Wednesday

A Wedding in Tintown (2002)










ARGUMENT

You may be one of those who think that every human ill is fixed by supplementary prick or pill

You might never have thought of what it is we really do

And be quite content to follow along the tradition without a doubt as in a contented marriage

There’s virtue in an attitude that never stops to doubt

For much of this world’s necessary labour’s done by those who rarely wonder why

So in this work there’s little explanation

I settle down the facts and illustrate the matter

Though I have an inclination in me wanting to reveal itself to tell and teach the reasons why

There’s so much in this place and passage like no other

But fear that it would spoil the story smear the paint confuse

Here and there I’ll make the point and pass on to incident and hint

Of word and further ritual implicit in proceedings of a sociological spin

That might invoke a useful pause to ponder why it is we do and make these rites

That hold our nation and each other in this form

With no intention ever to undermine or subjugate existence

Though that’s not here nor there

And rather begs the question that’s inevitably asked of why it is we have

Identity commemorate have sex and anniversaries get married kids a partner die remember that we die have houses sleep a pension memories and fads










2
The
marriage
We held it at the picnic table by the road down
Where you look along the many-headed coast
There they signed the documents
There were several hundred of us
And we blocked the road against trucks and bad-tempered traffic
Climbed the cliff on the inland side for view
Hung from rock and bush and coloured umbrellas
Filmed and sang and clapped as they kissed
And told them to stand here and there and smile at the sun that shone in their faces
For they stood with their backs against
That unending bush that has no stop until the sea (green cloud
on the ground
) and Tasman Mountains

An elder did a karakia
A priest took the vows
They each read poems gave hugs gave rings gave promises of
love and freedom
Messed about a bit to greet the guests and condescended
Took wine to toast each other and the day
Waved at the local lads in black sunglasses
Then so happy it had all gone well (weather family everything)
We
begin
to tire show impatience have a smoke stretch in the sun want to get on with the meet the food the drink the course of the rite that must proceed before fulfilment in this impulse old as the hill we’re on so we look around for someone we know who might want a lift and a talk then
we










3
Modes of
Transport
All get into our cars
In smoke and bits of tin and dust and plastic rag
Toyota Corollas Falcons a Chev or two a Rover a Landrover '68
something heavy out of Russia and a Ford four-wheel drives of
other sorts of composite kinds with different panels mostly Brit
and USA and a Merc
Not warranted unregistered borrowed plates fake stickers and
charms
For invisibility
Hanging in the front
To help us get past the police once a week to the shops
And to regulatory musts like licences for gun and dog the courts
the vet and maybe the rates
That prop the System we despise though use for sickness power
the road and the dole
And for going behind the law
But not to confront it

We are furious in our speed into town
Confident back from our parties
Which sometimes let us down
But our mates are here for support
And will get us back on the road with hawsers
And that interesting instinct for angles and obstacles
Which is of the male
And is why we live in this place
It’s
a
gift and a choice that we’ve made for the free we call free in this condition of being we don’t examine lest we see the hooks and catches of this choice that set us on the course we don’t want our children to fall to and this is an affirmation so we all feel one
today










4
The
People
It’s evening now
A tawny light is rising from the moors
Reflection stored from the sun of the day let loose now for
guidance
But in clothes as dark as the homes we’ve left
We bring our dusk

There should be lions and leopards in the bush
And someone ineffable to greet us
As we climb the concrete steps
To stand inside the double doors in ever-widening mass
Moving out and spreading up constrained by expected formality
The men in beards and close-cut jeans
Not showing their impatience for a beer and a joint
They look Irish and about to be challenged
The women wear long dresses layed-over clothes and practical
feet
They make a show in knowing all ignoring some
With influence untidy hair and tightly-held prestige
In part-time jobs and recipes for emollients
Everyone looks forty-ish
That they come from another decade
Of ideals that haven’t happened
Out-of-date sex and
Intimidatory

Light can hardly penetrate the dust of all these people
The corners stay obscure
As
they
ought and we don’t want to look for the clutter the made-a-hash-of-it forgotten things time past they represent and dust of ages energy long stored and hope discard those half-attempted put aside and promises which mount in country halls
in










5
Our
Architec-
ture
This tin box in camouflage
For that great day when nation shall war against nation and
mountains shall be levelled
That end-of-order day beloved by hippies that will make their
terrors and their melancholy cosmic
Painted also as a mark of the crop which must be hunted from
above each new year
Inside it’s pink
There is grit underfoot
That can never be rid
From the sandstone
The stage at the end of the oiled floor the kitchen behind
It’s geared for a film that’s never shown with cinema seats
We sit with our women or mix at the door
Or look for the bar out the side door an old urinal
With a hatch that isn’t serving yet but is a saving
And is sometimes licensed if the Constable’s not grumpy
The convenience near has a notice ‘DUMP HERE’
And another ‘Use With Care’ for the porcelain base is cracked
and leaks
Like the water tank
Like the pipes which tangle on the outside of the hall
Like the zip in the kitchen
For we haven’t much money to keep things going
And just scrape by
From
one
benefit to another in competence grit teeth set to do our way get goals defy and desperate from obstruction by this fucked-up civilisation grasp at any strength that’s growing for self-maintenance to occupy ourselves for time can hang heavy an hour prolong to drugged sleep or boredom
so










6
Manu-
factures
Many of us make things in sheds we’ve tacked up
Contrived and equipped by that ingenuity that’s driven us here
That couldn’t set itself to work in city life but here in the stress of
survival
Makes scarves and knives jackets of opossum skin barometers
bone-carvings mats flax kits gin stained glass shawls
And mystic things of beads
Which are sold at the co-operative below
A focus for those negative rays the beads are meant to stop
Which generate in craft breed guile from artistic stress and
politics of pre-eminence
Fears of slight lost income spent prestige
In search for an embodiment of skill that all would see and know
for genius
Then buy and make the maker
Some women turn to ministry of massage homeopathy
Men to stone to carpentry or car
In the shed when it’s raining
Though when it’s added up it’s found we’ve spent more than We’ve made but we don’t mind
It’s good to be good at some
Thing
to
sell or boast or give away as part of the self that makes me shops and stalls and garage sales the craft co-op and even pain of failure mythic aims perfection falling short laments and might-have-beens the politics of art we’ve brought here for the Bride and Groom and put it
on










7
Imple-
ments
The table at the foot of the stage
Under an arch of punga fronds
The Bridegroom wanted money so they could travel
But we gave for the Bride to help them to be useful
To cook to sleep to love
To garden clean to be enlightened read and eat to rest
Craft and decorate mind the crop the weed-in-the-bush or
hydroponically
(within the customs of the tribe)
Someone’s left a rock with power
Agate or chalcedony to channel forces for them both and to
speak to humankind
But there’s no need the family’s here the vibes are good
There are cooking pots and casseroles from down the hill
Sheets towels spades a broom
A slasher for the bush
Tapes CDs a mobile phone some cutlery and storage ware
Designed to set a couple in economy
Loving adults in their nest and
Capable
of
leadership based on experience of life afflatus of the age feet in the earth and mystic vision the senior has who can sit in the sun and solve things and when it rains then seekers will repair to consult condensed for the good of us all and applied a healing balm for the short time guidance for the long so that every town should have one
and










8
Susten-
ance
At length (it’s always lengthy)
Food is brought out and brought forward in casseroles and
covered plates
And put on an island of tables
It’s a pot-luck dinner so we’ve made the meal and know that
there is
Whitebait from the river mouth and free-range eggs
Goat-meat curry in coco cream
Mussels from the Point smoked eel paua from over the hill and
watercress
Blackball sausages in chick-pea stew
Mutton-bird pie
Kewai soup
Christie made the wedding cake and Eva iced it
Someone’s brought some venison kebabs
There’s blackberries-and-cream from the farm at the crossing
And cannabis wine in greenish bottles smelling like spinach
All things from our soil and sea the creeks and greens
And pot-laced cakes that no-one will know

We patiently stand to talk and not look
And drink a lot at the common bar where everyone’s put something tequila-and-lemon home-made wines rums and whiskies black beers sticky spirits and anything with
Coke
for
comfort we need the comfort we tell ourselves on this mountain where it gets so wet and cold in the fog and the houses rot and the boots decay and there’s nothing else to do but drugs and television food and sex when it’s around and grow the Weed for all these things while we’re waiting
for










9
Grades of
Rank
The Bride and Groom to make a show
They’ve been putting things right out the back and come in the
door arm in arm
He’s aquiline she’s Middle East or something of that sort
And paints New Age
They’ve been here a long time are constant in ascendancy
Know everyone and all that does and ought and why
Hold parties people children power and politics
Accept reject direct the course of things
We now and then stage small revolts which let off steam and
startle them
But generally accept their rank with gratitude
For you need someone dominant when you live near the edge

It’s their night they’ve paid for it
We clap them as they come in with their children and
grandchildren
They smile and wave and lead us to the dinner
There are plenty of plates but not enough tools
There’s nothing wrong with fingers
As long as you choose the right food
Use
judgement
no greed good speed don’t push the man in front don’t grab don’t tip the plate nor spill and drop food onto restless feet get combative do smile and don’t mind doing without a dish you want it’s only once and you can have a good breakfast tomorrow so consider it’s only luck and you can be spot on if you talk across the table while you’re doing it
unless










10
Domestic
Amenities
There’s crisis and the water fails
It doesn’t matter much because the toilet’s breaking up and
there’s the bush
But it’s bad in the kitchen for the children and the hygiene
For coffee and tea afters
Se we ought to put it right

Our water comes from up the hill
From a stream that never dries
It comes to us in alkathene pipes
Across the valley and under the road
To house and hall
Springing leaks and parting joints wherever they lie forgotten
Into catastrophe
Panic overtakes us and drought and we search in the bushes
Tangled in the dark the blackberry montbretia
Until someone calls out here’s the fucking cause of the trouble
And pushes it together

We go back in rejoicing
Once again we men have won
But pipes tend to trouble at night it’s the moon
And in our hearts we know they’ve just
Begun
because
this is the way things go in seasons and in times appropriate to nature and you can sense it if you train yourself up and use your finer parts to tell the way it all blows and rhythms discern that it’s time to be tested and prophesy with a delicate force that it doesn’t much matter
as










11
Social
Sentiment
This is a family event
So there’s not the sharp edge of sex that’s usual round here
Like at the harvest dance when everyone wants to get laid
There’s a lot of single men in this town
It’s where we come to repair the damage
And find a woman elsewhere anywhere over the hill
With the western mystique the outlaw thing the tough and wild
and fringe
Which a woman likes who likes the rough and the Weed as well
Too much spoils it
A little does a lot
Strengthens and lengthens the pleasure
Of love on the hill
In a big bed by firelight
With the fog and the wind and the rain outside so thick there’s
nothing real
It isn’t done to take another’s
It isn’t done to talk of it
The women may — that’s nature
But we men like to do our job and have a
Reputation
that
goes without saying and become a known entity valued in the community or feared for a certain competence but at least marked out by talent or trait that’s yours alone and may be indescribable a worth which makes for apart a puff a paean of praise is
why










12
Polygamy
&
Divorce
We’re happy today
It’s good they’ve gone straight after all this time
Mostly a man moves in and all’s well as long as he does his work
In the bed on the house round the grounds on the car
And works at the plot for the crop in the bush
So that nothing gets caught by police
That he fits and doesn’t make trouble
That he doesn’t talk and is strong where it counts
It’s the woman who kicks out the man
There’s no need for the law
Some men have more than one which is good if you’re made this
way and everyone agrees
But bitter if you’re not
The old law of one to one is mostly followed here
And if it seems right and goes on for a time and there’s a balance
which doesn’t tip too far
And if they are loyal and want to be
Then they might go legal
Especially if there are kids and there’s money and they like each Other
in
that mutual way which is easy to see that they fit that they’re down the same street and do the same things are good for society a stable force together whatever else you might say and we do too though some of us think
that










13
Customary
Law
There should be a speech or two before the food goes grey
And messages from those who can’t attend
But the best man isn’t here and hasn’t been seen since Friday
When he was at court to change his fines to community work
For all his traffic troubles
Offences of the unwarranted sort speeding and unregistered
But he drove to town and caught another ticket
We’re sorry for him and understand
He was due to go legal the very next day
But now he’s gone bush
He should be at the wedding instead of shooting goats
Though we don’t much think of that for this is the way the
system goes and we sympathise
With his frustration which is always in our minds too
At a law which is made by those who can’t afford it
And doesn’t much help the people on the edge
It’s mostly made for those inside
Which makes us want to irritate the police and the establishment
To tease the constable
Until he gives up and buys a fish-and-chip
Shop
for
change from strain and security in some other town where the kids won’t throw stones on the roof poke rude things in the letter box cause allergies or drive him into wild asthmatic doubt of what he sees
to










14
Imbibe-
ments
The left of the stage
By the stairs that go up to the kitchen
On a small trestle
Are three kegs
They’re hired from the liquor store
And gleam womb-like in their corner
That invites and is repeated in the glass around the cups and jugs
Which may later be returned to those who own them or be lost
and counted as gifts to the hall
Which is short of utensils of every type
For they get taken outside by patrons who want to drink in the
view
Of the moors and the sea (which goes on over to Australia)
They sit on benches made from railway sleepers
Or lie in the long grass to talk
By that notice nicked from the refuse station
Which says ‘Dump Here’
Which they do with their plates and cups and bottles in the
weeds
To be found a century later maybe and put in a museum
Analysed for period and mistaken for use
But of value to the
Fancy
which
is use for the past besides discard and the chain of cause and effect the mystery by which we exist the gratitude that fortifies elucidates our state of things build colleges and halls to hoard the artefacts on which we found the notion
that










15
Usufruc-
tuary
The Bride and Groom are doing well
But we wonder how they’re paying for this
Guest bring food and some booze but a lot of it’s had to be
bought
They’ve done up the house for the guests
And had a water-tank installed an indoor lav and leaks stopped
There’s the cost of hospitality and then of course new clothes
Money here’s not made the same way
It’s around but it doesn’t do the work
A lot of the best is got without it
Is paid for at harvest time with the weed in its various forms
There’s a ledger kept of good turns done
Like a saving from the law a lift a hint in time
Cars and motor bikes arrive and then as quietly move to other
hands
A shed’s put up a hut appears and something’s fixed that hasn’t
gone for years
yet no-one knows how or why the means
And how he’s got the dough to do it

Will they be in hock for years
Or have they been clever
And traded their
Poverty
as









16
Credulity
The Bridegroom bangs and calls for quiet
‘Grace’ he calls ‘We’re going to say grace’
He announces in a cultured tone
At a time like this he camps his style
‘Right’ he says ‘Thank you Helen Clark for all this food and
please give us money to buy some more’
‘Right’ he says ‘You can start if you want’
There’s not much space for religion here it doesn’t seem to fit
Ecstasy’s got by chemical means and there aren’t any ghosts
Now and then someone gets converted
Goes on the radio and rebukes us
That’s usually when there isn’t any grass and comfort’s at a
premium
It doesn’t last and usually ends in bed with a new partner
The sea below and the hills above give us something
Like the tranquil presence of a greater force
And we believe in luck
But not an actual god for that’s all part of the System and we
don’t believe in
Anything that’s been devised for
Dominance
and
subvert like we would another boss we keep our own tradition make a singular service keep a peace of major time for major things and never waste an initiative though that’s alright in its place so now’s the time that we think of strength and sustenance
so










17
Fruits &
Vegetables
We file around at the back of the feast
For plate knife fork and a paper napkin
The tables are crowded with food in bowls and casseroles the
wedding cake and two huge
Vases of sedge and Ghania which blossoms only now and then
and this year’s doing well
The Bride’s bouquet is by the cake
Of herbs for essential oils
We go slowly as some guests can’t decide on their choice
They hesitate as if it is important
As if goat curry will make their day but casserole will kill it
Some argue with their relatives and try to convict a change of
choice
To make ultimate a mussel oyster cous-cous bean
Some not to eat at all
To take a later chance from leavings
But we come to our goal and can sit
Somewhere around the edge of the room
The plate on our knee with care
Not so much from hunger though this does count
As from the need to complete to be part do our thing
In communion with the rite
Which
is
vague virtue in a pious sort we approach in the usual way by stance and quiet self-conscious look kept dignity not lessened by the numbers of the crowd nor plates of choice which do humiliate if let by those who cook and taste to not come up to this not saying much nor signalling
with










18
Etiquette
The plate of food in one hand level
Fork and napkin in the other
We look for a seat by sense and instinct not by plan
Unless there’s been the forethought to book
Which a man does by putting his six-pack on the seat
A claim honoured by the men
But a woman will take it
And keep her place with some personal thing that none of any
sex will touch
And then there’s the choice of company
By whom to sit by partner or by friend
Not by Lew who lives in the bush and doesn’t wash
And smells so pungently from sweat and pot
That even the flies go sleepy they say
Nor by Mal who grabs you if you get too close to say
‘I’ve only grown pot and poppies before
But Jeez you should see my supertom now’
Some things are best not talked about
Like cannabis cars and wealth
Which feed the paranoia of the time
And might be overheard passed on enhanced and sped along the
coast the gossip line
To town and police from pubs street meetings jealousy
Wherever we might find ourselves we generally go safe
And talk of local politics the evils of the mine
A folly rain a craft some sports tough times and bikes
Then when tedium grows to
Tiredness
we
move by excuse or fabricate call by business friend an urgent need out to the wilderness of face in search of ease or entertainment strike a spark but no contention no offence reprise of injury past a pleasure please and somebody to relate in the pub a trophy to distinguish in the mists of time
for










19
Causes of
Division
Fog is the cause of most of the trouble
And age
Which rolls in like fog and hangs around with time
Shuts out the sun dims sight
And seems like the present to never go away
Until a cold wind from over the hill puts an end to it all
For the future is always someone else’s until it comes again
To be repossessed by the young
So the past is a series of take-overs
For each of which we’re unprepared
But feel better when they do it thinking
‘After all I’ve done it for the town
Who would have done it if I hadn’t
Look at all the times I’ve done it all myself’
We go into a sulk and stay at home
Don’t go to parties boycott meetings
Grumble in a confidant’s ear of thanklessness by others until
The signal sounds of total loss if we stay like this
So we start repairs and saunter back with nonchalance
Wise saws hints of virtue unexpressed so far
But offered now for use
Everyone for the common good says Welcome
Doesn’t mention absence
And lets me
Back
within
the bounds of trust consensus drawn like a circle of fire with music myth and caution for guidance test tact and learned observation to give the people life to let be the community which mightn’t be the same as other ones
because










20
Origins of
the People
We think as Coasters people of the west
Though we’re refugees each one to tell the truth
But don’t tell it we wear our dark disguise dress in beards old
clothes and gumboots
Watch the weather learn the trees tide timetables old sites and
how it used to be
Past episodes of note and how the seasons were
Profess a hate of city life and scoff at Over the Hill
Identify so closely with these rocks and hills we can only be seen
when we move
That we don’t fit in the old familiar world
Of costly pleasures
Rebarbative days and duties without relief
Morals that have no point
Weights no strength can lift debts beyond repayment homes as
dull as desiderata lists
Joyless jobs and loveless domesticity
And goals no society should impose
So we invent our own traditions myths and legends of the lost so
that
Though rootless we might somehow take be epiphyte or sub-
Terraneously thrive without a past
And be entirely in the present day
Indigenous

Something may take the rest of the world
Ebola plague or HIV
But we of the hill will be
Saved
to
reseed humanity to bring the species back to the simple life of hard work and vegetables dominance of the male women to the tubs hunted meat no phone nor electricity and authority removed decentralised the police made polite because we know in our bones of
course










21
Moral
Faculties
There’s bound to be a threat or fight
And it’s bound to be the Bridegroom who dominates the scene
It’s in his affect as they call it or his psyche
His nature or whatever to start a fight or threaten but not let it
out of hand
As this with Steve who’s always hearing snatches seeing glimpses
of rare things that haven’t been around for years
Like kiwis which he says he heard down by the bridge last month
He tells the tale with vigour wide arm gestures loud and long
We heard it too a weka
But we let him have his fuss
We come to his defence
Gather round and loudly claim that kiwis come here often
Make a row that others stop to listen join in
Until the Bridegroom overhears and in new shoes and feeling
great comes over to the group
Is tempted to be patriarch protector cantor stentor
‘You Flatlanders’ he bellows ‘Out of it Get out of it
We don’t want you making trouble
Kiwis come here all the time’
Which stops the trouble makes them quiet
Not leave nor
Believe
for
they have that respect for the lawless which binds our society together a creative commonality sense of success beyond the safe short cut to achievement that no-one else would take for fear of fine and confiscation public gossip
which










22
Natural
Propen-
sities
Is a curious thing over here
That everyone wants to know and to be known
To yet retain their privacy a city thing though contrary to natural
tact and needing to be sorted
For with the knowledge of the good there goes the bad
Of things of ignorance and will to dint one's self-esteem
And prompt the talk we fear from over the fence the bar outside
the shop at bowls at working bees and power groups
That make us interesting able to be diminished or exalted by
good will or prejudice
Laid bare at social dinners like snapper from the rocks bones
only left to pick on
The thought alone breeds dread so we manage by judicious
choice of contact group and friend
Drop hints make trails and heroise if we can
Unnatural trials cruel pasts hid skills that only need the call for
Use and open play for betterment of self and this society that we
so long to love and flourish make
Distinguished in our likeness
Nothing we are able to have is what we are searching for we say
While what does seem the real thing remains beyond our reach
Yet there is a dignity
Perhaps it's from the sea that bursts along this adolescent coast
Its rhythms in our hearts light eyes
Breath of the hills in our lungs and minds
With clarity of vigour to make space for perspective and
Attention that small matters need that skitter in a random way
Before there's a chance to identify
Like knowing you're alive before you die
Which gives a small nobility
An edge beyond the city cousin's
Knowingness
we
hold and nurture in our hearts to dignity pleased that others envy us because we're getting older and soon must settle down or join a bikie gang stop living in rotting houses get warm and well fed and lose a bit of weight before the joints seize up but just
now










23
Are We
Autoc-
thones
Our hosts move round encouraging us to eat
They have some time for each of us
We are their family neighbours friends past lovers
And they in their stability our core a pivot on which to turn to
face whatever comes
For the village is like the bush it grows to fill in every space has
sun and shadow
Leaves no place untenanted
We’ve now no thought of never having been here
Our time and permanence is made from this
Of coal and wood and water and the plants we grow in it
Strength for the long dark days of fog the winter sleets the winds
that wear us
That burn the greens
That bruise our sleep
The lightning strikes and black-outs
There’s no-one else and hasn’t been
Moss and creeping things will move to cover the road and rot
When we go
A flood will take the water pipe
A wind will take the hall
And one by one each house will fall to the adventitious
Tree
which
grows among the vegetables like weeds in cracks in the path the edge of the lawn the chimney round the chopping block the garage so fruitful is this place that we keep ourselves dry lest we get lichenous and envy none lest we stay green though they might envy us
who










24
Oratory
Are elitist and we overlook the other towns
Down there by the sea
A thousand feet down and eaten by the sea

It’s time for a speech
Our hosts to say the usual things
We like to keep the customs to make use of them
As we now do with jeer and wit
They being at our mercy if only by tradition
Smart-alec sex is not much use
They’ve been together two decades and can’t pretend to
innocence
Nor surprise at complexity and consequence
Some young lads try
To their shame
For the Bride grins
The guests grow apprehensive
The bridegroom stands in panoply
His tongue a sharp sword
His fists intimidate
And we hope he
Doesn’t
lose his cool for reason of drink or nervousness at the occasion be caught on the hop and an awful scene blossom out like fire in fat in the pan a catastrophe where peace was set so common here at things like this no don’t don’t we say to ourselves through gritted teeth and brace to do we know not what
then










25
Division
of
Labour
To our surprise it’s the Bride who speaks
It is usually she who listens with an interior grin unnerving
To a man who is serious in his words
And she welcomes us with nothing new
Formalities well put and pleasing
For those who like the niceties observed and graceful
For her friends and family from the north in kiwi-fruit
Intimidated by our hill and heaviness our freedom with it in these
spaces ours
This rock wilderness tapped springs old shit-houses tin-backed
shacks old cars and jobless
Is our richness
We can move in it
Which shows in her authority
And in her self-
Respect
as
we appreciate it’s us our place we’ve pride in and defend as I’ve already said and emphasise to those who think us shameless in a bourgeois sense no decent middle values fond of anything that undermines the future past and isn’t now keep losing things forget them when we
note










26
Games &
Diversions
The Couple move to centre
Where they stand before the cake
Which is baked into a house-truck by the Brothers Grimm a joke
upon us all
Who fear the gypsies and their unaccountability
And their own past
Before they settled here and stopped their wandering for the kids
They hold the knife with one hand each together
Poised above as if to lunge to kill
And smile at the photographers
Who call to them to heighten the occasion
For a smile and a look at the lens
The nearest thing to an action shot
Unless it be at the dance to follow
Or a fight
Or something else wild with alcohol
And the younger lads who stand staunch at the back
With their hands in their front pockets and dark glasses

The cake is sacrificial
To be distributed dismembered
As a symbol of the past
Of contrary affections
Though no-body takes it for
Real
yet
in a deeper sense we probably do in that deep sense where images work unquestioned mixing melding re-aligning while we don't think deep floods the road fires burn the bush white horses charge the sun we float invisible know it's a dream and
that










27
Acquired
Habits
There’s not enough
For hospitality
We need space
The fire at night
Freedom for the television books and habit episodes of peace
Regain of strength for patience for
The next day’s self-control
There’s also possession of time the need to make the water run
The cold at bay
The leak in the roof the chimney clean the veges grow
For life so hardly earned there’s nothing spare to share
Nor much to show of refrigerated skill
And culinary

The home is kept
and private for
Survival
and
a party now and then to keep in trust in knowing and in speech and not too feared it’s easy to fall into fear at harvest with the bong and the bud to see the police in everyone more threat to growth and sale and the skin-heads coming but
now










28
Musical
Instru-
ments
The Bridegroom calls the band
Whose leader is the saxophone
With cap moustache sophisticate
And a bend at the knees with suede shoes and looks cool
Though this one is of interest and a concern
For buying land up further north
Eighteen grand
He paid cash
His wife’s he said from Australia to cover
So they wouldn’t ask where it came from

A man likes to flash his cash
And we all understand but
He was so innocent so impenitent
And it doesn’t go with the saxophone
A good little band with no drums to dance
And doesn’t drown the talk
Everyone wants to talk he knows
About him

He feels like doing a Charlie Parker
Playing to the
Cows
but
not for long he doesn’t grudge he likes the crowd and knows them almost everyone but likes the music over all and likes the instrument would play to himself if there wasn’t a crowd a band or an audience and knows his place and function
that










29
Social
Manage-
ment
We’re mostly of the couple’s age
Been married once or twice ourselves
And want to talk a lot from the complexities of life
Pressed close in small places

We dance or we talk
The band plays our tunes
And the youngsters go out to the fire
The police won’t bother as they know we police ourselves
But they’ll be waiting at the bottom
In their cars at the crossing

The party trots along and does its work
There’s plenty of room and plenty of food
The couple move and mingle
Beer is free
Here and there a fight breaks out
Like leaks in a dam we think
Is stopped patched up and soon put right
there are ancient animosities
But this is a gathering for
Friends
that’s
drawing near its end for tiredness mostly I suppose we’re getting tired seen all our friends said all we have to say have heard it all have done it before have eaten and drunken and flirted a bit to test if we have still the knack a few will want to stay till dawn
they










30
The
Taboo
Already are looking for somewhere to sleep
They roam around the hall as if they want to confide
Dragging and restless
Some are curled on the floor
Or outside under bushes
Bobby is urgent and mutters
‘I want to crash man give me a place to crash’
In an Aussie whine and creepy
Looking in corners under tables into others’ spaces and private
places
Until he can’t be born and he’s put out
But he wanders around to the women’s room
Where they find him asleep and make a fuss
Then two of the blokes go out to get him
Truss him though leaving his legs
And run him sobbing down the hill
To hitch his own way off the Coast
Never to
Return
which is probably in his character he’s always been like this it might be drugs or something someone said his missus might help whoever she is it’s hard to tell or a new car but he drives with one hand on his dick the other on the wheel they say or it might have been the wrong brand of booze for him though that doesn’t matter much
because










31
Intoxi-
cants
We like our beer
Bottled draught cold
Ice with spirits
Tequila with lemon
And cactus at parties
The clear brew that’s boiled then left
From the pith to settle and ferment
It lets you level with the others
It opens your mind to social things and doesn’t make fear or
suspicion
Like pot or a rush like speed
Which puts you into a faster lane than anyone else with
difficulties
It’s the best at parties where you want to meet and talk
It doesn’t interfere with your eyes
It’s a cool male thing with
Mescalyn
it
doesn’t touch some the sort who never go drunk who knock it back and still stand still with their hands in their pockets smoke their whole stash and never get runny eyes scoff a tequila and look for another and just get calmer as the night goes though
others










32
Morrie
Like Morrie get locked in the chiller
He’s had to go home to get warm
Because he made himself an irritant by arguing all the time
A big man and Neanderthal who pushes into groups
With a loud voice for challenging those ordinary things that are
said in social ease
Not logical sense to keep the talk flowing
So he’s always out of place when he’s drunk
At parties like this
In greed for drink
That got him into the chiller
Where we found him blue and
Asleep
like
a lot of people not responsible now acting off the tops of their heads and dim trying to do the right lurch to the left and getting polite and talking a lot and putting it right over and over
until










33
Nan
Someone goes off with Nan’s wooden leg
She’s got herself into a scrap which she often does at the end
Because she drinks hard and stays on till the beer runs out and
bellicose
With the little group that’s going to the Rehab.
Ron and Jennie Jo Bernice Dave and Pete and Benny who are
nerving themselves
They know what’s got to be
It’s a nice leg and she’s proud of it
With a lacquered foot a flowered shank
She likes to go shoeless so people will see
But she forgets when she’s drunk and starts pushing around and
Cast hopping and cursing and
Frantic until it’s returned
But she’s
Still
helpless in her disability not standing now on two legs crying in her drunken rage crouched on the floor to hide her face a lumpen in a red dress but she’s alright and doesn’t get moved we just go round round go round it’s the end of the
night










34
Pets
Mal’s percussion in the band
He’s brought his kitten with him
Very small and black and white
Confident as no man would
It likes the sound or at least is used
For it hangs around the cases and the music on the floor
And then goes off oblivious
Under the tables and under the chairs
To the big side door where it strays
To the light of the bonfire lit by the bar
Of driftwood trunks and whole small trees in a wigwam of wood
For the youngsters who lie there
To smoke the local Weed and drink and dream
To make the softer sorts of love that fires evoke
One finds the kitten at his feet
And throws it over the flames to his mate
As Mal comes to look
And boots the kid on the head
Who cries right man yeah man that’s all right man right









35
Our
Manner of
Dying
At two o’clock the fog’s still in
The dark is thick
I say to my friend Let’s go
So we cross over to my house
Through the fog the wet and swirling fog
I turn up the fire
Where we take our tea and talk
Of quick light things that interest

We can hear from the party the drums and the yells
By-play at the cars outside
The incompetence

It’s a bond between
Sympathy that speaks
A voice

Of light and bright containment touch
And all’s released
We’re here in bed
Pleased with ourselves to have had the sense

Of lotus sweet
flesh and rest
pleasurable haste

Joyfully we soar aloft to the exalted skies
then sleep






© Leicester Kyle, July 2002






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