blackmail press 35
Taipari O Maraea - Penny Howard
David Eggleton
New Zealand

Colonial Pidgin

Sailing ships rose
to whale-road’s wallow,
and the mollymawk
           flew high . . .
coasting down to
grazing cloud,
catchment fern,

Snarls of barbed wire
rust beneath clay,
the colour of a put-out fire,
awaiting a better day.

Fern sap bubbles gummy from ponga.
Sun burns hot tar scooped off the hard.
Dropping his clutch of mushroom caps,
a bewhiskered ancient staggers
amongst used tea-cups,
plates; rolling the makings
and coughing catarrh,
he steels himself,
as existence sharpens to a knife-point
and — twists.


Drunk on ink,
the bookworm bores
through printed words to paper cores,
then lies down in darkness,
munching through a library.

My history is a webbed nightmare
from which I am trying to awake,
the viscosity of black ink
now a billion times told uglier
and more stupidly brutal,
amid pulsing digits,
like a witchcraft fable
of sticky burning pitchblende.

One another in one another’s arms.
Alphabets, bed-bound, listen
to dying songs of the dead and gone,
who no longer have moral qualms
about the dope with the mostest,
the gene unseen,
the nuclear test, the hypothalamus test,
the rabbit hiding in the hat,
the loss of loss.

And everything else
is the purest kind of blue, tried and true,
Lawrence of Arabia blue,
but with an abbatoir chill.

Ode to the Beach-Wrecked Petrel

Claws grip in gnarled rookeries,
and I am brother to tuatara,
a companion to ruru;
I see a karearea rising at russet dawn
and applaud; I draw breath
at bees in yellow forest,
nuzzling bark syrups
between black chasms of sea
and white chasms of mountain;
at the glacier’s goofy foot blue with cold
that slides over rocks, surfing on;
at those bevies of alpine beauties,
shimmery in sunlight with a forbidding air;
at bladdery kelp, bright green as gherkins,
cast up from under brine, bursting with salt;
and at a petrel,
getting the red carpet treatment
from fallen stamens,
under twisting rata boughs.

David Eggleton has published six collections of poetry and lives in Dunedin.