WALKING THE DOG
Bid heaven stoop, Lord, and come down to earth:
greywacke and adobe. Adieu à Dieu!
Jets streak Yves Klein's International Blue
with vapour trails. A perspective on birth
is what I imagine from this altitude,
on this kaleidoscopic monochrome
my parents decided to make my home
for the last thirty years. This is a rude
awakening: Presbyterians fought
with Baptists for my soul. Diazepam
and a 747: it seems tame
by comparison, but a sunset ought
to put things in place - but your fingerprints
are everywhere in what has happened since.
Locust (or perhaps cricket) chirps -
not quite melody, meaningless
in fact: fortissimo, it hurts
our ears - it hurts, demeaning us
and our neighbours alike, liquor
our blood - Ecce Homo, low-cost
crucifix or icon. Don't stick your
nose into another's holocaust:
volleys of birdsong ricochet
down Manchester Street, as cars trawl
curb-side for prostitutes. A stray
slug embeds itself in my skull.
It quivers. I'm a nervous wreck,
the insects are all fictional.
I see a Commodore select
its teenaged prey with untrained skill.
Within the embrace of a poem,
goose-bumps dimple pubescent flesh.
Within the confines of a car,
a special someone fulfils my wish
as the street sweeps itself aside.
This was denied by Mallarmé -
now there is nowhere she can hide.
We sleep secure till yesterday.
TOXAEMIA AND THUNDERSTORMS
As Leinster Road exhales exhaust
in unison, a brief respite
from uncharitable weather,
we brace each other for the worst,
for what seems the worst - overnight
stays in Christchurch Women's, where her
low blood pressure can be improved,
the babies' heartbeats monitored.
The heavens open. Toxaemia
reduces us to tears. We have loved
and will love no more than this. No more
now seems beyond the pale. We are
in a private courtyard. The rain
rekindles soppiness and much
more besides - if I am erect,
and no doubt I am, I contain
myself within myself and touch
her in the way I would expect
she'd feel to be appropriate.
Guttural spurts of thunder shake
us in the wake of lightening. Her womb
contracts. Neither early nor late,
now's the time. Now's the time to take
someone with whom I've made a home
to a disinfected hospital.
With time to spare, my Celepram
puts my mind at ease. If the twins
are fine, then so are we. It's all
we care about. The cot and pram
are safe at home. Then the room spins.
You and I took
a chance on it,
hoped it would work
our patent lack
of expertise -
so when it broke,
we weren't surprised:
the thing itself,
sat on your self
until some verb
or an other
on it: anger
its parts into
pattern. You stuck
the pieces back
you couldn't make
them fit - no doubt
no fault of your
own, but the thing
was now a poor
nothing like its
And now it sits
back on your self,
that a raised fist
is nothing new.
And you insist
that our thing has
become what is -
but what'd been was
nothing like this.
THE CRIPPLED DETECTIVE
The mechanical purr
of a wheelchair,
an electric motor
to get from A to B,
reminds me of
Iron-side of TV
fame. I had loved
the crippled detective's
as a child: people's lives
somehow passed him
by in a flash. I walk
beside her wheels.
Uncomfortably, we talk
of how it feels
to be different. A lot's
changed. Even so,
she still can't tell me what
I need to know.
As abstract nouns become concrete
when experienced as discrete
bodily sensations, as we create
our own reality, as pulse-rates
register distress, as our thoughts
manifest in physical states;
as, in the darkness, a fern-frond
unfurls in the moist shadow-ground
of the forest-floor, where we're found
half-naked squatting in the bush,
faces screwed-up with every push,
our guts wrung dry into a ditch;
as I, in our each and every dark,
take-up a stick and make my mark.
MY BODY DOES NOT BURN
My body does
not burn for you.
It is cold - yet
warmth, a soft-blue
heat that burns clean
as virgin coal,
your skin. My role
in all this is
attend to you,
maintain the fire
that heats me through,
your flames fuelled with
and newspaper -
the part I play
is to feed your
Now, my frosted
our room ghosted
but for the hearth
and you and I,
offers its heat -
The chill in me
required you burn,
as, sitting here
warmed by the glow
of your embers,
I melt like snow.
I UNDERSTAND YOU LIKE A TREE
Look at me - LOOK AT ME! I'm dressed to kill
all that which falls within my circumference.
Without knowing, I exist purely by chance.
And the precise measurements of my circle
escape me. Deciduous fidelities
flutter down from my limbs. I watch them curl
and crinkle in unconscionable heat, still
and unmoved. Even when last winter's freeze
upset my equilibrium, as plants
died while people flourished, as disease
spread, as thermometers registered degrees
of pain, I stood firm. And if heaven grants
you anything, it is to be as we
have been. I understand you like a tree.
THE DEATH OF AN ENGINEER
My Grandpa was an Engineer:
a builder of bridges and tunnels,
a freemason and a family-man,
a man for whom his work was done
without complaint for someone else.
Days into months, months into years,
he revelled in his honest toil
long after his children had left
home, but soon after his wife died
he found it difficult to hide
his lack of interest. His wife's deft
hand in the kitchen (she would spoil
him when he stumbled home from work
pissed after 6, yet still polite
enough to ask) served every whim
and want. It had been left to him
to feed himself. He spent his nights
in the kitchen. Walks in the park,
odd visits to the RSA:
aside from that, he'd no idea
of what he should do with himself.
Retirement and worsening health
went hand in hand. An Engineer
without a job - one more today
must have seemed like one more too many.
He ran himself a tepid bath
and stayed in the Coromandel.
2 weeks passed before my uncle
found the body. He looked like death.
Hugh Fletcher had sold his company.
If charity does not extend
to all, (a helping hand without
is a 'hand-up not a hand-out')
circumstance moves towards an end
in which we have been implicated
by default: even so, graffiti,
political or otherwise, I
now consider to be outdated
if compared to the Locust songs
which once amazed the startled flocks
at ease with ancient paradox
that foreign policy prolongs
at the adulterous expense
of less sceptical seraphim.
Effete behind an electric fence,
he parades his stock. I see him
electronically, dividing sheep
deftly from our martyred goats,
dragging the horned ones by their throats,
piling carcasses in a heap.
A spray-can emits noxious fumes,
squirting slogans onto the walls
that stand upright in urban sprawls:
sequestered in our living rooms
safe from harms way, every city
can seem the same. Dividing south
from north, the Beast opens his mouth
and spits-out one word: CHARITY
AT ST THOMAS CATHOLIC SCHOOL
I think of you and Egon Schiele
transferring into the library
of puppetry -
I wonder where you are
now. I'm just helping a friend
the disbelief of technocrats
on invisible wires
and video (that's
his job!). As dishevelled choirs
of catholic schoolboys carry from
next-door, the Pieta which I
noticed on the way in
insists on my
attention. Without sin
and Joseph, Mary holds her son
last time. Lurid yellow and blue
slivers of glass capture
the scene. And you
know what comes next. If your
love of calligraphy and Der Brüke
a man's heart or this windowpane,
I suspect you'd never
repair your pain
with art. Not now. Not ever.
Jason's slipped a disc in his back.
Punch and Judy into my car,
still thinking about our
friend Christ: you are
both too close and yet too far.
A SONNET FOR CHRISTMAS
As black-shirts storm the steps of parliament
(elders poorly dressed in expensive suits
linked arm-in-arm with muscular recruits)
disenfranchised as sheep for goats, we vent
spleen to exercise good will: heaven-sent
or stuffed with newspaper, elected brutes
forthrightly geld the godly mob as hoots
of glee and jeers of joy thrill the innocent.
My pharmacist's calendar indicates
Christmas is round the corner. In Texas
absolutely everyone will celebrate
the birthday of Christ. In Palestine, as
England shivers, his season came too late.
In New Zealand we celebrate Christmas.