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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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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