By Christmas I was Freezing
In the Wire Wove days, when beds filled with Kapok and Feathers kept us warm. There was no Air Conditioning, no Oil systems, no Roof Heating Air Flow heaters. No, but there was sex for adults, and extra blankets for children. My feet used to freeze, the old iron bed far too short for a teenager.
Art deco illuminated in sunlight
the icicles dangle rococo style
the melt sounds like a drip
not the drop as it falls, splash
Aunty Hilda hangs the washing
the ice on the lines dissipating
with each hand rung article of clothing
her muscles bristling in the morning sun.
A difference between men and women then too. Some chivalry, submission, a belief that men overruled women in the way of things family style. Of course, once Dad was gone, only one boss, she who had to be obeyed. I listened to what both had to say, and settled for a little of each.
The bees have gone to sleep
many plants all sleeping for a while
the heads of roses encased in ice
struggle to drink the sunlight,
Uncle Ross always chopped wood
the fire in the hearth going night and day
the wet back boiling fresh bath water
so children dirty from frosty play, may soak.
We settled in the Pacific North West, Delia and me. She liked my family better than hers, hence the move, to be close to Papa Stanton and Mama Statham. I worked at a US Navy Base supplying accountancy skills, keeping track of the ordnance. My fathers traits came through me in this job, his forthrightness and keen eye.
We were fostered out to family
but my Father would call once a year
never with Ma, always around Christmas.
Aunty would rub us down with Sunlight
the cheapest soap available to families
the bath water was again a dirty brown
when it was my turn, the eldest, the stink.
How did I get his traits? I hardly ever saw him, yet his genes and his ritualistic visits instilled a need to do a job well. As a teenager, I'd fight the frost with Uncle and help chop the wood, volunteering to stack - meticulous. Uncle would pat me on the back and congratulate on a job well done. Sometimes he'd pass his pipe to share when the job was done. I'd cough, always, the harshness of the Borkum Riff tobacco etching danger on my lungs. Father was annoyed. Today still, I smoke a pipe,
Aunty makes the beds, not the children
who are off to school on the old bus,
pick out chocolate wrappers and dirt from the yard,
place the rubbish in a pile at each bed.
Mama and Papa treated Delia and I well
we never went without family comfort
sometimes Ma and Pa would ring
just to see their children still existed.
The day before, the A/C crashed, water leaked everywhere. Behind the walls was the worst, setting the place up to rot from within. We had the walls stripped to air the offending timbers, placed toweling at the base of the walls to soak up any residue. I thought about Pa at this stage, how his academic mind would handle this dilemma? Then Uncle's thoughts entered, "You're doing the right thing - you're always doing the right thing"
Aunty finished hanging the washing
the ice now just dripping water
the icicles on the veranda now a puddle
on a deck readying itself for a new day.
Ma and Pa are coming to visit today,
it's not Christmas, but still they come,
Aunty or Uncle haven't been packing
so no clue as to where we may go from here?
Africa they said, they're off to Africa to be missionaries. They wanted to know if me and Jeffrey wanted to go along. Jeffrey, my younger brother, said yes. I spent a while agonizing out on the vacant patio, now fourteen, and thought Uncle's woodpile held more temptation than a move to a foreign soil. I liked Aunty too. I think if I'd seen more of my parents I would have gladly gone, but I was stable now and wanted to go places of my own.
Delia I met at High School
she loved my muscles
not bad for an academic she said,
after dating for a while we made vows,
My family heard I was getting married
all were approving, except the ones
who didn't share my experience
their sojourn in Africa blinding them.
Aunty and Uncle both approved, that counted. I wonder if Uncle would have approved my living in a house with air conditioning, no hard work there. I still miss his company, but Mama and Papa are filling the roll nicely. Yeah, Uncle died, the hard workers always did young. I know I'm probably going to be the same, I've never been to a doctor, never had a cold, never needed medicines to fix what the body does for free. Just like Uncle. The measure of my life is the good I pass down to my own children when and if they come.
Delia and Aunty passed away,
days apart, November the 12
and 14th 1937 respectively.
I cried a little.
Dad and Mum came back from Africa
to attend the funerals, both crying
I don't know why, they left Jeffrey
and no doubt forget themselves.
I fought in the war, in the Pacific lost a leg to a Zero round. I now sit in my Northwest Pacific hideaway no longer visiting anyone. Mama and Papa both passed during my stint overseas. My brother, has disappeared, and my gallivanting evangelistic parents are lost in deepest
Africa. I look at the dripping wall again and wonder how life changes. The rain outside has changed to sleet and the cold drives me for another blanket on the lounge with me under it. My hair is now long and unkempt, arm muscles slackened by under use and neglect, but my persistence and petulance still evident.
A sparrow turns the empty clothesline
the dust of the desert covered in ice
the mood of the old homestead dying
as people move on, better climates.
I write eulogies for funerals now, many
my family passing me by, and no one to welcome
I suffered as a vet,
still fit if a little one legged.
The bells at St Michaels chimed communion. I haven't been to church ever, yet there is something that draws me towards those doors. Maybe it's the search for truth, or comfort in numbers? I wonder if the icy chill pervades its solemn hall? I draw the new blanket up and snuggle deeper, I see a flash of Aunty checking under the blankets. It draws a smile from my chapped lips. The typewriter on the desk implores me to have another go, to get my memoir out. I have great characters to draw on, but how would they feel if they were a star in a story.
Pipes freeze, a super cold one this year,
the tramps on 73rd sheltering in skip bins
and this year is no exception, deathly..
A Mind Surfers Lament Part 1 of 4
Chastised for hereditary recklessness
the clock in your mind always set to 12
your footfalls on soft carpet a perfect 10.
Those fairy lights grandma gave you
drag your mind slipping on all gears into a past riddled with the Seasons of Decay.
We made papier mache Windmills
not thinking of far off
more the one in Foxton that spins
and provides milled wheat
to the local bakery.
The bread tastes the same, why so much effort?
Someone stepped on your toe
you don’t know who or why
but you are inherently aware
that the bruising is widespread.
There it is I tell you, under the bed,
an errant TV remote sans batteries,
you used them in your vibrator again,
the pillow thrown signifies a Bullseye, I laugh at the top of my vocal range
the more to infuriate your sensitivity,
we leap for the vibrator, me for the batteries
she because of her embarrassment,
the doorbell rings, she alters tack, leaves me for the errant mechanical orgasmitiser, she to go speak with the neighbours wife.
I wander into the room where they both stand,
waving the deep purple machine in the air.
The window flew open, widows curse
ten elephants flew by, ears flapping,
I looked out the glass door, rhinoceroses,
the chimney echoed a cacophony of monkeys,
I checked the movie on TV, Jumanji
fantasy come to life, dances by my house
I see storks pecking at the roses, pansies
the alligators chew up the vegetable garden,
not doubt looking for mutant ants and slaters,
I switch channels, the music channel,
the serenity of a symphony orchestra in full flight
the chewed roses sing soprano,
the pansies tenor,
the ants and slaters go about their daily business,
forgotten in the melee of jumping channels.
I look out the window again, a string section,
sit down and settle to Beethoven’s Fifth,
the horn section of the Flax bush
the woodwinds of the sunflowers,
the piano an errant Dutch Thistle,
yes even weeds share billing with reeds.
The telephone rings in E major, discordant
I answer, without realisation the sound is huge,
I flick the remote, nothing happens,
then I see him, The Mad Hatter snorting coke,
I make for the TV, hit the off button,
in time to still hear the phone, the surrealist
passion play stops of a sudden, time flies,
yet still the Mad Hatter invades my mind.
Hello, Thane speaking (I think)
A Mind Surfers Lament Part 2 of 4
The eleven o’clock whistle blew home time
feet trudge heavy with mud and exercise
the mine continues on, a new shift.
Bo Svenson clutches his lunch box, whistles,
the tune a calling for the lads, reminiscing
a dog shuffles obediently at his strong feet.
In the mine, Derek Johnston labours
the shovel pitching to and fro, canaries
twitter above the din of the box carts,
Five men killed in 1964, the Great Cave In
the passageway to the memorial. left, then
down the next passageway, sarcophagus.
Movements in the Earth’s crust happen,
the stretching of tectonic plates, earthquakes,
why mine in an area that could easily collapse.
A wife makes tea and scones, her man home soon,
she has his bath ready, his whiskey too,
murmurs from the mine say it could close soon.
, lick your chops Serpentine River
there’s a great divide in the meaning of nonsensical prose
seventy three cars go back and forth
and forth again, and then back and forward
racists spit at the underclass, black arse
exactly what you don’t call a miner
the melee at the gate, anti mining protestors
the fight started by someone cajoling.
We retired where earthquakes are few,
where the sun rises and sets almost
always at the same time.
the soot we see is from Umu’s and fires
the strong summer breeze wistful and playing.
Today I counted the pickets
seventy three in all.
A Mind Surfers Lament Part 3 of 4
Hey Henry, can you build me a car
slow enough to pass ladies
fast enough to run from their boyfriends
agile enough to dodge the law
mean enough to run on the smell of an oily rag?
Hey Wilbur, can you build me a flying machine,
slow enough to get good views
fast enough to run from shotgun blasts
agile enough to map the terrain
mean enough to save lives when it crashes.
Hey Babe, can you hit me a home run,
slow enough for the fans on the bleachers,
fast enough to evade reaching gloves,
agile enough to avoid the fence by meters
mean enough to be breaking records all your life.
Hey Zeppelin, can you name a famous band,
your reign in the world short and disastrous
can you make something safer
faster than Ford or Wright, meaner than
anything ever seen before,
can you reinvent possibilities.
Things to do before you hit 100
Do not open others birthday cards.
Do not tuck in the older ladies.
Do attend Memorial Day celebrations.
Do not forget you were once a nurse.
Do eat well and drink plenty.
Do not forget your diaper floods.
Play golf on the front lawn, not in bed.
Play with Old Jeffrey, he’s much fun.
Play up to your kids when they come.
Play with the staff, they secretly love it.
Play with your old cock to ensure it still dangles.
Play the spoons badly at Mavis’s Tea Party.
Play the part of a dapper French man.
Remember, Alzheimer’s is for those who have no idea.
Remember lasts years Christmas fondly.
Remember to pass on your false teeth.
Remember that shitting in your diaper irks staff.
Remember the day you turned 99, we do.
Remember your folks, they sucker punched you.
Remember to Kiss Mary, she loves you.
Remember to resuscitate Mary afterwards.
In the end, you’re gonna be 100.
In a couple of days you have to see the doctor.
Inspiration comes all the time, acting on it hurts.
Intrigue surrounds your family, they’d hoped for less.
In another room, a secret is being hatched.
In the years since you retired, millions have died.
In a selfish way, you don’t care, it’s good though.
After your birthday they will move Mary.
After your sudden demise, diapers will be handed down.
After your coffin drops in the hole, silence.
After all your life, you will regret nothing.
Kia kaha (Be strong)
Oh speak to me
mighty Tane Mahuta
the wind in your foliage
the sound of Life passing through.
Oh speak to me
the wind in your wave tops
the boom of society bending.
Oh speak to me
reverent Rangi of the Sky
the wind in your atmosphere
dragging in new ideas.
Oh speak to me
the wind across grassy plains
carrier of the lust of Life.
Oh speak to me
the Kingi movement
settling in for the long road ahead
under Taupiri eyes.