20131028

Tony Beyer


Paths

a hundred-poem poem



travelling
down SH 2

at the speed
of longhand


a big divot
out of the Te Apiti hills
floats past
lifted above the mist
by wind farm propellers


sheep with black faces
ears and front knees


in the clockmaker’s house
time at the pace of beard growth

the smell of the lamp


I am in
the Kupe room

a voyager
a discoverer


tall tawa grove
the rain rinses through


a bridge to
remember soldiers

who were sons
brothers

all that long
time ago


hand worn
wooden gate top

lichen
in its pores


choosing
among poems

my representative team


veranda lunch
a tui
takes no interest


simple fare

a pen
a notebook
red bush tea


the moss-walk
decisions to be made


however many
repetitions

the tui’s voice
always new


already a day
older and bigger

the calves won’t
approach for a photograph

knowing I have
nothing for them


there is someone
everywhere in this house

living or
having lived here

their presence preserved
by a window fastening

the way a door
closes or partly closes


not haunted
but full of memory


a house
the same age

as John’s in Epsom
or my old Mt Eden place

but they are wood
this is solid

hand-poured concrete
reinforced with No 8 wire

vernacular
in every sense


sitting beside
and sometimes

opposite myself
in the oriel window


origin of the manu kahu
kite pattern

rock-drawing sentinels

that hungry
hawk shape


chaffinch
yellowhammer

komako
kakariki

some contradictions
right there


the kereru
fixes me

with one red eye
then goes on feeding

cheeks puffed out
with each swallow

stumble-jump
branch to branch

flops nonchalantly off
when it’s ready


a fly who
enters my room and sings

and refuses to be persuaded
out the window again

may learn soon
the limits of Buddha-nature


messages
the builder leaves

in the pitch
of the roof

the settled face
of the house among trees

don’t need translation
back into words


travelling light
not so easy

with a head full
of books

paintings
songs movie frames

strands
of conversation

without which you
leave yourself behind


that fly again
man he’s persistent

a whack with this notebook
or Leaves of Grass

mightn’t hurt


on their way
to the works

lambs are taken
the scenic route through town


Aratoi eels
(aka teeming tuna)

one of the contributors
pointed hers out to me


founding tramp
and founding father

in bronze
in the city reserves


mixed businesses

Kahutara Canoes &
Taxidermy Gallery

Organ Museum
Woodville


like Lord Byron
the family here

were proud of their
Norman ancestry

and no doubt too
the hayed

yellow squares
of the paddocks

laid out in the sun
until Domesday


yes fly
you can go now

I’ve written another
poem about you


in the end
it is people

particularly she
for whom the house

is an embodiment
of belief

her predecessors
alive in her respect

and their successors
the artists

who come here
to breathe


of course it’s not
the same fly

but nor am I
the same me


Bashō’s website
www.frog.jp


fly
you’ve got

Issa
on your side


memories
of Ron Mason

from two
who knew him

when they were
young

a kind man
a lonely man

and one
whose uncalm heart

open to
the ordinary world

reflected
extraordinary light


beautiful places
where the tip

of a long grass blade
touches the tip

of its reflection
in still water


in my quiet room
writing

reading
taking a sip

of now cold tea
or in the afternoon

nap mode
of those my age

dreaming poems


outside
my window

unobtrusive
music of rain


the earth cools
as clouds process

up the valley
imprinting shadows

a calf’s bawl
pitiful

and yet normal


the path to
the water tank

through tall grass
as footsteps have made it

an impression
coming and going

and at the top
of the rusty ladder

a spider web
strung expertly

over the dark hole
down into darker water


the river
and the eels

that imitate its shape
in order to belong there


friends come and
stay in the house

listen to music
read the paper

dine loquaciously
together but

need no
fussing over

bring and
take away with them

their company


Putara school
the name

in proud green
on the gable end

empty
but well-maintained

with tall
partitioned windows

and a fire escape
off the roof

someone
must believe

enough children
will return


native beech forest
continual silent fall

small ochre leaves
oval and serrated

soften the path


hunters
nearly home

exhausted by
the night in the forest

and the clinging
weight of meat


let it all
subside

phone calls
and letters

emails
and txts

I am listening
to something else


tonight
a morepork

from one of the trees
near the window

slow-voiced
with the pause

between calls
more silent still


I am not
solitary whilst

I read
and write

though nobody
is with me


an ambush
from Emerson

and tonight
until I

set it free
a large moth

blundered
again and again

into the frame
around the fanlight


thirty years ago
Bill Peacock

gave me the koan
of the monks

by the river
one of whom

in an act
of charity

carried a
woman across

after which
his companion

berated him
for breaking

the rule
of their order

I set her down
on the bank


the other replied
but you

are still
carrying her



my pen
and notebook

cheap and
durable

both made
in China

Du Fu would
have liked them


in the damp forest
everything green

has something green
growing on it


the yellow paddocks
are green again

so swiftly
within a week

a brush dipped
and swirled


I can’t begin
to count the gifts

I’ve received
in this place of giving


everyone slept
through the moon eclipse

comforted at breakfast
by the last to bed

that the sky was misty
two hours before
the scheduled time


still really
a long spring

ten days
into December

warm mornings
that cool towards noon

the sun through
a tender mesh of cloud

various stock
call all day

from the paddocks
perhaps only at home

summer will come


colossal dignity
of a woman

standing in her
doorway

in a Paul Strand
photograph

hands like the
steady hands

of farm women
who stop so

briefly for coffee
and talk

near the gallery
in town


a rabbit skull
minus the lower jaw

memento mori
after the dark moon


silvery river
caught at corners
by the sun


Kaiparoro Rd end
sitting by a rusted

rail gate
listening to the river

and some
different flies

the grass heads’
accurate strokes

tipped with
chevrons of seed


as my father
would say

why take a
water bottle

when there’s
a bloody great river

to drink out of


rivers end to end
on the anglers’ maps

lower reaches
middle reaches

upper reaches
with access points

LEAVE GATES
AS YOU FIND THEM

also constant
companions on the road


the park map
shows facilities

for bathing
croquet

cricket tennis
bowls athletics

skate boarding
roller skating

and a cemetery
for passive recreation


a pig’s head
on a fence

but the camera
omits the flies

dry grass
stays still


wildlife centre
protecting species

from their own
native land


what we are losing
the hihi’s

strong cry
and intent

black head
and eyes


bird sanctuary
the café deck
has sparrows


fostering creativity
you took me in

on the advice of course
of a selection panel

but with sincerity
and clear attention

to what would enable
the making I have

made it my life
to be for


snuffly grey mist
between hills and buildings

and small rain
picking its way

through shrubs
and grasses outside

the rabbits
have gone home

but the birds
expecting there’ll be

more of this
just carry on


people who speak quickly
often have little to say

they want to hit and run
and not be questioned

here those with less time
than wisdom

still have slow clear
careful voices

knowing as they know
from years in a place

what the sky and wind
are likely to do

information to be
imparted with restraint

with a weather eye
for the listener’s comprehension


the eels
large females

hug the banks
for day shade

long-term
residents

whose purpose
is to sustain

night feeding
steady water

for generations
they will never see


velvet backed
silver bellied

the longfins
surface and

roll under again
guardians

for whom
the rules changed


the hinaki
shaped

like a womb
both ensnared

and allowed
release


night again
the lamp’s

and my reflection
in the window

and beyond
deeper than green

the garden’s
shadows


bird man/
manu kahu

triumphant span
tethered

only by thought
to earth

and to our hands


Kaiparoro Rd
the water tank

buttercup-glazed
paddocks

between
the pine rows

foxgloves
dumped beer empties

and the river’s
constant discourse

stanzas of a poem
many poets

are writing
in collaboration

independently
of each other


ti kouka
not a name

we often say
or its variants

C. indivisa
C. banksii

C. for
Cordyline

australis not for

cabbage tree


writers and artists
moist-handed moulders of bowls

none of us can turn out
anything as perfectly shaped

and blue as these
five wild bird’s eggs


nor are you alone
with a camera

that accompanies
you everywhere

pictures you will see
people who will see

your pictures
with you all the way


wind in the pines
a fertile breath
the grassheads
around the trunks
sway in time to


a dour bird
turns down its voice

from the copse
up by the water tank

but the sky holds
and the rabbits’ small

black scatterings
dry out under it


quiet
on the back porch

in a creaky
cane chair

the dry plant
called honesty

over my shoulder
a reminder

where all this
should be taking me


garden notes
the extreme

usefulness of leaves
dead or alive


sometimes poems
are obvious (it

used to be
said inevitable)

but that doesn’t make them
any simpler


a tui
proposes

and revises
mid-song


watching a fantail
turn and turn

then flutter off
then back

and the sideways
yellow leaf rain


blue-green
the Chinese

colours of
benevolence

sky and trees
and distant

mountain shoulders
river paths

the character
denoting

all that is good
and grows


tree trunks in a row
stand aside for each other

your light no yours
mixing only at their crowns

where wind and sun arbitrate
the permanently restless

moving frames
and unceasing talk


all last winter’s rain
now plastic-wrapped

in bundles
of silage

for the dry
late summer months

mostly pale green
but for some

reason white
in Eketahuna


tin wrapped
around

power poles
to stop possums

electric sting
on the second

fence wire
where a chaffinch

unperturbed
repeats itself


you can stay up
all night
if you want to

reading papers
magazines
poems

pausing
at times
to write something

revise it
or throw it
away

no one comes
to turn your
light out

the moon
behind the clouds
journeys home

greater things
on earth
than your sleep

are being
decided
without you


the moon
carries itself

past us all
behind clouds

taken on
trust

like invisible
necessary things

that it is still
there at all

blind
intaglio face

turned always
towards the sun

as I turn
my face now

north and west
towards home


many insist
the moon is female

Luna or Selene
green Marama

carved in curved
pounamu

our emblem
of giving

and being given
that which lasts


deep at night
silence of light bulbs

silence in the deep
concrete walls


waking or sleeping
I will always return

to my favourite
part of the river

near where the
kotare nests

in its tunnel
of mud and squalor

and darts by
on its business

flashing back the sun
with electric blue brilliance

while I sprawl
on the grass

waiting and watching
for nothing to change



'Paths' was written while Tony Beyer was an inaugural Aratoi Fellow at New Pacific Studio, Wairarapa in December 2011.
 
 
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