The Taste of Spring

kowhai

From up here,
on my hill,
I see the white caps
of the harbour
stumbling in the morning light.
Their impetuous play
carries new anticipation.
They too fall upon the shore
in love.
In the vigorous wind
that bowls through the suburbs,
precariously tilted
over Wellington,
I witness the
gleeful annihilation of
clothes lines,
and the scent of the
wild spring
buffets my heart.

Beggars on Lambton Quay

Today I will not speak of my impotent anger,
my self-inflicted indignation
when I saw yet more beggars
hunched like open sores on Lambton Quay.
I will not ask this indifferent and
preoccupied crowd
to feel pity
(enough with this pity which gets us nowhere)
for the ‘victims’ of the iron laws of economics,
or the erosion of basic social services,
these ‘unfortunates’ who fell
through the ever-widening cracks
and landed hard on their backsides,
on the pavement
outside James Cook Arcade or Cable Car Lane.
No, I won’t ask for empathy
from the hard-headed, practical crowds.
I will only ask that you view these beggars
for what they are;
the unflinching mirror image
of the society we have chosen to live in.
There in the slick and glittering windows,
a reflection,
the incongruous, squat figure and his cardboard plea,
the apotheosis of our cynical and threadbare
social contract.

Strange Things Happen in Island Bay

A horse bolted through the city the other morning
and was hit by a car.
He trailed the cold tail of the night
and ran towards Island Bay and the thin slant of dawn,
like an eye slowly opening.
A black horse, like a shadow fleeing its tethers,
shot past the stunned joggers on Adelaide road,
seeking the green tongue of the hill,
or the unshod sea, or the patience of seasons.
But he panicked at the traffic lights
and bled out, alone with his language,
speaking to no one.
And the people who passed him on their morning commute
were wide eyed, as if a fairy tale had invaded
the grey dawn of their neat, solid little city.
Sometimes we collide with the incomprehensible,
confusion, panic, sharp winter arousal of senseless death.
Anyway, he died with a blanket on his head
under the traffic light still changing,
like nothing out of the ordinary had happened at all.
And nothing had happened, and everything.