Read an Excerpt
New Poems 2005â"2008
By Ian Wedde
Auckland University PressCopyright © 2009 Ian Wedde
All rights reserved.
Where are the words for rushing down
from a windy walk fresh with eucalypts
in the local Green Belt – and how
to appease the spook of Edmund's
'pining anguish'? I hurry home and turn the page
from amoretti to the learned sisters
which have oftentimes come to my aid and will again
to adorn my scheme. I wear
my heart on my sleeve which is
threadbare but sincere. Also, through this
little hoop I leap into our future. The hoop is golden
and you bought it for me at Stewart Dawsons on
Willis Street. It was a dusty, blowy day but
we mooched about
and over plates of foodcourt Thai
agreed on happiness
together. It's good and doesn't have to cost a lot
and like foodcourt chopsticks can be
discarded and replaced, though we both hope
it isn't hewn from rainforests of bewildered birds
and orange orangutans dishevelled by embracing
Julia Roberts. And now my love awake: for it is time.
The Rosy Morne, says Edmund, out early in the glades,
long since left Tithones bed, the cheerful birds do chant their lays,
the Mauis descant plays. Well, hello, Ben! It's true
my sleeve is threadbare but sincere, and the heart
worn there won't be discarded lightly like
foodcourt chopsticks, so haste officious sun and send us night
some hours before it should, no suits, strifes, murmurs
or delay, it's cosy there and dim, and with the ring
you bought before our happy lunch I leap
into this leafwhelmed somewhere. Inflaming eyes,
radiant eyes, weary eyes, watchful eyes, but
never tired of seeing you there. Now kiss me, the hour
is dim and disposable and will come again.
I like your grin that shakes the trees in Tigress
Productions, at Camp Leakey, In the Wild, now leave
those trees alone! Thank you Professor Galdikas
for getting Julia together with the pouty apes, and thank you
Edmund, Ben, John and Gerard, you've been
the subwoofers in my wedding song. But listen, now, this is for you
alone, my chopstick-clicking jungly lunch bed-mate, travelling
on foot and by primitive boats called kloktoks we've
arrived and leap together the dewy leaves among.
Shy cloche ears on sooky
Crows last rites cawed over
Twangy language, few words,
Dead straight red
for my father 'Chick' Wedde
In mid-March the city fills up with Monarch butterflies.
The red flags of the Toyota sale yards all flap south.
In some way I find hard to describe
I know it's always been like this.
Tony's Tyre Service
Tony's Tyre Service is customer-focused. When they change my tyres
they also freshen up my car's interior. I like these guys
and their amiable TV commercial is a song-and-dance hoot.
Tony – listen to me: I can sing along. I hope you read this,
Tony, and give me a break. I'm bald
and stale and need a cheerful tune.
It's as though Metalworx Engineering in Vivian Street
has always been there. Always, that ancient smell
of the mineral earth smelted, beaten and twisted
into mild-steel elbows, the gothic interior
flickering with acetylene and loud with iron bashing,
its ventilators paddling sunlight in
and metal dust out. The display-window samples
of metal-craft with lumpy welds have been there
forever and especially the rusting toy crane that's always
been for sale but will never
be sold. Can't ever be sold unless there's a buyer somewhere
who understands that the forever crane's lifting
the entire weight of the future, which will end
along with Metalworx Engineering
if the crane's ever taken from its alchemical window
and expected to be half as real in another place.
'Expert advice freely given' is what's promised
by the helpful proprietors of Mighty Mats
next to Metalworx Engineering on Vivian Street, Wellington.
I've seen these guys
roll out a sample along the footpath
right across the road from the Cotton Shop
whose clientele pays big money
for unbleached fabrics direct from the sweats
of Bangladesh. 'Go on!' says the friendly salesman
at Mighty Mats. 'Pluck that tuft!' What say
we unroll a sample in the road
and I drive my car's new tyres down it? I'd like to do that,
if only to see what the competition makes of it,
over there – let's see the expert quality of their advice.
Wellington Scrap Metals
Okay, so they're sitting outside on the footpath
in the sun, but who can blame them after
two weeks of filthy wind, first puckering
the last of summer's tomatoes on their storm-scorched vines,
next sucking up the whole of the north's galvanic dust
and spitting it out all over town. They're sick of it,
the two guys and the woman at Wellington Scrap Metals,
so who can blame them for not keeping their promise that
'We recycle scrap metal'? There's always going to be time
for more junk, and it's the inevitability of junk
that makes time into space, the kind of space
you know will wait for you to fill it, even if
you don't want to wait, even if you
can feel your own time going utterly to waste already.
There's a blessing and powhiri going on
at the refurbished Kentucky Fried Chicken
on the corner of Kent Terrace and Pirie Street, across
the road from the Toyota sale yard
whose snappy flags match the crisp new uniforms
of the KFC staff, standing with their hands clasped reverently
beneath their stomachs. Inside,
a lavish kapu ti is laid out, of cakes, sandwiches
and a steaming urn of tea. I wish them well
in their fresh new premises, I wish the customers better –
and the chickens in line to be fried as nuggets, may they
too benefit in some fashion from today's pious opening prayers.
Where would we be without the Society
for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals?
Not here, anyway, on SPCA sponsor's night. The cats
abandon their mauled soft toys
and watch from their balcony those beasts
who make them suffer and then
protect and care for them. The abused dogs
greet without prejudice the tormentors
whose hands are sweet with finger-food,
whose breath smells of the wine with which
they've saluted their own
better natures. The ancient accordion player
grins like a turtle, the saxophonist
has grown a musical trunk. Pepe the problem Chihuahua
lived abandoned under an empty house, and now
she won't come out of her SPCA lair,
not for anyone, not even for the kissy beasts
whose fingers smell of meat.
The New Zealand College of Massage
The New Zealand College of Massage is NZQA Accredited
and its premises at the intersection of Kent Terrace and Brougham Street
are in Quinovic House, a clean,
modern building. Here, the writer's
aching wrists may be soothed with ayurvedic massage oil.
Tired minds and aching bodies
return refreshed to households and lovers
made apprehensive by bad moods. Just
feel the difference! And now, hold the
appointment book. I'm coming down!
The Westpac Rescue Helicopter
The big Cook Strait horizon is there, the one
that opens east past the southern cordillera
whose brow is filthy with insurgent storms.
In the harbour across the other side, in the lee
of Mount Victoria, the red-faced tugboats shepherd
truculent tankers. And then it starts: the battering of rotors
over on the reclamation. The Westpac
Rescue Helicopter has a job of work to do.
The Home of Murdoch's
In a flaky pink building on Taranaki Street
the Home of Murdoch's continues to serve.
Its signage is hidden behind a rusting aircon unit
so we guess that Murdoch's need for marketing
is slight at best. Or, it may be,
its loyal clients' need for icing sugar, spices and pickles
has remained constant through a long history
which must have begun in spice islands, somewhere,
a place where sugar was crushed from cane,
where sweet pickles were made piquant with cloves and peppercorns – where,
in buildings of pink coral cement, before there was aircon,
the sweethearts of Murdoch's sweet pickle tasters
lifted their loose hems on shady verandahs,
letting the trade winds in.
The Wesleyan Methodist Church
Also on Taranaki Street
is the Wesleyan Methodist Church. A stone's throw
from the toothsome tropical heat of Murdoch's,
its Tongan congregation keeps cool in the shade of pohutukawas.
The big-bellied guys wear fine mats and their kids
behave themselves. I have to wonder
if Murdoch's pickle tasters can hear their singing
which rattles the street-front sign for
the Wesleyan Food Fair: samosas, chop suey,
curry laksa, Hungarian goulash, chicken masala and
Greek kebabs. Over on Pirie Street, the entire
Greek Orthodox congregation's marched down the hill
from the aquamarine-roofed church on Hania Street
where their white-and-blue Hellenic flags are flying next to Toyota's red ones.
They assemble at the Greek War Memorial on Cambridge Terrace
where they, too, begin to sing.
Their post-respect refreshment needs will shortly be taken care of
by Theo's Greek Taverna next to Kentucky Fried – the very same
enterprising caterer who serves souvlakia and baba ganoush
to the big appreciative Tongan guys in fine mats, their
wives with throats like fragrant frangipani flowers and
their polite kids, over at their Wesleyan Methodist Food Fair.
CO Products Ltd
When I put my cheek
against the fragrant surface of the matai tongue and groove
with which I built the table we all eat at – the one
my oldest son Carlos helped me make the legs for,
the one whose boards waited under black polythene wraps
for something more than ten years
while the sceptics said I'd never get around to it –
the only time I'll ever use
my father's old sash-cramps to pull the boards tight and
the only time I'll ever make a table – when
I put my cheek against the satiny surface of my table,
made homely here and there with the stains of
spilled wine and food, the scorch marks
of red hot pots slammed down in a hurry –
when I lay my cheek and nostrils against the boards
I inhale the perfect aroma of
CO (est. 1923) Linseed Rich Natural Wood Oil.
It 'Protects and Preserves Light or Dark Timbers'
and a 300 ml bottle goes a long way. CO Products Ltd
have always been at 163 Adelaide Road
and it's inconceivable
that their excellent products could cease to exist.
As well as the 'Natural Wood Oil'
with its enchantingly unclassifiable perfume that rises, too,
from the banisters of our house and from the squat
Korean chest in the hall, CO Products Ltd
also manufacture an excellently fragrant CO Polishing Oil,
a CO Waxshine, a CO Lusta Cream, a CO Woodwax.
All of these are quality products that will improve
the atmosphere of your home and the
health of your wooden surfaces. Even more
than the ayurvedic oils down at the New Zealand College of Massage,
CO Products Ltd's time-tested traditional solutions
will improve the quality of your life. In my case,
they've gone on adding value
to my emotional investment
in the wonky matai table I made
with my son, thinking of my dad's workshop under the house
and how empty it got when he died. I brought his screw-cap jars
of rescued nuts and bolts and his magnificent
sash-cramps back here to our place
and twenty years later I made a table with them.
How could CO Products Ltd in Adelaide Road ever
cease to exist? When I massage the table
with their superb linseed rich natural wood oil,
it's my father's aching limbs that I soothe, it's the
sweet smell of his ever optimistic workshop
that I inhale. And yet
of course, it's come to pass. The good business
that filled its 300 ml bottles with inexhaustible fragrance
has closed its doors at last, and the finger-width of oil
that remains in my hoard
will now be eked out
along with the time in which to buff up a lasting shine.
Excerpted from Good Business by Ian Wedde. Copyright © 2009 Ian Wedde. Excerpted by permission of Auckland University Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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