I built a shed on a hill about the size of Thoreau’s. Nearby, I planted a grove of banana trees, lady’s fingers. When they’re grown and the broken heart of Autumn brings the heavy rains, I’ll shelter inside my shed and listen for the patter of rain on banana leaves. I make a promise, Chu Shu, to think of you then and share together our ten thousand pains.
In the summer centre, the island on a limb, the sun swelts the volcanic earth mixed with sand pushed up out of the sea. Manuka thrives, pink and white flowers speckle the near horizon. Beneath blackened boughs are deep pools of shade we dive into, a relief to skin and hot-flushed mind—such abundance, such hunger for contrasts given in plenty. * Flashes of silver, consumed by hunting eyes, somersault above the net, caught on our stage. The show, put on by the escapees, drags us from all over, as the watery world shrinks; the curtain drawn by long-shorted, dripping, wielders of the rope. At the wings, they hurl their catch of spike-nosed piper onto the beach in a rolling crescendo of pebbles and fish. * The southern wind edges the waves moving across the bay; white lines of static flicker and vanish: a jumpy picture of turquoise-blue blotted with shadows from dampened clouds above. Amidst the froth and crests of roughening seas birds in the distance race to a haven at the north end of Tokerau Beach, where the sands curve behind the rocks marked by Maui’s net. * The setting sun, like a cut blood-orange, bleeds out over the distant hills. The beauty, this time, is in the far view and the silhouette. In front of the lamp the Manuka are scissored. The shape of things distracts from mosquitoes at my ankles. We forget that we are prey often enough to believe in a moments bliss, ale in hand, crunching chips and dip.
The shag declined to be interviewed, wouldn’t allow a photograph, said she knew nothing about the fish carcasses. “Ask the throttle-and-munch-em sea riders who were here last night.” She didn't have a song, just a certain way of puffing her chest, of being exactly where she was: the rock pools, the purple crabs, the decomposing seaweed, the curve of the bay. A rock higher than the high tide, an easy take off, these were her piper and pilchard. “Off the record, my silence was inevitable considering my original disposition to dive down under the horizon into the quiet.” After a long pause, while still looking out to sea, she said: “It's like this, those carcasses were of fish I knew in the way that you used to know the sky at night.” “Take what you want from that, I don't really care.”
Your oh-so-distaste for Tribunes who incite the popular crowd, what are you protecting Cicero? Your ballsy support for the latest drone deployment in Thrace, what are you protecting Cicero? Your polite way with handlers and a word for the homeless, what are you protecting Cicero? Your dream of heroic iambs on the steps of the Capitol, what are you protecting Cicero? Your hosting of lavish dinner parties for the argentarii, what are you protecting Cicero? Your blood-clean sacrifices in the race for everlasting life, what are you protecting Cicero? Your corpse in a vault with a tag on your toe―too late, what were you protecting Cicero?
We look into the water, the absence of wind and swell has flattened its surface, so the low setting sun cannot bounce light into our eyes, there's a rare dullness that we can see ourselves in and to a few arm-lengths below. Our faces peak over the boat's rim like two cherubs looking into a well. Our bait, whole piper, wallow in the visible zone, swinging a lazy rhythm between two bobbing heads. Such tranquil sorrow where no tears are shed at the looming blackness of it all. Our view is narrowed, we don't see the cliffs flipped over, ascending from green to orange clay, to rocks above —a snapper torpedoes into the bait, a rod slams downwards, the line whizzes, the mirror smashed. We’re ejected from the sea and plonked back in our small boat, father and son, winding in the world we know.
It’s Johnathan by the water
Flopping his hair like a seagull’s shiver.
His eyes are honest, so honest
He’ll tell you how it is
Hit you between the yellow and the blue.
He’s got you leaning into the wall
Waiting for you to fall.
He’ll smile and lead you on
His eyes are honest, so honest.
He’s Johnathan by the water
Flopping his hair like a seagull’s shiver.
He’ll hang you in the elevator
You won’t reach for the button
Because it’s right
Because it’s right.
He’ll tell you not to cry
It’s America and it’s built to last.
He’s Johnathan by the water
Flopping his hair like seagull’s shiver.
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
a destroyer of shallow boredom
like Frank O’Hara.
Low wet night,
dripping gutter path,
to the socked and buttoned,
curtained their day off early,
to sit with the flix, who must
only throw a chewy ball
over the couch repeatedly
to the dog who thinks
everyone’s gathered here
facing the same way
to play fetch.
and so the sun
beats the dullard
the door-stopped bricks
on the collared neck
in its intense weight
from mannered fashions
I wish I was in Greenwich Village
reading Macbeth, legs crossed, a glass of wine at my ear.
Or in the Sistine Chapel
seeing Adam raise his dandy arm to bearded God.
Or in front of Socrates proclaiming
the revolution of reason, reaching for his cup.
Or in a Parisian café drinking absinthe
with poets, painters and philosopher junkies
in wrinkled collar shirts.
Or eating fruit with Manet and his companions by a lake.
Or crossing a bridge over the Sumida River in the rain.
Or shopping at Macy’s and seeing Adrian Piper
with WET PAINT on her top.
Or driving a bulldozer for the first time
through the Nevada Desert.
Or side-by-side with children flying their kites
through a hole in the prison wall.