Read a Poem



Dad wouldn't be seen dead 
without a hat. 
Farm hat, summer hat, town hat 
even when he had hair.

Hat on an angle, hat on horse, 
hat in the truck with dogs.

We fished by stealth 
stalked trout 
with a spear and a light. 
He wore his hat in the dark.

A mile apart by metal road 
my grandmother lived 
on her half of the farm. 
No chance meetings, not even 
a skyline sighting.

She lay in wait in town 
from the haberdashery 
as he walked up the street. 
She came out as if by accident. 
Hand frail, and clasping 
the front of her coat, 
she gave a coy look 
from the bags of her bloodhound eyes— 
the whole air stopped

he raised his hat, went past.



see this at Best New Zealand Poems 2009

see also Best New Zealand Poems 2011 for Emphysema for Aunty Gwen



Still dark outside,
I fight to get the bit in. 
He pulls me off my feet.

Get over you bastard, says Alfie
knees him in the guts
to make him let air out

drags the girth up tight —
Dracula savages the air
shakes it up in shock waves —

I’m too scared to admit I’m scared.

                 Alfie throws me up.
The horse sinks on his hocks, lurches against the wall
rattles the chains like snakes.
         I snap the clip of my skull cap shut.
         Alright? asks Alfie.
I nod.  He unclicks the chains —
           we let loose this way, that way
           in leaps across the yard.

Trackwatchers flatten back.
          Just sit quiet on him Alfie says

           jig, jig jig goes the bit as Dracula worries
at steel, pull-jerks my arms
jolts us towards the open grass   the course proper
                   we’re coming out on
                   wide wide green 

                     If he gets away on you, says Alfie, don’t fight him.
When you try and fight, they just pull harder. If you get in trouble
         kick him up hard along the straight
make him think he’s had a race, he might ease up
once you’re past the post

horses go snorting past, Dracula sinks down
like a cat

little prayers keep leaking out
        I put my feet in the irons, cross
the reins to get a good hold

Alfie lets the bridle go


see also Cuchulainn wins the Great Northern in Turbine '04

and Creature in Turbine '06


Agnus Dei

Three times he crashes into the English Channel