Thursday

Message from a Lightboard (1996)









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>>ENJOY OUR MINI-SMORG LUNCHES>
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MESSAGE FROM A

LIGHTBOARD




POEMS BY

LEICESTER KYLE





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YOUR HOST TONIGHT IN CASE OF FIRE>
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1




This collection of poems is taken from those written over the last two years, up to May of this year, 1996. Most were composed during a residence in northern Northland. During that time we often had to drive down for business to Auckland, staying in the city for several days at a time. The contrasting attractions of both these environments proved creative.

Another creative source is the tension between that part of me that is celebratory, and that part that is depressive. In the one I am intrigued by life, and in the other irritated by it. This polarity finds expression in a religious faith, which is pervasively present in all my poetry, though in different guises.

For many reasons, mostly to do with personal freedom, I prefer life in the city, so these poems, though often romantic, do not reflect an imagery of ugly urban set against pure rural. I profoundly enjoy the country, but also much appreciate living amongst many people.

As we now live in Auckland, urban themes predominate. My southern origins are sometimes evident. The wide range of poems in this volume is deliberately chosen, to represent a broadness of interest and attention. This seems important to me at present.

My thanks to Miriel Kyle and Catherine Mair, for patiently editing this collection. Nothing included in it has appeared in a commercial publication, but quite a few of the poems have previously seen print in 'Spin' and in 'Micropress N.Z.'

Julian Oliver, my nephew, created the front cover, and, for reasons they will understand, the book is dedicated to Mary and Lindsay Johnson of Kaikohe.

Leicester Kyle,

August, 1996.





2




CONTENTS

  1. Private Eye[3]
  2. Tonight, the Moon[4]
  3. Gioia Said[5]
  4. Close-up[6]
  5. Fledgling[7]
  6. Driving Down[8]
  7. Ombrage[14]
  8. Sunrise[14]
  9. Viva Visa[15]
  10. Closed Shop[15]
  11. Trouble at Returns[16]
  12. You're the Best[19]
  13. At Peria I found My Love[20]
  14. For a Dark Day[21]
  15. The Soul is an Agaricus[22]
  16. State House Sonnets[23]
  17. Last Day Last Year[25]
  18. From a Shed in Simon Urlich Rd.[26]
  19. Sunday Tea[27]
  20. Mycophile[28]
  21. The Hydra[29]
  22. Stare Cat[29]
  23. The Old Bach[30]
  24. Bee Business[30]
  25. Trooping[31]
  26. Convergence Zone[32]
  27. Cumulus[33]
  28. Picking Paua[34]
  29. Macrocarpa[35]
  30. Self-Diagnosis[36]
  31. Home for Tea[37]
  32. The Certain Uneasiness of Holiday[38]
  33. Conned[39]
  34. Ode to a Word Processor[40]
  35. Venus in a Hot Bread Shop[41]
  36. Polly at the Cello[42]
  37. Anzac Days[43]
  38. Telephone Tiger[49]
  39. Wagner in the Park[51]
  40. A Visit to the Doctor[52]
  41. Monday, Spring One[53]
  42. Treat[54]
  43. About Florence[55]
  44. Desperate Remedy[56]





3



PRIVATE EYE


I've been
to the other side of the sun.

She said it.
I didn't.

She said,
so I let her articulate.

(These expeditions
are very individual. )

And what was it like?

She saw the backside of the universe,
in black,
with price-tags tattooed on the buttocks.






4



TONIGHT, THE MOON

Tonight,
the moon
is soft and round and blue
in full

observance
of the sun arising
in the morning
with pieces off

It's the end
of the ages

age
after age
of waiting

millennia
of readiness
for this

all the people
all the death
for this

any day

just waiting
for a sponsor
now.





5



GIOIA SAID


Do you love me,
Gioia asked
from the bed.
No, I said.

Feel guilty,
she asked.
At not feeling guilty,
I said.

Resolve it
before you come back,
she said

from the bed,
bright as a last
cicada day
at summer's end.

She didn't enquire
before we began,
and she's not easy led.





6



CLOSE-UP


There's nothing between us
at last
nothing

words
speech or paper

sight
visual aids

clothes
on the floor

just space between
so close we are

there's still the space between

can someone build a bridge
or lay a line
or send a signal somehow





7



FLEDGLING

In my arms,
a bird.

Last night,
a preening pet

that I could teach,
correct.

Now
all I fondle's
feathers.

What did I do
to ruffle you

or say

or fail?

You pick at me
unmercifully,

play new tricks
untaught,

scratch and mess
the nest.





8





DRIVING DOWN

1.
I'm driving down to glory,

storm before,
sun behind,
and me,
in a dazzling littoral

as the storm retreats,
trailing a rainbow

for hope,
a hope as firm,
certain,
as my hope can be.

Appointment made,
evening set,
I race the sun
and chase the storm.





9



2.
Around the mangrove swamp
and there:
it hovers on the water,
towers and turrets
softened by sea-drift
to pastel shades of illustration.

It's a dream,
left over
from a traveller's mirage.

It lies still.
The cloud behind is black,
puffed up by a heavy hand,
and threatens.
I won't see,
but rush in the race
to the shelter
that will house and feed
and set me
for reward.





10



3.
A cold wet wind blows
mean and moaning
off the Manukau.

My flat's my defence;
I close it about me.

It's a still life:
curtains hanging,
bed made,
fruit in the bowl.
The clock's ticking.

I leave,
cleansed, refreshed.
Before me wintry west
and narcissistic night.
I shrink,
and half decide to stay,
hanging at the door,
loyal to the last convention,
fearing loss,
frightened
at the frightful chance
of gain.





11



4.
The table's at the window.
I watch the people
passing in the rain,
shouldering the wind.

Mozarella's in my beard.
I can't see myself
but must be a mess,
with the sauce.

Appetites compete.
one declines,
the other erupts
with impatience.

It's a shame
they don't cohabit
more equably.

It's a shame
it's so wet
that I can't
see the faces
passing by.

I skip the rest
and pay the bill.
Coffee will come
when I want it.





12



5.
It stands across the road,
dark against the city lights,
trees before it
masking shape and line.

Before me a torrent
of storm and traffic,
full flood from the west
raging

like a mountain creek
rolling boulders.
There's lightning in the west
now

it's time for me to cross.
I told her I would be there.
She might, she said.

I'm not used to traffic
like this,
and I freeze at the crossing,
too scared to walk
even when it says to,

until the window says to.
It glows behind the curtain.
her curtains,
her room.

WALK
it says.
CROSS
it says.
COME
it says.
ready.





13



6.
In her arms,
– warmly.

Make me a poem,
she says.

A poem?
No pen.

Say it then,
she says.
A nice one.

A poem?
Now?
Not a line.
Not a title.

Her every line's indelible –
her hips, her thighs, her lips;
but mine are washed away,
in the flood.

I'm overwhelmed.
A castaway
stranded on the shore.
I'm wrecked.
Let me rest,
then I'll think
of something.

I'll get coffee,
she says.
You rest.
Then we'll talk

There's something in her voice.
A tone.
Finality.

Her coffee's late,
and comes with pain.





14



OMBRAGE


When we sit
you lean away from me.

Is it your mind,
or do I make you?

I'm ragged now
from loss of sleep

and fear,
that someone else,
or death,
will take you.




SUNRISE
FROM THE BEDROOM WINDOW


The sky's so clean
no cloud could stain it.

A fresh-ironed shirt,
a new-spread cloth
a Sunday sheet.

It's acting up.
Before the day's out
it'll be washed.





15



VIVA VISA


Our passport says:
The kiss of love,
the two of us,
when leaving;

a document
we both obey,
the two of us,
believing.

The kiss of love,
the one for two,
when lost,
or when receiving.



CLOSED SHOP


whispering
in the sun

green
to the grass

blue
to the sky

and white
to the people next door

blinded

to its inhabitants
black





16



TROUBLE AT RETURNS


On Monday morning,
as soon as the library opens,
I go straight to 'RETURNS'.
I'm sorry, I say,
but all the books I last borrowed
have disappeared.
Name please, the man asks,
and how many?
Thirteen, I say. Due today.
1 romance,
2 Eng Lit,
4 novels,
2 S.F.
1 biography,
& 3 from Philosophy.
And you've lost them?
No, 1 say. They've disappeared.
Same thing.
Not in the least, I say.
he looks at me
as though I'm a damaged volume.
Which is as might be.

Tell it all, he sighs,
to say he's heard it all before.
But he hasn't.

I begin:
We were on holiday.
We went out last Sunday
to take some fish
to a friend at Koke.
Koke? he asks.
Yes, I tell him,
in the Hokianga,
on the North Shore.
We cut across country
through Back River there,
and at the end of the day,
on our way back,
we took a wrong turn
and came out at Kareponia.

All these names, he says,
they mean nothing to me.





17




They're important for the evidence,
I explain.
They locate us.
Because of this, you see,
we had to drive back
down State Highway Ten.
Then, as we looked ahead,
we saw that the peninsula had gone.
That's where our beach was,
our batch was,
I tell him.
It had gone.
It wasn't there.

How do you know that? He asks.
We waited a while,
and it didn't come back, I say.
How do you know it wasn't there?
Did you test to see?
How do you test something
that isn't there? I reply.
I'm very patient.

So is he.
He has no choice.
He thinks a bit,
and says, with a smile:
We must assume, I suppose,
that your books
have been taken
by God.
Indeed, I agree.
Nothing else
would have the power.
And what if I don't
believe in God?
Don't worry, I say.
Just have faith.

Have faith in a God
who takes library books!
He's angry.
The incident has to be defined,
I observe, mildly,
with dignity.
Call it an act of God.
You don't have to believe in God
to believe in the things God does.





18




Things do break through.
Things happen.

He's angrier,
and I'm in a lot of trouble.
The Peninsula hasn't come back.
Some farms and some people
and a meter reader from the power board
are still missing,
but it's the books
that are the bother.
I'm under suspicion,
and they're giving me
a hefty fine.

It's a thin, uncertain world.





19




You're the best!
You're my Sunday vest;
my boots, my belts, my hat –
You're my leather jacket!
You'll pass the test.

You're simply tops!
Take all I've got –
my sound, my wheels, my dog;
Take my tatts! My artifacts!
Take all my props.

You're just ace!
You're in my space –
my house, my sheds, my farm.
You'll do no harm.
Just take the place.





20




At Peria I found my love,
at Hoteo I crossed her;
at Nunguru she's found again,
at Panguru I lost her.

From our brief union there was born
a son for us, at Taipa.
He wandered too when he grew up –
Aurere to Otaika.

Then time did tempt him to retire,
far from the fuss and bustle.
He settled it to settle down,
at Rawhiti, near Russell.

And now it's he, at home for me,
giving me company, gladly,
while I grow greens and fruiting things
still pining for Peria, sadly.





21



FOR A DARK DAY

Smile with me my love, and come
Down into the woods once more,
And swim the river, as we did
On hot and summer days before.

When rushes lined the bank, unmoved,
And ferns grew tall and straight and green,
And tuis sang the tree-tops still.
The river ran as quiet and clean

As new-made glass or glacier ice,
Or liquidness of light unused.
Then time stood true for we who loved,
And summer strong its strength infused.





22



THE SOUL IS AN AGARICUS

It pushes up unlooked-for from the ground,
forgotten for a season, hardly known.
With unexpected strength it makes its way
against all obstacles that overlay.
Invisible mycelia from the soil,
that reach out far in search of nourishment
and flourish in the basement of the being,
combine as if from air to make the fruit,
and form a thing corporeal, complex, good.
Once grown it spreads its spores about, and then
Dissolves, and turns invisible again.
Though living, it will go unseen until
the season's right; cool weather brings the rain,
to start the growth, and make its presence plain.





23





from TWELVE STATE
HOUSE SONNETS

1.
Shining,
on the corner of the avenue.
First finished
it shivers, empty
in the winter sun.
Orange tiles
and yellow weather boards.
No paths, no fences.
A small shed out the back.
Building rubbish erupts around.

One door out,
another in the front.
Three bedrooms.
One room for living.



2.
No paths, no fences.
Grass all around
and into next door,
which has two bedrooms
and no windows yet.
We look into it,
and wonder who will come.
Ours is bigger, better,
and holds us warmly,
with holes in the carpet.

My mother worries
about the hole in the carpet
and her stomach ulcer.
It might trip the doctor.





24



3.
We make gardens and lawns,
signs of our worth,
outside evidence
of the home we've made,
controlled and tended,
a signal and request
to the middle-classed
in the new streets
at the end of ours,
where the berry farms had been.

Paddocks and bushes bulldozed into
muddied wounds that rot for weeks
until surveyors come to mark out
sizeable, saleable sections.



4.
Every time it's Christmas
there are rows.
The money's gone.
Work parties, drink –
we don't know why.
There are rows
up and down the street.
Ours is at night
when we're hanging decorations
in the passage.

It's new every time.
There's hope in it.
A sort of dawn;
first in a different day.





25



LAST DAY LAST YEAR

In the cafe
in the morning.
The roads are quiet.
People come and go
for breakfast,
and the small things
that are talked here.

The staff are slow.
They talk among themselves,
not serving much.
There's more to talk of
than to eat,
they think.

No-one minds;
something's cooking.
It smells like the end
of an ordinary year.





26



FROM A SHED
IN SIMON URLICH ROAD


I'm sitting in the garage,
trying to be easy
in a hard-backed chair.
My feet are on the stool,
books beside,
and my parrot,
excited at the sound of the sea.

I'm looking out the big half -door,
out over the rough-mown lawn,
the porch, its sloping slanting steps,
maimed ngaios at the fence,
and clacking flaxes.

The road,
a small park with a crooked sign,
a cut-out Norfolk pine.

The sea
through a saddle in the sand,
grey today,
at odds with itself.

Behind the sea some hills,
scarred and wounded
under a rain-set sky,
houses on their lower slopes
quiet and attentive,
like nurses.





27



SUNDAY TEA


White and frail,
discreetly dusted,
she takes the pew in front.

The vicar speaks
of life and pain
here, and in Dunblane.

She smells of tea,

and sends me
to briared river beds
and toru scrub,
manuka,
a burning sun,
a boiling pot.

Amen, the vicar says,
and I come back
to the book.
I've lost my place.





28



MYCOPHILE

Ring me, ring me, ring me round
the time when mushrooms crowd
into the mind.

Ring me, ring me, ring me round
the time when mist
and dew and life
compost into
the rich fertility from which
the numberless of gill and spore
ring in.

Ring me, ring me, ring me all
you fruiting bodies from my earth.
Dial, encircle,
troop your line,
engage,
then – name please, first.





29



THE HYDRA

Within the waterweed and murk
the many-headed hydras lurk,
disguising their unbridled greed
with their sinuous sensitive sensual speed
of feeding.

Should ever glancing sunbeam slant
upon this animalish plant,
the hydra, sensing primal need,
with a furious fulminant frantic heed,
starts breeding.



STARE CAT

The octopus has slept too late.
The tide has gone, has shut its gate.
She finds out now she can't escape,
and lurks here,
to be stared at.

She waves her arms (but not for help),
pretending she's a piece of kelp;
from underneath a rocky shelf
she stares back.
I'm a scared cat.





30



THE OLD BACH


Someone put it all together,
cobbled it
from pieces of his past,
gates and steps and tanks
and doors,
stitched and tacked
to fit,

and hasn't touched it since,

leaving it,
a comment on the corner,
casting doubt on either side
of the street.



BEE BUSINESS


In this out-house
there are bees building
in the wall

they shame me
about their business

they are so deliberate
regular
sociable

I so solitary
instinctive





31



TROOPING

Orchids on a ledge,
assembled
in the clear
above the flood,

precisely placed,
as if their leaves have touched
to judge the space,
and each has shuffled
in parade.

Each takes its own direction.

No danger here,
no need to guard
so, face the front,
stand tall, unite,
and show yourselves.

Then, be at ease.
there's no-one here commanding,
or to please.





32



CONVERGENCE ZONE

The rain's
not the same
anymore.

It had a soft centre.

Now there are bits in it
that rattle on the tops
of leaves and cars,
and bite.

Once it was beneficent.

Something's changed.

Clouds used to gather.
Now they gang up.





33



CUMULUS


This cloud
gives me time.

I think I've earned
a perk or two
so,

stop still, please.
Kill the shadow,
hide the sun,

and let me make repairs
to a hurried past,

then go again.

Shake up the clocks.

Let day move on.





34



PICKING PAUA

Down the long brown ridge we tumble,
rolling in the grass,
Joseph & Michael, Anna & Ruth, Miriel & Me.

Grass tiger brown,
green under from the autumn rains,
where mushrooms grow.

A tiger's arm,
the ridge slopes down,
reclining in the slow blue day

as we tumble and roll and jump and play,
Joseph & Michael & Anna & Ruth & Miriel & Me,
from the heights at the road
to the reef at the sea,

where the paua live in the pools,
by the ngaio tree at the foot of the cliff
which we climb from the ridge to the sea,

where the paua grow in the pools,
to pick with a flick
and a twist of the knife,

for tea.





35



MACROCARPA


It smells of sandsoap
in the hedge.
The trunks are warm.
Night leaks in all round
from some other place.

Their light's on.
They're arguing.
She breaks a plate
on the table
and he kicks her

and
she calls out,
quickly.
A sad sound.
Night cry of bird.
White sound of moon.
No-one else will hear.
It's for me.

It stays in the garden
a long time,
phantom of parental pain,
softly telling me things,
and then it goes.

I must go after,
to a safer place.

I get down.
Branches break loudly
so I stay hidden.

If I come out
I'm me.

I must find
another thing
to be.





36



SELF–DIAGNOSIS

She says I have a cold.
The very naming of the ill
gives it more potency,
as will the definition of a deed
or act.

What do you do
when someone says
you're this or that?
The definition makes a fence
that shortens vision,
keeps out sense.

To say I have a cold!
How does she dare!
It's that I overtalk and overbear.

You, O God,
implant in us this passion
to name,
and in naming graft oppression.

To say I have a cold!
What does that tell,
but that I am bad-tempered
and not well.





37



HOME FOR TEA


Did you have a good trip
she asked,
off-hand,
Did you have a good trip today?

Yes, I said, as easily,
Nothing went wrong today.
I survived,
I said, as easily,
I'm alive, l'm living, today.

I drove a distance or two,
I think.
A world or two, maybe.
A continent,
an island, a strait,
a reef,
and a galaxy.

Did you! She said.
You've had quite a time;
do you think you feel ready for tea?
Thank you, I said,
I'll then take a nap.
Driving's a bore
when you haven't a map.





38



THE CERTAIN UNEASINESS OF HOLIDAY

The sun's come at last.
It's been raining,
and we're bored.

Let's go for a walk,
she says,
along the beach.

The sea's far out,
withdrawn,

and the wet sand shines,
stretching far ahead of us

forever,
it might be;
the end is fogged
by sea mist.

Behind us another storm.
The birds are pointing into it,
already.





39



CONNED

You say you love me much, my dear,
But do you love? I rather fear
You know, and much misuse.
You say you truly read my face,
And every line, you say, embrace,
And oft of me enthuse
That I'm an open book to you,
My very soul laid to your view;
Why then this trust abuse?
You say that now you know me well,
But when I ask you cannot tell –
Your love I must refuse.
I fear I'm but your oft-bought book,
Scanned and conned and soon forsook,
Much bartered and perused.





40



ODE TO A WORD PROCESSOR

Word breather!

Your dark and light
in silken space
precisely place
created works,
prosodic play,
profundity,
and wit.

New creatures
of my mind
you put in order
on the screen.
Delete, insert and justify
a meaning
from my touch.

With sign and stop
you take my lines
and breathe into them;
punctuate
and constellate
from module, keyboard,
printer, mouse.

Into your universe
you take my thoughts
and fix them
in your space.
Electrical infinity!
Eternity on floppy disc!
O Muse Domesticate!

Take me, friend.
Screen me clear,
image and inspire.
Print me out
in Dot Matrix,
save me,
script and soul.





41



VENUS IN A HOT BREAD SHOP

Don't get me wrong.
I like them.
When they turn up
I feel good about it.

So when Liz says:
go down to the Hot Bread Shop
and get some buns;
I've got nothing
to give them
for tea.
I go.

She walks in before me.
It's not much of a shop,
but when I see who she is
there's no dirt,
no cooking smells.
There's incense in the air.
No body else,
just She
upon a forest floor
with parroquets
in sunlight.

Liz asks after:
What happened to you?
Did you go to the pub?
Weren't you thinking straight?
They were our guests,
you know.

I met someone, I say.

(I was still doing my duty.
Even a god can be a guest.)





42



POLLY AT THE CELLO


Polly is practising the cello
next door.

She's not bad.
She plays good stuff,
but she still pisses me off

because it's her noise,
not mine,

and another thing is that
it says she's there.

I don't want to know.

I've my own life,
I don't want her coming into it,

putting me on a track
that's not my own.

If I want to see her
I'll knock.

If I want to talk,
I'll ring.

I don't do it all day,
she says.

That's not the point –
every second's a part
of being alive.

At least it's not the drums,
she says.

Stuff the instrument.
it's her I'm on about.





43





ANZAC DAYS


1. the procession.
Culverden.


The road
goes out of sight,
dips and rises,
never bends.

The town
jumps from the trees,
surprising.

I'm stopped.

I'd forgotten the day.

Everyone
is on the road
marching,
or watching,

on this blue-grey morning,
with the nor-west arch
on the Hanmer Hills.

The wreaths are placed,

bright presents
for a past
that's all but lost
among these rocks and hills
and darkening plain,

and unending road.





44




2. the silver band.
Akaroa.


waiting

serious in the shade
by the obelisk

music
on a quiet sea

before it's seen

far off

glinting
on the march

a river running on the road


3. effects.
Stoke.


Murphy Simpson leads the donkey
to the hall.

A soldier with a bandaged head
is balanced on the donkey's back.

The others look well enough,

except the Mayor,
our many-medalled Mayor.

He's engaged on his own campaigns,
and looks at Murphy from Gallipoli
with sympathy.





45




4. the officer.
the Square.


They stand before the cenotaph,
ranked and waiting.

A soldier guards each corner.
It's half light.

The trumpet does its bit.

The colonel whispers:
what do I do now?

The Ode. the Ode.

He leads the Lord's Prayer,
again.

It's as well.
So many mistakes at the cause of it all.
It can't all go right,
now.





46




5. the hall.
Hobsonville.


We march
down the hill;
it's not far
and it's fast.

First the flag
and the veterans,
services,
police;
young people
in uniforms,
neighbourhood groups.

Into
the rusting old hall
we go crowding,
sombre and serious,
children up front,

awed at the chaplain
in black
and the officer,
telling us something
that Churchill
once said.

He reminds us
of bravery,
good deeds to imitate,
even in peace,
when they don't seem
of use.





47




6. the speech.
the Bridge of Remembrance.


I'll tell you what the Hero said:

Throw them in the river.
We don't want those types
in our city. We didn't fight
two world wars for louts
like that. Our lads didn't die
so this sort of thing could
go on. We fought for a de­
cent society. They're dregs.


7. breakfast.
Rawhiti.


A shower in the wind.
We're on the verandah,
crowded.

Everything's wet.
Mist whips the burnt hills,
snaking.

He brings the food around:
bread and saveloys.
Ash drops from his cigarette.

He does that in the shop,
they say.
It gets in the meat.





48




8. the trumpet.
Russell.


The buses take us to the top
and we straggle,
tired from early rising,

to gather
near the flagstaff,
around the graves.

No-one quite knows
where to stand,
to be respectful,

but we manage,
grouping on the grass,

blinking at the brightness
of the bay
on either side,

uneasily reminded:
here we began
this cult of force.

The trumpet's taped,
and slips,

but the graves, the sea, the past,
have call enough.





49



TELEPHONE TIGER

They gave him three years.
He's been gone for months,
but he's all over the place,
everywhere I look,
with her, in her,
bruising still.

She sits in silence at the table,
thinking what to do,
she says.

I look out the door,
over the gorse and wild kanuka
to the sea at the bottom of this world.
His hill's there,
a green breast by the beach,
terraced from a time before this law.

Scattered, seeded from the coast,
islands sleep in powdered sunlight,
soothed by the monotony
of early summer day.

He farms the scrub;
prohibited produce,
hidden in the taller stuff.

Inside, he's here,
in the photos,
smart couple and three kids,
on dresser, window-sill and wall,
in the plaque he carved
when last in jail.
His are the Most Promising Player trophies,
tarnished , dusty, insect-spotted,
lost from love,
forgotten in the crises.
On the wall
a tiger-rug from Singapore,
prowling from a bamboo thicket,
front paw raised in papier-mache limpness.





50




She's asking.

What can I say?
He's ringing every day
from the prison down the line,
and she can't pay the bill.
I just want to get on with things,
she says.

Say no.

She looks, and smiles.
I see my stupidity.
A sad game this,
hunting and hiding,
with pain in it,
but it's their life,
ail they've got,
their only defiance of those tricks
poverty plays.

There's quietness in her,
silence on her face.
Say no to him?
If she says that
the telephone won't snarl any more.

His every word is worth a thousand dollars.

She wants him stalking
through the thickets of her mind,
as present as the wind
that's always blowing here,
hunting her on wire and line.
The land, the sea,
the growl of the sea
is his.
Every turn of fate's arranged by him,
she hopes.
She'll never say no to that.





51



WAGNER IN THE PARK

The sky!
From sea to sea,
looking south.

Sun and shower,
stored and stacked,
messages from sponsors of power.

Clouds give the word,
winds make evidence,
news-bites on a bulletin of blue,
spelling out the opera,
arias and laughter,
writing them in moving script
for distant viewers

who,
retired for lack of work reward,
surprised by public overture,
are tempted out
at night

to laser light,
gunpowder stars,
cataracts of sparks,
canons, smoke-bombs, rockets,
wheels of fire,

and come,
vast horses in the strobe-struck smoke,
stampeding all this startled crowd
by prancing in the flickering fire-work glare.
But just a glimpse.
When all have run,
and only panic's left,
and darkness,
and rubbish strewn in horror on the grass,

they go to rest,
half sorry for their fun,
like adults who,
when wild play is done,
see their children looking on,
amused.





52



A VISIT TO THE DOCTOR

Doctor,
I get headache.
Every morning,
after breakfast,
so bad
it puts a hole
through my soul
you could look through.

A vortex of pain,
Doctor,
whirling so fast
it drags me
so fast
there's nothing else.
Black dizziness.
All the world's around me,
spinning.

I crouch myself in,
Doctor,
and scream,
in a corner.
Nothing else but me
and pain.
Partnership.

There's comfort for you,
Doctor.
A thought for you.
In pain so great
there's place for nothing else –
no thought,
no energy to spend
on distraction.

No other pain.
Analgesic agony.

Doctor,
I have headache.
Diagnose, please.
Advise.
Be God's eye,
for me.





53




Monday,
Spring One.

The whole town
is sniffing the air
and glancing over fences.

The first faint hint
of life to come.
A flip of the hip,
a lilt in the talk
on the telephones,
of freedom.
Light lingers.

Soft on the glow
of the setting sun
floats the talcum dust
of infant lust,
pollen-gold.
And laughter.

A shiver as the sun goes down.
Darkness brings necessity.
Cruel chill.





54



TREAT

Wake up,
she said.
It's your birthday.

So it is,
I said.
Let's do something special.

(The sun shone,
and the birds
were well on the way
to making the most
of another day).

Like what,
she said.
Let's live somewhere else,
I said.

We got up,
packed up,
drove south through paradise
to town,
and haven't been back home since.





55



ABOUT FLORENCE

b. 1908. Expelled from
Pupuke Valley school
at the age of 7. Buried
at Green Lane ceme­
tery, Kaeo, Easter '95.

I wonder, Florence, what you did,
so young, and such a harmless kid.
So harmless? Could that really be?
Or truthful, tidy, scholarly?

Expelled from school when only seven!
From environs, friends, & all your brethren.
For talking, was it, or for teasing,
Inattention, raucous sneezing?

Rude letters or salacious verse,
Murder, treason, something worse?
Whatever crime, you lived and married.
I wonder at the guilt you carried.





56



DESPERATE REMEDY

I'll sit,
mermaid on a rock,
combing my hair
and singing.

I'll stop the traffic on Tamaki Drive,
make yachties stare
swimmers sink
and prices rise on Bastion Point.

Then
you'll come,
enticed by song,
encircled in my seaweed net,

and be
surprised
by me
disguised.





57




DAY 'DESTINY'. UNCLAIM



THE DARVILLE R.S.A. WE

WELCOME TO THE DARVILLE R.S.A. WE HOPE YOU ENJOY

SELF YOUR HOST TONIG

YOUR HOST TONIGHT IS BRIAN. ENJOY OUR MINI-SMORG

NJOY OUR MINI-SMORG

LUNCHES TUES-SAT CATCH THE SUPER 12 ON OUR BIG

THE "SUPER-12" ON OUR

ACCOMODATION? TRY THE SOMME MOTEL. BEST BED IN

OMMODATION? TRY THE

TOWN. USE OUR FREE COURTESY COACH. DON'T DRINK &

T BED IN TOWN. USE OUR

DRIVE. KEEP OFF PARAPLEGICS' PARK. PAY YOUR SUB BE

FREE COURTESY COACH

FORE YOU GO. FRI BAND DESTINY. UNCLAIMED CHOOK

KEEP OFF PARAPLEGICS'


SUB BEFORE YOU GO. FRI





© Leicester Kyle, 1996

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