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,


After drought


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.


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.


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 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 –

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