Tony Beyer


Godard’s adoration of the car crash
as a kind of contemporary Pietà

recurs in three films I have seen
with greater or lesser impact

in both physical and emotional terms
peripheral in Pierrot le Fou

hard and direct in Le Mépris
obviously central to Weekend

head-on at the point at which
momentum halts

progress and departure cease
even metaphor ends

about women he was more circumspect
offering them leading men equipped

with narrow-brim hats and trenchcoats
cigarettes implanted into their drawls

but Bardot on autopilot
robotic Anna Karina

nonchalantly evade him
nearly all the time

Creek mail

all the time I need
to do nothing in
rain dazzle
on the windows
the dog asleep on the floor
beside my chair
neither expectant
nor regretful

new spring buds
dislodge last leaves
from where they’ve clung
through belated autumn
soft winter and now
dry and thin
as pages of scripture
take their course

the generation who were
up to mischief
at the end of the century
are half my age now
already perturbed by
the follies of their juniors
who amuse but
don’t bother me

clever as we are
none of us knows
how to live a simple life
yet dogs can do it
with the right
people around them
a fixed routine
and no emergencies

the day I take the dog
to the creek for a swim
even in midwinter
(he’s a tough customer)
is a return
to another order
ancient and as fresh
as flowing water

a four-handed clock
would show present
past and future time
all at a glance
eliminating nostalgia
and anticipation
and the inexorably disintegrating
right now

pukeko mating
peremptory’s the word
a hop and a tread
then off
the magic’s all
in the black fluffy
spindle-shanked offspring
when they hatch

lighting the fire
an errant match
singes the back of my hand
landscape I’m supposed
to recognise landscapes by
cold veiny creeks
thin-haired leafless
branches against the sky

straight off the mountain
satiny cold
in a single run
all at the same speed
via weirs and culverts
eel elaborations
down to the sea

mountains and rivers
are sacred to everyone
even those who
don’t know or decide
to change their names
because names are human
which mountains and rivers
go beyond

rain all day
and Mandy’s MRI scan
I had to be stripped
to the boxers and gowned
to go in with her
as reassurance
ear plugs and muffs for sounds
from outside the planet

her right foot in my
left hand my right hand
spread on her spine
while the scanner performs
electronic eructations
my bare feet flat on the floor my
separate anatomy

beautiful colour
of lemons
ripening in the rain
an inner clarity
radiating outwards
like birdsong
like children’s voices
in a warm room

weight of the beak
the kingfisher
drops head first
from its perch
then corrects in flight
a blue dart
bank to bank
across the angular light

grain after grain
the mountain
rinsed away to the sea
snow first then fine gravel
then rock drained
backwards like water
through deepening channels
though not in our time

still in their flock
for winter white-eyes blur
from the cherry trees
goldfinches too
have yet to pair off
and graze half way
between the 22 and try-line
in front of the posts

natives of the
creek side
ferns coprosma supplejack
but also garden escapees
hydrangea gone bush
in an azure tirade
and the wind’s gifts
humble weeds

tree shadows
striate the grass
with watershed patterns
leaves and leaf skeletons
our own mysteriously
revealed intricacies
the same concept
adapted ceaselessly

paired wild ducks
an old symbol
of married fidelity
(he iridesces
she abides)
but see them break
into flight together
above the muddy earth

a rain sting
in the tail of winter
not that spring and
summer won’t bring more
ghost stories
by the watery light
while the chimney
shakes in the wind

6:12 a m someone’s
letter box flap
clatters in the wind
as if the coming light
has woken it
no other messages
only the dog and his
steady belief

the creek full and fast
stormwater outlets
but not the high
multi-engined wind
up in the trees
or the hoarse native birds
already among the blossom

Tony Beyer writes in Taranaki, NZ. He has recent or forthcoming work in broadsheet, Landfall, Poetry NZ and Takahe.
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