Ron Riddell
New Zealand

Ron Riddell is a writer and peace-worker. In recent years, he has been travelling and working in Latin America. Riddell has performed in a number of countries, including Chile and Colombia, where his latest books, El Milagro de Medellin y otros poemas and Spirit Songs were published in bi-lingual editions (English and Spanish). He has also been involved in a number of peace and cultural initiatives in Colombia, Chile, U.S.A. and New Zealand. In Auckland Riddell established a haven for poets with the Live Poets’ Café which adjoined the Dead Poets Bookshop in Karangahape Road. He has published 14 collections of verse. At present, he lives in Wellington, where with his wife Saray Torres, he directs The Wellington International Poetry Festival.
Prayer Flag
for John & Bianca

The day gives up
a nameless flag
fluttering over
the roof-tops

I stand, a moment
in voiceless wonder
I kneel and give
an unseen bow

I stand and still
at break of day
I stand and still
the wind at play

A Tribute to Sylvia Plath & Ted Hughes
(after watching the film, Sylvia)

You hurt me so much
I cannot begin to say
where it hurts, how it hurts
nor why it is this way.

Who are you, really?
And what do you want of me?
These are questions I would
like one day to quit.

I’ll take off my mask
you take off your gown;
your hawk-eye and wolfish hood
boar’s tooth and shaman’s frown.

You hurt me so much
you cannot begin to know.
Instead you declare,
how much you care

and cannot bear to see me go.
Strange, that today you leave
your shadow behind and dance
with me naked, like the first time.

Dressing You
for Saray

I would dress you in flowers.
I would dress you in kisses.

I would dress you in kindness
I would dress you in dreams.

I would cover you from head to toe
in cream-white linen,

scented by sea-salt, river stones
from the Caribbean.

I would dress you in rainbows,
feather-down and shells.

I would have a hundred butterflies
Bring you sacred spells.

I would have a hundred larks
come sing at your door.

I would undress you, to address you
and never want for more.

Short Ode to a Kiwifruit

O kiwifruit, kiwiberry
green fruit of the vine
gold fruit of my line
you belong to my iwi!

O furry hemisphere of seed
and succulent juices
fed by fat raindrops
and ripened by the sea

you are the perfect topping
to any baked occasion
to puddings, pavlovas
cream-caked & mocha-chocolatéd

you are the after-dinner
crème-du-menthe supreme
serving up the winning
golden kiwi dream

O pacific paragon
I cut you to the quick
I savour your kernel
and thrust it to my lips

I drink your green milk
your rivers running free
your earth, my earth
my sun and my sea.