Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Tuesday Poem: "Triptych: Hope, Bond, Loss"

A flower opens in the dawn.

Drink the dew,
dispel the night,
feel the warming of a new light.
We go under different names,
but only one sun warms us.
The rainbow is but the refraction
of pure white light.

You are awash in me,
that singing sea
that gives me beauty without artifice,
forgiveness without guilt
and love without qualification.

One day
while beachcombing
I will come upon a magnificent conch
and putting it to my ear
I will hear your voice
calling me through the honey of history.
Then an urge will seize me
and putting the conch to my lips
I will sound a single sad note
to carry the stream of my tears
across the ocean.

The poet wishes to acknowledge Valley Micropress in whose pages this poem first appeared.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Tuesday Poem: "Kissing the Cobra"

(For Marg and Laurice, snake charmers extraordinaire)
Like the Burmese priestess
kissing the cobra
I must never take my eyes off
that steely, staring, coal-black serpent eye
Iest the fangs swaying in that unborn smile
in the split-second
that contains my salvation or my undoing.
Lips always poised between heaven and hell,
I advance on the servant of knowledge
hooded with an assumed mastery,
that hood branded with Nature's tattoo:
Omega, the end
and that flickering tongue that reads my body
temperature could cut it cold.
Cold as the smooth-bumpy reptilian snout
upon which I lightly lay
the final kiss.

The poet wishes to acknowledge Valley Micropress in whose pages this poem first appeared.

Saturday, 16 October 2010


It is now six weeks since an earthquake measuring 7.1 on the Richter scale hit my home city of  Christchurch.

I was in Auckland working when the earthquake struck so, naturally, I was very worried about the safety of my family who were experiencing this frightening event. I don't know whether it was worse to be going through the earthquake with my family or being separated from them.

It has been a strange time in the aftermath of this natural disaster. All the schools were closed for the first week and then, when I was hoping to re-establish some "normality" in my life, my oldest son got sick for this entire week. Then the whole family got sick in the latter half of this week.

Things have got back to some kind of "normal", but conversations are still peppered with quake talk and many people are in limbo waiting for decisions on their damaged land and homes. Sometimes it feels like a mini-Katrina, but I don't think we've been quite as neglected.

Many lovely old buildings are in ruins, many people have lost their livelihoods, streets are still blocked off in the central city and just when we think it's over, Mother Nature gives us another aftershock as if it say, "Ha, ha, fooled you!"

The aftermath will go on for a very long time I am surmising.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Tuesday Poem: "Headlights"

“Poetry’s for poofters, innit?”
A square jaw
thrustwobbling out of sagging jowls
to menace my airspace.
The first assault,
Saliva hops into my bitter dominion.
Draw breath, draw back
as knuckles whiten
and eyes glaze with a lust
for facial architecture.
“Excuse me, I think I left my car headlights on.”

The poet wishes to acknowledge Valley Micropress in whose pages this poem first appeared.

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Tuesday Poem: "Translation"

In Memory of Guillaume Apollinaire (1880-1918)

Liberte¢, egalite¢, fraternite¢ -
you put your courage where your pen was
and poetry bloomed in Flanders Field
alongside the poppies.
With Owen and Sassoon, you rescued
the soldier-poet from antiquity
and wrought from mud and blood
the words that gave the lie to
The War to End All Wars.
You fell just as the race was nearly run
and France wept copiously to lose a favourite son.

Translation - a flawed art,
but perhaps no more flawed
than any art or, indeed,
any science.
Was it Frost that said:
“What is lost in translation is the poetry”?
Any smith learns the limitations of his materials
yet still he pushes them to breaking point.

Translator of the heart,
you took us to the Zone
where the sacred was profane
and the heavenly mundane.
Only the poet dares to look down
as Christ “ascends beyond the aviators”
because the poet knows that
life is a found object
and in any language the greatest gift
is the silence between the words.

NOTE: The phrase quoted from Zone by Guillaume Apollinaire comes from a new translation by John A. Scott which appeared in Meanjin, Volume 48, Number 4, 1989 Summer.

The poet wishes to acknowledge Valley Micropress in whose pages an alternate version of this poem first appeared.