Tony Beyer

Thanks to Ammons

an update on the pittosporum
after I phoned and spoke firmly

but politely to Janine
a man came

rigged to the teeth with measurements
and though I liked him less

than the one who advised me
where to relocate nearly every plant

he noticed on the place
he (the second one) looks like he might

after all the bosh and flapdoodle
get the job done

Wish list

the kind of poem that’s been
folded and kept in a wallet
sometimes not taken out

for months or years
but never really forgotten
maturing in there

until some of the text
is illegible at the creases
and the paper crinkled

and tanned like a
99-year-old smoker’s face
who’s probably read it

or presented it to others
dozens of times
and knows it by heart

Small city

where it is never inappropriate for a man of any age
to wear shorts on any occasion

                                                             - Frank Beyer


wind straight off the sea
makes all the international flags
outside the sports bar flutter sideways

Germany S Africa Ireland France
someone tries to sip the froth flying
from the top of his beer


the whale that seems to swim upside down
is sometimes sighted from the coast

likewise the rare round-finned dolphin


captive in the backwash
of the weir-dam
plastic bottles

polystyrene chips
a tennis ball
flora of the battered planet

that capsizes under
bobs back up again


one leap year
when the last of February

would otherwise have been
the first of March

I remember Taranaki’s black slopes
dusted with sieved snow

under light-dark chevroned sky
like a snapper fillet

a meagre patch with no work
and no dole

I tutored other people’s kids for peanuts
but liked them all

and had the time for once
to notice this


the special needs passengers
tease the bus driver
call him cheeky
when he teases back

he tells them it’s the job
makes him this way
and citing other drivers
by name they agree

this is a small place
where it’s possible
for everyone to know
everyone or not

a way many more will
choose or have to live
once the oil-blood
of the cities dries up 


among the bus drivers

                               Graham (ret.)
                               Tubby (dec.)


when the heart attack struck
he steered his bus off the road

to stutter to an upright halt
in a cattle paddock

hurling his big body
at the last moment

to cover that of a child
who’d rolled loose into the aisle

leaving me to wonder
if I’d have died so well


rowing boats for hire
drift empty
in the boxed lagoon

a single ripple
end to end
unsettles waterfowl

and the inverted
sky wedge
of the mountain

resembling waders’ wakes
shudders for a moment
then resumes

what’s underneath
lies undisturbed
at least for now


the night of the earthquake
he smelt pipe smoke
for the first time in decades

a rich aromatic blend
as if caught on the wind
on a path between trees

reminding him not so much
of old men as of men his age
when young experimenting fussily

with matches and dottle
and the smug apparent maturity
of a clean draw

several in particular
he hadn’t seen since then
surely must have quit if still alive


leaves shed by plane trees
in our late autumn
stack up in the gutters
of the concrete-lined streets

first hard falls of rain
block the storm drains
forming ponds

children squeal over
while their mothers admonish them
having nature and weather
to contend with with all else


today the mountain
has gathered to itself
a clenched fist of cloud
that hangs near the summit

sometimes opening to disclose
small patches of remaining snow
incongruous with the heat
of summer down on the flat ground

the business of recording
this not unusual but never-
to-be-repeated configuration
occupies a lifetime’s notebooks

leaf by ruled and
margined leaf in a room
with large windows
at the edge of the lahar

durations of rain and
sunlight are in there too
and temperatures at foreordained
junctures of day and night

and because such work
is in its nature an eccentricity
small asides and apercus
conditioned by mood

indelible prints of an existence
brief as a generation
seeming longer than forever
always available to be read


buses fuss
in the morning
to get the kids to school

then trickle the day away
until home-again time

the kids tireder
scratchy or loud
with escape

the stopping-button is pushed
at least once a minute


my brother

directing the traffic

from the front window

of the Shining Peak

brew bar


still a spill of snow
on the mountain
though summer’s formally here

mobility scooters
nose to tail on the footpaths
along Tukapa Street

nearly all their flags
say All Blacks
except one who supports les Bleus

outside the Hospice Shop
a woman holds up to the car window
a soft toy for her dog’s approval


every man his own Philip Marlowe
down these mean streets

tall if you’re tall
or short like James Caan

bullish like Mitchum
oily like Elliott Gould

or as disturbingly unpleasant
as Bogart

the original nondescript
a Camel poked into the corner of a grin

LA the dream city
Atlantis smuggled ashore

in a false-bottomed suitcase
and yet a Pacific place

approached by the blue
that comes all the way from Hawaiki

Tony Beyer writes in Taranaki, New Zealand. His work has appeared in print and online, locally and internationally, for several decades.
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