Foundation Myths

Having a few,
and then a few more;
elbow working, bottoms
up, down the hatch:
he stews on his own brews,
and steeps them
in conspiracy's deeps.

Hump it or lump it,
stump up or come off it;
full as a bull, bellowing and randy,
looking for a share of hashmagandy.

Holy left-over finger-bones
from an Irish cannibal feast
during the Potato Famine,
brought out as family heirlooms
to add to the cauldron of bubbling gravy.

Seven famines,
seven plagues,
seven crosses,
seven blades —
under the seven rains,
green colleens hang heads full of sorrow.
Skimpy, skipped, leafed histories:
harmonics of colonials uneasy in native spaces.

I shuffle the chance events
that led me here
on the card table of my mind,
like so many pendants
on a charm bracelet: the padlock,
the heart, the key, the ballet slipper.

The old ones are dying,
and the young ones are struggling to emerge
from a chrysalis of vape fug,
working the room till they find the door
and exit,
exotic to themselves and others,
amid seeds, chaff, straw, a smatter of hail,
out in the fresh air.
The fly's lazy drone
fills the silence,
as the dust-covered box
fills the gap under the roof.

Thickly sprinkled, gritty,
white and grey and black —
ashes of us all,
flung skywards,
make eyes smart, teary.

Ashes in the mouth
taste like vines
burnt at the stake,
in vino veritas:
that charcoal flavour of bottom of bin liner,
bagged and standing out in the rain
at the back of a closed-down restaurant.

Quartet USA


Heavy Metal

On a wall in downtown Absurdistan,
Jim Dandy doodles Yankee Out Now.



Sweet San Francisco nights
ladle out their foghorn soup.
In that miasma,
I grope for the black ink
of the Motherwell,
where all is lost,
and found in blots and blotches.


Capitol Hill

And you now how it goes:
they are shanghaied,
they are catapulted;
yo, they are marching in;
they are making the Devil's din;
they are the offspring of Rumpelstiltskin.



Sunset's last ember:
film of slant rain,
lights up September,
with smudged visions,
fingertip clearance,
and red brilliance.

The Squillionaire

To see an infinity pool
in the palm of your hand
and global investment
within an hour...
A pseudo-library is being built for you,
fake book bindings await your pleasure:
they all hold expensive liquor.

Bring on luxury brands to excite me,
tote bags to bite me;
my shoes locked in fetters of silver.
I have gold-clad over-reach,
I have, of course, a private beach.
I have a master's degree
in applied authenticity,
and at the final climate summit,
I promise you full authority
to apply a compulsory purchase order.

David Eggleton lives in Dunedin. His most recent book is The Wilder Years: Selected Poems, published by Otago University Press in May 2021. He was Aotearoa New Zealand Poet Laureate from August 2019 to August 2022.