Friday, July 29, 2011

Here’s looking at You, Sea - Hone Tuwhare

Here’s looking at You, Sea

The sea excitedly inciteful is outrageously
including itself in amateur theatricals again.

The waves are like
white fringed layers
of green carpet, unfolding.

The small focus I have of them
from my constricted
viewpoint is impressed
on my imagining, roll-on mind-film,

Their continuity of ebb, of flow,
lugging in sacks full of pipi, kutai,
tuangi, kina, tio & karahu – to mention
just a small line-up of the
succulent bounties of the sea
that are life-giving – gives me pause
as well as time, for a prayer
of thanks to you, Tangaroa.

Wind & current, however, are mischievous
play-mates. When a decision
is made for them to insert
a speak-easy-spoke into the
sea’s water wheel works then –

O then, drama abounds for sure,
and the window to the sea-ward
side of my crib begins rattle-screeching
an order for me to ‘Come out! Come out, Sloth!
And witness this!’
‘Uh huh’, I say.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Sea Call - Hone Tuwhare

Sea Call
- Hone Tuwhare

Let the radio pip and shudder
at each dawn's news

Let the weatherman hint
a gaunt meaning to the chill
and ache of bone:
but when the new moon's bowl
is storing rain, the pull of time
and sea will cry to me

And I shall stuff my longing
in an empty pack
and hasten to the secret shore
where the land's curve lies
clad in vermilion - and the green
wind tugging gravely.

There let the waves lave
pleasuring the body's senses,
and the sun's feet
shall twinkle and flex
to the sea-egg's needling
and the paua's stout kiss
shall drain a rock's heart
to the sandbar's booming.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Reign Again - Hone Tuwhare

Reign Again
- Hone Tuwhare

Neither juggernaught
nor crawling thing

can bring
a mountain weeping
to its knees
quicker than rain

that demure leveller

maker of plains

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Rain-maker’s Song for Whina - Hone Tuwhare

Rain-maker’s Song for Whina
- Hone Tuwhare

I’ll not forget your joints creaking as you climbed into
the bus at Victoria Park to bless the journey.
When you broke down in the middle of the Lord’s Prayer,
I thought that what you left unsaid hung more tangibly
uncertain above us all that some intangible certainty
that we would all get a comfortable berth in the

Saint Christopher in the rain at night, just before Mangamuka
Gorge. People wearing Saint Christopher badges getting
off the bus and helping to put an overturned vehicle right
side up. No one hurt. I finger the cheap badge you gave me
of the saint. Will it be all right?

A couple of days later in bright sunshine, we hit the road
Leaving Te Hapua behind. And all the way South – to the
‘head of the fish’, I picked up some hard truths embedded in

Your hilarious speeches on the marae:

No more lollies! We been sucking the Pakeha lolly
for one hundred and fifty years.
Look at what’s happened. Look at what we got left.
Only two million acres. Yes, that’s right. Two million

acres out of sixty-six million acres.
Think of that. Good gracious, if we let them take what
Is left we will all become taurekereka. Do we want that?

So you listen, now. This is a sacred march. We are
marching because we want to hold on to what is left.
You must understand this. And you must think of your
tupuna. They are marching beside you. Move over, and
make room. We are not going to Wellington for nothing.
And don’t be mistaken: Kare tenei hikoi oku, he hikoi
Noa-aha ranei-ki te miri-miri i nga poara Te Roringi.

E, Kui!
What a way to bring the ‘House’ down. You could not
have lobbed a sweeter grenade. I’m all eared into you,
baby . . . Kia ora tonu koe.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Thoughts On A Sufi Proverb - Hone Tuwhare

Thoughts On A Sufi Proverb
- Hone Tuwhare

A long time ago I was an atom. A one-ness in two, superbly put together.
Full of potential, I was close to my essence. I died as an atom and
progressed to another form. I became a stone just off the melt. I was
cooling off.

I died as a stone and became a water-plant. As a plant, I learned to trap
and eat meat. I died as a plant and became fish. As a fish I grew
wings flying low over the heaving waters. Then I aspired to circle
high above greening turret-lands.

When I died as a plant, another branch of me I liked grew legs and
crawled out of the sea – on all fives. Or was it sixes or sevenses?
No matter, I had arms, legs, and two hands with which I learned
to pick up stones, sharpen a stick.

That other flying branch of me tried to pick out my eyes. They mocked me
for not choosing a flying career. I ignored the jibes, ducking out of
sight to avoid danger. I learned to throw stones. And soon, with a
developed accuracy I could bring down my tormentors.
I ate them feathers and all, only learning later to save the feathers to
adorn myself.

I progressed from a plant, and became animal. I died as an animal and
became man. Now. . . never did I grow less by dying, you understand?

I want to become stone again, but not the kind that is as cold as the
forever night – the unlit side of the moon.
For a stone is as good a shape or form as any other. Compact and
smoothened to become a million whispering grains of sand just
crumbling quietly away to whatever ancestral dust; and all in
good time, too, precisely, and with a resigned elegance.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Roads - Hone Tuwhare

- Hone Tuwhare

I turn away from roads,
sign posted hot macadams:
roads on smooth roads curving
looping under, up and yonder
going leading nowhere.

I dream of roads
but seek instead a tumble
stumble-footed course I know
will earn me sad wounds
cutting deep to bone.

I have learned to love
too much perhaps
rough tracks hard of going
poorly lit by stars.

Night-long voyagings
have found no easy path
to the silent gate
that is the dawn -
that truth beyond
that is the banished city.

Hearing only the night-birds
booming ancient blasphemies:
moon-dark ease reflection
in the knocking stones
the river chortling.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Time and the child - Hone Tuwhare

Time and the child
- Hone Tuwhare

Tree earth and sky
reel to the noontide beat
of sun and the old man
hobbling down the road.
Cadence -

of sun-drowned cicada
in a child’s voice shrilling:
… are you going man?
Where are going man where -
the old man is deaf
to the child.
His stick makes deep
holes in the ground.
His eyes burn to a distant point

where all roads converge … .
The child has left his toys
and hobbles after the old
man calling: funny man funny man

funny old man funny.
Overhead the sun paces
and buds pop and flare.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Drunk - Hone Tuwhare

- Hone Tuwhare

When they hustled him out
at closing time he had
forty cents clutched in
his hand for another drink

Rain stabbed the streets
with long slivers of light
He picked his way
gingerly treading the golden
non-existent stairs
to the fried-fish shop

Whirling pin-points
of coloured lights confused
him: and when people appeared
to converge on him he swerved
to avoid them and collided
with a post

He sensed a sea of receding
faces picked himself up
and promptly emptied his guts
on the footpath fervently calling
for his bleeding mate Christ
who was nowhere to be seen

Later wearing a stiff mask
of indifference
he pissed himself in the bus

At work the next morning
he moved with effort in the hollow
silence of a self-built tomb:
unaware of the trapped mortal
crouching there

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Not by wind ravaged - Hone Tuwhare

Not by wind ravaged
- Hone Tuwhare

Deep scarred
not by wind ravaged nor rain
nor the brawling stream:
stripped of all save the brief finery
of gorse and broom; and standing
sentinel to your bleak loneliness
the tussock grass -

O voiceless land. Let me echo your desolation.
The mana of my house had fled,
the marae is but a paddock of thistle.
I come to you with a bitterness
that only your dull folds can soothe
for I know, I know
my melancholy chants shall be lost
to the wind’s shriek about the rotting eaves.

Distribute my nakedness -
Unadorned I come with no priceless
offering of jade and bone curio: yet
to the wild berry shall I give
a tart piquancy; enhance for a deathless
space the fragile blush of manuka …

You shall bear all and not heed.
In your huge compassion embrace
those who know no feeling other
than greed:
of this I lament my satisfaction
for it is as full as a beggar’s cup:
no less shall the dust of avaricious men
succour exquisite blooms with
moist lips parting
to the morning.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

The sea, to the mountains, to the river - Hone Tuwhare

The sea, to the mountains, to the river
- Hone Tuwhare

Far off
the sea beckons
to the mountains.

the mountains ponder
the cacaphonic river tossing
white-splintered mane to the
mists swirl.

alien sounds are struck.
Nowhere is the greater fuss
to tear out the river’s tongue.

Blue hiss a crackle
of the welding rod,
compressed sigh of air
and the whump and whoof
fuse to the rising clamour
of the rivet gun.

scuffing the earth with massive
boots, men are walking away:
and from the smoke-wreathed shoulder
of a crouching hill a gigantic fist
of sound unfolds – shattering the clouds.

Coaxed into staccato life
a tractor nonchalantly puffs
perfect rings into the startled air.

Exulting men
as skilled as spiders thread
a skyline of steel crucifixes.

The sea beckons
again and again
to the mountains. Unmoved
the austere mountains ponder
a silence as profound as stars..

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Deliver us - Hone Tuwahre

Deliver us
- Hone Tuwahre

They speak in tight
esoteric voices:

a special monkey-language
superbly designed to
the very secret very
complex technological
of cracking nuts

a mental finger game
wholly absorbing
but which tends to reduce
a mountain
to a dung-hill

Meantime the dull ex-communicants
go on cracking
the tougher nuts merely
by bashing them with
bigger rocks.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Song - Hone Tuwhare

- Hone Tuwhare

Gay wind
impudent lover of trees
why do you sing grey lamentations
to a sallow sky?

The headlands await your coming
and the mute crags lend a pensive
ear to the listless drag of the
sea’s feet.

your muscles leap and tense
but will not free the wind
held captive in your branches.

Gay wind
why do you sing grey lamentations
to a sallow sky?

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Nocturne - Hone Tuwhare

- Hone Tuwhare

And if the earth should tremble
to the sea’s unfathomed rage
it is because the sun has fled
uncapping the stone nipples
of the land.

The moon has torn
from the pulsing arm of the sea
a tawdry bracelet … and I
alone am left
with the abandoned earth
and the night-sea sobbing.

My heart shall limping come
to police the night
so that no surly light
shall flare
nor sad spring blood forth
despondent moon
to limn the swollen night
in anguish.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

A disciple of dreams - Hone Tuwhare

A disciple of dreams
- Hone Tuwhare

I walked with him -
and when he spoke my eyes
opened to strange happenings
and I looked down into the gasping mouths
of fishes with eyes like round
black bread and tails quivering as
silvered wine that had not been darkened
by his blood …

Yet did I see him squinting at the sky
in the manner of men
born to the sea:
and I knew a deep dread for I saw
a wrathful army on black steeds, massing …

Miraculous how my fears were laid:
and calmly did he bid us all
to eat of the blessed food
and straightaway knelt we down
to partake of his bounty.

And so it was that in the midst of feasting
and thanksgiving the storm fell upon us
with a fury that no one could quell: the wind tore
futile protestations from his lips
and the seas threshed
and lightening shattered the loaves
and little fishes
and the heavens spat venom on the faces
of those whose meatless arms were thin armour
to the pitiless rain:
my rage grew to the topmost wave-
and I awoke engulfed in tears
my fists beating the floor of my
stone room.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

See what a little moonlight can do to you? - Hone Tuwhare

See what a little moonlight can do to you?
- Hone Tuwhare

The moon is a gondola.
It has stopped rocking.
Yes. It’s stopped now.

And to this high plateau
its stunning influence
on surge and loll of tides
within us should

somehow not go
for want of breath
or oxygen.

And if I
to that magic micro-second
involuntary arms reach out
to touch……detain

then surely
it is because you
are so good:
so very good to me.

Monday, July 4, 2011

On a Theme by Hone Taiapa - Hone Tuwhare

On a Theme by Hone Taiapa
- Hone Tuwhare

Tell me poet, what happens to my chips
after I have adzed our ancestors
out of wood?

What happens to your waste-words, poet?
Do they limp to heaven, or go down easy
to Raro-henga?

And what about my chips, when they’re
down—and out? If I put them to fire
do I die with them?

Is that my soul’s spark spiralling; lost
to the cold night air? Agh, let me die
another hundred times: eyeball

to eyeball I share bad breath
with the flared nostrils of the night.
For it’s not me I leave behind: not me.

Only the vanities of people:
their pleasure, their wonder and awe
alone remain.

Bite on this hard, poet: and walk careful.
Fragmented, my soul lies here, there: in
the waste-wood, around.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

The Maori Jesus - James K. Baxter

The Maori Jesus
- James K. Baxter

I saw the Maori Jesus
Walking on Wellington Harbour.
He wore blue dungarees,
His beard and hair were long.
His breath smelled of mussels and paraoa.
When he smiled it looked like the dawn.
When he broke wind the little fishes trembled.
When he frowned the ground shook.
When he laughed everybody got drunk.

The Maori Jesus came on shore
And picked out his twelve disciples.
One cleaned toilets in the railway station;
His hands were scrubbed red to get the shit out of the pores.
One was a call-girl who turned it up for nothing.
One was a housewife who had forgotten the Pill
And stuck her TV set in the rubbish can.
One was a little office clerk
Who'd tried to set fire to the Government Buldings.
Yes, and there were several others;
One was a sad old quean;
One was an alcoholic priest
Going slowly mad in a respectable parish.

The Maori Jesus said, 'Man,
From now on the sun will shine.'

He did no miracles;
He played the guitar sitting on the ground.

The first day he was arrested
For having no lawful means of support.
The second day he was beaten up by the cops
For telling a dee his house was not in order.
The third day he was charged with being a Maori
And given a month in Mt Crawford.
The fourth day he was sent to Porirua
For telling a screw the sun would stop rising.
The fifth day lasted seven years
While he worked in the Asylum laundry
Never out of the steam.
The sixth day he told the head doctor,
'I am the Light in the Void;
I am who I am.'
The seventh day he was lobotomised;
The brain of God was cut in half.

On the eighth day the sun did not rise.
It did not rise the day after.
God was neither alive nor dead.
The darkness of the Void,
Mountainous, mile-deep, civilised darkness
Sat on the earth from then till now.