Summer, Here at Last: And a Tragedy

This summer’s passed us by they sulked.
We’ve been cursed by a season of miserable Mondays,
because someone’s accidentally
locked the sun in a cupboard,
and somebody’s forgotten to put the twelve pack of beer in the fridge.

They speak as though the weather is like central heating,
and there’s someone you can shake a finger at
when it all goes pear shaped,
a dodgy plumber, a senile electrician.

And I hear they now sell summer pre-packaged
in certain upscale supermarkets.

But boy did the sun put on a big comeback show for us today.
Still soaked in the pungent aroma of her
extended stay in tropical Rarotonga,
she wrapped us all in a big scorching, sticky sun-hug,
and caught the popsicle venders totally unprepared.

The mercury licked the stratosphere,
by noon it reached a wobbly thirty,
and the streets had that languid yellow equatorial quality
that feels like the onset of a hangover, sunstroke,
when even the fat, black flies don’t move
for the half-finished melted cones.

At noon the trees tilted to swipe their brows,
and a crowd gathered round a fallen man,
mouth open gasping heat,
a woman frantically fanning the life back into his cracked face,
and wail of sirens like the opening of hell.
Too late the sun winked behind a cloud.

You can’t beat Wellington on a good day,
goes the unofficial slogan.
Summer brings oiled up crowds off the cruise ships,
bums on the beaches, booty in the souvenir shop coffers.

And the sun’s supposed to dutifully play its part,
court jester to the pickled pedestrians.
But today she showed us who’s boss,
under her bright and fierce tongue we all sweat like popsicles,
and when she wants, she can suck a life down to the flimsy stick.

Kids pulled their tricks down at the skate park
high into the woozy air,
a crowd watched a few brave souls doing bombs into the greasy harbour,
judging the height of their spray with raucous cheers,
life and joy and death crackled on the skillet of the summer.

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The Trickster

It was a cavernous mouth that the orange wig wore,
and it hungered and hungered after five courses of adulation,
and became bloated on the bedlam it sowed.
And when it didn’t get its banquets,
the mouth puckered and turned nasty,
and lit respectable senators on fire.

And the jeering crowds were not enough,
and the outraged champagne lefties were not enough.
He wanted hits and the big-time jerk-off circus
of ratings on a presidential scale.

And he obsessed over angles and entrances,
and made it his first order of state
to put up self-portraits in solemn halls of power,
to hide the terrifying defects of the trickster king
behind industrial strength spray-on tan,
to turn truth into lies and deny the lies again.

And he grew easily bored with the minutiae
that kept this inebriated world balanced on its tightrope
between fascist alligators and orgies of atomic lust.

The rope is sagging in the middle,
the tightrope walker in chief is tottering,
distracted by a shiny mirror,
the Big House pegs are all at breaking point.
Hold onto your britches earthlings,
the puckered mouth has bitten off more than it can chew!

Love Poem

Sometimes in your hair a wind of love dwells.
It rises at street corners,
or in morning gardens hurt by the rising sun.
Sometimes on the breeze
I smell you before I arrive at your chipped red door,
scent of dinner for two, baked sweet potatoes,
scones with cream and jam,
the things you make from the songs you hum to yourself;
out of these your soul wafts
through this drunken garden to me.
The summer is in your dress as you turn in the window,
the sky is in your eyes,
sky overflowing with a bouquet of cranes,
of lotuses.
And your world is in your embrace as I cross the threshold,
as I press myself to your impermanence,
and it is lighter than any migration,
than any wing, or moth, or mantis.
Sometimes in your hair a wind of love dwells,
and I seek it out with kisses,
which I plant like little assassins on your agile neck.

Valentine

You left me cold last night,
and the sky threatened to
erase all my love.
You turned from me,
and a silence, heavy like wet earth
buried me forever.
I do not like to be left alone
without your love’s last word,
to fill in the spaces of broken meaning,
to retrace a collapsed street of kisses.
Seduced by visions of wicked schemes,
I go, breaking off rose stems, hyacinths,
in this barbed night you bequeath me.
I dance alone, beneath a tottering moon.
With a twisted smile,
I rejoice in love’s destructions.

Hydrangea Blues

Like a riot of careless children,
the hydrangeas return to my garden.
They love the violence of the wind,
they dare it to unfurl them from the stamen,
to become a sail of pure disarrangement.
Audacious,
they out-do the infinite hues of the sky,
they out-sing the clouds.
And they are beautiful and full of hungers,
and they have forgotten the agony
of last summer’s drought.
And I am in love with their petulant hearts.

Cathedrals

Air that holds me up to this burnt day,
let me fall.
The floor will open up,
I will drop beneath this unbearable,
immaculate place where life scrapes,
down into the roots that muzzle
the desultory girls,
the traitors who sold their teeth,
the tyrants with their dainty fingers.
I don’t want this inheritance of ache anymore,
I don’t want what I cannot repay
in a hundred lifetimes of drunken contrition.
I want to build a cathedral of all my sorrow
for others to worship with incense and hysterias.
Then I will go on pilgrimages
far into deserts without conviction,
into wastelands that erase all my gods.