Friday, September 12, 2014

Poem: Hymn to the Disillusioned (1st Draft)

Days out from the Election,
all their venal qualities
and slimy patriotism to the fore,

promises bought with our own money
and they wonder why we think
they are interchangeable
as they lick the boots of
their capitalist masters.

POET'S NOTE: This cannot be construed as election material as they tried to say about Greenpeace's Climate Voter campaign and I believe the High Court has now ruled in Greenpeace's favour in the case brought before the High Court.

Please bear in mind that I wrote this first draft in a Japanese takeaway shop on the back of some advertising blurb after listening to Radio New Zealand's "Focus on Politics" programme. So it is rough but impassioned.

I have felt that this 2014 election campaign has been one of mostly trivial nonsense and the sort of exchanges that would seem puerile even in a Kindergarten playground.

And politicians wring their hands about how disengaged young voters are. Perhaps if they saw some honesty and dignity displayed by their politicians and so-called leaders, young voters might feel inspired to exercise their democratic right.

Photo credit:

Photo Credit: Greg Presland/

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Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Tuesday Poem: "It Was All Very Tidy" by Robert Graves

When I reached his place,
The grass was smooth,
The wind was delicate,
The wit well timed,
The limbs well formed,
The pictures straight on the wall:
It was all very tidy.

He was cancelling out
The last row of figures,
He had his beard tied up in ribbons,
There was no dust on his shoe,
Everyone nodded:
It was all very tidy.

Music was not playing,
There were no sudden noises,
The sun shone blandly,
The clock ticked:
It was all very tidy.

‘Apart from and above all this,’
I reassured myself,
‘There is now myself.’
It was all very tidy.

Death did not address me,
He had nearly done:
It was all very tidy.
They asked, did I not think
It was all very tidy?

I could not bring myself
To laugh or untie
His beard’s neat ribbons,
Or jog his elbow,
Or whistle, or sing,

Or make disturbance,
I consented, frozenly,
He was unexceptionable:
It was all very tidy.

by Robert Graves

For more information about Robert Graves, see:

I would like to dedicate this poem to my mother, Joan, who was always very tidy, but no longer has much need for it since other people tidy up for her.

My mother, Joan, with my son and her grandson, Thomas, at Christmas in Oakura, Taranaki, home of the fabulous and much-admired surfer, Paige Hareb.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Tuesday Poem: "Wildpeace" by Yehuda Amichai

Not the peace of a cease-fire,
not even the vision of the wolf and the lamb,
but rather
as in the heart when the excitement is over
and you can talk only about a great weariness.
I know that I know how to kill,
that makes me an adult.
And my son plays with a toy gun that knows
how to open and close its eyes and say Mama.
A peace
without the big noise of beating swords into ploughshares,
without words, without
the thud of the heavy rubber stamp: let it be
light, floating, like lazy white foam.
A little rest for the wounds—
who speaks of healing?
(And the howl of the orphans is passed from one generation
to the next, as in a relay race:
the baton never falls.)

Let it come
like wildflowers,
suddenly, because the field
must have it: wildpeace.

by Yehuda Amichai 

Yehuda Amichai was an Israeli poet. Amichai is considered by many, both in Israel and internationally, as Israel's greatest modern poet. He was also one of the first to write in colloquial Hebrew. Amichai was born on May 3, 1924, in Wurzburg, Germany and died on September 22, 2000, in Israel. He was educated at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

For more about this poet, see:

This poem is dedicated to all the Israelis and Palestinians who seek a lasting peace with two separate free states living side-by-side in peace and harmony.

It is not dedicated to the Jews and Arabs who carry hatred in their hearts and do not know the meaning of reconciliation and forgiveness.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Serialised Short Story - "Wild is the Wind" - Part Two

The song that inspired the title, a beautiful cover by David Bowie from his Station to Station album of 1976.


“Like the leaf clings to the tree,
Oh, my darling, cling to me
For we’re like creatures of the wind
And wild is the wind, wild is the wind”
-       Wild is the Wind, (Writers: Dimitri Tiomkin & Ned Washington)

            At first, she joked about it, but underneath, her terror seethed. Fear of parents. Fear of her youth stolen. Fear that he would grow to resent her. The tendrils of despair squeezed her pounding heart.
            She pushed the situation away, pretending it was a bad dream, this life growing inside of her. She pushed him away too since his presence reminded her of the truth. Until the steady erosion of the days forced her to face facts.
            Their meetings were brief and business-like. He saved all his tears for his friends. They dried his tears and lent him money they could ill-afford.
            She came to see him after the abortion. Their conversation was awkward and superficial. That white-hot passion had blown to ashes.
            She asked for a lift into the city. To her new boyfriend’s house. He suspected she had taken this new lover while still pregnant. Taking a lover before she had rid her body of the foetus seemed to him an act of calculated defilement.
            She smiled weakly before she walked away into the late summer dusk. The streetlights were on in a display of impotence that matched his own. An evening breeze picked up, blowing scraps of rubbish along the footpath.
            The aftermath of those pregnant months was clearly evident upon her body. Her breasts, already generous, were swollen like over-ripe fruit. A loose-fitting jumper failed to disguise the rounding of her belly which had already begun.
            He drove away, but, racked by sobs, he was forced to stop the car.
            Somewhere in the gathering darkness she clung to another.


Saturday, August 30, 2014

Serialised Short Story - "Wild is the Wind" - Part One

The song that inspired the title, a beautiful cover by David Bowie from his Station to Station album of 1976.


“Like the leaf clings to the tree,
Oh, my darling, cling to me
For we’re like creatures of the wind
And wild is the wind, wild is the wind”
-       Wild is the Wind, (Writers: Dimitri Tiomkin & Ned Washington)

            The first time he met her, she was in bed with his neighbour.
            She had blonde hair which touched her shoulders and her soft, brown eyes shone out above her high, sculpted cheekbones. Her beauty was enlivened by her vivacity.
            At that first meeting, he had no inkling that in four months they would become lovers or that she would carve her name forever into his memory.
            His neighbour finished his studies and went away to begin his career as a pharmacist.
            He began to hear whispers that she had not forgotten him.
            On their first date, lost in her charms, he failed to notice a drunken friend stagger outside to meet with a fatal accident. The next morning, he was asked to identify this friend at the morgue. Their passion blossomed out of this shadow into the intense heat of the late summer.
            About a month after they became lovers, she tearfully confessed that she had misled him about her age. She was sixteen, not nineteen like him. There was no going back.
            One afternoon, a few weeks before Christmas, they had “the accident”. “I’m pregnant,” she stated as though it were fact. She was proved right.


Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Tuesday Poem: "Glanmore Sonnets, III" by Seamus Heaney

This evening the cuckoo and the corncrake   
(So much, too much) consorted at twilight.
It was all crepuscular and iambic.
Out on the field a baby rabbit
Took his bearings, and I knew the deer
(I’ve seen them too from the window of the house,
Like connoisseurs, inquisitive of air)
Were careful under larch and May-green spruce.
I had said earlier, ‘I won’t relapse
From this strange loneliness I’ve brought us to.
Dorothy and William—’ She interrupts:
‘You’re not going to compare us two...?’
Outside a rustling and twig-combing breeze
Refreshes and relents. Is cadences.
by Seamus Heaney

I am editing the Hub Website for Tuesday Poem today, so after you've enjoyed this wonderful poem by the late and sorely missed Seamus Heaney, why not pop over to:

and enjoy "The Baobab Tree" by Rachel Sawaya.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Happy National Poetry Day: "In Praise of My Sister" by Wisława Szymborska

My sister doesn't write poems,
and it's unlikely that she'll suddenly start writing poems.
She takes after her mother, who didn't write poems,
and also her father, who likewise didn't write poems.
I feel safe beneath my sister's roof:
my sister's husband would rather die than write poems.
And, even though this is starting to sound as
repetitive as Peter Piper,
the truth is, none of my relatives write poems.

My sister's desk drawers don't hold old poems,
and her handbag doesn't hold new ones.
When my sister asks me over for lunch,
I know she doesn't want to read me her poems.
Her soups are delicious without ulterior motives.
Her coffee doesn't spill on manuscripts.

There are many families in which nobody writes poems,
but once it starts up it's hard to quarantine.
Sometimes poetry cascades down through the generations,
creating fatal whirlpools where family love may founder.

My sister has tackled oral prose with some success,
but her entire written opus consists of postcards from vacations
whose text is only the same promise every year:
when she gets back, she'll have
so much
much to tell.

by Wisława Szymborska (translated from the Polish by Stanisław Barańczak and Clare Cavanagh)

Maria Wisława Anna Szymborska was a Polish poet, essayist, translator and recipient of the 1996 Nobel Prize in Literature. Born in Prowent, which has since become part of Kórnik, she later resided in Kraków until the end of her life. 

She was born on July 2, 1923, in Kornik, Poland and died on February 1, 2012, in Krakow, Poland. She was educated at Jagiellonian University between 1945 and 1948. She married Adam Wlodek in 1948.

For more information about Maria Wisława Anna Szymborska, see:ława_Szymborska