blackmail press 29
Bernard Gadd
New Zealand

In Your Enigma - Ilinca Höpfner
In Your Enigma - Ilinca Höpfner
Rolling your own, Flanders, 1917

another secret from Mom
me the smoker

got to have something to do
fellows say
making a show of licking down paper
along a caterpillar fag
but that’s not it

this invasion of the lungs
is our choice
and the little flares
and the scatters of spent matches
as tobacco’s smoulder almost opposes
the reek everywhere

perhaps the cigarette soothes
some chaps’ jitters
or aggravates
depends I guess
how the nerves
trench in the brain

every dusk
it’s somehow comforting
to glimpse along Fritz’s trenches
a furtive miniature glow

A Fritz or two , Flanders, 1918

among our prisoners was a howling
fifteen-year kid
his comrades amazed
at finding kiwis
they’d heard we were home
dealing with rebels
against the war
(no dafter than rumours
we hear)

decent ordinary blokes
you’d share your last fag with
like Joe I’d known at Point Chev
with the hole right
under his helmet edge

some of them too
I reckon
are tough country men
who’ll agree the smell
of this soil says
a bit of a shower
will pug us terribly in

Depressions in the grocery shop

provinders too
can be Bunyans and Blakes
dissent’s artisans

weighing in scruples
behind the counter

hands wearing down
our own wood

knowing pantries and laundries
are sweetened
against our sweat

the Depression was long
a hanging on
eluding the wasting coin
of make-slog canvases
yet still bashing biscuits for kids’
pennethworth bags

it’s the weariness that stays
and of hoping for something more
by way of us all working
at lives together

long after the war
coupons derided
the reckoning of equity
across Friday’s table

in the Methodist church choir
unaproned we sing and sing
for Jerusalem to come

E, Pa 

          you hold me again
from harm of the sun
or hidden stars

why look away now
from the light and dark of my flesh?
why throw across me my gown?
why step to the waka alone?

Sir, why is the scarlet man at your mansion gate
why do curtains smudge your glass?

do you listen
to whispers at hearths?

do you guess uncles will teach
our child
of  tupara and hatchet
of  taniwha forray in thickets and swamps
the proverbs of pounamu and steel?

Ultimate Auckland  

so civilization ends
not at sky crazed with ice flicker
nor a darkening of trees

but in scrub mire harbours hills
places with scarcely an odour of their own
and  hutches native
to such a place

I wait like Blake of Lambeth
but less whimsically
for eyes and senses
to become fresh noticers
and for a voice to speak
for them clear
as the younger Worthsworth
or Chatterton

a girl a little recalling
Miss Edendale
shows the while
under gown and blanket
flesh and bone remarkably the same
but not in what
skin and of breath know

I study how fern knurls
deal with their weight

and how this light
drives in at the retina

and how beach wavelets
hint at the reel
of latitude

belly queasy with pork
weighted with potato
I walk aside from the fretting governor
and those labouring at plots
and resinous walls

feel the slowness
of each nerve planting itself

the girl again
laces the tent flap
shabby gown on yellow grass
her whole back refuting
epigrams patience
or bone

we stare into each other
breathing in balance
inexplicably inkling towards
flax clump’s incendiary burst
steel’s slash red
bells oaths psalms
and the taste
on tongues of our dust

yet bone works
at its bargaining


the poetry seeker
steps to the morning

still twigs lack
the cat’s a shape
inert against hedge
a child close by monotonously
chants the same broken words

the searcher sits
someone will bring food
someone will bring drink
events will occur
lines arrive

light won’t weaken
nor turbulence clog air
nor joists judder
doors bolt
the wrist cease
its limber ease

Bernard Gadd 2003
Bernard Gadd was a high school teacher. He was in the forefront in the 1970s in advocating and demonstrating a multi- and bi - cultural approach to teaching, including editing several anthologies of NZ and Pacific literature for schools. Some of his poetry is inspired by his Birmingham forebears. The most recent collection of his poetry is "End of the snapshots" 2007.

Bernard passed away in 2007, we re-release his submission from 2003. Bernard was a vital contributor to blackmail press, and he is missed very much.
- Doug Poole

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