Art, Poetry

I wish

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.

Standard
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