Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Tuesday Poem: "Fall of the Empire"

Caesar bows his wine-stained head
to the will of the people.
He remembers the day he crossed the Volga,
his cult of personality so powerful
that the Senate acquiesced
and made him Emperor.
But now his bullish demeanour has given way
to a tired uncertainty.
He failed to heed his loyal lieutenant's warning:
“Beware the Ides of August.”
Though sworn to uphold perestroika,
the Praetorian Guard rose in mutiny,
but were swept aside by citizens
tired of circuses without the bread.
Its idealism soured,
the Empire disintegrates like a rotten fruit
as Caesar gasps: “Et tu, Boris.”

POET'S NOTE: This poem was written in the post-euphoric state ushered in by Mikhail Gorbachev when the totalitarian state gave way to a more liberated way of life for the Soviet Bloc. Sadly, the pure ideals of Marx's vision of Communism were never realised and Orwell's vision became the truth. Then Gorbachev softened the hardline and people had to accept the failed and flawed version of Capitalism. Only Jesus could encapsulate the true and pure form of Communism. Us fatally flawed, egotistical, hierarchy-obsessed human beings could never realise the purity of a True Communism. More is the pity.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Tuesday Poem: "Entrusted to Love"

The key is love
but you were born to a family
with too little love to go around.
To be whole is a crime
in a kingdom of cripples
so they sought to maim you
with violence and neglect.

The key is love
but you could not find the lock
to open up the house of light.
So you smashed all the windows
with the cudgel of anger
but the light and warmth fled
from the darkness you unleashed.

The key is love
but you tried to buy it with pain
and the price kept rising.
One more organisation whose best intentions
were handcuffed to a shrinking purse,
one more hostel where the bullies
made you too scared to be scared.

The key is love
but now you must seek it from strangers
whose heads get in the way of their hearts.
You drag me into your bitter self-hatred,
pushing me to lose sight of love
but it is my beacon on this quest
to discover you by discovering myself.

POET'S NOTE: For my sins, I once worked as a live-in Cottage Parent for an Anglican-run residential  home based on a semi-rural property. We looked after children who had been removed from their parents by Social Services because they had been maltreated in some way. Naturally, it was a very challenging job and our job was to try to "normalise" the children so they could be placed in Foster care or, if at all possible, returned to their families. To "normalise" the children, we just had to treat them the way their parents should have, with love and respect and kindness.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Tuesday Poem: "Winning God's Lottery"

Freewheeling down the Port Hills
after a morning with you,
I feel the fetters fall away.
Nothing can impede my jouissance
as I overtake a cautious braker,
passing effortlessly around metaphors,
indicators dancing in the dappled daylight.

My world has become ripe with promise,
fat with the flowering of a future fantastic.
I feel a rightness deep in my core,
deeper than any intellect can dive.

POET'S NOTE: The poet wishes to acknowledge The Press in whose pages this poem first appeared.

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Tuesday Poem: "The Last Fluke"

The sea was once lover to the land,
caressing it with kisses
or biting it with passion.
The sea seeded us upon the land,
its siren song forever tattooed upon our genome.

From its deep heart it created malachite sculptures,
chiselled by reef and wind
and sacrificed in shards of white
to the beaches of the world.

And from these depths our cetacean siblings
sang to us, but we had
forgotten their lyric language.
Yet their forgiveness never waned
even as the last giant tail fluke
farewelled us as it sank
into the cauldron of poison we had created.

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Tuesday Poem: "Leaving my Mistress on a Sunny Sunday"

In the hospital of someone else's life,
the innocent lie waiting for her ministrations,
their crime no more than disobedience to Nature.
Children of Eve, every one,
impatient to taste the apple and so
breaking ranks with the womb before time.

We know about breaking ranks, she and I,
because we will not put on the straitjackets
so neatly laid out for us.
This is not forbidden fruit we share.
It is the windfall from the tree of longing.

I break into my mistress’ sleep because I want
to hear her voice, rolling like thick honey
down the telephone line.
Then, a homing pigeon, I rise,
wings beating furiously through the velvet night.

For hours we kiss,
letting our tongues take us to a place
beyond death and vanity.
I taste her topography,
sing the psalm of her flesh,
grow heady on the catalogue of her fragrances.
I want to unpick her locks
and set free the prisoners of desire.

In the morning, Sunday lives up to its name.
Insects chirrup in the terracotta haze
as slender shafts of light prise apart the venetians
to pluck at strands of my mistress’ hair,
playing her dreaming music like a concert pianist.

I love to study her when sleep
leaves her unguarded,
when I can brush aside the covers
to watch the porcelain world of her breast
rising and falling,
to cup it gently so she sighs but does not wake.
Awake, she will remind me that it is too small.
She never sees, as I do,
the perfection of her imperfections.

Unwilling to break the covenant of skin,
she lingers,
calling the hospital to say she will be late.
Coy about the grape of passion,
another fruit from Eden’s orchard showing above
the starched white collar.
I kiss her goodbye.
Pressed between her lips and the sun at my back,
the heat of contentment envelops me.
This is how it must be, in this moment,
in this embrace, in this sunlight.
Go, merciful angel, to those more helpless than I
that need your love.

POET'S NOTE: I have been extremely reticent to post this poem as my Tuesday Poem. It comes with a coda, so to speak. I don't want anyone thinking I'm some kind of terrible philanderer or that I am now or have ever been unfaithful to my present wife, (only Number Two, I'm not Liz Taylor) whom I adore.

This poem was written about the time when my first marriage broke down and my first wife had taken up with someone else. We had agreed to separate and I was moving back to New Zealand from Australia, but we had also agreed that I should finish the degree I was studying since I was only about six months from its completion.

It was a strange time (perhaps that is why it is called "estrangement") and we went from being husband and wife to kind of independent flatmates, living under the same roof but living separate lives. She was going out with her new love and I was feeling a bit lonely and overlooked. I ended up having a brief but intense relationship with a woman I met who was a bit heartbroken and lonely herself. We were kindred souls seeking the same wellspring of hope and optimism. We knew it was doomed, as I was leaving the country, but we threw caution to the wind. Sometimes you really do have to live for the moment, however brief, like the short but beautiful life a butterfly enjoys.

So, to reiterate, I was not "cheating" on my first wife and I believe in fidelity in relationships, but somehow the word "mistress" has a forbidden, exotic ring to it with its connotations of illicit pleasure and general naughtiness. Who among us has never been naughty or dreamed of being naughty?

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Tuesday Poem: "Away" by Victoria Broome

At first the dead return
as if they have only been away
on holiday or a business trip.

They cannot help
but surreptitiously look
to see what you have changed.

The back door shoes are gone,
the wardrobe is leaner, certain possessions
have become artefacts.

Still, the comforts remain.
You look at the dead amazed, they evade
your questions; say - they’ve only been away

for a while, look pointedly
around the room, let the wine glass linger
at their translucent lips.

You lay the table, white plates, 
cutlery, linen napkins, salt and pepper, 
quartered lemons, olive oil, parmesan and a fresh salad;

give them a placemat
light the tapered candles,
bring out the cellared wine.

Victoria Broome

ANDREW'S APOLOGY: I was not able to get an image to post of Victoria, but if you would like to see what she looks like, go to:


Victoria Broome works as a Mental Health Counsellor with Pegasus Health in Christchurch and writes when she can, not often enough! She has been a past poetry editor of Takahe, received the Louis Johnson Bursary from Creative NZ in 2005, attended Hagley Writers Institute in 2008 and 2009 and came second with Ian Wedde in the 2010 Kathleen Grattan Poetry Award. She has published in anthologies, and NZ-based journals and The Press, but not yet a book of her own.

ANDREW'S NOTE: If there is any justice in this world, Victoria deserves to have a book of her own work out and I'm sure the reality cannot be far away.

I read this poem in The Press recently and was captivated by it. I had noticed Victoria's work in The Press before and very much enjoyed it and so I approached her (thank you, Helen Lowe) to reproduce this wonderful poem. I felt it deserved a wider audience beyond Canterbury. I won't blather on about the poem as I think it speaks for itself in all its richness, its quirkiness and its lingering images. Thanks, Victoria.