Black Rocks in Oriental Bay, Wellington
Could stillness be converted into rhyme
and age become a rhythmical address,
with weight a simple synonym for time,
darkness for that lacking emptiness,
I could then do no more than wish my days
encompassed by this eloquent repose,
enabling me to contemplate the ways
I might have chosen, and the way I chose.
When you have slept
When you have slept and I see you wake,
your limp and lovely body lying there,
my senses girdle up to undertake
the prospect of your lemon scented hair.
The picture of you dressing stirs me so
that all my skin is somehow set alight;
see visions of the urgent to and fro
partaken in the crevices of night.
For there, in shadows, I could feel the heat
the friction of our flesh materialised,
with you above me reaching the complete
abandonment of all we've rationalised.
Then I myself awoke and daylight shone
upon the empty truth that you were gone.
Remember how our bodies once were thin reminders of our later flaccid skin, my paunch cupped in your lovely lap. Our liver spots co-mingle, creating a small universe of moons setting where the bed's edge collapses in shadow. A perfumed candle illuminates our illusion of youthful coupling, your taut breast, now a pachyderm, offered gladly to my unfilled mouth. And now we find that losing things rarely causes any pain, for what we've also lost, along with youth, is the need to, every time, succeed.
If asked how to smell you
move in close, touch if you dare,
ignoring the danger overwhelming your
reason, passing through brief
states of ecstasy.
take but the slightest breath,
inhale the fecund fragrances,
the deep aroma dances.
move just a fraction away,
see the sweet sensation
fleetingly on your face,
hear soft exhalations of relief.
There were at least thirty thousand of us armed, not to mention the hangers on coming along for the craic, a gaggle of everything you could think of, lads only half grown and beardless, banging on incessantly how they'd screw the Reds and fuck Robespierre. Kids too and tarts hitching their skirts when we wanted it. We'd fought through a dozen towns and killing makes you want cunt. And the old men there to make the soup, ladling it into cupped hands as we marched. Bread we stole and wrung hens necks outside peasant farms, plucking on the move. We crossed a river, the Loire someone said, through Normandy and, up ahead, Granville. The Brits should have been there according to Monsieur Henri but, shit, they weren't. We'd been suckered and then we were surrounded. We beat back, forcing the pace, the fucking cold killing half of us. The rest were hunted down. The civvies were butchered in thousands, kids, women and the old ladling men mown down, great pools of blood, brown as their soup, crusting the earth. Christ, it wasn't human and the end came finally at Savenay. We came out of the woods at last, screaming our surrender. The frost melted as they shot fifteen thousand. For two days the guns were never silent. Mercy is not a revolutionary sentiment.
If ever I explain to you how roses leap and dolphins bloom, don't think the things I say untrue. The framing of a small conceit is offered as a gift, a treat, a tiny piercing of the gloom.
There is little that I understand. I try but words seem to defeat attempts to name these grains of sand, to find a single, telling phrase that means exactly what it says, a gift to you that lacks deceit.
There are ways of staying in the light, there's sanity in things that craze, blindnesses yet always sight. Accept this gift I offer you, these leaping roses dancing blue, these bloomin' dolphins flowery ways.
What damp day was it that drove you out of Randalstown? What ground out your dream to fly south, as far down the world as it's possible to go without eating ice? Who suggested that there was a place no short sight could see, sewn into blue seas? Aotearoa, land of the long white cloud, beckoned you to her, young and filled with hope of green land, swapping colonies to see if England's hard hand would hound you there.
Perhaps that wasn't part of your thinking, just a romantic connection I've made to lionise you, lying in my heart like a slow pulse searching for rootedness. Maybe you were brash, basking in the whole planet. You put it in your pocket and went, surely walking, not sailing the seas. Fair weather or foul were all one to you who wound fate around your finger pointing down a hundred years to me.
Heat pours from your grave high on Wyndham Hill, migrating north until I feel you in the rising sun riding the stage out to Fortrose, carrying people and post. Smell the southern winds, they are full of you wrestling the reins along metal roads, steaming, like your nags, with correspondence. Your genes have carried to me more news. It tells me that I'm older than you now. What great-grandad could die aged forty one
and leave me here to reinvoke you straddling the wide world of your dream rich heart? I hear you singing songs guiding me home through dead years keeping us apart and strangers still. I shall return to Randalstown to disinter what made you tread round half a globe to gallop horses on Southland's plains. I'll dig up your dreams and let them fly again to far lands under mute arrangements of stars. I shall still your ghost by grappling with it.