Katabatic I

The wind irons ripples
into the snowy expanse

Forever doing housework
and sweeping away loose snow

Outside (Spring)

Outside, cherry blossoms celebrate
the union of earth and sun
in that tempestuous state
known as spring

 

Violent in their insistence
of being seen, they scatter the lawn
in a parody of ice
as the seasons change their guard

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.

Departmental Party

By the time we start making the third round of Caipariñas
The glaciologists have gathered in the kitchen
And started showing interest in the ice we crush
Grinding it glass by glass to smithereens like stones on a shore.

“Tell us,” we tease “What is the history of this cube?”
They rub their chins in consideration
and lament the absence of their machines that go ‘ping’
“The blue core,” says one “indicates a quick freezing.”
PhD students are summoned to provide further commentary
and an argument ensues over dominant chemical isotopes
Before it is agreed that, given all visible indicators
and the taste of the cubes when added to the South American concoction
– We’d better try another, just to be sure –
the likely source is the petrol station on the corner.

(They swear this educated guess
is reached by powers of deduction
and has nothing to do with the labeled bag of ice in the chilly bin by the door.)

“Impressive” we say, as we fill our glasses and slide the crusher over in their direction.
“You sure know your ice. We’ll leave things in your capable hands.”
Needless to say, the fourth round’s on them.

Winfly

Winfly dawns like any other
For those of us who are accustomed
To the gentle rhythm of day and night
That rocks us through the months and years.
We eat our breakfast, we put on our coats, we go to work
And strangers in the street slip past unnoticed.

Planes come and go.

Down South the breakfast, coats and work
Are joined by trepidation, anticipation, and the spectre
of strangers not yet in their midst
but taking up space all the same.

Peter Pan

McMurdo Station
Is a pile of Lego
Discarded in the dirt
Beneath a playground swing

Tracked vehicles
From a meccano box set
Have sprung to life
Here at the end of the world

They trundle back and forth
Ferrying food scraps and fuel,
Feeding the cycle of
Eat, work, sleep.
The longest day passes.

Meanwhile,
Discarded dreams lie dormant
In primary coloured crates
And perfection is located on the outskirts
Neatly encased in timber