Wednesday, March 23, 2011


Christchurch is being tantalised

by an ongoing strip-tease show.

Most performances are heralded

by a drum roll, so any sound

that resembles a drum roll

has us on the edge of our seats

in electric anticipation.

Organisation is chaotic;

we're never told in advance how long,

what time of day or which days of the week.

A weekend vigil was not rewarded

until 10 on the Sunday evening

with a display of cleavage.

There's talk of a return season,

but we don't even know how long

the current season will endure.

No wonder, we're all unsettled.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Last Farewell


If this day were to be
 my last,

I would die

the long shadows of autumn

as light filters through the apricot tree;

celebrating the chattering flight of a fantail;

rejoicing in the architectural splendour

of a Bach partita, arch after musical arch

soaring upwards.


The tomorrow when I will be dead,

there still will be a lilting blackbird's song,

the iridescence of a spider's web

but I will not feel the lack.

It's now, when the day's last sunlight

flames horse chestnuts against the darkening hill;

there's the yawning ache at a remembered loss.

Tomorrow will be different.


The trajectory of my death

has changed over time.

Ten years ago, the idea of death

was spiritual, focusing me

on the beauty of the moment;

tree lined shadows,

conversation with a fantail,

Bach's grand pinnacle of sound.

Five years later, even though

I had one tentative foot

across the threshold,

I was still introvertedly

gazing back at the moment I had left;

a spider's web, blackbird's song.

But now, five years further on

with death shadowing my every footstep,

I have been forced

to face that I was afraid.

In my fear I relegated

my friends to the outer suburbs

when they really belonged

on the main thoroughfare.

If tonight were to be my very last,

I would be desolate

at leaving behind

a lifetime of friends.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Line by line

When you read this poem,

don't forget, I didn't write it.

I have to think my poems,

working them line by line

whenever there is free time.

Mostly, I start with one line

and the poem takes on a different shape

over a succession of days.

Sometimes, I am so desperate

to edit, that I change a word

in a conversational lull

or between mouthfuls of soup.

But it can happen,

that the poem itself takes control,

putting up roadworks, diversions

to prevent me reaching my goal.

Its like being in Wellington

expecting to set out for

Invercargill, only to find oneself

snowed in on the Desert Road.

And even when finished

it still has to be transferred

from one medium to another:

a thought poem is not the same

as a written poem.

It's as if I've had to

introduce a translator and you know

how difficult that is.

If for you, hills are green

and rolling, you are not

going to anticipate that, for me,

they are tawny, volcanic outcrops

otherwise known as Banks Peninsular.

I'm not even sure whether

I can claim the poem as my own,

but who else does it belong to?