- Christmas letter (1996)
- Christmas letter (1998)
- Christmas letter (c.1999)
- Red Dog / Brown (2005):
Dear Richard [Taylor]
It’s now over a year since we moved into this apartment, to make it our home, and as a home it serves well. We feel we’ve made a good choice, as we are comfortable, and conveniently placed for living in the city. Already our city lives are well developed, and we each have independent and creative outlets, and city-wide networks of friends, colleagues, and acquaintances, who help us to feel well established and fully-functioning. Our sense of home is helped by having Joseph living at Henderson, and Anna at Mt. Albert, where she’s settled down with Richard. Michael is in Sydney at present, but soon intends to return to New Zealand, either to Auckland or to Nelson. Ruth is in Sydney, where she has become engaged to Brett.
City life suits us, and we’ve developed a good routine to make advantage of it. In the morning we both write, Miriel at history (herstory, she calls it), and I at poetry. After lunch we often go into town, to a library or gallery or concert, or to Mt. Eden for the shops or coffee. Miriel is increasingly becoming more involved in recording for the Auckland Diocesan archives, and I in the business of poetry. This grows ever more absorbing, and personally satisfying. In the autumn a friend and I will be assuming responsibility for the arts magazine ‘Printout’, and this is already giving us much to plan ahead for. I’m producing my first poetry collection at present, and Miriel has a book with a publisher’s reader.
Over the course of the year we have each had difficulties with health, but are now much improved. Miriel had two melanomas removed, and a course of radiotherapy. I was found to have an atypical depression, and to require psychotherapy and medication. Oddly, neither of us became physically ill, and the now usual course of our lives has not been greatly interrupted though there was, of course, some anxiety, through which our families were most supportive.
Though a new year always brings the unexpected, such of it as we may be allowed to control promises well, with stimulating projects ahead, and the consolidation of the already accomplished. We wish you a happy and a tranquil Christmas with friends and family, and hope we might meet again before too long, in 1997.
Leicester and Miriel.
with thanks for your encouragement and guidance,
Leicester and Miriel Kyle, Flat 8;1 Ruapehu St. Mt. Eden, Auckland. New Zealand.
WISHING YOU EVERY BLESSING
FOR CHRISTMAS AND THE NEW
REMEMBER MIRIEL, D. 29.3.98.
I’ve worked for you
for forty years or so,
in some pretty strange places,
and liked it.
it’s been good.
You treated me well
and watched over those
whom I love.
But now, if you will,
let me be.
Let me off the hook
for a time,
to loaf in the garden,
write a poem or two,
and read a book.
Then, when I go to bed,
give me a long sleep,
and strength for a good work.
Greetings to you in your various spaces.
I hope this year has gifted you its graces.
The next? Some say it starts a wondrous era,
but better far wish less – that it’s the bearer
of usefulness like wisdom, love, the best
of peaceful weeks and happy days, with rest.
wishing you every blessing
for Christmas and the New Year,
Leicester Kyle, Residential: Calliope Rd., Millerton. Ph. (03) 782 8608.
Postal: C/o Postal Agency, Ngakawau, Buller, New Zealand.
Red Dog / Brown
Jim Conolly: "Another Rare Botanical Discovery for the Millerton Botanist!" (2005)
Another Rare Botanical Discovery for the Millerton Botanist!
something sweet for Christmas,
I think you will enjoy this for what it seems,
it is, however, a text that supports some scores of poems.
people did things and made trouble.
We should have been at peace
because that's all there was around us –
hills bush and the full clean air,
with mountains in the distance to remind us
of the better way of living.
Then a wise old neighbour pointed out
that there was only trouble when people did things.
Better, he said, to keep still.
Don't talk much and find peace ill the sun.
We knew that he was right
and since have done nothing
except grow pot
and hide old cars in the bush.
Things have gone rusty
but nothing's gone wrong.
We're like our dogs –
getting older and quieter
and keeping warm in the sun
while the trucks go past to the mine.
Placid in the middle of this small brown town
lived a rusty young dog called Red.
He had silky ears
that he could move around
and droop at the tip
and a white butterfly on his chest.
Some called him Burglar Bill
for the dark brown mask round his eyes.
Others called him Dingo Dirk
because he looked Australian.
He lived under a house by the Fire Shed
and never went anywhere
in case something happened
When he was a pup
He had lived in the house,
but when his master died
the house was shut and now was cold.
There were no neighbours.
His company was the Fire Shed.
The townsfolk fed him often enough
though nobody gave him a home.
As nobody did anything there weren’t any fires,
but the firemen practised every week
by having a barbeque out the front
to keep their hands in – as they said –
and brushing up the news,
and Red watched.
It was his world,
of alcohol and motor bikes fire and pot.
He sat outside the firelight
and watched the men.
He knew their faces their bikes
their smells and their names.
Sometimes the women came, and children;
he wondered that such miracles could be.
He knew they were wonderful.
They gave him scraps –
he knew they were gods,
and always said thankyou with a lick.
“What a well-mannered dog,” the Fire Chief said.
“You’d think he’d be rough by now.”
“You should take him,” the others said.
“You need a dog now Lisa’s gone off.”
One night the barbeque got rough.
It was their animal spirits
as well as the pot and the booze
and it was a cold night.
There wasn’t any wood
as nobody had cut it.
They burned most of the furniture
and one of the doors,
and ran out of pot.
It seemed too early for home.
“Let’s go down to the rocks” said the Chief.
They knew what he meant
and they all went together.
Red went too.
The Chief kept his stash in a cave
at the top of the cliff,
a secret place
that couldn’t be seen from the air.
The track was faint
but they knew it;
they were all a bit stoned
but had torches.
Red went last so no-one got lost.
They muddled about
when they got to the cave,
pushing and shoving
to let the Chief through
and telling each other what to do,
so no-one heard him fall,
no-one knew he had gone
until they wondered
why he hadn’t moved the stones,
then someone said “Where’s the Chief?”
and someone else “Where’s Red?”
they staggered about
and there came an answering howl,
distant dreadful and full of pain.
They listened –
it was coming from
the bottom of the cliff,
far below where they were standing.
“Jeez,” said John,
“The Chief’s gone over”.
“Red’s alive,” said Pete,
as he howled again.
They were still,
trying to clear their brains
and work out what to do.
There were rocks down there
“We’ll have to go down”, someone said.
“We can’t wait for sunrise,”
so they went back to the Shed,
got ropes first aid and a stretcher,
and made their way around the cliff
to where they thought the two had fallen.
It took a long time
for though they had sobered up by now
it was steep rocky bushed and dark
and they kept falling over.
Red howled now and then
to guide them.
He put sobs in it
and sounded as if he was dying,
which made them go
as fast as they could,
then he stopped,
just as they reached the foot of the cliff
there was silence.
They stood, unsure what to do.
There were no more howls
to give direction.
“Jeez,” said John,
“That was his last;
he must have died.”
“Yeah,” said Morrie,
“You could hear the gurgle in it.”
“He must have gone with the Boss,” said Mel,
“We’ll have to look around for the bodies.”
“Just follow the line of the cliff,” said Pete.
“They won’t have bounced far.”
No-one liked the sound of that,
it put bad pictures in their minds,
so they hesitated in the dark
which pressed around them
soft like a duvet,
until Me! said in a shaking voice
“There’s someone sniffing my feet.”
Pete flashed a torch.
“It’s Red!” he said.” The little Bugger.
How did he manage that!”
And a voice called out from higher up
“Hey! Someone come and get me out of this!”
It was the Chief.
He was caught in the Kie Kie
and hadn’t hurt a thing.
It wasn’t easy to get him down
but they rescued him,
climbed back up,
and went to the Shed
where they each had a beer and a joint
talking flat out with relief.
“What happened?” they asked .
“I lost my balance,” said the Chief.
“I staggered a bit and fell.”
“Did you take Red with you?”
“I don’t know,” said the Chief.
“When I came to he was down there howling.
I think he did it all himself.”
They shook their heads in wonder
and stared at Red,
who was embarrassed and looked away,
then they shut up shop
and went home to bed,
Red went home with the Chief.
He was invited and he stayed.
They were very happy together
with one exception –
that his Boss wouldn’t smoke or drink anymore,
which wasn’t what Red was used to,
Bur once in a while
and always at Christmas
they would barbeque again,
with beer pot and fire and bikes
sniffing the tyres
and breathing the fumes,
would be in heaven.
His whole world was right.
there would have been a cypress
one of those long thin ones
that grow in Italy
and an olive
There would have been rocks
for where there are saints
there’s always rock
and a fig
There would have been
a singing bird
a blackbird most probably
or a thrush
It would have been sunny
and just after lunch
for then it’s quiet in Italy
and there would have been
made of stone
He would have said
‘you sing first’
and she –
and he –
‘your servant, sister’
When the mantle-piece fell down
and I stuck it back with sealant
that's just fine
When I tried to replace the tap
and it took three days
and the cupboard got flooded
that’s just what I wanted
When I ran the duck down
and made it dizzy
and cut off its head with an axe
with a smile:
you hunter-gatherers are all the same
And when the septic tank leaked
and I got reduction valves
and things like that
another pipe to another pit
another under that
and there was mud
and bad smells:
that should do just fine
and gave me a cup of tea
seeing everything is suitable
just fine and satisfactory
nice and alright
we think we’ll settle down
© L. H. Kyle. 2005,
front: Jim Conolly
back: Jocelyn Maughan