Not Everyone Can Birth a Poem
Not everyone can birth a poem on order
Make it whole and ripe like a fresh picked passion
And not everyone
Can sing words on command
And having had 6 months, 6 days, 6 decades,6 minutes
I am learning fast
And I am learning slow
That not many of the almost poems we carry
Fresh and full term
Many poems lingered over will never hear their whole names.
Glimpses of nearly spoken,
and burnt spice seeds.
I have hummed my dearest unborn to death.
There are these people who go to poetry classes and study Chaucer and obscure languages
Who carry the right to be fragile like a diamond tiara or a spider web crown.
And there was this boy called Ben. (He wore a back to front sports cap)
And a group of us teachers, and kids and Ben, sat circled around Hone Tuwhare
Inside a school Library in Auckland,
On a wet afternoon
Like those hunched up birds that swoop down over dead meat.
It was the 1980s and nobody there was going to poetry school that we knew off yet
and some of you were not even born and Mr. Tuwhare was not even old yet.
But we did know he was the real thing,
Because he had a book of his poems published with a cover painted by Ralph Hotere,
Ben put up his hand and He shined his smile and he spoke
"Mister, Ahhh TUWHARE
The thing is, I really like your poems
And I really like the sound of words the way you say them, But Sir, ahhhh Mister TUWHARE
Do I have to learn to read books to be a poet?
And Mister Tuwhare said,
(Really serious, gentle, firm,)
"Well, yes son, you do."
And Ben said, 'Thank you Sir. Thank you.'
And so, I am making this poem for Ben,
In case he hears it.
It Is Time
It is time I fashioned myself a Goddess of Detritus.
A secular saint, for unwritten poetry
Saint Slovenly, for the rhyme lies dormant
Saint Sluggish, because the poorly weighted,
tragic crossed out thing is only just breathing.
Straining her too heavy head
Birthed in the wrong time and at a tardy dated place
From a distance made worse by effort
Needing to be absolved
Washed clean and corrected
People who have heard her at least once
I bought breakfast for a thin terrified boy whore in a Manilla Hamburger place
near a market stall filled with plaster Virgins called Mary
and wooden Saints called Joseph
Wrapped in transparent cellophane and impenetrably
bonded in pastel bows
Underneath a smiling leery clown
made of fibreglass.
I took his photograph, and his eyes were big and afraid.
I told him my heart was charity.
Because I believed it was so.
He lifted his arms and stretched them over his head, chin to ceiling
up to the clowns' parting lips
And He said he had to go home.
He said he was not hungry.
He would not be bought for less than a dinner
on the cathedral side of the city.
There are too many poems
I cannot write
There are stories that strip away facades
and glass-topped fences
and leave all our lies laid bare,
and textured with crisp edges
And highlighted passages,
where the tide goes in and out.
Where the bit about Tahiti
and the tragedy
and the lost trip to Pakatoa
Fit neatly into passages about plastic treasure
found in boxes
under trees withholding coconuts.
We bought shell necklaces for the journey
and kept them until we were women
We can all smell Frangipani and look up,
up at the night sky here
Pointing to the Southern Cross
like it means something
Anne Hill is a New Zealand citizen on paper. She is grateful for this.
She was raised Roman Catholic and believed that was her religion and a large part of her identity until she had her DNA 'done' and rethought the whole idea of identity and colonisation in the light of history and a whole lot of virtual relatives.
Very little of her education, race or marital status has any bearing on her present reality. Most of what she was taught was not true or is now outdated. Much of what she learnt, and then taught is now absurd and easily contradicted with a quick google search. Now that she is a different 'other' when she ticks the 'other' box, she feels like the errors were, or should have been obvious.
She finds most of her life has been a whooping big joke. This gives her joy when it does not reduce her to a thin stain of bewilderment. She is hoping that being 60 will be easier than all the other numbers so far. She raised three much loved children, killed a lot of paintings and spent too long on the same old poems. Her sisters are wonderful. She loves dogs and one particular cat. She lives in Auckland