Our society is sadly notable for a lack of intellectual debate. The Phantom Billstickers bring poetry and prose out into the open to stimulate a little thinking. Most poetry is gently subversive because it invites us to see the world in a different way.
A pause on the pathway for a poem
Sam and boatsheds go together
I’m feeling ok still in some small way.
I’ve come too far to just go away.
I wish I could stay here some way.
So now that what comes wouldn’t only be more
of what’s to be lost. What’s left would still leave more
to come if one didn’t rush to get there.
What’s still to say? Your eyes, your hair, your smile.
your body sweet as fresh air, your voice in the clear morning
after another night, another night, we lay together, sleeping?
If that has to go, it was never here.
If I know still you’re here, then I’m here too
And love you, and love you.
Robert Creeley (1926-2005) published more than sixty books of poetry, prose, essays and interviews in the United States and abroad including For Love, Pieces, Hello and Life and Death. His Collected Poems is published in two volumes, 1945-1975 and 1975-2005. Among his many awards were the Lannan Lifetime Achievement Award and the Bollingen Prize in Poetry. He lived in Massachusetts, New Mexico, California, New York and Maine, as well as Mallorca and France. He was an exceptional teacher, talker and father. At his death he was Distinguished Professor in the Graduate Programme in Literary Arts at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, USA.
At the end
I have to move my sight up or down.
The path stops here
Up is heaven, down is ocean
or, more simply, sky and sea rivaling
in welcome, crying Fly (or Drown) in me.
I have always found it hard to resist an invitation
especially when I have come to a dead end
The trees that grow along cliff-faces,
having suffered much from weather, put out thorns
taste of salt
ignore leaf-perm and polish:
hags under matted white hair
parcels of salt with the string tangled;
thumping the earth with their rebellious root-foot
trying to knock up
out of her deep sleep.
I suppose, here, at the end, if I put out a path upon the air
I coiuld walk on it, continue my life;
a plastic carpet, tight-rope style
but I’ve nothing beyond the end to hitch it to
I can’t see into the mist around the ocean;
I shall have to change to a bird or a fish.
I can’t camp here at the end.
I wouldn’t survive
unless returning to a mythical time
I became a tree
toothless with my eyes full of salt spray;
rooted, protesting on the edge of this cliff
- Let me stay!
Janet Frame (1924-2004) is New Zealand’s greatest writer, and one of the most versatile. She won her homeland’s top honours for fiction and non-fiction as well as for poetry. Her work also attracted international acclaim and continues to be translated widely. Her first book of poems The Pocket Mirror (1967) has never been out of print, and is that most rare of things, a best selling collection of NZ verse. “The End” is from The Goose Bath (2006) published by Random House (NZ), Bloodaxe Books (UK), and Wilkins Farago (Australia). c Janet Frame Literary Trust. janetframe.org.nz
Developing my father
My father has been enlarged
in a Sydenham photo shop
specialising in reproductions
and silver fish repair. He walks
with my mother down Hereford
Street. She wears a hat and tender
gloves, he wears a stripped shirt,
the collar splayed like the wings
of his RSA badge. There is a war
to put behind tyhem, shopping
to do, hungry mouths to feed.
The street photographer shoots
them wide eyed under a white sky.
For years he stores the negatives,
my mother and father
holding hands in the dark.
Frankie McMillan is an award winning short story writer and poet. Her first book, was published in 2001 by Shoal Bay Press. She won the 2009 New Zealand Poetry Society International Poetry Competition. Her poetry collection, The Bag Lady’s Picnic and other stories Dressing for the Cannibals is to be launched this August as part of the Christchurch City Libraries 150th celebrations. Frankie currently teaches creative writing at CPIT and the Hagley Writers’ Institute.
11 Runes (for Alf, turning 11)
I’m not sure what’s not
or what’s understood.
I’ll give what I’ve got
to see you to manhood.
The suns on the water.
It’s the middle of winter.
I never had a daughter.
Or thought of one either.
This is the way it is:
you’re ten, I’m sixty-one.
These (as they say) are the facts:
we’re father and son.
An old friend e-mails:
says she sometimes shakes her head,
counts the miles; says she smiles,
surprised, pleased I’m not dead.
Nikki’s right: I’m not dead,
I’m not allowed to die,
not till I’m seventy-seven she said.
And no lie.
Meantime, it’s solstice,
middle of winter:
‘sol in stasis’,
sun low on the water.
Alive, Alf, to live
clear of any city;
live more than five
gunshots from humanity.
Seems for the first time
I’m close enough up to tune
old words to a rhyme
to tell you the eighth rune.
Three more, too, let’s say
a rune a year for the kit!
Let’s keep it that way
till one of us can’t make it.
When that does happen,
I’ll tell you what, Alf,
when the big doors don’t open
and things fall off the shelf
I’ll give what I’ve got
to see you through,
and if I’m not
there, I’ll be waiting for you.
Sam Hunt is one of New Zealand’s best-known poets. For over 40 years he has been touring the length and breadth of the country performing his poetry in pubs, theatres, schools and countless other venues. He has introduced poetry to generations of New Zealanders. He has two recent and now a new book plus an ongoing live schedule. Doubtless, and James K Baxter PoemsBackroads - charting a poet’s life are his latest books. Sam has recently collaborated with David Kilgour (The Clean) in live shows and a CD Falling debris. Sam was born in Castor Bay, Auckland; lived 30 years on and around Cook Straight, now he lives on a far reach of Kaipara Harbour with his 12 year old son. (Check out www.samhunt.co.nz)