Poetry

Witches’ brew

Poisonous hurt, fiery anger
and painful embarrassment,
she mixed them all

each word she spoke
was like air over burning coals
making the pot boil

each new sentence stirred
the potion, each accusation
fiendishly devised

she plunged her word cup deep
presented it to him full
and overflowing

he drank of her words
but they had no effect,
his indifference was a spell
he’d already cast to protect him.

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Poetry

Our dog is like Frank O’Hara

our dog is like Frank O’Hara
aaaaaaalover of gregarious freedom!
we don’t want to train him—he’s untrainable
half wild, like a Coltrane solo
he takes free rein, takes it where it will go
he barks at everyone he sees        with no malice
he just wants to say hello
and tell everyone        he loves them
he can jump up in the air in crazy yelping pirouettes
he’s a bit of a show-off

he’s too quick footed for the big slow dogs
who can’t pin him down        there’s no easy walk
trotting along beside in regular rhythm
it’s all full tilt, nose down, tail up, pulling forward
choking against the collar—sudden stops
deviations         instant enthusiasms
abandoned for the next delicious scent        tiring
and exhilarating, like keeping up with Peter
when his brain’s exploding
T.S.Eliot mixed with obscenities

he sleeps close to us on the bed
any noise, 2am, 5am, and he’ll leap off
and run around barking in circles       it’s idiotic
and pisses us off
he wants to lick your ears in the morning
loves it when you scratch his head
he hardly eats, but likes to clean your plate
flies annoy him       (he’s mostly content)

he escapes often, being small and agile
always finding a new way to get out
we’re lucky he hasn’t been hit by a car
we would miss him a lot
aaaaaabecause he’s full of the genius of life
our dog
a destroyer of shallow boredom
like Frank O’Hara.

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Northern Advocate Column

My cricket heroes

richard_hadlee01jul1823 December 2017

I grew up in the 1980s, which meant, like many boys of that generation, cricket was a big deal. The eighties to cricket watches of my age is still the golden period, the best of times, the haloed era.

This had a lot to do, of course, with one man, Richard Hadlee. His skill, yes, but also his style: the thin moustache, the stutter step to start his run; his glide to the crease and seemingly effortless whip-smart action.

As a kid, I imagined him as a Robin Hood, played by Errol Flynn perhaps. A connection I made from watching the old movies that screened on TV in the weekends.

If I’m honest, cricket for me has always been about the television experience: listening to the commentary, seeing the ball swing or nip back off the wicket; the balletic elegance of a Martin Crowe pull shot, dissected in replays. It’s the close-ups of the batsman’s face in a pressure situation. Or the mannerisms you picked up, which distinguished, say, a John Wright from an Ian Smith. These guys were my action heroes, my equivalent of the Avengers.

Hero worship can be powerful stuff. So many young cricketers I remember playing with used to walk like Martin Crowe, stand as he stood at the crease.

Time is not always kind to your heroes, however; your estimation of them wears like a cricket ball on an Indian dustbowl pitch. And sport finds its place in the jumble of your life, somewhere over the boundary, no longer on the green of the field.

And yet, those eighties cricketers cannot be knocked entirely off their pedestal, because that time will always be when I was a kid growing up. Still imagining you’d play for your country and be able to bowl a ball that pitches on middle and swings enough to miss the bat and hit the top of off.

I can vividly remember Hadlee bowling Australian batsman Steve Waugh like this. It looked so aesthetically perfect on TV, with Hadlee celebrating with the cool air of someone who expected it to be so.

Today, international cricket returns to Whangarei after many years. There’ll be plenty of kids there to see their heroes, and there’ll be some older guys too, who perhaps grew up, like me, watching cricket on TV in the eighties.

And there’ll be people attending who’ve been involved in Northland cricket for decades, as players, coaches, club administrators. They’ll be at Cobham Oval to watch, hopefully, a full game, quietly satisfied to have the Black Caps playing the West Indies in Whangarei.

Cricket, like everything in the world, is changing. New stories are being written. But if Tim Southee bowls Chris Gayle I’m sure there’ll be a familiar sounding cheer go up from the crowd.

What does it mean in the grand scheme of things? I don’t know. Perhaps it’s just something that connects us to the kids we once were.

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