Katabatic I

The wind irons ripples
into the snowy expanse

Forever doing housework
and sweeping away loose snow

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Wish Upon Antarctica

Once upon Gondwanaland
Where glossopteris grew and dinosaurs roamed
Your wish-upon-a star was born

Or rather, became visible to the naked eye
As the gentle rhythm of day and night
Rocked loose the plates so far below

Southward bound, as we are today
They travelled to the edge of place
And the longest day, where time stood still

All wishes here are put on ice
And Peter Pan grows wrinkles too
From squinting at the frozen glare

And making out the leaves that freeze
Their memory into ancient stones
Alongside ores that don’t belong.

***

Once upon Antarctica
Where ice sheets grow and scientists roam
Your wish-upon-a star was found

Still stars rain down from far above
Scarring the ice with blackened heat
As interlopers on this white plateau

Traverse the ice to find a sign
About the universe’s once-upon-a-time
In rocks that lie so far from home

At season’s end the sun dips low
And dormant skies are seen once more
As shadows lengthen on the snow

And constellations emerge unchanged
While meteorites and fossil trees
Share shelf space behind polished glass

Boarding Call (2009)

My Wörterbuch, my kiwi flag,
Socks and sandals, just like Dad,
My summer dress, my lightweight cardi,
Photos from my leaving party,
Names and addresses of distant rellies,
Marmite to treat homesick bellies,
My bulging backpack, my hiking socks,
Pineapple lumps, combination locks,
Camera, notebook, sunscreen, togs,
Glenn Colquhoun’s book ‘Playing God’,
My tiki T-shirt, student ID,
Presents for all my friends-to-be,
Toothbrush, toothpaste, dental floss,
Metro Mag for all the goss,
My passport and my boarding passes,
My crayola felt tip washable markers,
St Christopher necklace from my mates,
Instructions to the boarding gates,
My optimism, my trepidation,
My welling pride in my home nation.

M(Ant) Progress Report

(i)
On the top floor of the library
a book lies sideways
on the top of the shelving
losing its identity
under layers of dust

(ii)
Without the disguise of a dust jacket
aging fabric yellows
as the worlds inside the pages
batter against the spine,
afflicted by locked in syndrome
of the literary kind

(iii)
Paperback versions
of the end of the world
congregate on my dresser
like a jenga tower.
Ice sandwiches knowledge
in seasonal layers,
waiting to be drilled
and perilously close to collapse.

(iv)
$4.25 may not sound like much
but for a grad student
who has just dodged a fine
for late library books,
it’s a small victory.

Anthology of Twentieth Century New Zealand Poetry

‘Happy Birthday Jenny’
and the anonymity of
penciled thoughts
in the margin

1970: ‘man was immortal’,

they say

71: ‘everything that takes place in time
also takes place in eternity’

Seventeen today
And you’re all grown up,

Baxter (James K) in the pocket
‘Elegy for an Unknown Soldier’ on your lips
As if that proves it

Another year older
(another year wiser?)

‘I too have destroyed a city’
you declare, defiantly
defacing the margins
in your practiced, penciled scrawl
so sure
so assured.

Later, flicking through Dallas, through Ireland, through Stead,
You wonder what it feels like to die

morbid?
inevitable? Perhaps,
But for now, forever seems a long way off.

Paved stones under shadow

In what was once a monastery,
Stone pillars,
Stained glass,
A darkened archway
hides from eyes the sideways path
possibility for those who dare
explore

and there is the cat
purring
whisker halo as it bathes
in the blink of sunlight
that slips through the door
Painting the wall, the flagstones on the ground
Printing them with morning

and there is the cat
safe and black and purring
shadow imprinted on the wall
assured of an existence
right Here right Now
by the dark, the shape that is left
where it soaks up the sun
leaving paved stones under shadow

After a Derek Langley photograph

If articular cartilage were articulate

If articular cartilage were articulate
It would say
‘Hey, chill out, man. No need to grate
there’s room for two here in this groove’
Smooth as a used car salesman
Used as a go between
Constantly on call and ready to bounce back
To pounce in as peacemaker
forcetaker
Until Osteoathritis, that cuckoo child
Starts to bawl
Learns to crawl
Keeps him up all night,
The root cause of a receeding hairline
Frayed tempers
And the final diagnosis of ‘worn out’
No slumber can rejuvenate this peacemaker
When his time’s up he’s down and out,
No second chances.
It’s a hard knock
Inflaming the situation
Bones to bones, head to head
Until it’s all out war
Like never before
What a shame that
They never did learn
to articulate their concerns

South Wind I (Autumn)

The wind grows fat, fed by the polar ice
Forecasters predict a cold snap as she flexes her muscles
Prompting ripples that collect into swells
And parade their taughtness against the cliffs of the west
Boy, can she pull a punch!

She twists her lithe body through treetops and powerlines
Doing pull ups and resistance training
Until the branches and wires can resist her grasp no more

She tries out her lungs, howling like a newborn
Screaming like a teenager
Sighing like a mother with furrowed brow
Grumbling, groaning, whining, puffing,
growing

Until she is ready to step into the ring
Rattling the windows
In search of a worthy opponent:
Wake up!

Her hibernation is over.
As summer slinks out the back door
She comes in the front
With a BANG!

DJ Seal

Whales sing underwater symphonies,
but Weddell seals out-zane Led Zeppelin.

Electric guitars ricochet under ice,
strobing and zigzagging and bouncing
off your eardrums inside of your brain in ways
that the drab speckling of their blubber
and rock-pool shine of their eyes
would never have you believe.

Rock-stars in disguise, they party to the underwater trace,
enticing those more accustomed to the whales’ sigh
to change the channel,
dare to experiment,
live a little.