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

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.

Onion Lady

Onion Lady 

Each evening we’d negotiate

An electric peace

While pacing green corridors

Following the colour coded stripes

Long as wagging tongues.

At some point a switch would flip

Tipping a nine volt contact

Ionic bonds tasting sweet and sharp

Like lemon chicken sauce

Licked up from the bottom of the plate.

You are better the second time around

Laying out your yellow flanks so tender

Battered, buttery before my blue foothills.

Snap frozen moments sit in the chiller

Ready for my phone raised in prayer.

Its glossy black monolith

Oblongs for kisses that sink

To the bottom of the Leith

Along with discarded shopping trolleys.

Paper picnic plates, wide and white

Cover each of my floating eyes.

Follow my story downstream.

Look up at the river in the sky

Open to past and present alike

An eclectic piece

Played in electric blue.

hydria

hydria

walking the thin line through the columbarium

imagine that you see me and take me down

from a dusty niche

funerary urns

hold the dry ash

ash goes in and is never meant to come out

lekythoi

hold the thin oil

grown stale from waiting at the graveside

I’d like to ask you a favour

shape me

but not like this

make me something less ceremonial

more practical

your wet fingers

describe the line from my waist up over my shoulder

in an unbroken curve

forming me from red clay

spin me

with each excited motion of your right foot

driving the treadle

I will turn to face you and then away

and then to face you again

as I change day to day

showing you new faces

delicate white with a long nose

or the gorgon at my breast

let us try to make sense of this vessel

so easy to break and ready to hold so much

as you release the large handles for carrying

and take hold of the slender handle for pouring

rest me in your lap

not on a table or the floor

keep me close

keep safe the contents

that you have filled me with

water

sweet water

coursing from me

that’s it, wipe my cheeks