Miscellaneous Poems


  1. After They Left [n.d.]
  2. Blue Orchid [n.d.]
  3. Braided River [n.d.]
  4. By Hand [n.d.]
  5. Clearance [n.d.]
  6. Close-up [n.d.]
  7. From the Dam, the Day After [n.d.]
  8. Give to the Flower [n.d.]
  9. Grace on the Plateau [25/12/99]
  10. In a Secular Time [n.d.]
  11. My Amiable Mate [n.d.]
  12. Our New Snail [n.d.]
  13. Photograph [n.d.]
  14. Porphyry Reef [n.d.]
  15. Potter’s Coil [n.d.]
  16. Rising Damp [n.d.]
  17. Sunday Late at Grafton [n.d.]
  18. Tai Poutini [n.d.]
  19. The End of the Day [n.d.]
  20. The Hairdresser and the Hat [n.d.]
  21. The Last Day [31/12/99]
  22. Uncomfort Rock [n.d.]
  23. Utu [n.d.]
  24. Weak Before You [n.d.]


After They Left

When the miner went to live
down by the sea
he took his house with him

he left the sheds
some steps
the gate
the paths
and the outdoor loo

he left
two wrecked cars
a bike
two fire blocks
a concrete tank
a pine
a macrocarpa
and some bulbs

There was no letter box
for nothing was delivered

The bulbs kept on growing
the pine tree blew down
the macrocarpa bent with the wind
and the natives began
to creep out from the bush
and come back —

a rata lodged in the front door step
some kamahi down at the loo
coprosmas sprang where the garden had been
and under the macrocarpa
where the kereru perched
rimu and miro seedlings grew
broadleaf where the grass was long
and manuka

sun orchids grew where the coal had been
microtis on the fire blocks
bracken on the compost heap

soon the past was back again
and botanical



Blue Orchid

A blue
to please
the critics of blue

with grey in it
a grey of the view

escarpments of grey
the sand in the sky
and blue of the eye

an infinitude
a baby blue

with tussocks in it

a past change blue

a modesty
of deepness
like the sea



Braided River

Though they have no land now
they can at least see what they once owned,
simply by walking to the end of the lane
to the lip of the gorge
and looking ---

That was once theirs:
blue hills clear hills
the river
and the snow behind

the sound of water remains

They enjoy each other’s company
only at church
are they not together
there they sit on their own sides
as if to comfort the other’s memory
As if to say:
‘This was our doing;
we may not be all there is
but we are the first cause.’



By Hand

to Fat Boy
c/o Shane,
In the House Next to the Blue Pub,

was sent certain to arrive,

that on this side
someone would know,

that there are two houses
next to the Blue Pub
and Shane would be the right,

that he would get the box
to Fat Boy
who lives in the hills,

who looks fat
only from behind
on a thin bike,

and is innocent
(like the others)
of intention to confuse,

who sees this life
in social significances,
webs of trust.




Spring One.

The whole town
is sniffing the air
and glancing over fences.

The first faint hint
of life to come.
A flip of the hip,
a lilt in the talk
on the telephones,
of freedom.

Light lingers.

Soft on the glow of the setting sun
floats the talcum dust
of infant lust,
pollen gold.
And laughter.

A shiver as the sun goes down.

Darkness brings necessity.
Cruel chill.




There’s nothing between us
at last

speech or paper

visual aids

on the floor

just space between
so close we are

there’s still the space between

can someone build a bridge
or lay a line
or send a signal somehow



From the Dam, the Day After.

There was a house on the other side
but that burned down a night ago
in a cloud of orange fog
and a hiss of rain.

Today there’s a conspiracy to peace:
the trees are as rigid as pines on the Rockies
the lake is a pewter plate,
the sky has no content at all;

it rests upon a rim of moor,
of heath grey cliff and sandstone,
but holds no cloud no smoke or whiff
of the night before
the fear and the grief.

The lake the bush and sky together
hold all that happens here,
take it and distil it
into this capacity;
we never did and it never was —
all’s air and weather.



Give To The Flower

The power to take
and put in a place
where those who love
may trust the grace
and growing gracefulness,

may lift it off the page,
translate it to the
rock the moss the scree,

into a disposition
in the soul,
an elegant use
of space provided,

and sharp at the edges,
where it’s put
to grow.



Grace On The Plateau

for the manuka
and its flowers
that keeps the sun off us

for the moss
that gives comfort

that the wind does not reach us
and there are no clouds

for the big bush by us
and its birds

for the river in the gorge
the flowers on the pakihi

that the air is from the mountains
that there’s enough food

chicken ham salmon
rye bread good cheese
olives caviar
pate and crackers
cake port and sherry
chocolates wine
thanks for the doobies and stogies

thanks for each other.



In a Secular Time

Grant we do not question:
The Divine Legerdemain.

Nor permit doubt:
Of any major excellence.

High attainment in the arts:
Measures maturity.

Which is a preventive:
Of self-doubt and malnourishment.

That plague the idiosyncracies:
On new people.

Grant us confidence:
At the metaphor of bleakness.

To put the wrong question:
To the wrong time.

To overcome naivety:
And risk the ignorance.

For sake of greater:

A colloquy with ancestors:
And insufficiency.



My Amiable Mate

the sun
has no waste
on its face

it is lean
and clean

it is honed to the job
of irradiation


like you
your warming smile
bright cheeks

with never a hint
of boil beneath

of burnish
or the blaze



Our New Snail

Trish found it,
crossing the road —
the snail, that is.

She was going for a walk
to calm herself,
for there was trouble with the plumbing,
It was early,again.
and had been raining.

I had told her:
‘If you see a snail shell
please bring it to me,’
for I’m interested,
so she brought me the creature,
‘At least you’ll have the shell,’ she said,
but it was too important to keep.

I could see it was an entity
so I rang Kath Walker in town.
‘Measure it,’ she said,
‘and describe it to me,’
but how to do that —

it’s so old
it’s out of my authority;
exactness is absurdity
with a thing like this,
and words are gauche.
It antedates statistics by an aeon.
Chromosomes and categories
slip off down its trail.

‘Look’, I said,
‘It’s uncomfortable.
I’ll ring you back.’

‘Give it a worm,’
she told me.
‘They suck them in
like spaghetti.’





to be seen on film
and recognised

a little
look and set

your head
before the pointed door
the cenotaph beside

your eyes
to smile too

compose yourself

your hands
and look at me
as if
I am
a spirit being bearing gifts
of contemplative use

gaze further on
the signs

as if you see
a life beyond

be dead
(if you must)
to me



Porphyry Reef

The Seraphim stood in the dusk
under the cedar
at Porphyry Corner

where the road switches down
to the last mine beneath the southern range

Its wings were innumerable swans
made of snowflakes
they arched as high as the tree

The choir came up the creek to him
in double file
the first playing high-pitched fifes
the last guard
a cardboard coffin
torn and bent

They sang
and stamped their feet
under the gowns
white as the Lord in the shade
was grey

to whom
they gave
the empty box

Then from my diary
one blank page stood alone

The Lord sounded in the tree
and was gone

but the music diminished
in distant marches



Potter’s Coil

For the larger
differently-angled works
a coil is laid
to the form

Another on the next day
and each after that

until the height and size is reached
and the work begins
to fit the expectation

each coil a day
each day resting on the other

founding shaping
gathering intention

as history is made

as a creature

as an incidence matures



Rising Damp

Since you died
the weather’s got in
to the cupboards
and the implements
tarnishing the pans
misting every trace of you left
in the house

the fog
makes echoes
bounce in my mind
damp after-shades
to linger
in the back room
of my eyes

moss on the cloth
mildew on the memory
of you



Sunday Late at Grafton

a city dress
of underpass
and lotus

of leaves
and tombs of the fathers

like a pack of dogs
and angry parents
back from sport
choke the question why

it stills

plastic lights
ask old requests

the ladies at entrances
say yes

and gentlemen
sit thinking in their cars
for answers
more furtive
and patrician



Tai Poutini

She boils to birth on a grey sea
with dust of other continents
and ice

From sea comes the power
from the south the ice
and strength of solitude

No part’s been used before
not wind nor rain —
she’s new-born
like these hills she pours upon

Crumbles rock
eats the shore

and we live with her

You can see her in the setting sun
as patterns on the sea
on wind-pruned bush
sculpted rock
white clouds that go before
and her companion storms

We’re the people of first choice
and are tested
we watch her cross
to the other side
in privilege of knowing

over range after range
of outstretched arms
and bush like a deep green sea.



The End of the Day

The golden brackens on the hill
The sunlight into dews distil,
And pollen-filled miasmas rise
To drape the tree-tops, gild the skies.

Clouds of twilight insects fly
To taste the nectars, then to die;
So I this evening home have sped
To sip your sweetness, rest my head.



The Hairdresser and the Hat

My Word! She said,
there’s a hat;
real leather too!
That’ll outlive you.

Not a good idea,
to be outlived by my hat.

It’s an appurtenance,
like an umbrella, watch,
or a prosthetic device.

Let it go first,
and let me be survived
by something that has
its start from me,

like a child, this poem,
or some great consequence
from wise words dropped
to a friend.



The Last Day

The skies are still
the sea is low
there’s no excitement in the wind
no grinding of tectonic plates
no gale

on this hill,
so liable to storm

there’s pale cloud cover

no breeze to shift a leaf

and all the folk are quiet at home
in this end of a time

as if we expect
in air and ground and sea
a sigh of exhalation
the last breath out

then it’s the end



Uncomfort Rock

at the top of the hill

at the right height for sitting

flat for my pack

with lunch of sandwich one banana
two boiled eggs an orange and
a thermos of hot sweet tea

there’s the whole world under the sun

hill and flat bush and track
rivers and cataract

and a past that hasn’t happened yet
hopes that were lost way back
grief that sorrows on and on
anger that stops the tears

and cold wet clothes
that a winter sun won’t warm




I should’ve shot that dog
when it ate the kid’s sandwich,
but you don’t know what’s going to happen,
do you.

I would never have thought it would have gone like that.

I would never have thought it could have done it —
the kid, I mean.

I didn’t know he knew what to do —
he must have watched me;
but even so, I mean,
how did he know how to manage the thing?
And Christ —
how did he know how to aim?



Weak Before You

I took neither stick
Nor hat

The sun warmed my head
The wind pushed at my feet

The city swept around
Until the road heaved under me

And the whole earth spun
me a pupa
into birth


Found in Filebox 2

© Leicester Kyle Literary Estate, 2012

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