Tony Beyer

Ominous signs

big wind
smears the sky

elongates clouds
from their edges

grey over white
intermittent blue

a sea bird
stranded in the suburbs

pads about
on webbed claws

we talk
about weather

because there’s
so much of it

imperiling livestock
turning streets

into kayak lanes
or baking

the brown earth
crisp as pie

Last quarter

so far into spring
the port-wine magnolia

in the old hospital garden
where pukeko breed

is covered with pale green leaves
with only a few blossoms

still perched among them
like exotic birds

this year face masks
add to the usual detritus

batted about the place
by seasonal winds

the sea surface downhill
broken into pieces

busy but uninhabited
imitates the sky’s

occasional cloud
occasional radiance

or a storm-troubled lake
over which anything might arrive

a triangular plastic sandwich container
a life-changing opportunity

or just a change in life
it all seems so normal

Plain tales

the hardware outlet 
no longer sells
moon tigers

nor do the assistants
know what they are
those grey-green

citronella coils
that smoke methodically when lit
to dissuade mosquitoes

a summer requisite
of empire
on all continents

(with the exception
of Antarctica)

as gutta-percha
antimacassars and the flag

Stained hands

in my youth
like many of my generation
I too was a butcher’s labourer
financing my way through

tertiary education
and early marriage
on the slippery ground 
of the slaughterhouse

opportunities then
mindless but remunerative
we took with no thought
of despoiling the planet

not that any of us
exercised starker choices
running guns through Ethiopia
deranged in all his senses

our needs were 
the needs of the moment 
paramount and
without a future

fresh lambs’ hearts boiled
in a knife steriliser
seasoned with coarse salt
from the hide floor

Modern life

I wish I could tell you 
what there is to see

in Rothko’s paintings
where one colour

hangs upon another
both absorbing and

resisting infiltration
but you must see it

the vertical receding
into depth past seeing

the movement still-
ness has always had

The Daughters of the Late Colonel

good name I thought
for a rock band

seeing their spoken-word
album cover

in an English resource room 
back in the ’70s

but androgynous

Josephine on drums
Constantia on guitar

Katherine M doing
lyrics and vocals

Tony Beyer lives and writes in New Zealand. He has published widely there and elsewhere.
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