A Safe House for a Man (2000)


In Millerton, where I live, there is a house that is kept available for any local man who falls into a state of domestic disorder. It is called 'the Back House', because it is at the end of the road at the edge of the bush.

I have taken this idea to house the narrator of this poem; from a silent and separate place he looks into his own separation, and out at the world and the home he has left. Much of the information is from my own recent experiences.

The second shorter work uses one of our early scientific texts to convey a rather creepy sense of disparity between one age and an­other.

The third, a poem sequence, was written while my wife was sicken­ing with a terminal illness. The poems were hidden from her sight, and so well hidden that they were lost for several years.

It is only proper that this book be dedicated to Millerton and its inhabitants.

Leicester Kyle.
July 2000.

1. The Refuge.1.

Leave, in an uncertain light
alone, with clear reason why

the past can’t be let run the
easy course you set, to ponder

all the mysteries you know,
to find the answer here in

fate, or in genetic disposition,
a childhood agenda, dependence

on a partner with learned
pattern who will sort, untie,

to tell you why. Flight’s the path,
the Back House up Valley Road,

where gorse begins the street-
lights end the water’s from

the hill and no-one calls. They’ll
let you in and let you make

time to think the reason why
no café’s safe, the friends don’t

come, the bank’s a threat, the
bills have hurry-ups don’t trust

and she’s so ill-disposed.

They come these days on call
and fast with answers to

the ways we ask and customs
that provide some hope in need,

but you might not fit you might2.
not want such circumspect of

wisdom, a fluency to set all fear
at rest and let you back into

the run, the chase that fashions
out the norm.

Good question that,
to ask and answer why like

why must you age, like why
the heart breaks and why

is my home in her, why some
people eat flesh, and why

there’s so much of it that it
scares the pants off of us.

The house is dark and after

The stairs go up along the wall
to emptiness and you can’t see

the top of them. The bedroom’s
there, they’ve made the bed,

there’s cereal and toast and
fruit you’ll have to fill the

fridge yourself as no-one’s
here for love or talk there

never is for one who does
a run the way you’ve done,

Who holds his tongue and3.
keeps the reason why.

Take up your bags.

Turn on the light.

Make a fire and cook your-
self a meal.

Solitude’s a blessing to a man
who can think and do and

sort things out and make
defence of the adversities that

fall upon us in these days of
sovereignty unmade and challenges

that once slept quietly in un-
questioned acquiescence. Look

down upon the town and see
the lights that signal life, the

millions that hold the hope that
tell you of the one, the one

chance in all of them, the
millions behind those lights,

that one will have the word,
there must be one who’s

lived it through, can say yes
mate, I know, and all you

have to do for freedom, to
be free in your own noble

gender is

2. Lopped From The Tree4.

And my fine crested crowing
thing, what do I do with you

to welcome the day, when a
woman gets a whiff of it

as she does at the shops when
she bends at the car door

and says: we must have a
talk some time, we’ve a lot

to talk about, there’s a thing
I’ld like to get straight, she

says, and I say fine, come
round some day I’m at the

Back House up Valley Road
where the gorse begins and

the streetlights end and the
water comes from the hill,

but I know that nothing
ends when it’s once begun,

and the waves go on and on,

so I don’t look at her.

Crouch inside and don’t go
out lest the snipers shoot

and you’re done for when you’ve
scarce begun which could be

best, the merest act like shop-5.
ping, posting letters, greeting

woman at the café brings me
hurt. Some won’t speak and

others look (who know her
well) as if I’m screwing round

or pity for the mess I’ve made
or just unease at what to say

when I’ve made such a balls-
up of my job and a lovely

family lovely wife I’m a threat
therefore a menace to society

unstable and a blight.

They crowd a counter, mob
an aisle,

stare when I take out small-
meats for the cat, as if I am

beneath myself and leave their
trolleys in the way beside a

pile of shelvings, muse length-
ily at spices jellies packet

soups so I must edge around and
say “Excuse” and they may grunt

and shift, though some still smile,
a generous thing and some relief

to both. I bring grief, sad life
within this world yet I feel

separate from the act as if I6.
have no plan no cause no

motivation in the mind but
accident like waves with float-

ing messages. It might be best
to talk to someone with philo-

sophy, who’s vested in these
crises times and versed with

faith in human life and sees
a plan in the subconscious mind

and not in actual fate; though
he’s a god himself who sets the

plan cries ‘Time!’ and writes a
judgement. Talk, and get this

pity out, complaint at the out-
of-control. There’s pleasure in

disgorging, as counsellors well
know, and profit too.

In silence in this night alone
I grieve at my strength my

potency my wealth my inno-
cence all useless now invali-

dated cancelled by my history
as if I’m born today; I’ve

memory, but it’s flat upon
the page like a book with

no-one in it living and no7.
conversations. I stand alone,

there’s nothing lost but no-
thing to be used, the world’s a

mute and life afloat in quiet-
ude a cave and in the throat a

panic like a wave a wind a
waterfall. I’ve been lopped from

the tree in full ripeness, set by
for a while in a little while for

show, for observation, made a
bench-mark, well-preserved,

helpless, feel useless, still still.

3. What The World Is, (in parenthesis)8.

You’re fated, when experience
overwhelming the norm tum-

bles like a slip on to the coast
road and cuts you from the

trading places life depends up-
on — the bank, café, library,

friends the cinema and coun-
sellors occasions for peril

where mistakes are said and
done in the incompetence of

knowledge to be mended to the
best but never to the fullness

of ability; so there’s room al-
ways room for life to grow from

error and soil and you thrive
on the need then Wham! You’re

alone, the lines are down. They
look at you but do not see.

You’re portioned as a solitary

They’re awed at your awfulness.

You shrink at this partisan atten-

but be polite — there’s power here
and that’s to be respected. It

is the code. There’s many another9.
being judged right now so get

used and get right, sure you
can stand it and that you’re

sure that you’re right in your
own self and have done right

and it’s worth being judged
wrong by all the world you

know. If you misgive yourself
your self may not be given

back, so before you begin
check the spelling of all the

more difficult words, for all
may depend upon successful

articulation, that you convey
to your mind with precision

the things that have been done
in your lonely attempt to de-

cide what

the world is,

what the word.

4. Take My Sting.10.

In the Back House I think I’m
being spied upon through knot-

holes and crude listening de-
vices; that I’m part of a film

that will show everything and
don’t know it; that I’m an

unpaid actor recruited un-
knowingly for research, exper-

iment , a snuff movie, and I
fear least I do something crude

like masturbate in the bath
or blow a nose untidily, or

wear the same underpants
three days running and get

laughed at and used as a
caricature for the demeaning

of the human race for political
ends, to undermine established

institutions. They must come
soon, and I will see an eye

or hear consultation on the
other side, impersonation of

my conscience. It would be
better to believe in God and

send these fears to the Infinite,
where they would be familiar,

(who does so much of this11.
And knows how it feels).

I rehearse as I go as I cook
as I walk to the shops ‘would

you renew this prescription
please, which I need when I

sleep, I’m stressed after leav-
ing my wife, I get cramps in

my legs and I’m so sore that
I toss and I turn and the

cat won’t sleep on my bed.’

I try my face in my mind:

‘I like your advice and thanks
for the thought but I want

to stay still, not move, to be
a view forgotten lest I hurt,

lest the waves of my motion
drown a walker on the shore,

lest a cry of mine make a
sensitive deaf, or a word

wrap an innocent in guilt.’

Would someone take my sting
my bite and make me clean

and gentle please and fit with-
in the human race etc.?

What do those see who watch12.
Me? Forgotten sex, distant youth,

behaviour in perspective, warp-
ing of a man from the norm

to the natural? I will answer
any questions that they ask,

articulate my hopes and guilts
if they will have the patience.

I will ask in my turn: What
does a man do when he’s done

his work: wander in the city
parks and cry a lost youth, a

lost significance, all the de-
partures and deaths of his

past? Or make a life from an
interior light, where shapes

are defined from within?

I will tell them, if they ask.

I will tell them what I’ve
found so far.

5. That Small Flower.13.

There are good lights around this
morning so you know it’s your

day that you can put things right
and you rejoice at the wind

from the hill and the herbs, so
you go for a walk to the mine

and sit in the sun on a piece
of iron and you think of that

last joyful mystery, the settled
years that have come to an end,

though they should have well be-
gun for this the latter part of

life, and you wonder how to
live the years ahead, to take

you to the end, to go alone or
to find company again, but

you’ve hardly the heart nor the
strength to think so you end

the guessing and climb the hill;
there by the rock where you

stop to rest is that small flow-
er you love so much in the

rushes, at your feet.

Green grow papillose O.

Good friend from the curious days,14.
days of enquiry after the rain before

the dust of tireder times, refresh-
ment sign to run young enough

run sweeney on the hills eat
bulbs and berries cabbage hearts

take shelter in the shafts chew
kawakawa leaves for pain and

kumerahou for health think spir-
tual and live like the moth invisible

except at dusk so thin you’re
edge to the wind the sun and

other wild things grow holy in
simplicity, think holocaust, the


(and think of the man who
named it, who like you left all

and took to the hills, and there
did the God work, making until

the last few years where he came
and rested)

Or ask why does it look like the
rushes it grows amongst ask and

press for reply from the soil the
rock the bushes around or the

wind which must know a thing
or two for the same has blown

for many an age and she only15.
changes quarters; she must have

the info that you want in the
dust the pollen tiny grains of

scent and sound of echoes that
are other peoples’ destinies

that only need you to map this
in your mind and make ass-

essment; concentrate to end the
guessing, analyse the chroma-

somes of hairs the health of
blood; which flower the pollen’s

from; the constitution of a
thought, and you might, with

blessings and graces, come to
discover the whole oeconomy

of a man, and know with sci-
entific tact when to come and

when to be there, not to act
on rule as you do now. Not all

is mystery nor ruin just the
way it falls when it’s thrown

for you to pick up to judge
within your wealth and strong

potency the power of use,
when one’s mature and how

to make a growing chart for
this the whole of life.

6. Deep Within The Man.16.

That’s what I need, things to con-
spire and remove this sense that

separates; I need to be in-
digenous, to be a citizen

again. I’m not all new but
I’m out of the running since

I left and it’s space and still-
ness I want to move but things

that should be under are above
pressing down as if to keep me

in one place. I’m in the wild
environment, made feral un-

domesticate, predatory in a
suburban cul-de-sac, un-

recognised and disturbed to
the soul, daemonic as a man.

Is there any good to be es-
tablished? Will all be ruined

tainted until all I do is
sin so deep engraved with-

in the gender that I had
best sleep or stay sedated

locked distant in a dream in
a coma krionic, peace to women

and the world? If so I need
a cage, to make it mine, but

I’m locked out of the Back House17.
now with the key inside. Is

there someone I can ring to
let me in? there might be a

way a skylight a lavatory
louvre, unlatched light a

door ajar something rotten
to be forced; with no-one

home nor sense proprietor-
ial and all those dark rooms

as if I’m watched, studied,
to see what a man in a life

irrational will do deprived
and left with nothing of the

normal props of faith, with
nothing that he recognises but

a friend or two who might be
warm attainable for comfort

and conversation, and might
come round if they can think

of what to say; I will be
profound and prompt and

generally predictable and po-
litely question: Has this hap-

pened to me or to someone
else and Am I the cause of

this? Do you think so I will18.
ask; Be honest and don’t

fear to tell the truth. This
deep siphon welling is it me

or is it a neurosis, because
we can’t always tell and

imagine the disastrous when
it’s perfectly usual like death

disease and accident and the
abnormal (like good health) is

spared and given rights.

in a changing world,
would recognise

7. The Back House.19.

The Back House is on the fault
that runs near the town and

makes the waterfall you see
on the way up, and the hills

to rise so steep behind to
shadow; they put the house

on the edge of everything,

It’s a cottage

with a kitchen at the
back, three bedrooms up the

stairs, and a whare where a
garage ought to be. The town

dam’s at the end of the road.
There are steps from the front

gate down to the creek, and
tuis. The counselling room is

in the whare and you pay.
There’s rent but it’s not much;

there’s no neighbour. You do
your own cooking and the

lawns, cleaning, fires, the
washing. No parties please

No Women and no phone.20.
You have to go to town to

ring which makes the occupa-
tions short. Be Private a big

notice says Be Quiet and Watch
Your Child. Counsel’s by appoint-

ment every afternoon but no-
one comes, you’re on your own

which is profound, and left to
work things out as expected,

which when all is said and
done is just as good as coun-

sel. You listen best to own com-
mand and have the answers

anyway with time and peace
to sort and sleep, lots of sleep

to ease the pain and wash it
like panned dirt so only grains

of gold are left and all the
muck is out. Feel the sleep in

the sound of the creek and
the birds. Feel it cream the

curdled parts your fingers
tingle eyes begin to lose control

to cross to close and arms to
drop, sounds to merge in a

cleansing run which trickles21.
into droughty places to re-

freshment. Fern and flax as
each day starts you don’t need

more. Sense and strength return
your head can come together

to work again in depths you’ve
rediscovered in yourself, you

didn’t know the strong parts,
you had forgot in the rush of

life, but that’s not new, no mir-
acle. Forget the other, and the

kids. Think of yourself. Think of

your gifts. The house has spiders
in the summer, everywhere, and

wild things come out from the
bush to sniff around,

and singing stuff.

8. I To The Counsellor.22.

Be brave, be unafraid, I will
say to the counsellor; change

is running in on eight art-
iculated legs and a seven-

jointed life; it comes like a
mist in the night, like a cat

looking for a new home. It’s
translation to another

sphere, with new lights and
new-made dews. I’m part

of it for good. I won’t go
back. I’ll stay where there’s

room, mate, where the silence
is so deep I could drown. I

can see further, and my body
fits. My mind is as sharp as

my eyes in this new world,
and my skin doesn’t need to

crease to meet the need. My
ears can hear the change of

tide and time’s pause at mid-
night. I’m to grow again, I

can tell, so I need room and
food for a renovated frame. I

don’t want talk but a window
to my own and a chair with

a book left on it, and long si-23.
lences to slip in and out of

the shadows of thought that’s
free to see its own good shape.

I will say to the counsellor:
please help me to this state

and keep me out of home again
from radio talk and the news

and those clever topics of the
day which come round once

each year of tears and pain
and sex and the need to prune;

of lawns ( a round of the set-
tled class), a plethora of sed-

imental thought, of intimate
confusions that make film.

Tell me I’m right, tell me I’m
a modern man in little Greek

characters that will endure
and enhance respect to sub-

liminal depths, and make some
say Go Away go, to the ghost

before it materialises and
eats something. It’s one

thing to have ghosts and an-
other to pay for them. Let

them superannuate I say to24.
the counsellor. I want a

new state, to spawn some
new ideals. If a man’s as

bad as they say he is they’ll
let me alone for lost, unworthy

of attention and share of a
life and not to be depended

on which is the use of a man
when nesting and not much

use even then. Make me for-
get the goals we shared

(which are dated now and
stored in the Turnbull Li-

brary, for research, and for
future re-use, I suppose, if

the time should come when
they’re received again ) in

which we pleasured, until
we reached the end, and found

like Moses, we could only see
their backs.

[You’re good friends and good25.
company, I say to my ideals,

but that’s about where it ends
at my stage in life now. I

don’t want to throw you away,
but let’s face it — you haven’t

the powers you claim and don’t
make the advertised returns.

On the other hand, where would
I be without you? But it’s

like Moses; look at all he
did for God, and got good comp-

any, adventures, a mission in
life but he wasn’t even able

to front up to the boss, and that’s
how I feel — you don’t disclose

yourselves fully, I say to my
ideals, and don’t ever let me

have a really good look. There’s
your voice, your touch, the

security of your presence and
the stability of long use, but

I never ever get to have
a really long look at you.]

9. The Doctor.26.

The doctor will say to me:
‘You’re an intelligent man,

an independent thinker and
fit for your age, but inevita-

bly you bear in your mind
the fruits of your past, your

childhood, inheritance etc.,
and it’s the consequence of

these that cause the symp-
toms you complain of, which

are insignificant in them-
selves but alarming at the

time. I rather judge (from
my experience) that the path

you have embarked upon will
cause complicating conse-

quences, imputed or perceived
guilts, and that it would be

best if you returned to your
partner and your work and

settled down. I think too that
in view of your scrupulous

personality it is best that
you remain conservative.

The experimental heightens
one, but that is your busi-

ness and you know best. It’s27.
not as if you are a young

man. However, from what
you have said I can see that

there is no significant break
between you and your wife,

and that your job is still open
to you. If you keep to your

plan to found a new style of
life I foresee an increment-

al increase in psychosoma-
tic events. The darkening

ring you complain of, the
narrowing of your field of

vision, is a striking symbol
of self-imputed self-worth,

and is also an indication
of impending migraine. The

peculiarities in your right ear,
the sensations you describe as

a nervous tic, the sudden al-
terations in pitch and sound

and popping noises, are
symptoms of a stress affect

on the muscles at the back
of your neck. As to the pain

in the palms of your hands28.
and the arches of your feet,

the less said about those the better. It
will stop, as it must, if

you do as I suggest. If you
don’t, I’ll be seeing much more

of you. I think it is time for
you to choose, and for the

choices to be weighed, which-
ever is found wanting to be

burned, then the chosen en-
gaged upon. Precision and

sincerity is all that is
needed, and a long night’s

sleep, which I can arrange.

Would you like some?

10. To Singh Batchem Singh29.
In The Morning.

To Singh Batchem Singh in the
morning I will say: But don’t

you get tired of this? You open
each day at half past six and

close at after ten. Seven days
and every day’s the same, the

paper the milk and conveni-
ence things, just a little of the

lot in this corner shop for years
now. The only thing that changes

is the weather, and you don’t
see that behind the till; don’t

you miss the Punjab, the temp-
les and the elephants at the end

of the road, and your relations,
the mango smells and those long

slow nights with music in them,
the man who fans the temple

book, and all the shoes outside.
Why do you and can you carry

on? What do you think at the
start of each day? Do you let

yourself ask questions that
might shake the frail routine?

Is it by fate that you are30.
destined to a dairy, and to

service in the midst of life
and self-sacrifice? Think of

the nucleus of this town, that
from it radiate the small things

that make life possible and
you essential — the toast the

milk the notices and news and
those forgotten eggs. But I, with

freedom as prolific as the
traffic on your road, am just

me. What do you say Singh Bat-
chem Singh? Should I claim

my gift and like you spend it
on service, squander it on gain?

Is your strength your will or
do you have another source and

solace? At night do you leave
the living, slip from the bed

when she’s asleep, take money
from the till, and keep to the

shadows down the streets,
past cineraria daphne rose

those scented things that prime
the sense, to the house that

never sleeps, its light discreet31.
its warmth subdued where the

slips that undermine your will
are tamed, your flesh restored,

new forms found in wondrous
beds and ensuite baths, and

houris on each knee. Your story
could give breath to mine, could

tell the limits of the boundaries
of faith and edges of endurance,

where to start and where not
tread. All are asked but none are

taught. In this new time I search
them out, define as instinct, in-

tuition, or implant, a skill or
desired aesthetic as intricate

as the steps of indigenous dance,
as a thought that is expressed

yet stays within the mind. All
this I must learn, and do.

11. The Psychiatrist Says.32.

The psychiatrist says: when did
you become aware of this con-

viction, and is it holistically
asserted, i.e. is your whole

person convinced body and
mind, have you parts that drag,

dreams of insecurity like un-
successful flight, lost cars; have

you limbs in pain sore eyes head-
aches neck in knots hot sweats

teeth that stand on edge at night.
Do you believe God is telling you

to do this, if so why, and what
of those who stand in your

way, what do you think of them,
the Psychiatrist says. Your wife,

do you put her in your way,
have you talked with her of

your need for celibacy and soli-
tude, what did she say, what

did you say and why do you
think you said that; and the

woman you talked to at the
café at the car, have you been

with her since. Does your wife
know, or have you been alone.

What do you think of it. Does33.
solitude fill a personal need.

How shall I put this I’m try-
ing to say: Do you feel a

peace when you’re alone a
growing peace that you’re do-

ing what you’re here for. Do
you feel you stand alone, call-

ed above the others, the Psy-
chiatrist says. Have you guilt

at leaving your wife, or a
sense of release from a knot

that is untied. Your children
I know are secure, but what

do they say, have you talked
with them, do they know and

your friends: have you asked
their opinions discussed sought

support. Why not. I sense fear.
You see what you’ve done

don’t you know don’t you see
how you’ve acted alone out

of fear that the truth might be
seen and your motives laid

bare in a way that you couldn’t
defend. I can’t say I don’t

know, it will take a few weeks34.
to sort out and a year to put

right, because health is not a
thing of single symptoms, and

comes from something other than
our hands. Why do you find

domesticity so joyless. Most
don’t stand alone. They find

life in company and death
in the single state. Do you

seek an elite, that is have
you a drive to stand out from

the rest and do you do you


One hundred and thirty-five
dollars please, at the desk.

12. Tangled From A Crooked Pole.35.

There’s still no-one around so
I’ve lit the fire for the sound,

because it’s so quiet with only
a dog barking down the bot-

tom of this dead-end road,
and I like the creaking in

the stove and the crackling;
it’s a comfort on this dark

grey day with a cold wind
that blows in no particular

direction through the power
lines, which I can’t explain.

They cross tangled from a crook-
ed pole and look a futility

through this window, but I
think I could get to like

them after a time; it’s a
matter of usage like the

rest of life. The familiar gets
exceptional when you like it.

There’s rain about and the
wind’s gone down. On the

other side of the road it’s
punga and kamahi, thick

scrub with wekas picking
round like small brown dogs,

and it all goes on up the hill.36.
I think I could like it after

time, on my own here at my
pace within my means, the

boundary of my desires. I
play Mahler’s 4th., for the

opening of the gates, which
are behind the world, which

I like, and I sit still, and
think that really you have to

work out the world from with-
in your own circle, which has

no point but its boundary,
and the will to define it.

Life has no character with-
out its limitations, which

some have found are infinite
but I don’t mind, for infin-

ity is around me if I
don’t go too far, and I think

I’ll pull it in, for the peace.
I can sit in this house for

ever if no-one comes and
I don’t leave, listening to

the Gates and looking out
the window at crossed lines

and the crooked pole. It’s37.
raining now. There’s not the

wind to stir a punga frond,
yet the rain drifts in opaque

veils as if it’s being pulled
by an upper hand, and the

world is seen by a misted
eye, the edges blurred, the

content soft. I don’t know
where the sun might be, or

where directions are; I’m
happy to be still and watch

the contents of this world
in the green and the tempor-

al, so busy I’ve been in stirr-
ing the pot I’ve not till now

seen the cooking. I will sit
catatonic, not ever move

again, for the sake of one
clear sound of joy, this

rainy day.

13. In a Casserole With Towels.38.

She writes: Don’t you think
you should come home (with

dinner in a casserole in
towels). It’s been more than

a week and the children are
asking when and so is work.

It’s not urgent but they won-
der what you’ll do, and I’m

sure they’ll give promotion
if you want that. It’s getting

colder isn’t it? Joel’s not safe
with an axe and we do need

you home as soon as you can
make it, though I know you

need time out men do; and
should you be in such an emp-

ty place? Is it really good for
you, or does it make you brood,

turn you in, you start imagin-
ing? We’ve all just got to pick

up the pieces sometime or
other. It’s the best we can

do. Life’s not perfect. It’s not
a bed of dreams, is it? I want

time to be myself too but
someone’s got to mind the

kids. I’m not complaining39.
But we do just have to get

on with life in this world,
and you’re the one who mows

the lawns; there’s all the meet
the teacher things next week

too. It’s not as if it’s wrong
between us is it, and we get

on good in bed. I know you’ve
got the brains but that’s caus-

ed no trouble so far. There’s
common sense which gets

things done which I’m good
at so were you. It’s bad for

the kids not having their
father around; there’s all the

bills. It’s best if you do them.
Mind you I must say the kids

have been good but everyone
knows you’re still in town.

They give me queer looks and
it is odd you being here so

close to home and different.
People will start asking; they

think we’re going to separate,
and when I say he’s having

time out they think you’re on40.
the verge or something going

to have a breakdown. You’re
not are you, I mean you think

alright just a bit dreamy some-
times. I know you don’t want

to be like your father though
I always thought he was a

good old stick he kept a won-
derful garden. It’s your moth-

er that you’re really like you
know. I never really knew where

I was with her. He just kept on
and he always seemed happy,

but I think she gave him a
pretty hard time. Not that he

complained. I can’t think I’ve
been tough. I do wish you were

here. It’s like when a truck goes
past — there are all sorts of

noises I don’t understand.

14. To Her A Book.41.

You said to her a Book a Manu-
script a Compendium of Pensees.

These are the things stand still.
How can I stand with you

and hear the sounds of the day
that make it leave one lying

on the sofa for an hour for
the dark to tell the dawn and

you not put it on the desk;
these are the things I would —

and note with an inner ear —
things I would like to hear

at the end of it.

Indigo With Lustres.

Stand still to take a Dianella
blue an indigo with lustres on

the skin to view in other
times in ages dry the scheme

of things dear friend and food
in different places. It’s still-

ness takes the time, and see-
ing all that gets under things

can’t stand the light wants
mud you must be quiet too.

These things like a change in42.
the weather can only be seen

from a firm perspective else
the cloud won’t precipitate

into voices as good weather
does at home when it’s watch-

ed so still and quiet is what
I want to be alert to the

whispers in umbilicals of life
at my feet and elbows and

in the room where it happens
still in the partitioned room.

A Canto Of Desires.

Where there’s earth a bush can
grow; things do that can only

have root that would be done
in the time in a founding

time. I have a Canto of De-
sires a Rubaiyat of Apoph-

thegms to take to tell in a
rooting time it takes to fall

for the winter quiet to sleep.
Would you let me sleep at our

end I can’t unless I still
the shakers of this world

that move like my desires re-
venge and growth for more

that move me. This is my heart43.
my dear my head my envisag-

ing can take no more but
stop and look at something

underneath and know and
understand one thing if only

one like why the flower’s like
the grass and how I fit in

another man’s rain for him as
much for the one it rains on,

the smell as much for me the
growth and beneficial by-

products like steam again
stand in the fog and think of

that: one man’s flesh is ano-
ther’s folly, and float with your

philosophy in mushroom
time, in paddocks with a

little weed, ephemeral as a
golden age, acrostic-






Art. xxxvi.—An introduction to the study and collection of the Araneidea in New Zealand. With a Description and Figures of Cambridgea fasciata, L. Koch, from Chatham Island; and also of a new species of Macrothele, Auss., M. huttonii, Cambr., found at Wellington, New Zealand. By the Rev. O.P. Cambridge, M.A., C.M.Z.S.

(Read before the Wellington Philosophical Society, 22nd. Sept. 1873. )






1. Beautiful as are the colours and markings of numbers
of spiders, especially of those found in the tropics,

Yet it is not easy to make good-looking, sightly cabinet
objects of the Araneidea;

It is possible, however, to display a large proportion of
them very satisfactorily,

If care and dexterous manipulation are used.


“Though many live a vagabond existence,
and capture their prey by merely springing upon it,
or running it fairly down in open view,
yet craft and skill are equally apparent,
whatever be their mode of life.”


2. Many species, whose abdominal integument is strong
and thickly coated with hairs,

May be pinned, dried, and set out for display;

The abdomen may in some cases be opened from

And after the contents are extracted stuffed with cotton

Others may have the abdomen inflated with a blow-pipe,

Then a rapid drying prevents the obliteration of colour
and markings.


“The male is nearly always the smallest,
though his legs are often much the longest.”


3. The best way to preserve colour, markings, and form,
for scientific purposes,

(and with some little extra care and trouble, as cabinet
object also)

Is to immerse and keep them in spirit of wine, or other
strong liquor.

Enclose them within a flat under-glass and a concave
upper one.

Set the spider out (in spirit) in a natural position, until
the limbs are rigid;

It is then laid on its back in the concave glass.

The flat glass is laid on the concave one.

The two are cemented together.


“With regard to the search for spiders and their capture,
it might almost be sufficient to say:
search everywhere, and capture in every practicable way.

There is scarcely any conceivable locality
but what some species or other of spiders may be found
in it.”


4. The spider may then be seen in every direction,

And it looks like a living creature swimming inside.


“Colours and markings,
although at times liable to mislead,
are yet nearly always specifically characteristic,
and therefore should be carefully noted before they fade,
or run into one another.”


5. The objections to this mode are its comparative

And the inevitably enclosed air bubble;

Which presence may be rendered harmless by tilting the
whole in the cabinet drawer;

This fully presents the spider to the eye,

And frees it from contact with the air bubble,

But seals it from all higher scientific examination and


“Spiders of large size,
especially those with soft and tumid bodies,
preserve their form and colour best
if kept prisoner for a few days
without food
in a pill box.”


6. There is another mode which leaves the spider free for
scientific investigation,

While it is yet made a pleasing sight for ordinary

First catch the spider in a pill-box, and render it
motionless by a few drops of chloroform;

When perfectly insensible it is set out and secured in a
natural position on a piece of wood or cork,

By means of pins placed wherever needed, (except
through any part of the body);

The whole is then placed in a shallow jar, in spirit, to
cover the spider completely;


“Even subterranean caves,
such as those of Adelsbery and the Island of Lesina,
are tenanted by species peculiarly adapted,
by the absence of eyes,
to their dark and gloomy abodes.”


7. The jar is then closed over, and allowed to remain

Until the limbs have become sufficiently rigid, by the
action of the spirit,

To allow the removal of the pins without affecting the
natural position of the spider;

This will take place in a week or ten days, more or less,
according to circumstances;

The longer it is allowed to remain, the less chance there
is of the legs curling afterwards.


“The legs,
eight in number,
are articulated to the Sternum
and are usually seven-jointed,
variously furnished with hairs bristles and spines,
each Tarsus ending with two or three claws.”


8. When removed, after the limbs have become rigid,

The spider is put carefully, with the fore-legs downward,

Into a test-tube just large enough to admit it freely,

Without unduly compressing the articulated parts.


“Collectors often complain
of the brittleness of spiders’ legs,

but in most cases
the throwing of a leg
results from the instinct of self-preservation,

which teaches the spider
to give up something,

rather than lose all.”


9. Previously insert into the test-tube a slip of white

Exactly the width of the diameter of the tube, and about
three-fourths of its length;

This slip of card-board is to make a back-ground to the
spider, and to keep it in position.


“The search for spiders has this advantage
over that for insects in general:

spiders cannot escape by taking wing.”


10. The tube is then filled perfectly full of clean spirit of

A parchment label containing the name of the spider is
inserted in an inverted position,

So as to coil round next to the glass, just above the

The tube’s mouth is firmly stopped with a pledglet of
cotton wool;

After which it is placed wool downwards, in a broad-
mouthed glass-stoppered bottle,

Large enough to contain a good number of tubes, ranged
in a single row

Close to the glass, and kept in place by a central plug of
cotton wool firmly filled;

The large glass-stoppered bottle is then topped up nearly
to the brim with spirit.


“The eyes are variously disposed,
but always symmetrically on the fore part
of the aphalic segment.

The number and general position of the eyes
form one valuable character for the formation of genera,
while their relative value is strongly specific.”


11. When bottles so filled are arranged on narrow shelves
not too far from the eyes,

They have a very neat appearance, and allow the spiders
to be seen perfectly —

Of course, the bottle must be taken in hand to examine
the contents at all closely,

And must be turned round to bring those spiders on the
opposite side into view.


“Besides their craft and skill,
spiders are cleanly in their habits.

I have several times watched
Calliethera histrionica
engaged in brushing and cleaning
its forehead and eyes
with its hairy palpi.”


12. For critical purposes,

Any tube may be taken out

And the spiders themselves removed without injury or

It is only necessary to use a pair of fine pliers to handle
the specimens,

And a pair of longer and larger ones, with padded points,
to place or remove the tubes.

The label with the spider’s name can be easily read
through both the tube and the bottle,

If put in so as to coil closely round the inside of the

It then cannot be rubbed off, and it can be removed and
placed at will.


“One rule to observe as much as possible,
and that is:

not to capture spiders with the fingers
if it can be avoided.”


13. After many trials of managing spiders in test-tubes of

I can at last pronounce the above plans to be entirely

When stopped with corks the spirit was quickly and
constantly evaporating;

Besides which, the corks soon became rotten with the
action of the spirit.


“The comparative extent of the facial space
is of great importance as a specific character,
and is of easy observation;

That part of the
facial space occupied by the eyes
is concisely expressed by the term
ocular area.”


14. As the greater part of my own collection is intended
for scientific purposes,

I only take the trouble to set out here and there a

For the delectation of unscientific or ‘goodness gracious’

For when set out they occupy, of course, far more space
in a tube

Than when put in just as they happen to come out

From the effect of chloroform or other stupefying agent.


15. A single tube will thus contain up to twenty or more
examples unset,

But never more than one species in a tube, and often
only one sex.

In all cases the name should be placed in each, as above

Glass-stoppered bottles containing wool-stoppered tubes
of unset spiders,

May be filled quite full of inverted tubes,

And the names written at length on a paper and gummed
upon one side of the bottle,

So as to be legible without any necessity of handling.


16. I am now using (and finding more handy and
convenient than any other)

Strong wide-mouthed phials (corked, but glass-stoppered
ones would be preferable,

Though much more costly) of the following sizes:-
1/2oz., 1oz., 2oz., and 4oz;

These are kept in stock by most chemists’ bottle-dealers,
and at a reasonable price.

The tubes vary from an inch and a half long to three
inches long,

And these are not too large, but are yet large enough to
contain the largest tropical spiders.


17. When thus preserved and arranged on narrow shelves
in systematic position,

A collection of spiders is by no means an unsightly

And its contents are as easily got at for reference and

As the contents of most insect cabinets.



You on the couch
me on my chair
the fan the children gave us rattling

a little sound of Chabrier
from Concert F.M.

as usual on a Friday night
with fish & chips & L.& P.
my choice

I read S.F. (on Fridays)
you N.Z. (women)
as usual on a Friday night
no change

to speak of
no change I see to speak of

that the crab has pincers out
on your hair
your flesh
to the skull beneath
is nothing
to speak of


the bed
where you pale
and deliquesce

I reach
to ease your pains
but touch the wounds
and burn upon your rawness

my finger-tips made terminal

you bear the impress of my long slow flesh
my sacrament
my host
to death reserved


where they cut
they stitch

black thread
from edge to edge

it seams

a patch at the end
of darning
a sock
a tear in a shirt

holding in the ravelling

the untied end
of a mortal coil


Lit against the window light of broad white sky
reflected sea and sheets
and panels technological

excited by the fussy nurse
arranged by regulation —

Don’t I look well
(you tell me)
I feel so fit

your colour is crustacean

no choir cathedral concert psalm
can raise me

(I must be more composed)

You say
(when you’re raddled with your fate)
you say
They Wait For Me To Die

For what else?


How protestant my mind
that this is sent
for trial
for test
refining fire
a punishment for sin
a due reward
a sign of perverse love
and combinations

I’m learning

that death
has one purpose and one habitat

It favours dark
lives in the mud
flat under rocks

I’m learning

of the species
in your tenebrous self


some tree might
in leaf infusion
powdered root
bark tea
and blood-red gum

some trees might
let down their help
to cleanse the blood
restore a balance lost
in a spent inheritance

unseen unguessed-at fleshly sin

tired mind

some tree might distil
elixir milk for human kindness

bring joyful news
from a new-found world
incline with salve
for crabbed capillaries
cankered bones


You scrabble down
the coralline crust
to crib at the edge
of the sea

cautiously clinging
at the sea flinging
itself at you

feeding at the edge of depth
breathing when the water’s out

lest the great deep sees

strength at the last

and grip the bed
as if your strength still
holds you


Death is a cold wet thing
a slip in the fog
to a sink of sleep

a slip in the fog
a slip a sleep
a slip in the fog
a sink in sleep
a slip

© Leicester Kyle, 2000

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