Saturday, 7 January 2012

Ohoka Poem/s


in Ohoka i made a temple on the front porch on
a sunday morning. my space. quiet. calm. silent.

i was alone with myself under a blue sky.
i drank coffee and i smoked and reflected on Death

Death which followed me
through every long weary day
and each long sleepless night.

Death lived in the music i played on the stereo
it was Death who had written the words.


words wait in the dusty corners of the room
words wait ...

I want to know

what if we had not failed/ if we had failed to failed to destroy/if we had not destroyed
words hung out limply/ like washing on the line/ in the falling rain.


i think you expected me to rise from the ashes but i cannot
you shift the ground - i shift the ground - the ground shakes beneath us.


your eyes
your eyes
you poured it out for me this last day
when it was too late
when i was running

she was nowhere she was everywhere she frames the view she is the view
she fills the spaces she has filled my mind i see only her it goes unspoken

 [her physical absence holds more space than mere presence did]


where were you before. where were you when you were needed.
tell me. the earth shifts beneath your feet. shakes. trembles.
your eyes. your tears. your hands. your touch. you tell me!

i never heard you


straight grey-metalled road slicing through paddocks grassed in gold
dark clouds overhang in bulged-down black-purple-steel grey ominousness
stillness tensioned like coiled wire.          
blue vauxhall carving through/ fast/ driving through/ anywhere/nowhere
nowhere to go. no goals. no future.
i won't speak. I am spaced out. silent. in my head.

where were you before. where were you when you were needed.
NOW you are here NOW when it is too late.
your well-intentioned attempts at atonement do not touch me
i have no ears for you.  
she cannot hear you either.
she is gone.

Ohoka Poem/s was written (and added to, altered and subtracted from) over a period of time between 1999 and 2001. The poem refers to events/thoughts/feelings which occurred when i was living in Ohoka in 1979.

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Halswell Quarry: The School Trip

There was still a ghost at Halswell Quarry. I saw him working there
as the bus drove up. He was loading his truck; we passed him and 
             I felt the tears; but then sixty children drowned him out.

I had five children with me today, we all went hand in sticky hand between
the rocks, stretched out in a line that formed a barricade, myself in the middle, 
                           no ghost could break through.

We walked through paddocks and heard the visions of the future gardens, 
Japanese, Korean, and Canadian forests, a wetland where birds could live, 
       “and a Taniwha”, said Christine, a Chinese child born in NZ, “
                  whose tears will make rain to fill the lake”.

Look up and see his ghost outlined against the rock walls, brown eyes laughing at the joke-
in parallel dimensions we live on- I in wetlands still to form from tormented Taniwha tears,
he in the dry dust quarry of past  dreams never foretold; “reach out your hands to mine...
                                             but he shakes his head.

              Sixty children line up for two toilets, sixty children line up for one
             drinking fountain,  we all lunch in cool lush grass under shady trees.

Sixty small six-year-olds sat beneath a blue sky enclosed within tall quarrystone cliffs. 
“I’ve been working here for six years”, said the man. “you would all have been babies 
then, perhaps not born”. Stunned silence follows as all the six-year-olds try to visualise 
a world that existed without them. My twins still in my womb, enclosed in a unique world 
of their own, a physical space without measured time, an alternative dimension of reality, 
not this constructed reality of straight lines and calendars,

but an experience shared, known within their psyches, not memory, a time of being when being is not being, thoughts forming through their senses unformed into language, not words -they not owning and still unowned- the muffled sound of the mother’s heartbeat, her voice is unheard but heard, sound without meaning and meaning irrelevant.
they are that is all.

The children came to lunch wilting like spent flowers from far too
long under a hot sun; mouths all munching, quenching their thirst,
now rejuvenated, full of energy they are keen to climb the hill.

The man leads off. “Come quick”, says Christine. “Lets be first, come now”.
“I feel like the pied piper”, jokes the man. “This country smells”,  says the
boy  from Venezuela, avoiding the sheep pats. “I don't like this smell. 
                    We don’t have animals in Venezuela”.

“In Somalia there are dragons”, says Mariama. “It is very hot, hottest at night
and in the morning”. “There are dragons in China”, says Christine, “but don’t
                  worry”, she reassures, “they are all made of paper”.

We pass through the gate and on up the hill, Christine still holds my hand.
The children run up the steep path, waiting at the bends, we are the first to
the first lookout,  peering down at the trail of blue uniformed children, a line
                       of blue ants weaving up the hill behind us.

At the second lookout we view Christchurch through its standard haze, point
out the tall buildings in central Christchurch off centre from here. At the top,
a rocky outcrop perfectly designed for sixty six-year-olds to climb, a gaggle
                          of city children free in an open space

at the top of the hill. 

No school bells ringing out the time, regulating the day.  This “united nations” group of children
unified in their blue uniforms are all laughter, chattering excitedly, now plunging down the rocky hill.         

Arrive finally at the end of the downward track to spiral dizzily into the past; here is the building 
where they ‘shouted’ for him on his last day, telling the tales of his escapades. I see his ghost inside 
laughing, beer in hand, in his element, eyes sparkling. I was here too, do you remember?                            

If I had known what was to come, would I have fled? The seed of the future already implanted,
             already growing inside. She was there too, if we had known.

The children are already packed into the bus, my clever group in their right seats proudly waiting 
with a seat saved for me. We discuss the rival merits of ice cream or ice blocks on the way back to town...

                  ...I can still hear his voice, the sound of his laughter ...
I am home with my children on the deck eating ice cream, we have had a good day, the world is fine today. We are safe. I will leave the past to the past, the future to the future; we are ‘normal’ for the rest of the day.

                             ... I have abandoned the ghost yet again ...

written 18th November, 1998.