Colin McCahon paints the MacKenzie Country
Just a line, there,
yes, the Southern Alps rise
in helter skelter arcs,
a swift blue sunrise paints
hues of green on a snowline square,
Lake Tekapo, deep purple in maori
floats on a windswept vista of grey dust,
The Nor'west arch a mottled brown,
in skies romantic azure.
Stone cottage, ancient by man's terms
opens a rustic door to a time past,
and skeletal remains die where they stand
a brushstroke of rare power, a word or two
skeptics acclaim it's grace placed where it is
amongst statuesque beauty horribly depicted
by a true master of the New Zealand surrealist.
Tama Iti, you are not Ngai Tahu
leave well alone, this is raw
a testament to the deep southern land
rich antiquity boiled with modern paint
and an eye for the future, the dollar,
yes, Colin, you have done it again.
A little introduction, a must you see,
to get the feel of my trip of glee,
Herman Thwubblethwaite, racontuer,
The sorriest thing you have met for sure.
Resident poet of Titahi Bay,
decided on a trip one fine Wellington day,
fired up the '64 Black and Gold Mini,
Yes, I fit in, I'm a poet and skinny.
Off I went, gear stick in action
four bald tires and not much traction,
past that megalith down by the sea,
Te Papa, that venerated place of history.
Then past the ferry berths, none in dock
the mini hit the motorway and suffered a shock,
hasn't been past fifty K in two years or more,
so when she hit 80, it was with a roar.
Then I saw it, the left turn quite clear,
the part of the journey that filled me with fear,
but onwards and upwards a path I did forge,
and into the belly that is Ngauranga Gorge.
Watching the needle as the climb took affect,
I suddenly realised I had time to reflect,
as the needle dived back to a sedate 40 K,
I knew this would be the saddest part of my day.
Then it began, that which I feared,
I had to shift down, to a dodgy second gear,
the shaking and rattling were worse than I wished,
an FJ Holden flew by, both occupants pissed.
Then the wind blew hard and swiped me aside
as an eighteen wheeler doing 90 flashed by,
I gripped the wheel hard, held on for dear life,
took a quick peek to the left, Thank God!! no wife.
The revs slowly abated, changed up into first,
if I slowed anymore, don't know what would be worse,
So I checked my feet and running shoes there were,
imagine the site, Mini being pushed by a scruffy cur.
But the trucks were a boon, and created a drag
and I whistled a relief as I saw the car sales flag,
I knew the worst part was about to end,
and there it was, the crest 'round the bend.
I sailed into second, then third then forth,
and patted the old Mini with everything she was worth,
and I ventured on down that golden stretch of road,
was suddenly hit with a sense of forbode?
Why had I come all this way I did think?
Was it because I was going shopping for a brand new sink?
Or could it have been a trip to Wainuiomata?
Hell, the wrong way, God I wish I was smarter.
I raged into despair again, cried for a while,
and the Mini cruised on and ate up the miles,
Until it came to me, of course that was it,
I was off to see mum in Otaki, what a bloody twit!
A Lakes Muse
So huge, immense!
Imagine your size as volcano,
whence you thrust,
shadow of your former self,
nestling calm waters,
spilling your guts
into Waikato umbilicus.
Hell you stink!
Yet your legend stirs mystery,
a taniwha washes ashore and builds
a monstrous cityscape,
e'er still, fog swarms
your calm exterior.
Must you be the smell?
You with the long name,
A Urewera jewel
hidden in green abundance
Tuhoe make you home,
with rushes and cottages
of thatch and thrown together materials,
Holidays baches, red.
Nelson Lakes, where are you
pakeha name, maori place
pakeha name, maori place
in your face reason for going
bees and mites, sandfly bites,
stuffed stoically amongst green mounts
and trees; Beech, Rata,
and some kid etches his name.
See bare skinned pakeha bathe,
the aquamarine pulses blue/green
from snow melt,
cold waters cooling swimmers and boaters
who use it's unnatural existence,
damn the Dam, thanks.
Lightning strike shaped moment
in inescapable mountains
of grey granite and white tops,
in the zip zap of the mid section,
Queenstown, crusty tourism,
farms and ski slopes batter it's length,
with a cold southerly etching
time into its sides.
Heck, you're big!
Why doesn't anyone live there?
oh yeah, national park on your borders,
Dead and dying,
no disguising the rot of your surroundings,
raised to accommodate a tunnel,
power to those that don't need it, money
and a lake dies and lives, yeah!
A stump pushes up from the depths
once mighty totara, holes a boat.
The Backyard Swimming Pool.
Party last night.
What is that brown thing floating atop
green and putrid water?
Colin McCahon paints the Desert Road
Atop yon canvas,
"TURANGI" blazened - white.
At base, said same canvas,
"WAIOURU" bold - whitish grey,
shepherds crook of light charcoal
a few horseshoes thrown on
bold white line cuts straight up, bisects
reaches from bottom to top.
left, panorama of grayish brown,
right, vista - paua shell dark green, shrubs
and brown of tundra grasses.
Black and white of waiting police cars.
Colin McCahon paints the Auckland Harbour
from the peak of Rangitoto, I guess,
looking down the written maori
of the Waitemata Harbour,
sailboats, grey/blue, blue/green
scatter words peacefully askance.
Barbed and number eight
silver wired framework
of the main span, the Bridge!
and the speckle of ruby reds
as tail lights pass over.
A white/grey needle pokes into
a sky green with splotchy cuts,
swarthy strokes of fluffy cotton
thread the eye in the sky,
how fitting, all sown up.
Bullocking browns and blacks
etch a canvass, to the left,
buildings rising from chaos
and pale yellow lines dart hither and yon;
detritus going home.
To the right, a cut across the vista
shards of another life,
blues, greens, reds, houses, the Shore
and sandy coloured stripes of beaches
spilling free of deadwood.
Bent on revenge,
the painter cuts the scene
and pieces them together at random,
yet still, the splodge that is Auckland,
Paremoremo in passing.
Ambling along the Albany/Parry road,
normal country fare, trees, paddocks,
and stock alongside houses many,
then it's in your face, huge and ugly,
battleship grey of cement walls
and razor wired fences sixteen feet high.
In through the security gates, checked for ID,
back to work, another eight hour shift
with those that the courts deem unable to fit
in societies plans for whatever reason,
down the locked corridors and chained cupboards,
to the real hub, the heartbeat, the cells.
Then it hits, you, every new day, the stench
humanity rotting away over time, a long time
and for some they rot cause they won't conform,
the stink gets into your clothes, your wife smells it too
smells everything you smell and retch at,
like Rotorua, you get used to it, quickly.
March of the racketeers, up the centre line, checking,
eyes peering back, the occassional "gidday boss",
always checking, what they do, what they say,
whatever and whenever, it is checked, and rechecked,
no escape on your beat, none from your block,
and you march on, and on, checking again.
Then, as soon as it began, it's over and you head home,
safe in the knowledge they are still locked away,
safe in the surety your wife is ok, you rang her
before you left, it was routine now,
the rear vision mirror reflects grey splodge,
you know you will see it again tomorrow.
A Landscape Painter paints the Cook Strait
Wide expanse of turgid waters, blue
deep from cut of sub antarctic current,
cutting into seabed rugged from earthquake action
and the terrain above mirrors below.
Seaward Kaikoura's frame a southern vista
dark granite black and white snowed,
the frame stretches west and is smaller
but no less impressive, Marlborough.
Spread around to those rough hills
an area rich in sea life and the likes,
the Sounds, deep water passes and islands
married to each other in time, and useful.
A cut, a way for boats and ferries to ride,
Tory Channel a way inside to this other world,
a whaling station disused, rots away this day
and ever, a reminder of things that once were.
An isle stands sentinel to the western end,
Stephens Island, a lighthouse to light the way,
and across raging tidal cross references, east meets west
boats and whales traverse the gulf that is the Strait.
The northern extremity, bush clad in gorse,
high hills with radar antennae, for planes
not ships, and the aerials for radio and TV
and a propelllor launches many volts, no plane.
Behold, a city, sprawling amongst the roughcast
southern bays of it's spreading monstrosity,
Karori Rock lights a path past nuggety rocks
a nor' west wind roars in and planes weave an approach.
A gut, a vagina of commercial importance,
Wellington Harbour entrance, ferries, fishing boats,
and anything that needs to get in and out,
Pencarrow Light, in the roaring southerly blasts,
she, the lower of two, is covered in swell and wind,
Further round to the east, Baring Head, then Cape Turakurae,
guarding the eastern entrance to Palliser Bay, another province.
There she is, across the vast expanse of fishable bay,
Red and white sentinel, standing for all to take heed,
Cape Palliser Light, warder of night, and Cook Straits
eastern and northern bodyguard, be warned all who enter.