DAY OF THE DEAD
My barber grandfather,
dead for 23 years,
whispers in my ear:
‘Keep your skull still.’
My publican father,
dead for 19 years,
chants above the din:
‘Next! Who’s next?’
My sweet son,
dead for 7 years,
smiles as if, as if to say:
‘Remember, remember me.’
– November 2, 2007
Allen Ginsberg wept when he heard A Hard Rain. He wept
for Bob Dylan’s blue-eyed boy. He wept for joy. He wept
for William Blake. He wept for Walt Whitman. He wept
for the freewheelers Cassady and Kerouac. He wept
for the Cosmic Corpse inside his American head.
‘Chant from skull to heart to ass,’ he said.
At Phill’s place The New Millennium Beats
beat and strum. Beat and strum, illuminated
by two dollar candles. Raumati, 2006, is a world
away from New York, 1964. But the spirit flies
a warped course. Twelve-year-old Isaac plays
his Sonic drums like the guy in The Grateful Dead.
I dig it. My heart thumps in the ribcage
of an ancient man. My mind is a foetus
in the womb of a black woman. I walk home
under a descending moon. The sea is milky,
The village surreally lit. The stars bleep and blip.
our drummer boy sleeps like an angel.
The old Scottish lady
who lives in
the pensioner flats
down the road
calls me sweetie
and I call her dear.
Every so often
we meet and greet
and go our own ways.
We’ve learnt that
a needy neighbour.
have a way of sounding
like Robert Creeley.
Dig his one eye –
His iris of dead reckoning.
His flower of truth.
This pink evening is birthed from a blue day.
The old woman gardens with the aid of a walker.
Her husband looks out the kitchen window,
‘She’ll be sore and tired,’ he mutters,
‘in no fit state to cook dinner.’
My mother suffers;
but gardening makes her happy.
For my 63rd birthday she sends flowers.
Dad had lovely hands,
they flowed as he spoke;
he danced a kind of jig
when he told a joke.
Dad was an outgoing man,
fast with a witty quip:
‘Make a noise like a two-bob
piece and I’ll come quick.’
Dad ran a good pub,
his punters an earthy mix;
in the Maniototo,
on the road to the Styx.
Dad served the thirsty
who worked this arid land,
and gladly took their money
with either lovely hand.
ALL OR NOTHING
I wake with a bastard hangover.
The night’s detritus weeps and crusts.
I contemplate death/pure living,
joining an order not yet found.
I go to Lorca for comfort. Alas,
all he gives me is a thrashing sea
in which I cannot drown.