Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Tuesday Poem: "Calling in the Markers"

like the aftermath of a motor accident,
I replay my actions.
“If I hadn’t...”
“Perhaps I should have...”
“Why did I do...”
“What could I have...”
Trying to heal,
the child inside, fumbling the emotional Lego,
acting in haste?
The lessons are salutary
when conducting open-heart surgery.

Do you value what and who you are so little
that you suspect my powers of discernment?

I promised no harvest
but was hopeful of the seed.
You reclaim the farm
now that my intuition is drought-broken,
foreclose on my feelings
so fast
it steals my breath away.

Not so stupid I can’t feel the Judas kiss
at the foot of my stairs.
Red wine served on Death Row,
the condemned allowed one last breathtaking vista
before you throw that switch.
I don’t feel “awesome” when the flick comes.

Perhaps you are right about the spark.
Perhaps it springs fully-formed into life
and cannot grow like fire
coaxed and blown by a caring tender.
Instant gratification
not patient application
more becomes the 90s.

Logic is on your side
when you call in your markers
so I try to leave with dignity intact,
adopting an aloof masque
to hide the shabby, threadbare heart
of a gambler
bankrupt of hope.

Haven't we all had one of these? If you haven't consider yourself lucky. Enough said.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Tuesday Poem: "The Zeitgeist is for White Guys"

“Ain’t no Vietcong ever called me ‘nigger’” – Muhammad Ali

The whiteys are whining at the pumps
Frankly, Scarlett, I do give a damn
that it’s costing me a golf sub to fill up my SUV
but there’s damn few niggers in Nigeria getting
rich in that delta just seepage killing their
cassava crops “civil” unrest in Nigeria is pushing
up the price of crude and don’t get me started on
the Chinese, their middle class can kiss my
arse if they want to fondle my Fonterra, stick to
chop suey and save the cardiacs for those that can
afford them, galloping up behind trading rickshaws
for Rolls Royces are the techy-wallahs of
Bangalore banging on about swapping chapatis
for Chardonnay “Michael” from Mumbai “Delia”
from Delhi “Charlie” from Chennai all want a
piece of the pie.

When will it all end?
Come in, Andy, your time is up.

POET'S NOTE: In order to cover myself from any readers who don't appreciate irony, let me stress that this is not a racist poem. The poem inhabits a "character" which expresses the viewpoint of the old Western power bloc, fearful of global financial crisis and the rising influence and power of the developing nations. The Muhammad Ali quote was from when he refused to be drafted to fight in Vietnam and lost his World Title and went to jail for his beliefs. Of course, he was right. It wasn't the Vietcong suppressing black Americans, it was the white capitalist power structure fighting an unpopular war and using poor whites and poor blacks as cannon fodder.

The poet wishes to acknowledge Presto magazine in whose pages this poem first appeared.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Bigger Than Ben Hur: Blog Action Day, October 16, 2011 - World Food Day

Bigger Than Ben Hur: Blog Action Day, October 16, 2011 - World Food Day

Blog Action Day, October 16, 2011 - World Food Day


When I was a child in the 1960s (my own children teasingly ask me if the world was in Black & White then), my parents would often admonish my brothers and I about the “starving children in India” if we did not finish our dinner.

Sadly, despite a burgeoning middle class, there are still plenty of starving children in India nearly half a century later. If only they were confined to India, we might feel we were winning the war on poverty, malnutrition and starvation. But that smugness is denied us because, despite the world producing enough food to feed all its inhabitants[1], “almost half the world — over three billion people — live on less than $2.50 a day”[2] and of those, one billion are children which is nearly every second child on our planet.[3]

On the flip side of the coin, we have a growing problem with obesity in the developed nations with the USA topping the OECD charts at 30.6% of its population and our own little nation of an estimated 4,415,730 people coming in at 7th at 20.9%.[4] That is about 922,887 obese men, women and children living on the sunny shores of Aotearoa!

How did we get into such a globally Lewis Carroll-ian situation? It’s an upside down, topsy-turvy situation that would appeal to the Mad Hatter. Huge numbers of our fellow planetary citizens cannot get sufficient calories to lead a healthy life and yet many of us here in the West are getting way too many calories and are leading unhealthy lives. But it is not simply a matter of us privileged folk in the West posting our excess calories to our starving brothers and sisters in Ethiopia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Zimbabwe, Sudan, Malawi, Niger, Somalia, Djibouti, Kenya, Myanmar, North Korea, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, East Africa, Tajikistan, Sahel and the many other countries that have experienced famine since the turn of this century, a mere 11 years ago.[5]

Why? Because we in the West are getting obese from eating shit! Shit fobbed off on us by multinational advertising companies in the pay of multinational fast food companies. And it doesn’t matter how many salads they hide behind on their menu boards because they know damn well customers don’t suddenly have an automotive-enhanced epiphany and turn to their families and say: “I just have a craving for a fresh green salad with capsicum and tomatoes! Let’s pop in to MacKentuckyPizzaWendys and grab some yummy nutritious food.”

It is easy to think, “I’m just an average Joe/Josephine, I’m not Bill Clinton or Bono. What can I do about world hunger?” But YOU can do something! And in the age of the Internet, we can harness it for fairness, equity and social change for good. Hell, why do you think Tim Berners-Lee, recognised as the inventor of the Internet said: "Greater openness, accountability and transparency in Government will give people greater choice and make it easier for individuals to get more directly involved in issues that matter to them."[6]

And if you don’t have a computer, you can write letters to people in power. “I haven’t got the time,” I hear you say, but, let’s face it, there’s a powerful lot of crap on TV so why not do something useful and life-affirming instead of blobbing out in front of Top Models Spend 24 hours in A&E looking at Embarrassing Fat Bodies.

Or you could just think, “I’m alright, Jack, I’ve got food in my fridge, an OK job, a car to take the kids to the beach and a 150-inch Flat Screen TV.” But you might cough and shuffle and turn red-faced when your children ask you: “Dad/Mum, why are those chickens in those tiny cages?” “Why are those cattle kept in those crowded pens?” “Why is that pig so distressed in that tiny crate?” or the ultimate squirm-making question: “Mum/Dad, why is that child so tiny and why are his eyes so big and his body so little and bony?”

Are you going to look your children square in the eyes and say: “Jemima/ Patrick (substitute children’s names here), it is because I am too apathetic, or possibly just too pathetic, to care about my world and its inhabitants despite knowing that “the world produces enough food to feed everyone. World agriculture produces 17 percent more calories per person today than it did 30 years ago, despite a 70 percent population increase. This is enough to provide everyone in the world with at least 2,720 kilocalories (kcal) per person per day (FAO 2002, p.9).  The principal problem is that many people in the world do not have sufficient land to grow, or income to purchase, enough food.”[7]

I encounter or read about children everyday in all parts of the developed world who genuinely care that children in other parts of the world are starving. They raise money, they donate their own pocket money, they lobby adults and they use their digital native savvy to illuminate their concerns. They do everything THEY CAN because they identify with other children; they empathise with other children even though they may never meet those children. Our children want all other children to have what they have: good health, good, nutritious food, clean water, the chance to go to school and the chance to play. Above all, our children want all the world’s children to have the chance to FULLY ENJOY their childhoods.

Are you going to stand by and let your children shoulder the burden of eliminating world poverty and hunger? It’s too much for their little shoulders, believe me.

Check out the #BAD 11 tag

[2] http://www.globalissues.org/article/26/poverty-facts-and-stats
[3] http://www.globalissues.org/article/26/poverty-facts-and-stats
[4] http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/hea_obe-health-obesity
[5] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_famines
[6] "Ordnance Survey offers free data access". BBC News. 1 April 2010. Retrieved 3 April 2009.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Tuesday Poem: "The Ride"

(for Cathy Dee)

You take refuge
in the heaving, sweat-glossed flanks
and in the tirr-rump, tirr-rump, tirr-rump
of the hooves,
falling like finger-drummers on the wide-stretched
verdant heartbeat of Taranaki.

You lose yourself
at a gallop,
wind and motion locked in an intricate dance
across your skin and through your hair.
Some days you samba with the voluptuous tang
of the ocean,
other days you tango with the whip-sharp
snow-scented mountain.

Will there come a day
when a nicker bubbles up, like music,
through your dreams,
drawing you from your bed at dawn to witness a whinny
pluming its signature in the frost-still air?
Then, hypnotised by those bottomless brown eyes,
the hemp-feel hair of the mane
inviting entwining fingers
to take the weight and swing over the broad, bare back,
blood-hot against the daybreak chill.
Your heel
like a trigger finger gently squeezing the flank,
firing you forward for your longest, hardest ride:
past the border of sorrow.

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

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Tuesday Poem: "Reasons to be Cheerful Parts 1-3"

For Deb Eastwood

I.          You are like those swallows
            that migrate across vast oceans,
            brave, resilient, tiny birds,
            heavy with the scented mystery of Africa
            and winging towards some European eaves.

II.         “I like them. I love their vibrancy,”
            said the woman in the cafe
            where your paintings hung.
            “I know the artist,” I said,
            “she's a lovely person.”
            As if my excitement at seeing your work
            out in the world
            could hope to capture the complexity
            of your art and life.
            Vibrancy, I couldn't have said it better myself.
            To feel joy for your joy
            was a tantalising glimpse of nirvana.

III.         You showed me your photos.
             “That's my ex,” you said
             without a vestige of discomfort.
             I felt honoured to be admitted
             to the celebration of who you are.

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