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.


  1. I choke up still as the poem gathers momentum

  2. Really? I daydream in the morning just thinking about it! Pretty good!!!!!!!!!

  3. James used to meet me in the Shamrock coffee bar in Wellington during the early 60s, where I would customarily shout him a coffee and some food and he would produce a hand written poem for me...he always handed it over with the words "I have made you a poem man" Those small treasures, to my everlasting regret, vanished when a visitor borrowed the poetry book I kept them in and never returned to me. We should take greater care of the priceless gifts our friends give to us! Maybe we'll meet in the next world and you can read them to me...

    1. I knew his daughter Hillary well, and used to drop her home often. I sometimes saw James K on my way to St Pats on the mornings I was late, once picking up his wallet as I stood on Lambton Quay at a bus stop. He had crossed the road in the drizzle, and as he stepped over the kerb his wallet slipped out of his pants pocket. He was slightly stooped, long haired, bearded, barefoot, wearing a rumpled business suit and seemed in a hurry. He thanked me and shrewdly asked if I was 'bunking,' then gave me a few dollars and sauntered off along the dirty footpath. I remember being amazed at the blackness of his feet, and I marveled at his eccentricity.

  4. Mick D , and James K. Just recited this from the Wunderbar balcony to Lyttelton harbour. Thanks Friends are gifts, as are the things they leave behind

  5. I wish there was a like button for these replies.
    How special for you, Mick

  6. James K's brother used to come into the library in Dunedin in the evenings- Even in the middle of winter, he would be dressed in shorts, jandals and a parka- he would read the papers and laugh out loud- He smelled like old fish and chips... I didn't know who he was until my dad told me. I wish I did, although after an unpleasant experience where a guy became rather familiar with me in the youth section, I was a bit afraid to approach older males!

  7. Visualization of an excerpt of this poem

  8. Rumors of his death / absence of resurrection have been exaggerated: See 'A Brief Heads Up on that Maori Fellah J.C.' at:

  9. A truly touching piece of writing

  10. Does anyone know where Baxter lives, i'd love to meet him

  11. Jame K is NZ greatest. His voice resound in this land more than ever but only these who can listen will hear him