Tony Beyer

from Man’s life


iron being fine fertiliser our ancestors
left horseshoes and nails in the soil

I kneel on slightly damp ground
to weed around the beginning potatoes

sometimes I miss you so much
it seems impossible to breathe


the dog barks in Latin
Finno-Ugric and Sanskrit

in all his generations
nothing has changed
the parts of his skull part wolf

for him the music of the spheres
runs distant second
to the moon’s intermittent howl

he would take a bullet
he would sit and starve on a grave
he would chase the same flung stick a thousand times

a being
whose god is man
occasions aweful responsibility


the dead in stovepipe hats and bonnets
stand waiting for God
at lychgates and garden gates
invisible to their descendants

their smell is the smell
of the nineteenth century
waxy and resinous
impacted with soot

the scythe-shaped wings of cemetery angels
have long since harvested them
and in the manner of travellers
(their bundled deeds by their sides)

they hope for good weather but accept
this might not be their time
or that heaven itself may be this waiting
thin as an eggshell unready to be broken through

Josef Beuys

the dark mirror
removes individuality
from whom it reflects

could be anyone
could be you

unpitying human kind
perhaps no more
heinous in intent

than any living being
picking over
a charred habitat


on the shopping list
Michelangelo drew

for his illiterate servant
to take to the market

fish and fruit rendered
with the most basic

elegant lines
and loaves almost solid

in the precision
of their form

are works of art for once
not in the service

of the church or state
or distinguished men

but as signatures
of mutual humanity

with those who must
toil and feed and sleep

and whose names
may never be known

Tony Beyer is a New Zealand writer based in Taranaki. Recent work has appeared in Hamilton Stone Review, Landfall, Mudlark and Otoliths.
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