Donelle

The sun is out and strong,
strength in these pale hands
purposeful yet
as I make my way to the summer house

There are seedlings to check
nestled in Spring warmth
greening sun through cracked glass
black and fecund Waikato earth

Buried here are myths of long ago
I crouch and try to mould them back
with magic and clay and water
No power in these incantations
these strange shapes remain lifeless
and I am suddenly too weary
to caress them into resurrection

Perhaps I should pass over
enjoy the slow poison of this content
I have, after all, my present icons
and a vague testament
of you on that Bay of Plenty Beach
staring at the sea,
one hand deep in the pocket of your coat
the other holding back your hair
his dog, circling like some guilty comic

Gathering the remaining seeds
I quietly close the door
and in a moment of idle worship
sprinkle them to the sun
well aware of the dangers
of the forced baptism
and you face down in the water

This must be the double cross
God has asked us to bare.

1977/1981/1997

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The End of a Small Career

I taught in Gisborne for a couple of years and this poem is a collection of vignettes over that period of time. Part tragedy …when tragedy is small and personal and devastating; part small town when you continually bump into people; when the deal at the local Supermarket is a big deal; when rituals of fish and chips and home brew on a Friday night provide the comfort one expects from ritual.
The perspective provided by the impossible fear of a young girl of her father… and finally the subtle loneliness of knowing you are leaving before you actually do.

Hair combed carefully
to hide a balding spot
Holding back the tears
while teaching Owen’s reportive technique.
At lunch he had learnt
his wife had left with an old friend.

Not so much an island

Advice on a lover lost
There’s a world of willing girls out there.
Secret telephone calls,
someone’s borrowed their brother’s car.
I will return my beloved
Every young dream comes true.

Never too late for the big laugh

Girls in their curls and boys on the stray
Main street with the action man.
Frustration blossoms on acned faces
waiting for the hackneyed phrases
Department store at closing time
thin hand in hand

Not so much an island

Everything slashed
closing down sale
Ten percent off regular prices
Absolute sell out
once yearly specials
Good fun in Supermarkets

Never too late for the big laugh

Husbands reveal their sins
striking an heavenly bargain.
Purgatory has moved her to another country
some think it bravery
others wait by the phone

Not so much an island

Held face down in folded print
Friday night’s dinner.
Rituals never broken
loyalty to the ‘Red Herring’
deserved in such a battered paradise

Never too late for the big laugh

A large blonde girl
knocks on the door of the upstairs apartment
She would like those inside
to join her for drinks.
Possibly some other time they think

Not so much an island

No peels of laughter here
Forgotten heroes water the lawns
Clint Eastwood
drilled through the heart with love
Rusting in dim garages
the great enforcer is untouched

Never too late for the big laugh

‘There’s a message for you, Laurie,
a young Maori girl left it.’
‘Please come and help me
I’m falling apart,
my old man still visits me
in the middle of the night’

Not so much an island

‘Well you see, Adam, I asked the preacher
to bless the car.
He talked to the salesman for hours
and then told me
he liked the car so much
he bought it himself’

Never too late for the big laugh

Middle aged and balding teachers,
new jerseys safe on Winter chests,
sit and chat about the ways and dangers
of getting their kids to mow their hilly sections.

Not so much an island

From the fridge hangs
the arm of a dead lettuce
Oblong patches of sun catch the crumbs on the table
Through the door an empty bed
that will be slept in again.
All is idle and content on a warm Winter’s afternoon.

Never too late
Never too late
for the big laugh.

October 1981