All posts by DavidBriggs


David Briggs at Writers at Lunchtime

On August 3rd, David  will be speaking about his new novel, The Direction of Our Fear, at Writers at Lunchtime, at The Prince Albert, 113 Nile Street, Nelson. 

Come any time from 11.30 am, but make sure to be there at 12.30 pm to hear David’s talk. Entry is free.

Book launch

On September 22nd, starting at 16.00, David will be launching his new novel, The Direction of Our Fear, in the Jaycee Room, Founders Park, Nelson. 

Entry free; everyone welcome.


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


and dying


for their endeavour

for the survival

of the lucky

or the fittest.

The pied stilt

stands still,



and contemplates

the canvas at its feet


the wrinkled hills


of sky


wool-tuft clouds

like the tassels that sheep


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?


save for the

intrusive reflection

of a beak?


The stilt


seems to weigh

its choices,

then tilts

its head and pricks

a tiny point

into the scene,


steps back



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.

Party talk

“What brought you here?” they ask,

welcoming me to the party,

“Was it to get away from all those migrants in England?”

And the question seems to carry

no irony.


So, No,

I reply,

I just loved the place

the mountains and sea

and the night sky overflowing

and the weather and empty roads

and thought that in a land of migrants

a wanderer

might find a home.


But the irony escapes them,

and already

the conversation has turned

to people they all know

or knew, blokes


from half a generation ago

most either

living or dead.

Old Bob McClean and Bill Stead,

Sean Flynn and Michael Stokes

and Dick Vanderheider

and others whose names evade me

and the things they made

or broke

or did or said


before my coming.


I listen

and unlisten

and my mind drifts

and I remain

an outsider.

Men of the mountains

Look at the mountains.

Do you see them lying there –

all those men of history,

with their furrowed brows,

broken noses,

scarred cheeks

and crumpled chins?

Their ample tummies.


They were wild warriors,

brave generals,

gluttonous kings,

some more ancient gods.


they bestrode the world

and wrote their names

upon it.



they are all dead

and matter no more.


But the mountains

are ageless.


While we were asleep

the carnival came to town.

An army of helpers

must have crept down the street

making the place ready

for the parade.

On our veranda

they laced

long strands of lights and baubles

between the balustrades,

constructed spangled wheels

across the gate,



of jewels like stars

for the overhanging trees.


fake diamonds in the grass.


It must have been a wonderful event,

with tumblers and acrobats,

men on stilts,

women in fanciful hats,

soothsayers and mystics,

and drummers and bands

playing music as they marched.

I’m so sad that we missed it.



they have all gone.

The morning breeze tugs at the tattered strands,

the sun is disdainful of it all,

and weary spiders retire

to dark crevices in the wall.


Now is the nothing time.

The bright day has fled,

night draws close on the world

and sucks all meaning out


in the dark houses people cower abed

lives past parade



and logic turns its head


the gods all sleep


while in some far far land

a child rises

and in innocent passion

ignites herself

and all about

people die

for nothing.

Love unconsummated

If you read this,

will you know yourself?


For even now I think of you

in ways I did not know

naked in my arms

sprawled wild before me on the bed

hung ravenous at my neck


in humbler ways

the taste of your hair

a cupped breast


and humbler still

a kiss

a touch, accidental


walking beside you in the dark street

your footsteps matched to mine.

Yes – that, at least, I have known.