Poetry

On sandwiches and other lunches

it’s 11.52 
and I’ve long ago eaten my lunch of cheese 
and lettuce sandwiches.

I could have added slices 
of tomato or cucumber, 
but then the bread gets soggy
and wet bread is like
cold jeans in the morning. 

sandwiches are a family heirloom
passed down from my mother
who always made them, 
with odd fillings too, like baked beans 
or lasagne. 

there aren’t as many sandwich eaters now; 
we’re all grown up 
with our credit cards and mortgages 
and lunches 
with rocket salad on the side.  

at university 
I bought nachos from the cafeteria 
once a week, 
served by Polynesian women 
who ladled mince and hot cheese sauce like a syrup   
over corn chips in a polystyrene bowl:
a meal that sticks in the memory

                               —and now I'm tempted 
by hot food from the pie warmer:
the chips, the sausage rolls, the potato tops, 
the kranskies and deep-fried sushi.

because if you’re going to buy lunch 
it should be hot 

and life 
can’t be all sandwiches 
in Tupperware containers. 
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Poetry

Hot bread

Every drop-off then was the smell 
of hot bread from the ovens 
behind the factory walls, made grey 
in the memory by it always being wet
and dark, head-lights on. 

When I drive past the road today
the smell of fresh baked bread
still breaks out of those same walls, 
now Newberry’s Funeral Home,
where the ovens are hotter and sealed tight. 

For no more than the symmetry, 
it’s at Newberry’s I can be dropped-off
on a weekday, when there’ll be a fight 
for parks, and everyone oblivious 
to the smells and memories of years ago. 
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Poetry

Beneath Hikurangi

Cicadas singing 
in the fire of the sun. 
We used to think 

they lived so briefly 
and it was too easy 
for the mynahs 

to catch them 
in their yellow beaks, 
hold them for a moment, 

still singing; 
no wild struggle or hardly 
a change in pitch.

After we learnt 
they lived for years 
underground, it wasn’t 

so bad. Now, listening 
to the cicadas 
in the crystal space 

of early summer,
the hill, always there, 
cut-silhouette on the horizon,

we’re happy enough 
in our grand mediocrity.
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Poetry

Arriving

We can’t get it right 
      like Newton—we search 
            for patterns to lay it down 

in best durable forms 
      [laughter]: watch the sea 
            deal with rocks, 

feel the sand between 
      your toes. Does it matter 
            that Antares can consume 

663 trillion Earths? 
      Monstrous weight, that can, 
            if you like, be lifted 

by the work of bees: 
      a miracle none foretold.
            Let’s say of art 

that it thinks differently
      about the shape of mushrooms 
            we picked together 

on Saturday—we don’t know 
      anything about them, 
            except two hours of fun 

in paddocks: the biosphere 
      and adventure ours. No one’s 
            going nowhere 

but the infinity of our own 
      creative purpose, arriving 
            at a place unknown.
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Poetry

The gods in my shed

When Apollo says he knows 
whether all the grains of sand in the world 
add up to odd or even, and that he knows too
the measure of the oceans, and the number 
of insects that crawl the earth, 
and the days of cities and empires, 
or how many waves are curling now
about to break, 
or that he sees each butterfly 
flapping its wings 
and knows where every ripple goes, he is saying 
we do not know 
and that we should revere the knowing 
which is forever beyond us, 
meditate on it daily, pour water on the backs of goats 
if we must, to remind ourselves
what we do not know, and never can. 
That is the function of the gods
I still keep on a shelve in my shed.
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