Poetry

As artists do

it’s the blankness
that

still appears
even

after you’ve filled

all the canvas

which becomes
again

a question
of what to do

which brush to use?

which colour to mix?

how again to fill
the canvas

to link
these next strokes

with the ones
before

to make the composition
work

painting over
and over

the blankness.

Standard
Poetry

Kupe

Moana! It’s me…
I’ve run from Hine-nui-te-pō
to hear the waves break in the twilight morning
and see once more the waka pulled up high
on the beach, their tauihu standing
like warriors, proud amongst the gulls
and scuttling crabs.

I dig in the sand,
two lengths from the great pohutukawa,
until my lonely hands touch what we buried:
the waka huia I carved
with our bodies entwined on every side,
mouths open, tongues hungry.

The edges of the box
have softened over time, but the embers
we placed inside still glow, which we can use
to light again a fire in the dunes
that will burn like the one Ranginui
and Papatūānuku lit in the beginning.

Standard
Poetry

Awakening

Born in silence, a murmur grew,
just faintly heard, until it came

to where I lay, wakening my sleep;
touching me, like never before.

The voice was soft and insistent,
dutifully kind and sincere in praise

for what I had not yet done—Love
it must have been, miraculously

coaxed to life in a world of dying,
and now grown to fill multitudes.

I won’t see in you this spirit come,
only know I’m up and feel quite new.

Standard
Poetry

A memory

your summer dress I remember:
orange, green, a touch of turquoise

was it?

how it clashed so madly
with the dull buildings

dulled by a sky-full
of grey clouds

pressing inappropriately
around you

and your smile—dashed off
as you ran past in the light rain

bright as the sound
tyres make
on a smooth wet road.

Standard
Poetry

Catalogue of objects

The handmade espresso cup
is satisfying on my lips
and if I wished
I might imagine the touch

of those classical lips
on the woman’s face, painted
on the cup, quickly, just a few lines
with a thinnish brush.

Once, full-frontal, her nose
a straight line to her brow
between eyes which are dabs of black
run into a wash of sea-green.

The other, her face lying down,
looking over the curved hill
of her shoulder, described
with one stroke.

Standard
Poetry

Knowing

“Poor clay toy creature of Eternity”
– R. A. K. Mason

knowing the way
we didn’t move

knowing how
we didn’t do

knowing less
we pretended more

knowing why
we didn’t try

knowing true
we still lied

knowing what
we didn’t say

knowing when
we didn’t show

knowing where
we searched there.

Standard
Poetry

Notes

Fast ride oil economy collapsing. I’ll have to walk
or saddle a donkey (dung and fun) to petition
Washington: careful of stealth.

An archaeologist’s brush, poetry and Plato:
my understanding of humanity. The Hagia Sophia:
lights you can jump to touch.

No person freed from working for someone else
ever complained―or only about the weather
and marauding armies.

Of Leonard Cohen: he slowed it down―no line
more important than the whole: a sexy prophet;
no time for constitutions.

They would make our world a Venus. Too late,
I’m abandoning the rich―their compliments
and donations―I shall eat my bread

with the class of a peasant. Let words live
for awhile. Domes and colonnades
can fall down as they will.

Standard
Poetry

She said, she said

She said she hatched from a chrysalis
aaaaShe said she lost her wings

She said she was once a queen
aaaaShe said she wore a tiger’s hide

She said she could hold her breath for a very long time
aaaaShe said she had never committed a crime

She said she had been close to a comet
aaaaShe said she knew Verlaine

She said she was on the barricades
aaaaShe said she escaped on a horse

She said she never watches TV
aaaaShe said she loves her job

She said she doesn’t look back
aaaaShe said she could live forever

She said she had a contented heart
aaaaAnd we believed her.

Standard
Poetry

A wooden seat

Missionaries congregate
by a wooden seat

orientated to the east,
the radiant sun,

crowned willingly
by everyone, who fall

on this autumn morning
easily into worship.

Mindful perhaps
of a life-giving force,

though more likely
a humble bliss.

No priority given
to metaphysical claims,

only competing interests
on a wooden seat.

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