INTERMEZZO

As though the sea
                 had come inland, a high wind,
multi-layered sound of rush,

through which a roar of metal engines,
planes silently visible, cutting down through

                 southerly / sou' westerlies

before arrayed marble busts in cloud columns
under a blue helmet of late afternoon sky in July.

                 Intermittently,
over a two-day period, what might have amounted
to a strike force, a squadron of black cockatoos

                 swung low across the Inner West
sending the habitually roofed pigeons into a squalid,
circular panic - unaccustomed to the sharp pitched cry

                 eerik! eerik!

of those rarely seen visitors in from the bushlands,
outrunning the shadows of gorges and bluffs.





TE MATA / TE KUITI
(for Bob Orr & Michael Oliver)


1.

Inky dark cloud,
                
  and that one eye of
the octopus, Bob, the moon
through it; tentacles windily
grasping on high air.
                
  Somewhere, behind the hill
the back of your place,
                
  the sea, open-mouthed,
and hissing. Earlier on, a
                
  tui played a few classical notes ...


2.

Lush country south,
                
  Te Kuiti snug in its valley;
limestone country! and lilies
                
  in gullies trumpeting that same
full moon, deep beneath this land
                
  water rushing caverns,
a sky black under its tarp,
                
  the star's filaments, low, fuzzing.
The few trains that bi-sect
                
  the town hoot once, passing
through. All night, driveways glow with a
                
  white crushed rock.

     October 30, 2005





MAROONED

Groups of gulls at intervals
heading to the mountain, and the sea
                
  the other side of it;

to a stretch of blue-grey water in a
                
  gully reservoir, or a refuse tip.

Dead tree-spars folding through -
                
  a grey quilt over its flanks.

The 'organ pipes' (dolerite columns)
                
  hang from the summit
as though baleen in the mouth of a whale.

I have looked on the mountain
for six days now and yet cannot move it.

As we are inhabited by our (owned)
imaginations too greater weight upon the word

reduces that world to rubble
                
  strewn beneath the sun's revolution,
or caught in the moon's titanium glare.

     Cascade Road / South Hobart. January 7, 2006





TANIA, NEWLY ARRIVED


You would think that rainbow, memory of comet,
                
  all those undying colours that plummet?

Sky umbrella, curved as shepherd's crook that falls,
is an axe splitting the skull of earth, a serpent released.

                
 A wedge of pounamu hanging,
guardian at her breast.

                
  She told me,

(dark green, holding its shadow)
                
  'from the heart of the stone'
from that country to which I would soon enough return.

     Harrington Street, Enmore, March 27, 2006





LONE SHUNTER

The lit, landed dish that is Te Kuiti
                
  back flips momentarily before my eyes

into the bowl-like configuration of
                
  Wellington harbour those running lights,

yellow along Old Petone Road; Rimutakas
                
  nothing yet where that bulk blackness holds.

Here, the 'lone shunter' wolfs through
                
  the centre of town
flashing flamenco signal lights the last wagon behind.

                
  In a small, Eastern European enclave
a laden cart over cobblestone
                
  pre-supposes thunder.

I am here, a Trotsky in Te Kuiti,
                
  the first time a black sky seen in years.

The Milky Way adrift, as smoke from
some distant campfire; krill-like, a god's wet dream.

There are women who press upon your breath
                
  like master organ players, to make or break.

                
  I am here, isolate,
Te Kuiti. Omphalos. Limestone country
.
                
  These hills that dip and trough could

leave you swamped, the sky a swagger.

Harrier hawk switches to remote half way between paddock
and half way house, spiralling, radial, ever reliable stage prop.

Wind that tumbles north through trees
bringing the sound of rushing water over troubled contours.

As if in that stillness from the night before
                
  the morepork had orchestrated this hour.

                
  I am here, overseeing morning fog,
twenty years shunted to a siding the other side of the Tasman.
                
  That city. That bullwhip. Sydney.


         Stephen Oliver 2006