Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Revolting Green

Fence posts
road markers
a concrete bridge buttress
mounds of shingle
flash by the car window
as we race toward Lewis Pass
and all those straight-backed
beech trees
hemming us in
- at rest now, but waiting –
row upon row upon green row
- at ease now, but waiting -
silent ranks of a vast standing army
- waiting till it’s time -
poised to take back the battered earth
from the clumsy humans
who’ve mismanaged it long enough

One dark and stormy night
the tempest will give his signal
the forward line will drop to their bellies
blocking these forest roads
and this army will move out
crashing down hillsides
rolling across the plains
rising up in every village and city
blocking all exits

There will be no holding back
their creaking, rustling advance
but they won’t make their move
till the oil crisis has paralysed us
and chainsaws no longer have
any power to intervene

This will be a bloodless revolution
because by then the humans will know
that we have no right to resist.

Beautiful Loser

You're a beautiful loser
in that red surfer t-shirt
and blue panel van
even the paint smears on your labourer forearms
and your possum-in-the-headlights stare
add wairua to your duckling grace

You cut off those dreadlocks
which you’d cultivated for years
and the other night you told me
as we stood in the club bar melee
maybe you’d been too hasty
I liked the image they gave you
kind of piratical, wild-man, free-man
but you’re still a beautiful loser
though you’ll need to wear a hat now
when the ozone hole stretches

Like the hole in your pocket
the cell phone bill makes
when your wife phones too often
just to talk about nothing
or, What’ll we have for dinner?
because she gets a bit lonely
only talking to your babies
and she’s really in love
with her beautiful loser

So you’re a small-town production
short hair, short expectations, short patience
with politics, religion, social engineers
you suspect the reds and the greens
much like your father in his time
he was a beautiful loser, too
and you don’t want to be like him
but seem to be anyway
with your construction job prospects
loan repayments and family ties

You say you’re overweight
try to resist bar-snack temptation
to me you look plump with good health
but you are how you feel
and we all bear a secret image
of disappointment close to our hearts
and I can say what I like
but you have to believe
that you’re a beautiful loser.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

A Morning Walk

The sky is dark, grey and wet,
and the roads are the same,
as we set off into town;
Don, to the job he isn’t longing for,
Mary (she goes on her Honda 50)
to the job she is used to,
and me, to the house I didn’t stay at last night
(I slept the night on their sofa,
after clearing away biscuit crumbs,
and fragments of a glass thrown in that direction
which no-one had bothered to clean up).

We get onto the main road,
quite a few cars around already,
and Don just misses his bus.
He saw me!
Christ, if I had a clod
I’d throw it through his window!
So we walk into town,
up Constitution Hill’s winding
asphalt pathways
(“Beaten paths are for beaten men”
somebody once said.
There are lots of people on the streets now,
most of them look well thrashed).

The street lights blink out
and the sky is suddenly
much more important.
We’re in Queen Street now;
in a couple of hours this long, dark canyon
will yawn into a peculiar
artificial life of its own,
and the winter sun (not yet visible)
may even shed some light there.
Don catches his bus at last
and I carry on alone,
still thinking about all those beaten men.
It starts to drizzle
so I pull up the hood of my parka
and look for a break in the cloud
(there always is one –
if you’re willing to look hard enough,
and wait long enough).
Sure enough
by the time I reach
the Hopetoun Street overpass
the golden-orange sun has found its way
through a moth-hole
in the grey curtain
and is smiling palely
at whosoever cares to notice.
I have to stop for a minute
to lean on the railing
and look at it.
The traffic speeds on
over the humped bridge
just the same as it always does.

Now I’m in Ponsonby;
more people, more noise,
more movement than ever.
But it all seems a little easier now,
as the sun grows whiter,
and the sky becomes bluer by the minute,
and I slosh through ankle-deep puddles
on the pitted pavement,
watching the diminishing clouds
floating before me
on the wet mirror surface,
and listening to the ‘CROSS NOW’ buzzers
and the morning choruses of the birds.
And I think about beaten men,
and having breakfast,
and writing this down.


Lilies And Sparrows

Consider the lilies
Far more beautiful
Than royal robes
God makes them
Every day
But they often
Pass unnoticed
By people
Who are too busy
Looking for kingdoms.

Consider the sparrows
They only go hungry
When man plays god
With the lilies.

Consider the love
That takes care
Of lilies and sparrows
That counts stars
And grains of sand
And the hairs
On your head.

Consider a kingdom
Where lilies and sparrows
And people and stars
Take care of each other
Where love wears royal robes
And God is noticed
Every day.