“Goodbye”

Flung down, run down,
bunged up and hung over,
I got on the bus today
to leave once more
a place full of people I love,
intense friendships which burnt
at fever pitch for a little while
but now will fade
until we meet again to
stoke the embers and ignite
another blazing bonfire
of words, booze and blues,
everyone dancing like idiots
until the grey morning returns.

Sitting on the bus with a
pounding head and bleary eyes,
I know all too well that
to live is to suffer;
bound and gagged by time
we are assaulted by a
constant sense of loss,
of having left behind
something meaningful.
Moments we want to hold
slowly slip into silence as
the ravages of the clock
tick-tock our temporary time
until too soon we must go,
always searching for what
we have already found and lost,
lost and found,
among the doubtful sounds
of an uncertain universe.

But then I came to a church;
a tiny building beside a lake
so blue it shamed the sky,
so beautiful that the church
didn’t need stained-glass windows,
for nothing could tell the
story of God’s grandeur
better than that water,
so I sat and listened
to the moving old tale,
breathing in the peace,
which smelled of oak and age
and a thousand weary souls
come to find deliverance.

There was a sign which read:
‘This is a place of God,
please treat it as such’
and it was certainly true;
God does live in that church,
but I couldn’t help thinking that
every place is a place of God,
and sometimes I just need a
beautiful view to remind me that
I really have lived and loved
and that is enough,
for it will always be with me
as I sit alone, play with silence
and think about how happy and sad,
joyous, painful and absurd this life is
and how shit it is to say goodbye
and how thankful I am for it all
and what exact food will most
help me with this awful hangover.

“Te Tapu-nui” (Mountain of Intense Sacredness)

He walked into the woods
to gather up a poem,
drawing rhythm from the
melodies of a gurgling stream
running its ice-cold course
across paths and pine needles
passing beneath his feet;
from the wagtail’s call
chiming through quiet trees –
nature’s bell to mark the passing
of no time at all;
from breathless gasps
steaming out his lungs to the
rhythm of a beating heart,
matching tune of the wilderness;
from the silence of a frozen pool,
solid ice reflecting the view
of dramatic mountains and a
sky-blue lake supplied by snow.

It is a story of the journey
upward to a place within
beautiful enough to match
the white-crowned mountains
and mirror lakes,
a place as wild and unkempt
as the forgotten goat paths
to abandoned cabins
where once we panned for gold,
pulling nuggets out the stream
before descending back to town
bearing riches in our packs,
wrought of hard work and
solitude.

That is his story, his world,
out there in the mystic wilds
of his own heart where
streams of blood flow in time
with the bird call’s of his mind,
and the quiet trees are always green.
There he chooses to walk
wandering hitchhiker,
no phone, no pets, no cigarettes,
looking to unmask the false being within,
the person made to match the
thoughts and feelings and laws
of other men, no better than himself,
nor any worse.

Leave him to it,
aesthetic voyager of the heart.
Let him have his world
and be done with it,
to perish or prosper in lonely grandeur,
far from the company of men
and yet always in sight
if only they’d look up, look harder
at the background of their photos,
to see those silent stony cliffs
which hear the last confessions
of every soul that leaves this life,
ascending for the final time
up the snow-capped alps
and into blue eternity,
far above the clouds.

*I’m so sorry that I haven’t posted in some time. I am travelling around New Zealand’s South Island and having the time of my life away from the internet and anything online. I will return in a few weeks again. Until then, keep smiling!

“Do You Like It Here?”

As I take the long road

running

far away from home

learning

how to ask for help

and what a friend really is,

people always ask me

“Do you like it here?”

 

“That’s a strange question”

I want to say,

“I am always here

wherever I wander,

so if I love myself

I like it ‘here’,

if I live this moment

I like it ’here’”.

 

I know they mean this country

of rolling hills and rainbows

and I do like it,

there’s good and bad,

rich and poor,

rain and sunshine

just like any other,

all of them different.

 

But I want to tell them

I love it here because

‘here’ is the only eternity

we will ever know,

the still point in a spinning world

of passing moments,

eternities lived and lost

to aging memory.

 

Like a mystic returning from

the forest bearing gold,

it turns to ashes in my hands

and people nod politely

before a brief silence and

a safer conversation.

I’m probably drunk anyway,

champagne must’ve gone to my head.

 

And that’s ok too,

you can’t rescue anyone,

let alone your punch-drunk self,

so I pour another glass

and settle in to listen

to their safe words

and muted truths,

every one as worthy as my own.

“Te Rerenga Wairua”

There’s a place of ancient myth

in the north of New Zealand

where spirits of the departed

take their final leave from

our land of the living and

plunge into the breakers

where Tasman meets Pacific,

forming whirlpools and whitewash

to wish the travellers well on

their way to the Three Kings

and lands we dare not know.

 

A single tree, old as the sea,

stands guard on the rocky point,

its roots forming stairs for

the descending dead as

they head for one more swim.

It has never flowered,

watching somberly as salty

winds blow across the shore,

leaving no room for life,

save that ancient pohutukawa,

sprung from the rock itself.

 

You can feel the Maori ancestors

in this leaping-off place of spirits,

keeping careful watch over the

clashing seas which guard

the gateway to another world,

just glimpsed in the dancing spray

of waves born in different oceans,

come to meet their end here

and guide the lost souls back

to their final resting place

deep beneath the rolling waters.

“Rotorua Dreaming”

I met two Englishmen

travelling the world with

stories of carnivals and camping

unrivalled by my wildest imagination

and I fell for a German girl

who kissed like nothing I’ve known.

I befriended a Dane who decided

to travel the planet indefinitely,

a marine biologist turned scuba instructor

and an Oxford graduate who had

never heard that song about his comma.

 

I drank with a Canadian who

walked to the shops in flip-flops

when it was minus forty out,

apologising when I spilt my drink,

and another German who kept

buying me beer – my pleas getting

lost in translation and golden bubbles.

All in a volcanic town exploding

with stories and sulphur,

oratory and olfactory sensation

bursting forth from boiling geysers.

 

There is a whole world out there,

people and places never thought of,

conversations never considered,

kisses uncaptured by fantasy.

Words can barely explore an

experience so infused with colour

that it matches the steaming

orange-green-yellow-blue-red

mineral pools of Wai-O-Tapu,

drawn from deep in the Earth,

from dreams deep in my soul.

“Karangahake Gorge”

Water ran around me:

flowing mountain crystal

mixed with filtered light,

falling through foliage above –

a symphony of sensation

in ferned glades with

every kind of green and silver

bathed in summer light.

 

A burnt temple of tree,

once massive kauri,

sentinel of the greenlands,

stands stark and hollow.

From within, feeling electrified,

I know the earth is a conductor

of acoustical resonance,

singing from here, its soul.

 

I remember all this,

seeking words in a forest

like small pieces of poems

left waiting to be found

on an overgrown path,

but I remember the faces more,

my fellow walkers and

Beethoven’s Ninth.

 

The crashing choral chorus

proves that, even in dark caves,

the human voice has always

resonated most.

 

This poem was written with a quote from The Interpreter (2005) in mind, but I can’t find an easy link, so here it is:

 

The gunfire around us

makes it hard to hear.

But the human voice is different…

Even when it’s not shouting.

Even when it’s just a whisper.

Even the lowest whisper

can be heard over armies

when it’s telling the truth.

“Lost and Found”

I found a poem today

sitting in a secluded bay

as the sun dipped between

the clouds and the Coromandel:

a drop of butter spreading

on the hot slip of ocean

separating me

from the mainland.

 

Life is a poem,

all we have to do is

string together the lines

and sometimes it rhymes

and sometimes it doesn’t.

Sometimes it fits and

sometimes it sticks out like a jagged piece of rock

in an unforgiving ocean.

 

Any civilised measure,

any beat other than my heart’s

has no place

when confronted by a sunset

and a rocky blue bay,

with a breeze rustling the page

so that even my handwriting

resembles the rugged island.

 

I asked my dad how spiders spun

webs across gaps far wider than them.

The answer, he said, is blowing in the wind.

I hear it now, washing in with the waves,

forming perfectly smooth stones.

It isn’t written here though.

I left it in stingray bay,

where it belongs.

 

The sun has set now

and it is time to leave.

But go to that quiet bay,

look next to the pile of rocks

on a warm summer’s day

and you may find it still,

traced into the changing sands

by God’s forgotten hands.