Poems

What can a young man do?

When it was more or less
time to leave school
the folk would always ask
what I wanted to do?

Climb a tree that no one
had ever climbed –
to the top of it –
and see out there an ocean

none of them believed in.
And what then?
the same folk would be asking.
And I would ask them back: what

can a young man do but
jump for it?

Past the last stop

I had a friend who lived
a half-hour walk
past the last bus stop.

We walked it together
so often I cannot
forget every step.

We talked of poems,
the shape of the shore,
the tide that gave it shape.

I wonder what happened,
what of him?
past the last stop, Long Bay,

Byzantium.

After drought

1.

Out on the paddock
a shot of light
catches your eye:

you think, what is it?
it’s a puddle the rain
left when it left,
first rain

since God took the kid.

2.

Why we never died
doing what we did

ok at the time,
not now. Was that

a smile or grimace

I saw under gibbous moonlight?
Was it even your face?

Too late now,
too late to know.

3.

You praise
“God’s world”

you sing a song,
“God’s world”.

Someone somewhere says
you’ve got it wrong;

word is
the world is

God.

4.

God doesn’t live here.
Not anymore.

One day, ‘out of the blue’
we got the nod,

to say Thanks, folks,
thanks for believing

& I wouldn’t be leaving.
But the old man says I’ve got to.

Then, like any con,
God was gone,

the kid with him.

A shot of light
that caught the eye.

A minute after

A minute after hearing car
turn from gravel road to drive –
low gear down to the house –
I catch a glimpse of light:

reflection of sun on chrome.
It stops where I am –
the boy home safe.
I find myself blessing myself:

knowing well could be
this never was happening.
Something different, entirely,
telephone ringing,

somewhere, someone:
bring back, bring back,
please, bring back that
young son to me.

I live in hope

I live in hope –
poet, preacher,
Bishop, Cardinal, Pope –

who knows,
could one day get the Big Nod –
God.

I live in hope,
and in love, elope
with an angel.

Tommorrow, or today (2)

We prepare for departure,
no see-you-later;
we make our goodbyes.
It’s a quiet time, quieter
by hour, by day,
by day, by hour:
not a lot left to say.

I was moving the cattle earlier,
told them We’re in this together,
we’re headed for the Works,
no one pumping the brakes:
no one, I told them,
is giving a damn –
the stock-truck’s on its way.

And later found myself talking
to nodding tops of totara:
told them I’d no idea
how all of this started, or how
(when it does) it stops.
The trees agreed.
And it just got quieter.

To be a house

The house, without you in it,
should be condemned, too

right: there should be a law against it!
The house, to be a house, needs you.

*

Rain tonight horizontal
direct from south-west.

I never was sure, at all,
which storm-quarter was best:

*

but took to sea,
met mermaids of madness,

with the madness the beauty,
with the beauty the sadness.

*

Your mother and I came to a bay
from some storm at sea:

what we had together was you, boy.
I never knew her, she never knew me.

*

I left on a broken down horse –
I called him ‘Seven Sorrows’ –

lived ten years in a lighthouse
that threw only shadows.

*

Things change though, call it fate,
change of season, I don’t know!

These nights when I ride in late
there are lights in the window