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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Pukapuka Poem #40 Torbay Revisited - Michael O'Leary

Torbay Revisited

went   this
time in a car
            white car

into the
monochrome suburb
            white suburb

inside the
kids watched TV
            white television

and when
number two child
            white-haired

looked up
and saw
my black
hair and
black beard
he was
afraid and
went crying
to mummy
- like
he’d never
seen anything
dark in
his life
before . . .

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Pukapuka Poem #39 Takapuna: buy the sea - Michael O'Leary

Takapuna: buy the sea

(America’s Cup review, 1986 – 87)

The whole country
Acted like the ‘Olde Mug’ –
The peasants again duped
By the glittering gold phrases
Of the middle-class gentry

Television pirates:
Protectors of the public mind
And pilferers of the public purse
Nightly filled our hedonistic heads
With age-old delusions

“Both yachts will be
looking for real estate –
but the leader’s got the edge”.
And it was the same on land
As in the inane commentary box

If you told someone
You owned an underwater acre
Off the coast of Whangaparoa or
Takapuna, or Milford, you would have
Made a million for you overnight

But now in the cold grey dawn
Of falling shares and broken illusions
We look and see El Dorado and the Golden Calf
Are just another brick shit-house, and
The America’s Cup is back where it belongs

Monday, June 28, 2010

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Pukapuka Poem #38 'Torbay! Torbay! Torbay!' - Michael O'Leary

Torbay! Torbay! Torbay!

It’s around and around goes the bus
Out of sight of the sea
This suburb seems to go on and on
As we walk together to my sister’s house
Along a white concrete path

The white child of my sister
Looks at the dark woman I am with
As though she is a creature
From another island or time –
Afterwards she tells me what I know

So near to the sea, the sound
Is almost there, like inside a shell
And over the bridge inside a bus
We return to the city together
Carelessly we go to dinner or a movie

Next time I go to Torbay I am alone
The same bus, same streets
Same suburban sounds, near the sea
I am in another island or time
And I am alone, like the sound inside a shell

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Pukapuka Poem #37 Morningside Station - Michael O'Leary

Morningside Station

bright blue sky in
            mid-winter warmth

sun beats down and
            heats the station seat

I sit looking at a red
            light in the distance

waiting for it to turn green
            the train ain’t far away

its whistle blowing down
            the line as it approaches

the just out of sight bridge
            over New North Road

gum trees glisten among
            single-storey factories

their blue shimmer heightens
            the fine-edged colours

graffiti gangs battle on walls
            with slogans that defy each other

the power of television images
            proven by these

New York subway copy-cats
            and I mean cats

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Pukapuka Poem #36 Livin' ina Aucklan' - Michael O'Leary

Livin' ina Aucklan'

all too soon it is over
stepping down on to the platform
(an almost perfect concrete curve of old-world technology)
and watching the train move away towards the west
like a memory of love

a railway is the most melancholy of transport modes
and when you are aboard
the motion is one of subtle love-making
– as the train pulls out
from the station you stepped down at . . .

it is your lover leaving, rolling down the track

all this on a two minute trip to Avondale
but I defend the suburban services
saying romance is not confined to the Orient Express
and Mount Albert is as important as Montmartre
if you live there

once new and unknown
love is like a railway ticket held in my hand
but it has been clipped
as I stand alone on wind-swept Avondale platform
watching the train pull out of the station, I . . .

Friday, June 25, 2010

Pukapuka Poem #35 'Rock and Cave' - Michael O'Leary

Rock and Cave

at Whatipu
           
the caves are hollow
           
                        and hidden

no light or
           
life can be seen in
           
                        these solitary places

and then
           
the heads of the Western
           
                        Manukau jut out

Buffeted, undermined
           
by winds and
           
                        by rain and salt water

if you
           
stand on the beach
                                   
feeling the force of the elements

and look
           
up to the safety and
           
                        darkness of the caves

then decide
           
on te wahi moemoeä, shadows
           
                        and the half-life

or stand strong, Kia Kaha,
           
and be shaped and eroded
                       
down to the last pebble of existence

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Pukapuka Poem #34 'Way to Work' - Michael O'Leary

Way to Work, Way to Go!

The whoosh of smoke
From the car in front’s exhaust
Covers our windscreen and
We drive blindly past Penrose Railway Station

Seems funny to pick up and
Pay money for sand in bags
From a Mount Wellington factory floor
With the smell of a fresh Westfield kill filling the morning air

We hit the motorway northward
Towards the city – across
The Newmarket Viaduct with
Eurythmic music going as loud as we are fast – crazy!

The drive of the dead –
Through Grafton Graveyard
Traffic to the right, to the left
It’s underneath you, and it’s over the top!

Then down to the oil installations
The noise and smell, the sea and sky
And the sand we bought
Now blasting through a nozzle
Knocking off last generation’s paint
Off petrol pipelines as the sun beats down hard

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Pukapuka Poem #33 'Thursday Night' - Michael O'Leary

Thursday Night at the Naval and Family

Listening, looking, thinking and remembering


First, listening to the island band
            same old songs week after week
            the rhythm moves my feet
            and the drink and smiles
            make me feel like I’m sort of at home
            the voices and the words
            foreign and familiar

Looking out the window at O’Malley’s Corner
            and following with my eyes
            past other Karangahape Road neons
            up to the lines of old Auckland roof-tops and sunset sky
            then inside seeing 
            all the pretty girls dancing
            talking and singing and smoking cigarettes

Thinking why am I here and
            why do I keep coming to this place
            where some nights I’m the only local
            although I can’t see that
            and no-one else seems to notice
            and the foreigner I’ve been all my life
            doesn’t exist here

And remembering the Pacific Island music
            my mother used to play on the gramophone
            and the Pacific Island woman
            who shared my life
            and dreams for a short while
            - as the music wafts over me like waves
            I stare into my glass with anger at separation

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

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Pukapuka Poem #32 'The craic, the kai, and the whiskey' - Michael O'Leary

The Craic, the Kai, and the Whiskey

(71st memorial of the Easter Uprising) for Karen Urale

What’s happening and where!
It’s the place and it’s the drinking
Went to the Eden Terrace factory
Kissed my love by the wall, but it’s only a song
                                    and then (will we go ta midnight mass or no?)
In the pub talkin’ and drinkin’
Drivin’ through the night
- the moon rises, clouds are drifting
And everywhere the city grows and moves
(Thinkin’ about the girl I just met)
So it’s off with the top of the Tullamore Dew
And down it goes
Firing up the organs like a mainline steam engine
Is it yourself? Who knows -
As all the constraints of reason
And morality get lost in
The craic, the kai, and the whiskey
It’s a wild unremembered drive
Through the Balmoral night
- I awake in the morning
To a vision of O’Donnell driving
Straight towards a Concrete Wall 

Monday, June 21, 2010

Pukapuka Poem #31 - Michael O'Leary

30 cent inner-city fare

Hop on the big yellow
            banana bus
and go from station to stop to stop
initial surge of power throws you –
back, back as banana on wheels
pushes forward past phoenix palms
and then flows around what was
once a beach – now a road
into, but past also anzac beach head
then, the battle been fought, into the mainstream
maelstrom to follow local custom
left, through the turquoise northern shadow – great!
the pacific (south) lost now in large seas
and the queen lies spread-eagled and eager
to engulf all-comers . . .
up you go and she is before you and following
as you move in fits and starts
– a sexual epileptic
fish tank vision of the people
and the crane-like cranes hanging their long
necks over building tops to check your progress
as you check their progress at a red light
a swarm of people descends and then moves
– as you move . . .
bathed in a golden glow the hint of the wide
open country-side
the banana moves up and up but never away
now the fantasy movie is all but finished
but the real illusion continues
– they are building more of them and more of them
and just when you think you might get lost
forever in the orgasmic firmament
            going up further and faster
            than you can ever remember
the banana bends to the right, missing the sky
                                                            by inches
and slows
            slows to reveal human faces
laughing and sad, moving and still in K-Rd
time to hop off the big yellow
                                    banana bus!  

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Pukapuka Poem #30 'Passing Young's Lane' - Michael O'Leary

Passing Young’s Lane

As the early morning train pulls out

Of Newmarket Station it dives down towards Auckland

Towards another working day: The bells ring
And the warning lights flash at Young’s Lane

I look indifferently out the window
Expecting to see nothing other than dark-grey skies

To my right a shaft of golden light
Transforms the otherwise sullen landscape

Beyond the marshes and swamps of Öärkei
Straight down the Gulf I see Waiheke

Where you two moved to the other day
Waiheke is the place where the light is strongest

Suddenly the train lurches to the left
We enter the Parnell Tunnel plunged into darkness

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Pukapuka Poem #29 - Michael O'Leary

Foreshore in Black and White                        

Paekakariki Images: dripping from the mad dog’s eye

                        i

darkening skies

equalled by the darkening earth

a cliff-side disappears inside

a rusty rail

a tree grows out of a re-treaded pile

black, white, grey

the colours of the day

                        ii

parallel to the sea and sky horizon

jutting out above the lapping, lolling waves

a branch of an ancient fallen tree

emulates the also jutting land

-         a little bird sits comically, looking

back to the shore from the tip of the elongated wooden finger

                        iii

elemental, old as the hills, enchanted

dancing sunlight on water

thick-jointed, a long extinct life form

the perfect line between sea and sky

reveals there is no question why?

                        iv

a city stands

De Cherico-like

in sands

and surreal

distortions

approximating straight lines

against the curves

of nature and time

rust and water and wind-smoothed wood

explode into splinters

which join the shifting

hills and sands

of time . . .

                        v

clouds dance

twisted tires

and broken iron

point skywards

in a pirouette

of silent passion

chips off old blocks

witness, as audiences do

the movement of impermanence

                        vi

the quiet, semi-sinister

sentinel

sits alone

looking seaward

surrounded by sand

and scattered driftwood fragments

of life on the floor

the breakers roll in

roll in, roll in

raw, but never weaken

only tire

the one who watches

from a wooden

expression

                        vii

monolithic, statue-like creatures

stand, as though the first dawn

had just broken

the great brightness of black

and white illumination

the darkness of Polynesia

and the slither of light

along the line of sea-sky

circling and shadowing the

heavy and ethereal formations

in the sky and on the land

the sea also sends echoes

as though nothing has been quite born yet . . . 

Friday, June 18, 2010

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Pukapuka Poem #28 'Just Like a Bird' - Michael O'Leary

Just Like a Bird (song recorded by Dunedin Irish band Blackthorn
Words by Michael O’Leary)

Candlelight flickered, I was half in a dream

As the moon rose through clouds over the bay

You came to me like a light on a beam

Now your image is with me to stay
At the end of this long working day

CHORUS . . .
            Just like a bird
            My words will fly to you
            Across the dark and stormy waters
            High over hills, down the valleys below
            Where they’ll reach you as a whisper
            Just like a bird

As once I held you close in my arms
Tonight I hold you in my memory
The thought of your touch even warms the chill winds
Which sap the strength from my body
In this place where I’m working so lonely

CHORUS . . .

Sometimes I call you on the phone
The words we say bring us together again
Hearing your voice reflecting my own
I feel such sweet melancholy pain
Then the coins run out, leaving me alone again

CHORUS . . .

The only fear I have in this life
Is that I will never see you again
So hold me in you heart tonight
My love, as I sit in the darkness
When the candlelight flickers, I see you again

CHORUS . . .


Thursday, June 17, 2010

Pukapuka Poem #27 - 'In North East Valley' Michael O'Leary

In North East Valley

Your milk splashed up into my face
Tasting warm, moist, slightly insipid

Not sweet like the milk of a coconut
But of the same tangy texture

It was your farewell gift to me
A koha that stayed all day on my tongue

Later, on the north-bound train, I thought of you
And couldn’t help but laugh to myself

The way you held your beautiful brown breast
Squirting at me like a child’s water pistol

Now I’m a thousand miles away from you
Our lives are probably back to normal

But today the Auckland rain splashed on my face
It looked milky-white and reminded me of you

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Pukapuka Poem #26 'On the Death of your Mother' - Michael O'Leary

On the Death of your Mother

That morning I woke up and I put around

My neck the black and white scarf
Which several years ago I stole from your house
As a close memento of you to wear

I had not worn this, my favourite scarf,
For many moons so I knew something was afoot
When Des came running by the Raumati shops
Not a place I’m normally at on Saturday morning

And told me that your mother had died less
Than an hour before I felt the scarf tighten
The surprise was no surprise, this is the way
We are, bound together but we must be apart

I spoke to your father and gave him my aroha
And I tried to contact you and others all day
All were travelling to or from somewhere
All were out of touch through their journeys and grief

When you rang me in the late evening, saying
You needed my car to take you home to Whanganui
I felt neutral, even aloof, just waiting for the deluge
Of thoughts and feelings which I knew would come

I met you off the train at Paekakariki Station at midnight
And when we walked arm in arm along the platform
That closeness and aroha I have only found with you
Rekindled like embers left sleeping overnight

I kissed you goodbye and realised a fulfilled destiny
The reason why I had bought a car at all
Many years ago, had in my mind, been for you
And now, when you needed it, it was here

It all fitted so neatly like a fate unknown
Until its revelation, which is then shown
To be so simple, and openly mocks us
So deceptive and beguiling that it shocks us

I didn’t need to go to the marae to farewell your mother
As I had planned: my role was yet again to support you
-          I cannot hold you . . .
So I take off the scarf till the next time we say goodbye

On the Death of your Mother

That morning I woke up and I put around

My neck the black and white scarf

Which several years ago I stole from your house

As a close memento of you to wear

I had not worn this, my favourite scarf,
For many moons so I knew something was afoot
When Des came running by the Raumati shops
Not a place I’m normally at on Saturday morning

And told me that your mother had died less
Than an hour before I felt the scarf tighten
The surprise was no surprise, this is the way
We are, bound together but we must be apart

I spoke to your father and gave him my aroha
And I tried to contact you and others all day
All were travelling to or from somewhere
All were out of touch through their journeys and grief

When you rang me in the late evening, saying
You needed my car to take you home to Whanganui
I felt neutral, even aloof, just waiting for the deluge
Of thoughts and feelings which I knew would come

I met you off the train at Paekakariki Station at midnight
And when we walked arm in arm along the platform
That closeness and aroha I have only found with you
Rekindled like embers left sleeping overnight

I kissed you goodbye and realised a fulfilled destiny
The reason why I had bought a car at all
Many years ago, had in my mind, been for you
And now, when you needed it, it was here

It all fitted so neatly like a fate unknown
Until its revelation, which is then shown
To be so simple, and openly mocks us
So deceptive and beguiling that it shocks us

I didn’t need to go to the marae to farewell your mother
As I had planned: my role was yet again to support you
-          I cannot hold you . . .
So I take off the scarf till the next time we say goodbye