and weed
choked in the bubbles of a new throat

the bend is where you lose it
keys, money, terms & conditions
all gone like death

the river triple-bypasses through the heartland
and the feet of the mountains,
guts the factory like change of trade

do you plunge for the hills,
pan gold before the stream
becomes a monster,
or escape with the compatriot
of one . . .

The mountain

with elevation
become the alpine

two species
mountain ringlets
ankle through grass
where frost licks
above rotting sedge

slither on mud
take sandwiches, a field glass
for far seeing

bring the ocean nearer

settler woman

“older is lucky”
says the Chinese woman

family, marriage -
the darkness comes in

its purpose
that we should not forget

the space between

Settler II

English hills
work out their curse

they haven’t got hot,
dirty or dusted . . .

are there no colours in New Zealand
no tapis, cloth

are you embarrassed?
for long?

the river opened
the land that’s lost
cleared out
made antique

bush or river
take and
lose form
one house alone harks
the binding tool
then piano redundant

tears in his eyes
the muscular grandfather
who loved his wife

‘memories of the blood' - Louisa Baker

caught in cells
from which
they do not wish
to escape

they are resident
silent, forgotten
their conditions degrade
nonetheless they are free

to stagger under the sub-way
from the weight of fumes
to toss their hair on cliff-tops,
from sub-station walls . . .

there’s no interchange
no transfusion
blood will in

memories don’t know you
only themselves
you stop influencing them
if you do

they bleed backwards
closing the wound


10 days of awe

before at-one-ment

Pass over
from slavery

ten plagues
& no bread -
a commandment
from circumstance

blood of the lamb

the Lord is one

the scroll
on the doorpost

the form
to take

Featured Artist Fiona Holding
Owen Bullock writes scripts as well as poems and haiku.
He is Associate editor of Poetry NZ and co-editor of Kokako.