Morwell

 

Schliemann’s fumbling kin
forced Delphic rifts right here

dug deep and exhumed the dead
the Pythia of consumption

her brown body under the lamps
carboniferous for miles

jungle upon jungle
rows of tygers covering spoor

beware the claws ten foot high
Puss in Boots leaves his marks

Little Red Raincoat Hood
is bending, squinting

Blake’s infinity picked up
in the tread of her gumboot

the hard packed earth
does not speak but it can draw

she-oak split like a trinity
and octagonal beech

mount and fix, lower the coverslip
but the image slides away

wear the safety hat
the mist gets into your pores

pollen under fingernails
coarse soap blacker than coal

which you now know
in all its ash-soft delicacy

earth burned in offering
lest sacrilege be repaid

the Late Cretaceous
dances down the drain

water flowing out of the world
memories that must be kept wet

to balance small against large
tears against fire

 

 

Remission

In the kingdom of artificial autumn
where the trees make footfall there is a scar,
the work of heat and clearfelling.
Southern promises in green have slowly over summer
turned deciduous from that hasty surgery.
We had the bushfire months ago.
Scraps of cordon tape dance alongside new bracken.
Charcoal helpfully delineates a black-box amphitheatre
that hosts rehearsals
but not yet the full performance of life.
In the wings, a picnic bench was saved by cutting
many branches and in this red nest
two kids too young to be lovers
sit in the quiet way they have seen adults do.
She has an oxygen tube tucked under her septum.
She smiles with her whole body.
They are rulers of the narrow realm,
a place not of death or of growth.
Behind their backs a red strip runs down the hillside.

scar tissue on the hills of Upper Hutt

Maidstone Park fire, seen from the north

Everything is edges

Have you overshot your orbit?

This hand of yours, that holds so many things with delicacy and force,

was once a flailing flipper.

You remember the days when you couldn’t pinch an inch

a single crumb

between your fingers.

Ideas scatter from your plate.

You are running on thick sand.

You are running on sliding gravel.

Reactions spill from you like kapok from a seat cushion.

Don’t try to hold back your mutant blood.

Flashback to warm seas and happenstance,

Brownian motion that guided chance

to land you on this shore.

Slick wet and salty from the shock of it,

you know you will adapt.

Everything is edges.

You hold back a cough against the fulcrum

hoping that the beach will untilt.

In the next breath you will compensate, plant your feet firm on land,

make a path forward.

This breath stays. It is meant for strangeness,

a line of invisible ink in matter’s long inventory.

You feel the suddenness in your chest cavity. Before you straighten

You say a prayer in passing

to the unbalanced instant.


This poem is also used in a piece by The Sound of Traffic, called “Adaptation”
“Adaptation” live recording at San Fran Bathhouse, Wellington

mudskippers

Outing

Here’s a collaborative performance with Darren Inwood, from this year’s Kerouac Effect performance in Wellington. I combined my words with Darren’s electronic wizardry (and a little violin) and this is the result.

words below:

Outing

When the wind erodes my sermons
When the chapped rocks cry for shelter
Bring water sweet and molten
Drumming on plastic
When sky blends with sea in mourning
When my eyes distort from staring
Bring gales to whip up horses
Distant herding billows
When I stand in cooling shallows
When I skim stones in long hollows
Bring flat greywacke for my sockets
Coins for tides turning
When the path has fooled the shepherd
When footfalls tatter hillsides
Bring a green sweet-pea promise
Fresh dresses for the solstice
When the swift scree rough and tumbles
When the tall cliffsides threaten
Bring bushes tough and hardy
To cushion children
When the waiting tins gape empty
When skinks scatter like slick commas
Bring butterflies in warm hands
Swift flecks flitting
When the seashell will not open
When the hand is cold that hungers
Bring soft-bellied schools
Silver and sand-dollars
When the day grows thin and listless
When its orange turns to ashes
Bring driftwood that dances
Circles warm with stories

Limen

Limen

All of my idols worn smooth by the wind

Lack mouths to advise me.

Salt has danced tattoos on my lenses,

On my cheekbones, but it sends

No intelligible codes today.

I am dried out.

I have sat in the mud and shrunk down

Into a crab. I disappeared into my mother

Fingers first, leaving no castings behind me.

Those tunnels hold no secrets now.

Eldritch pipes erode the grey shoreline

At my ear’s entrance. All the whorl’s a stage,

But no libretto will embroider these howls.

The beach has lost the voice

That spoke to me once in my own tones.

A hard passionate pulse

Grows fur at the edges of my eyes.

My fingers are at low tide.

The breath needed for new songs

Mutes my keening limbs,

Pulling inspiration through a cracked straw.

Broken friends, let us croak by the estuary

Of primeval Lethe, gulping down the mud,

Drinking to the last breath.

Together let us paint squeezebox songs

And sing them to old, uncaring gods.