Language and Place on the Edge: Six Poems
Vers au Vert
From centre to circumference
we drift, crossing this great expanse
to speak in tongues considered pure
by uninitiated ears.
Old words, once tentatively used
then fashioned thin as life imposed,
become an enigmatic code
charged with the trace of others’ deeds.
Deprived by empire of a waiting
embrace, language devolves, begetting
forms like those strange conventions now
spoken in parliaments of two.
Big Love Song #17
the golden night has locked down
the unreal day gone, thank you, for now.
the persistent thud of a million feet
stamping the ancient cobblestones.
I laughed, the outrageous image of you
seated next to a fat satyr from Hellene,
your thigh raised to the sky
tapering to a desirable end.
the threatening cataclysm
is more than a grim tattoo.
the responsible hordes hold in their hands,
for the first time, the battering-ram.
The Tree at the Edge of the World
Clawing onto the cliff
Face into a salty purge
It has given up flowering
On exhausted soil
Rooted in the underworld
Grasping at the air
Where the dead
Leave the living.
This is the tree
That clings to the edge
Of the Earth.
the altar of wind
my country is an idea born on the altar of wind
earths deep blues carried on galloping horses
lizards names etched into knotted stone archways
we drink cups of obsidian Columbian coffee laughing
in blood drenched gardens candles melt tanekaha perfumes
nikau palms dance cities of moonlight frenzies
WairoaRiverveins nourished by children throwing petals
a thousand tui chant dawn prayers
from puriri groves kneeling on aging hills
the skies cloud mask pours nipples of rain
voices of birds name the deserts language of maps
flocks of black coated women expand covering all distances
matuku moana call from blue fired clay minarets
on your breasts whole kukupa sheens breathe in
what you breathe out
you are venus bathing like an orchid
in loves memory of the moment
kahawai inhabiting a river mouth
hear pebbles hiss in your depths
your hands move in cascades of feathered leaves
mottled oyster skin a pale silk of ice trembling
your name is a gift of lavender in luxuries of passion
my heart a burial ground in the mutilated colour of dunes
as drops in the tide we evaporate into manuka fires
flying on humid rituals under tents of mirrors
The Other Side of Better
Running up a hill
making deals with the devil
or God — whichever works better
Bush is burning
I turn it up and feel me yearning
for your devil grin and thunder heart
or God — whichever is better
As I listen and wait
I soon find myself
in a song
it’s you and me…
It’s you and me who won’t be unhappy…
in love and singing
– this is better
Sleep. I can’t.
Alcohol – much too much.
Drinking began yesterday.
Crashed car and burned house.
House burned and car crashed
yesterday. Began drinking
much too much alcohol.
can’t I sleep?
NOTE: The Other Side of Better by Michelle Elvy and Cause–Effect–Cause by Bernard Heise were originally written for 52|250: A Year of Flash.