At home in the Heartland
do you remember
Friday nights in your best clothes
waiting outside “the flicks”
a parent or a big sister trying
to keep you in line…
the Jacobite Rebellion,
those Western serials of which
you only saw the odd episode…
but they were grand anyway
and how are young minds flickered
how we swooned about the USA?
Our parents all knew someone
who’d been to L A for a week
or spent the weekend in Hong Kong.
They brought back presents for their kids
and some of their friends
if you were lucky.
… the Movietone News,
at half-time ice-creams and jaffas to
accidentally drop a few of
when the action got boring or romantic,
the mess we left behind.
look at this kid today
plastic towers of empty dvds
to download more movies on megastream.
He’s got a better collection
then the National Film Unit.
Whenever! his bewildered grandparents wonder,
is he going to find the time --------- Ah!
They wise up early – the kids these days.
He’s saving up for his retirement.
What else will he be able to do
in his plastic benefitless cube,
safely tucked away
in the heart
of the Homeland.
not a poem
they’re not fries — they’re chips
it’s not a corporation — it’s a bloodsucking demon
they’re not towel-heads — they’re deeply religious people
it’s not an exploitable commodity — it’s a person
they don’t need a body-bag to take them home
— they’re already there
they didn’t lose their school and a few hundred children
— they lost their country and thousands of children
that’s not warfare — it’s murder
that’s not a bargain —it’s someone else’s life
that’s not weaponry — it’s insanity
that’s not your lunch — it’s a battery hen
that’s not a president — it’s a moron
this isn’t the beginning of a new millennium
— it’s a descent into Hell!
this isn’t a poem
it’s just a bunch of facts.
The gold and jewel coloured rooster
mounts the sad white hen
quickly, under the shade
the slimy boards
of the old tank stand.
To hold her still, he bites
pulls at her feathers
with his brittle beak; afterwards
scratches the warm dry earth
with his 3-pronged wizened feet . . .
. . . his tail feather glow
jade in the noon-day heat.
She seeks wheat
and tossed out fruitskins
in the rusty ragged garden,
steals crusts from his biting beak.
there is an image
closest to mind
when I think of my father
‘you little bastard’
each word shot
through still teeth
in a body that rocked
to a sharp pain
in my throat and jaw.
Each of his tools
on holey plywood
on the wall behind the bench
rattled in its slot
was still settling
when I found his eyes
the only time
my father ever hit me.
To Hemi: A late thanksgiving
He wore a shabby old grey jacket
a size too big, torn and wet with stain,
pressed me hard against his bony chest.
My heels hugged hard the unswept floor,
eyes cast down, I left him to his corner bed.
Two long hot months I sojourned there,
shared the sandwich mattress with his tribe,
baked Maori bread in the cottage oven,
naked, chased goats across the river.
Hung around like a huge fruit fly
on wet days when the mail truck came
with fresh vegetables and packs of nicotine.
When I saw him walk
the dirt tracks between the houses
I nodded, mumbled, afraid
the growing circle of the few —
a lethargic crumb of jetsam,
loved — a weed in the poet’s garden.