Category Archives: Poems

Edgelands

In places undefined I belong –

the raggedy rim of forest and cloud

the silver slick where sea and sky

and sand merge one into the other

the pit and pock of the marsh’s brink

or where moor and meadow meet

 

in the slashed-at headland

where the plough turns

 

in the space where sun and shadow play

 

in the river’s cusp

 

for these are the edgelands

where the world is undecided

and tomorrow

might go either way.

Ruby Bay, Autumn

 

The world today is small

grey inside and out

sea and sky dissolving

all dimension

shrunk

 

seabirds loom like ships

from the mist

 

a ripple

rears out of nothing

and slowly unfurls

on the silken

ocean

 

and here on the beach

all is silent

save for the suck of wet sand

beneath our feet.

 

The world is just this

contained within itself

and is all that it need be.

Walking in Silence

Walking in silence

I follow myself

drawn quickly in shadow

on the patched path

feeling my way

across the cameo

of ruts and roots

between dark beech limbs

the nikaus’ spread hands

and filigree ferns

 

the sky a frizz of blonde cirrus

combed straight by the wind.

 

My feet carry me

and my thoughts run free.

 

They stir the leaves of

things that have been

and things to come

and things that will never be

 

remnants of words

whispered or wailed

or left unsaid

 

love

longing

 

regret

 

and find not truth

nor sense in it all

 

but poems of a sort.

Opposites

 

Things that are

and things that aren’t

define me,

 

things won and lost

promises made and  broken,

words said and unsaid,

and memories and forgetfulness,

 

the noise and the silence

and shadows of night and morning brightness

forest and field

mountain and vale

and all the paths between

either trodden or untrod

 

the things

that I am

and might have been

but am not,

 

those things we gave

and took back.

 

Love,

a kiss,

a touch,

a smile

 

a kind word

 

a thought,

kind or not,

 

your body beside me

and the gap

 

where hers might have been

 

for all things

bring their opposites.

Windy day, Waimea

Beyond the ranges,

the old dog is at it again

tearing up his blanket –

that tatty sheep-skin rug

he was given as a bed –

tossing the raggedy pieces

over the hills carelessly

as though they were nothing

but cloud tufts.

They fly eastwards

on the wild and cheeky wind

laughing silently to themselves

at the fun of it all.

Adverbs

Some words

are absurd

they say,

adverbs

especially.

 

They take

up space

and may

even make

our verses end messily.

 

They slow

the flow

of our dialogue

and grow

exponentially.

 

They’re bad

and sad

but thank God

have had

their day eventually.

 

But why

should I –

or anyone else –

apply

these rules so dogmatically?

 

Let’s resist,

let’s persist!

For myself

I insist:

we can happily use adverbs correctly and totally grammatically.

Winter morning

Winter morning,

frost barely a degree away.

The grass is grey,

gaunt trees stilled.

At the edge of the lawn

a large buck rabbit

sits motionless;

and the air

catches its breath

as if waiting

to see which way

the day might go.

Migrants

I remember a bright square of grass

fresh won from the heather and bog

made brighter with a hefty dose of lime

and fifteen-ten-ten at five hundred-weight an acre,

three miles from the nearest field.

The statistics counted against it:

a green oasis

in a land of purple and brown,

a neat carpet of foxtail and rye

where everything

should be bracken or ling.

 

Yet not so neat,

for there within the ordered shape

a ragged row of pimples stood,

acne, bunions, warts,

shrunken parodies of mountains

from some half-remembered children’s book,

each one a tiny volcanic excrescence –

the hills the moles made

to mark their presence.

 

How did they get here? Who carried them?

Did they hitch a ride on a passing bird –

a curlew, perhaps, or plover

with time on its wings,

a busy partridge,

a kindly pheasant,

an owl who dropped

a tasty meal?

Or were they selected

and planted there by some god,

of their own acquaintance?

New settlers for a new land.

 

Or did they find their way

the hard way

by the way of men

and women?

Following tracks and paths

the wandering sheep trails,

stumbling through streams,

slogging the wild crags and crests

the rocky outcrops

the deep gullies and vales,

the sea of heather,

bearing the barbs and insults,

the hatred

of those who were here before

or just different;

falling and

failing

and dying

 

for their endeavour

for the survival

of the lucky

or the fittest.

The pied stilt

stands still,

staring

 

and contemplates

the canvas at its feet

 

the wrinkled hills

sweep

of sky

 

wool-tuft clouds

like the tassels that sheep

leave

on the taut wires

of fencelines;

 

the white space

where the sun should be,

 

dark water

filling the rest.

 

Is it complete?

Is there nothing left

to add now?

Perfection

save for the

intrusive reflection

of a beak?

 

The stilt

hesitates

seems to weigh

its choices,

then tilts

its head and pricks

a tiny point

into the scene,

 

steps back

content.

 

Now that

is perfection.

Brian Turner: Elemental

Reading his poems

makes me feel the poetry in me

and in all the world around.

 

Words and ideas

jostle to get out,

 

fall in a tumble

ill-sorted and angular

like scree

on Otago’s grey hills.