Mark Pirie

A Painting of Swans

In Symbolism, spiritual and occult,
Swedish painter Hilma af Klint paints
with colour: oranges, pinks, blues, mauves,
concentrating on circles and symbols.

A favourite is her Swan series
recognising the philosopher’s stone.
When two beaks touch there is
a union, the meeting and coming

together of opposites. Black and 
white swans mirror the sexual
union of two souls, a merging
of minds, the hearts of the living.

Seeing this painting reminds me
once again of love, so painters
can touch on how two lives run
together, oil on canvas, daubs of feeling.

[Hilma af Klint, The SUW Series, Group IX, The Swan, No. 1, 1914-1915, oil on canvas, 1500 x 1500mm.] 

Music Biz
After watching Popstars, TV2

                                     it is
                                             to them
                                                            crews and managers
                                                            engineers and producers
                                                            musicians and singers
                                                            CEOs and fans
more snakes
                                             the farther you get

I played it as a child
much harder as an adult

               success needs ladders

               failure needs snakes

Poems for Lao Tzu

1. Painting in White

White butterflies
fly past and around the gardens
as I walk.

They follow my path.
They come from the emptiness,
and fill it with colour.

2. Morning tea

I pour a cup of tea,
and drink it.

I have prosperity.
I honour the simple acts of life.

3. Bumblebees and Butterflies

Bumblebees and butterflies.
Their substance is great,
they do not seek accomplishments.

They go about their work
with little sense of self.

They work for good,
and with the leaves and flowers
return humbly each year, contented,
to the source they came from.

4. Yin and Yang

Someone once said
I conveyed Yin and Yang.

They meant the white patch of hairs
on my head, and
the black birthmark on my face.

I showed harmony within.

5. Autumn Leaves

The leaves in the tree
now turn to yellow.

They mark the dull ache of time.

6. As You Were

Try and be a good person.
Look within, and do not judge.
Feel what is good within.

Marcus Aurelius said:
“That which is not good for the swarm,
neither is it good for the bee.”

Lao Tzu said:
“Know the Honourable,
but do not shun the disgraced.”

Keep your compassion for the World as it is.

A Painting of Island Bay*

For Jenny Powell

In my family home,
Rita’s print of Island Bay
fishing boats sparkled
and glinted at me in the light.
Yellow wallpaper brought out
the colours (blue and white).
A painting preserved like a
photograph of a Wellington scene,
iconic and bristling with energy.
The fishing boats tethered
after work gave a sense
of industry and foreboding,
like a tribute to those humble
men, sea-weary and hardened
by worker’s hands. Each day
they would work for wages
to support families or themselves.
Rita honours them in this
delicate painting, rich in detail.

[*Boats, Island Bay by Rita Angus

After reading Jenny Powell’s Meeting Rita, Cold Hub Press, 2021.]

Mark Pirie (b.1974) is an internationally published New Zealand poet, editor, publisher and archivist for PANZA (Poetry Archive of NZ Aotearoa). In 2016, his selected poems, Rock & Roll, was published by Bareknuckle Books, Australia . Other books include a biography, Tom Lawn, Mystery Forward (ESAW, 2018), an artbook Folk Punk (2020) and Gallery (poetry) published by Salt, England, 2003. He is a former founder/editor of JAAM, 1995-2005, publisher for HeadworX 1998-, and currently edits broadsheet: new new zealand poetry, 2008-. Website: www.markpirie.com.
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