Things to Do with Kerosene (2002)


Things To Do With

A Consideration

These poems are created from the Handy Hints at the back of Aunt Daisy's Cookery Book. I began the collation while writing another work. There was need for a restorative change of subject, but I soon found they could not be treated lightly – the hints have too serious an intent. While some are bizarre, zany, even dangerous to the user, there is always more to them than one might think.

They come from the thinking of the 1940's and 50's, when we were moving out from a time of deprivation.

Look, says Aunt Daisy, here are ways to smarten up, to paint to gloss to make things new, and to prepare yourselves for better days.

There's a sort of piety here, a kindness, a scent of grace, as well as turps meths ammonia nail polish remover and kerosene. Here are the means for dignity.

Leicester Kyle,
Oct. 2002.


Bright sadness
of late sun after
rain all day

Trees are wet
the road’s awash
and nothing will dry
before dark

There’s still a way to go
and when I’m home
there’s wood to cut
the dog to feed
the fire to set for guests
What will there be —
has rain got in
the tank run dry
what can there be for tea?

And to do
before they arrive!
Sweeping cooking fixing
and making good!

How will I go?



Adhesive Tape:sponge with kerosene, and wash in warm
soapy water.

The stickiness left

Glue that holds the stuff of life

The paste of space
of which galactic gems are made
that draws the universal dust
and rolls it into planetary spheres

It messes in the house
gathers fluff and dust remnant
from the last removal when
we fled a sphere of activity
for this of influence

You can use carbon tetrachloride instead of kerosene, but use sparingly.



Bath, Stained:make a paste of kerosene and whitening, or
soap powder, and leave on the stain for some
hours. Rub off and wash with kerosene.
Finally rinse with clear water.

These evidences of age of use
in a pre-loved house —

brass taps coppers blue-glass panes
black hydrangea wall-paper
and baths as old as verandahs

gone yellow green and blue
basin and bath

The water is brown
from the pakihi
and will stain you too
inside and out

your body turned to leather
like those dug up in Denmark

You shall live on and on
cured for eternity
not conscious
but coloured conspicuous
and alive

Cream-of-tartar and peroxide will also make an effective paste.

A weak solution of oxalic acid will remove rust marks.

Salt and vinegar mixed may take the blue stain from under the tap.

Rinse thoroughly.



Blacklead on Hands:rub sugar and kerosene in, then

and wash again

rub soften sweeten
and rub again
as one might with words
in an inflamed situation
be careful to keep to the rules —

use soft brown sugar
raw sugar
make a paste with the kerosene
and rub it on the hands
again and again
into the cracks
and let it all wash over one

It’s best to do this while you’re having a bath, so that your
hands can soak; then the lead will come away more easily from
under the nails.



Boards, to Whiten:wash with kerosene in the water.

Chopping boards
wooden sink-tops
kitchen tables
benches where you roll the dough
and a tool called a scrubbing-board
from deep-shaded past

when there were bone-handled knives
a thing on the table
with a name like an arpeggio
and the archaic luxury
of going soon to bed

where there were moreporks
on the roof
rats in the wall
starlings in the attic

and a ghost like water running
where it should not be

or:1. scrub with coal-ash.
2. use the blue water from the washing.
3. scrub with 1 part lime to 3 parts sand.
4. rub with lemon-skins.
5. apply a weak solution of oxalic acid.
The lime and sand works best if you’ve the time



Boots, Working, to soften:soak the boots in kerosene, then
give them a dressing of neatsfoot
oil which softens the leather.

To the foot
moulding at heel and arch
spreading to the toe
to hold

For on the foot it all depends
and must be kept in form
no murmur
nor grudge
against the neat
its foot

Though it may do no good
to the stitching
for things immersed in an alien element
often come apart at the seams

As with wine
in skins

decayed by the discrepancy

castor oil will do instead of the neatsfoot; it is best used warm



Bottle, to Cut:

I will try to keep to the fact

A lively earnest and ready mind as mine
is easily moved over to hyperbole

It works in this wise —
to cut a bottle or demijohn
wind some knitting wool
round at the cutting point-
about half an inch of it

Pour kerosene on the wool
till it is soaked

Light it,
and when nearly burnt out
upend the bottle in cold water

The top will come off neatly
Hold with care —
you will be given a jar

Don’t do this in the house — perhaps in the wash-house by the

Leave the outside door open.

Don’t use petrol instead of the kerosene.



Cement in Clothes:wash or soak in water containing
vinegar — about a cupful to each tub
of water. Then soak in water
containing kerosene and soap powder

It’s amazing
it crumbles out
these clothes
that were stiff as a board from the dust
and were set in their ways to the wearer’s disgust
are freed from rigidity
to move at the call
of limb and joint

It’s mystery
it’s alchemy—
stone is given life again
pants can be inhabited
overalls be worn—
by means of kerosene
and vinegar
and soap

Socks that stood solid
on the back porch floor
can now be fitted on the foot
put in the boot

I vouch for the efficacy

salt will do instead of vinegar — a handful to a gallon

flush the tub after, to clear dust from the pipes



Chewing Gum, to remove:soak the gum in kerosene.

An element of force it has
enough within of fire and
of water one to solve dissolve
remove wash burn the dis-
card of the unclean sweet of

  • spat out upon the floor
  • trod into path and step
  • stuck underneath the
    table chair the door-
    knob in the longdrop
    where it moulders
  • smeared in the mat
By kerosene removed

So simple a simple

As well by eucalyptus
methylated spirits
vegetable turps

if you have a fridge rub first with ice

then scrape off as much as possible and it will remove
more easily



Coal Dust, or Slack: to use —

Brickettes —

to each dustpan full
1 teacup of kerosene
¼ pan of sawdust
5oz. flour
½ pint cold water
1 pint boiling water
Paste the flour and cold water
Stir in the hot and
Boil till thick

Mix with the kerosene
Stir in the sawdust
Add enough slack to
Make a stiff mixture

Form into balls and dry

There are other means:
washing soda with the dust,
or sugar

put the mix in paper bags
and use to bank the fire

or sprinkle on the fire from a shovel



, on Frocks:cover with kerosene, roll up and leave
for a day. Wash in warm soapy water
and a few drops of household

To dissolve —
not conceal —
by translucid liquid
which itself won’t stain

But will search out
offensive particles
of wax

and cancel colours
which misdirect
the patterns of the day
the forethought

to make suns run
men smile
and opposition fade

I use none other

Try —1. A warm iron on blotting paper
2. Bicycle puncture solution;
when dry it will peel off
bringing the colour with it



Dyemarks, to Remove:Boil with a cupful of Kerosene in the
water, then soak with the stained
parts on top. Cover the stains with
bicarbonate of soda till the marks

Compose yourself
still the mind
it helps to say a mantra —
the names of your children
in euphonious disorder
the tasks ahead in priority
while the stains disappear —

and they will

As sure as that crumbs do grow
at the bottom of the fridge
so these stains will fade

Blot by blot they will diminish
white as a polar night
your linen will be

A summer night

White and bright

white things may be bleached

tartaric acid may be used

test on a spare piece first



Enamel or Porcelain: to clean have a saucer full of
common salt, and add a little kerosene.
Dip a cloth in, and rub over porcelain
or enamel, using plenty of ‘elbow
grease’. Rinse and polish.

We have no proof that life will end —
only precedent

Space is the order of material things
and their connection with each other

Time is the ordering of events
caused by the presence of matter

The whole of life is a flight from youth
to the establishment of precedent

So this receipt’s for someone old and wise
who knows.

Turps will do it just as well
and any other soluble salt

or commercial agent



Fleas:fleas usually live in the sand or dust beneath the house.
Wash door, steps etc. with kerosene.

By invitation only
is there entrance to the house

Guests may come
with music food and stubbies
to hand

The rellies roll a barbecue

Neighbours call
with news to please

Connections in high places

But —
the doorstep’s washed in kerosene!

No pest will plague
and no plague pester

it is advisable to pay particular attention to cracks between floor-boards and skirting boards

a clean-out of rubbish from under the house is also a good idea



Flour Bags: to remove markings rub in kerosene, leave
for a while, then boil.

To cut
the brand
from the cloth

and the race be run
without cachet

These bags have their uses —

but who would run with
Flemming’s Finest
Chelsea Sugar
Sure To Rise

on front
or back
of the shorts

It would be a boast

if residual marks are left on the shorts:
cover with dripping
and rub together with the hands
leave 24 hours
then wash in hot soapy water



Grass Stains:soak in Kerosene, then wash in warm soapy

though it be so clean
must stay with the leaf

Like dirt
with the soil

And oil
with the car

in the vase

It is in the being
of soap and Kerosene
to keep things in their order

When you or I
stray where we oughtn’t
these are the agents
cleansing and restorative
that God will use
to re-place us

You can also:
  • sponge with meths
  • soak in glycerine and egg
  • cover with cream of tartar
  • smear with treacle
  • salt and tartaric acid

after all these wash,
then dry in the sun



Lamp, Kerosene:keep a bucket of sand handy in case of fire.
Water is no use with oil, but sand
extinguishes the fire immediately.

Light can turn enemy
the lamp leveller
in fire dark and smoke

sand saves

which is a message from Montaigne
on wisdom —

to go with nature
who is a gentle guide
to those who don’t rebel

Do not confound her remedies
with extravagancy
an extinguisher
or a hose

Observe creation’s worth —

use one element
upon another

place the bucket out of common reach
lest someone smoke or spit
and be contaminant



Lead Floor: to clean rub with Kerosene.

Tie a soaked cloth to a mop,
and do it standing.

Or get down on your hands and knees
and rub if you must,
as if you were sanding.

Best work out a way to polish
the floor
from a distance.

You will get a fine reflective gloss
and glose
with firm persistence.

Don’t worry or get in a bind
— that would be sad,

For lead if you let it gets on your mind
— and makes you mad.

and then wash with hot soapy water

a dull surface is appropriate to the metal



Maori Bugs:Each day, spray the places where they come with
kerosene. Place chloride of lime in little tin lids in
several corners round the place.

Put candles
make an altar
stand each day to give a thought
for the resonance
the others to come —

Stick bugs at night
to hang on the curtain rail
and click at the dog

Black Arachnids
from the coal
that come tarantula
over the mat

Others brown
like scorpions
and run in the sheets

Huhus at the window
under the door
scramble prickly

Giant snails in the shed

Pray for the creatures

Pray for them all

Platyzosteria novaeseelandiae, the Black Stinkroach, or
Kekerengu, produces an objectionable smell when alarmed.



Mason Bees:to prevent Mason Bees from building in the
ceiling, saturate a large duster with Kerosene
and wipe all over the ceiling. This will also
clean the ceiling.

Though when the bees have gone
back come the spiders
which masons catch
and store in clay cells
in equability

of temperature and dryness
for their grubs

Nature is a pest
it infiltrates in crumbs of clay
and pickled corpses
patinas of mould
flat things that scuttle
damp things that slide

Be forearmed —
dust mop and saturate
make it domesticate

the Masonic Apron may be cleaned with warm soapy water and a little ammonia

it may be worked with powdered chalk to keep it soft



Mildew Stains:
3. soak in Kerosene for 24 hours then wash.

As for a soiled cloth
in water warm with soap
and it will come as clean and white
and uncorrupted though

Don’t be deceived —
it still decays in other ways:

By slow disintegrating age
it loses thread
By power of ultraviolet sun
it slackens and
falls apart to dust
By use it wears

Countless other forms of life
attack it —
insect mammal mould
and microscopic
before you die
should get some life out of it

if new and slight
wash in soap and water
and dry in the sun

if on white cotton
use Jovelle Water
(see under J)



Moths: 1.

Mix and shake well
4oz. pyrethrum powder
in one quart Kerosene.

for about 8 hours

And add about 10c worth
synthetic oil of wintergreen

Spray the carpets with this
but nothing else

It is a volatile thing
and moths are serious

They breed in the fabric of life

Their lust for the thread
is metaphor

I confidently affirm this

2. turpentine will keep them out
3. put a cake of camphor in
4. dust things with napthalene



Overalls, greasy:

Wash in a bucket of water
with a teacup of Kerosene

Wring out and rinse in
hot soapy water and soap powder
soda and ammonia

repeat 3 or 4 times

Rinse well
and hang out
to dry

or in a safer place
where there is no grease
nor chemical peril
where you wear clothes
to stay immaculate

Cut your hair
do your nails
scrub yourself with sugar soap
then take a white collar job

Be dandiacle
Go clean

for a perfect finish: after pressing
hang out in the sun




If dirty from an open fire
put them in a kerosene tin
and cover with cold water

Add 2lbs of cooking salt

Bring slowly to the boil
and simmer for some time

When cold clean
with pot cleaner
and ‘elbow grease’
which is a catalyst
on crusted tar
dissolves and dislodges
to flakiness

reducing black to a minimum
on steel or aluminium

then put your pans upon the rack

None will know you’re colonial
and like to cook on the fire
when you’re alone and all
will praise your kitchen economy

if the saucepan is burnt
cook vinegar in it
or put it in the fowl run
with milk in it
(the chooks will peck it clean)



Silver: tarnishedif silver is disfigured with black spots,
rub on a mixture of precipitated chalk
and kerosene. Leave to dry, then wash in
boiling water.

A scrub and a polish
does nothing any harm

Possessions are like pets
to be tamed
into the manner of the house

In time
they will reflect it

There, you will say
on seeing a spoon —
is a house with a pride

And on seeing an epergne —
is a house with a style

It is an aura
or an affect
that our belongings grow

And their reflection
is of us

or use aluminium salt and soda

or a good silver polish

never use rubber bands

nor put ivory-handled knives into hot water



Skins, to cure

  1. Calf cow and deer skin.

    Scrape skins clean
    stretch on floor
    tack into place

    Rub with Kerosene
    till wet all over
    then rub on baking soda

    Form a paste
    leave for 2 or 3 days

    Rub all over
    with a brick
    until pliable

    The fleshy bits
    should come off

    The skin be smooth

    Wear or otherwise use

there are also goat and other skins



Stove Polish: (for old-fashioned ranges)

  1. Mix equal parts of boiled linseed oil,
    kerosene, and vinegar. Apply to warm stove.

Who would say no
to a black iron stove with fire,
not give all it asks,
a thing believed beloved?

It boxes the envious flame
and directs it,
this to the pots
that to the pipes
and all that’s left out into the house,
drying and warming
as the wild wind sweeps across the moor.

O comfort of my wish and will!
Who would not give you wood
oil vinegar wax and turps
blacklead bluestone if it helps
as well as Kerosene?

I endorse this product.

2. 4 cakes blacklead
3 spoons floorwax
1 cup turpentine
mix well together
this mixture will shine the stove



Tiles:instead of using water, clean hearth tiles with a cloth
moistened with Kerosene, turpentine or skim milk.

A fire is the edge of the abyss
the ungovernable governed
and must look well
must be presented
not spit or spark
be kept in bounds
and keep its place
like a dog trained or a cat

like a cat
a flame might jump
to where it should not be
lick at this
or that

and desolate

a furniture cream is also good

hot coals burn the polish



Varnish: to cleanrub with equal parts of raw linseed
oil and kerosene.

On polished parts
on arm and leg
and on the rimu floor

Pull up the carpet
polish under

and stand in reflection

At your feet will lie
the image of your world

as once it might have been

in knot and grain
by Kerosene

We recommend
with confidence

or mineral turps
which is not as good as Kerosene
which has more oil in it



Xylonite: to clean mix with equal parts of methylated
spirits Kerosene and water. Rub on,
then polish with a dry cloth.

Some things, my dear —

This thing is like this
that instantly and in itself
it was

Forgotten now
it for an instant was
an element
which we made exact
with a word of our own

And have lost
though it is there —
an elegance
in shops that sell imperfect verities

There —
whose owner is always away for the day
in tact

For what once was
is another thing now

xylonite. 1869.

[ irreg. f. Gr. xylon-wood + ITE ]
A proprietary name for



You’ve probably a modern house
Fresh dry bright and sharp-edged corners
Without a trace of borer rot or mould in dark-stain patches
Sound-founded level and with contemporary spouting
Close-fitting doors no draughts small dust dry drawers
And cupboards with no mice
Your water most probably runs all the time
And your electricity’s not chewed by rats
When it rains you’re not frightened
Wind doesn’t suck your windows out
And it’s most likely that your whiteware is not in a shed out the back

You probably spend money to save time

Your car is in a garage
With warrant and on the register
You spray to keep your garden clean
You grow popular things

There’s no kerosene in the house
Nor turpentine as you don’t paint
No stain-remover
Broken things — you buy another
And you shower

There’s no peace there’s always noise
You’re not really fit as you don’t have to do very much
But you’ve freedom of choice
And variety
You’ve plumbers mechanics men to repair the appliances
Easy terms and purchase rights
Your dignity is hired paid-for bought
Comfort assured by multiple means
Security assurred

And above any loss
Beyond the inexplicit burden of dependence vanished craft
Is the lightness of the load removed
That you don’t have to make things go

Published by Heteropholis Press, with the generous assistance of the Buller Community Arts Council.

Further copies may be obtained from P.O. Box 367, Westport, Buller, New Zealand.

© L. H. Kyle
ISBN 0-473-08963-7

© Leicester Kyle, October 2002

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