Wednesday, April 25, 2018

ANZAC day dawn service

(Wellington 2018)

We, the pompous,
the curious,
the contracted, or honour bound,
gather like cows in the pre-dawn dark,
to remember things we have never known.

Uncertain, and unsure of procedure
Like those being slaughtered on beaches long ago
We watch ourselves awkwardly on TVs
Mumbling the catechism, singing hymns
Following the prescribed rituals
Of the shiny funeral directors in uniform.

They speak of courage, of service and duty
Of those blind, led by the blind, into the
Impossible meat grinder of pain and screaming.
They speak of peace, and loss, and sons,
they who would repeat it all tomorrow
If only civilisation would lose its grip
let them slip, joyful, into darkness.

Beneath this phallic monument
pink in the morning light.
We gather, uncertain about one thing:
The measure of a generation's manhood.
And I wonder why we men
haven’t grown up yet.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Stasis on a summer afternoon (for Badger)

Tucked under a hydrangea
On the concrete by the back door.
Not at all a grand place.
Humble. Almost incidental.
But you chose it, quite deliberately
As the place to await death.

Time measured by the metronome of bees
Back and forth on the warm air,
a disruption of fast feathers
as a bird barrels through.
You glance, appraising.

You might have struck once
Leapt - a surprisingly long reach -
Caught like a shuttlecock for chewing.

Remember, fatty?
Remember when you took down half a dozen
one grumpy afternoon.
Then I asked you not to.
It was our understanding.
You’d proved you were good.
but you never did it again.

We’ve had quite a few understandings.
Your yellow eyes and mine meet,
Even on this. Your death.

Yesterday when the vet had gone home.
You were almost cocky when you emerged
You proved, broken as you are, you could beat me.
But I told you it wasn't me who was killing you.
And your look of triumph faded
As the pain and stinking ignominy resumed
Our eyes met, and grimly you agreed.  
I promised I’d be with you til the end.

Fatty, it’s been such a long time!
You were always so greedy!
And so great at killing rats.
Imitating the moronic kitten’s call.
Recruiting me to see off strays.
Does it really matter we are different animals?

As you squat painfully; stinking, dying.
You know your end is coming.
And together, we wait.

The beat of the bee’s wing, slows.
The beat of the heart, resounds.
Each breath, one closer to the last
We share this sunny place.
Time itself is visible
in the stasis of the moment.

Lawnmowers, dogs, cars, kids.
Noises piss on your living funeral
Shattering illusions of significance.
Like some sexton cheerfully whistling
In the sun while digging his last,
Your grave.

After all, what are we to those who can't
hear death's silent serenade?
A sick cat and a stupid man sitting
waiting nervously for the knock on the door.

For you,
For me,
It is only time

That separates us.