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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Night Poem II

I can feel it coming,
because the clouds are slowly dying of horizons.

I can feel the light
abandoning its playful hour

and the lovers growing despondent
with each other’s bones,

and the birds that have become
blades of vengeful silence.

I can hear the footsteps of the ocean
prowling the shore like a night watchman;

he is searching the corners of my sadness
for enemies of the dusk.

I know it is coming,
because the sun has fallen on her sword
and bleeds from an enormous waist.

And the earth is a mouth lapping at the purple pools
of her annihilated flame.

Fierce

Fierce white feet,
paddling harder and harder
going nowhere
on the bristling waves,
somersault of light,
a foam of dolphins
drenched their glistening fears.

Player piano and the
drowned musician,
mazurkas of the forbidden heart,
it killed us with a bowl of fruit,
a single pineapple that
reached the shore.

Round and round in circles,
fierce little feet,
their widening wake,
carrying the laughter of
their skin.
I thought of spiders and seabirds,
things that never dreamed of death,
or burst pipes,
or a broken coast.

And the children trailed their toes
and combed the sea’s green hair.
She shuddered at their touch,
she welcomed their kisses,
and the paper boats that ignited
beneath a flaming feather in the sky.

First Star

First star,
open like an unreachable bud
in the still blue skin of the
evening.
Pale, silent, saying nothing,
yet somewhere once
a fierce energy,
a nebula of music,
which through the
immeasurable time
that it took islands, diamonds,
arthropods, tetrapods,
oceans to rise up and die,
through all this,
you reach us only now.
Still, you reveal nothing to us,
while we chew ourselves
into mouthfuls of
hate and love and fragrance.
Now and then, some of us flare up,
some, just now, petering out,
for we too
revolve around our own
dying sun.
You, slow burning, linger long
until red death comes.
Do you envy us,
our short and brittle fuse,
the heat of our precocious days,
our exquisite elaboration
on a theme of life,
our insatiate coming and going,
while you only remain?