Gary Langford
New Zealand

Karakia Precari - Penny Howard 2016
In the Cut of Us All

We grow and falter on the operating table of a bright clean theatre.
Residuals of tiny animals are heard as we go under a fading of air.
Many of these animals are gathered in rows of feet, joy or despair.
They are cut up and transported to buildings of frozen hope.
Artificial grains break records, playing their own sound.
If you are under a thousand poetic grains there is a suffering.
Mistaking a poet’s name has flies on the window, directionless.
Those of you who ate chemistry are frightened there is a plot.
Ingredients become an army to serve you up on a different plate.
Those of you who think you know it all are the biggest fools.
You ram knowledge down throats, enjoying Adam’s response.
Any throw up verifies your truth, as neatly cut as a river fork.

I watch you walk in the cut of the knife, lauded in urban eyes.
You see me as a small spoon, tolerable in hills of sugar granules.
Our kitchen is a township, down which we march to a band.
Music taste reveals nature’s face. You are the sixties, beads in your hair.
I am the staccato of electric chords, misunderstood by flower power.
You murmur this in your sleep. It comes out as, flour sour.
You want me to point this out, lessening doubt on my smugness.
I never understand your beat outlook. Breakfast is standard syntax.
Briefly flowers take you over, before a slow fade into weed-talk.
Youth exports from our section. I still have one quality left.
I’m more childish than our kids who are on your side.
They will not believe me if I say, mum is a naked flower.

Truth is a whether report, varied by clouds like lasting habits.
Temperature rises and falls on breath patterns of delirium.
Our lives have their own seasons. A Winter’s Tale by Us All
can be on days the pavement melts; humidity and comedy.
Words are sold in Shakespeare’s café as restless meditation.
We misspell Tempest as Temper, yelling like a drummer hitting heads.
A preference is for the absolute rather than admit we know little.
Littlestein is our cousin, a true knowledge professional who chuckles.
Paradox: the more degrees I receive, the lesser degrees of absolutes.
I think so, but….True on one level, lies on another to swing downwards.
Professor can be a teacher or emperor with frames rising in a wall-line.
I know the street callers on the long road you are facing.

There is a knife for you, with your name. Blunt has two frames.
We have to cut into your body, accompanied by a mask of gas.
You hope the blade is sharpened to cut without pressure.
You welcome this when you lie long, startled in thunderstorms.
There are counterfeit cuts to be held in a flowing blood stream.
You may be surprised the person you hear shouting is you.
Grab the handle. Demand control. Lead a knife rebellion.
Madness might be asserted but your energy level is a high cloud.
Surrender waves in the cut of the moon that doesn’t fade.
In a harsher light of recovery, you wake in lines only you can write.
I am the sweetness of spring. I put it all together to sing.
In the light of the moon, the darkness of sun we grow as one.

Cliché: the older you get, the greater the cut talks will gather you in.
A sign is you are given a small knife as retirement gifts in your work farewell.
Inner thought patterns are a common refrain: is that all there is?
Be grateful a voice calls. Possums can trim their coats in rousing shivers.
They are fonder of you than your family, returning the knife to the table
by your bed every morning. Hair piles are left there as a message.
Each pile matches one of your fingers to slide on like gloves.
Your family gives you attention when you translate possum talk.
Worry burgeons when you say, psychiatrists are possums.
The knife disappears once your fingers grow as independent animals.
At the end of your arms are two orchestras. You conduct willingly.
We witness hairy fingers stabbing at us all; wild laughter is faithful.

In the Philosophy of Failure

Aristotle was an early Greek fish’n’chipper,
just as Descartes invented the cart.
Wit is not enough as we watch customers walk by.
The eventful day is being unable to stand this blindness.
People are dragged inside, promoting a police arrival.
A mental ground of imminent bankruptcy is our defence.
Those dragged are sympathetic, refusing to call it assault.
This is unusual in a world of regular letterbox attacks.
They enjoy flying over problems worse than theirs.
A certain freedom is in the poor crops of other croppers.
This surprises us as much as being loved by an enemy.
Bankrupt dreams almost match the stadium of traffic fines.
We are able to avoid the desert plains of breakdowns.
Clouds rain down on our epitaph of comedy.
He (or she) holds himself up because nobody else will.

There is a family sentence in but.
I would agree but you are always wrong.
You leave for work as an early morning sprinter.
You consult your iPhone at speed on the word-way.
Your reputation goes to sleep with me each night.
I watch you lie on your right side as a quivering small dear.
I write this line for you, only you mumble, refusing smiles.
We cover ourselves in clouds of the embarrassing mile.
What starts as a single line can be tied to a house in flood.
When this drifts away so do you in a harbour of mud.
What is a wharf transmogrifies into love’s dwarf.
You enjoy telling me I am insulting small people.
Sausage is a phallic symbol. Square is mathematical rule.
You turn over. Our favourite song fades away in tune.

Controllers of signals are waiting at the traffic lights.
A prayer floats through the air as a humming balloon.
In it is the morning. Over it is a flying afternoon.
By evening we also float in covets of the required.
Night comes down. Starry eyes watch us in photography.
Scriptwriters seldom listen to us and never will.
There is a spiritual wonder on Predictions Hill.
Ours grow in cheerful bottles we buy on special.
Two for the price of one, expiry dates, old age, no pension.
There is an augmentation of small births and small deaths.
They determine a fateful fall of us all, to mumble joyfully.
We will be welcome in the underground of romantic sound.
Then the failure surgeon operates in the surgery of salivation.
Then there is fatalism, served up in rows at the kitchen table.

I write myself up to you on the fault line. Words are missiles.
We shoot across borders in an explosion of memorabilia.
This becomes a comic idea otherwise I won’t listen.
I etch along the spinal of my books, pretending to dance.
I clap the covers like clothing. I turn them over as new thought.
You hold me in the palm (or psalm) of your hands.
The more we measure, the greater our need to call it pleasure.
You put a wig on. You clothe yourself in a gown of superiority.
I am the barrister of falsity, otherwise how am I a barrister?
Truth is an argument on the rise and fall of the care market.
Would I lie to you? Would you walk to work without shoes?
There is a wave of optimism, in spite of word news of pessimism.
I put on a raincoat to cross over the bridge in front of me.
It is talking to me.  I try not to worry when all I hear is a bridge.
Inside me is another character walking down failure’s ridge.

In the Bolt Cutter’s Universe

To the planet of stolen bikes

Archimedes screw is a Greek principle, from Egyptian irrigation and bilge.
Guttenberg’s screw is a fastening to hold the printing process together.
Besson’s machine first made bolts and screws in France, 1568.
A translation error helped him in a production of The Taming of the Screw.
Inconsistency in screw heads of countries matched war deaths.
Hitler had one screw. Allies agreed on common imperial threads, 1948.
Committees of measurement ignored faint calls, get your screws together.
Brands: Great Neck, Nord-Lock, Master Grip, Super Bolt and Bastard.
Turn heads for right blade tension, blade up to mark the spot out.
Open your cutter. Close serenely to sustain, regardless of screams.
In your own cartoon you select Captain Blade who loves Cathy Cuts.
She hunts him, frame after frame. You enjoy her dark-holed blows.
Armless he still loves her. Legless he gives up, caught in his cups.
He returns as a blade in the moon of a follow up cartoon.

Does this sound like someone you know, or never wish to meet?
We walk in ourselves blindly. Days hang around our necks.
Bolt cutters are indifferent to be called psychiatric wrecks.
Words are small insects, flying through doors of the world’s poor.

Select the person you’d like in the role. Picture eyes as a narrative.
Lives can be changed in the quirky reserves of eye drops.
Tell me how you will be able to resist a tyranny of bolt cutters?
Don’t overdo. There is a price in being a camouflaged reluctant killer.

You will wake up in the building of night’s single-minded savagery.
Sobs are your own as you change shape in a poorly written mystery.
We can be held up as happy heads in the strike of each crisis.
There are established clouds of pride as the sky casually folds in.

Tribal historians perceive chapters of contemperate bolt cutters.
Religious historians argue Christ augmented Roman bronze screws.
Little matters in the scatter of inevitable calls to the underground soldier.
They rise in horror movies as heads roll away to sectorial chants.

Vanity - or boredom – may cause you to say you played a part.
Notably when your beloved says your head rolled years ago.
You go to the pub, drinking with mates, even if you forget their names.
Laughter is a sharp screw thread over flat-faced steel rims.

The rudimentary bones of finite language keenly hold us.
Bone cutters eat migrants in the customs of new factory lines.
Do you have anything to declare, other than a residue?
Customs are the bolts, singing to a choir of cutters.

Comedians moan, and then say they wouldn’t change a thing.
You are my Cleopatra without snakes. I am Robin Hood on a bike.
Even so you cast me down when I pedal over your crown.
Your hands solder wire around a rod file of sample screws.

The bolt cutter holds the universe together as an All God.
The figure wantonly cuts you up on a school platform.
You go to a greater platform, even if you wind around the earth.
The lover won’t drop you at the first hurdle, the first pain.
This has a cutter’s seasoning; a killer’s swing, ‘sorry love.’
The leisure leaves you as a fallen star in imperial jars.
There are last minute goals to win, unable to resist a bullet serve.
The scientist appears, whose breakthrough can only break down:
birth and death; darkness and light in breath-taking performances.
The ruler defines us in passport applications – smile or scowl.
This is a raw materials industry to industrialise for Super Bolt.
I am your faithless. I am your faithful. I am the bolt cutter.

In the Rooms of Common Ceremonies

In birth’s cold pile, ‘could I return to the warm room for a while?’
Mum dropped me on the floor, then worried all I did was smile.
We claim knowledge. We name babies as a photographic album.
We hold them up as the first shot of a movie’s season.
There is a lyrical cry on a bed of straw and reason.
Small bones are shortly cast in a new body and language.

Were you more grateful than your parents on first school day?
I reached home before mum did, over fences as Super Boy.
My grounds were I could read and write. ‘See ya.’
Her reasoning was my sister needed me in the playground.
This surprised us both in chants of the ABC of boredom.
Teachers were sad soldiers in rituals of the strap and cane.
My principals had principles, appointing me as a fountainhead.
It was peaceful building lookouts in my own ceremonies.

People I’d never met before visited my orchestral 21st.
Grog presents was a comedy as I’d stopped drinking it.
If you were a naked drunk on my neighbour’s frosty lawn,
I talked the Nude Squad from arresting you in wake-up dawn.
21 pieces of advice on the path to wisdom was my daughter’s.
How at 15 you think your parents know nothing,
amazed by how much they have learnt in 6 years.
These pieces were performed more than my other work.

I am maddened here. I am maddened in the air.
I have never measured intelligence by office frames.
Tall figures mutinously stare down at us in judgment.
They have hard eyes in a weakening sky that is self-made.
I satirized them in a Master’s degree of irony for a decade.
When I left staff-lands so did the degree as a beat comedy.

Different bottles lie on the shelves of the marriage cellar.
A few price themselves out of the together market.
Others are listed – usually low – in the love exchange.
Will I be good? Will I be understood in a Faustus hood?
Your yes tongue pokes out like a habitual longing.

Divorce is a de force of couple-crash with no insurance.
At least one runs as a free spirit, often without offspring.
Settlement is prolonged. Lawyers enjoy expensive luncheons.
Comics say they love the person they can no longer live with.
Eternal love is the smallest document in the largest pocket.

The Bank of Retirement is an investment, or a withdrawal.
Each can be anchored in the harbour of good intention.
Body search is a new concept, as is muscle lock-down.
Your ceremony is a watch, mourning tea, made in Bangladesh.
You know first hand a violent tenderness of fallouts.
Life is a small eye, glazed over to lessen fields of doubt.

Gary Langford is the author of 38 books: 10 novels, 15 books of poetry, 5 collections of stories, 3 drama sketches, 4 textbooks and a memoir. 5 of his books came out in America and Australia and online last year, including reprints of Newlands and Lunch at the Storyteller's Restaurant, along with The Sonnets of Gary Langford and Memoir of a Teacher Writer. Gary is a writer and artist in Melbourne and Christchurch.