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Good Business

Good Business

by Ian Wedde

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From jaunty and self-deprecating to serious and nostalgic, the poems in this collection paint a vivid portrait of Wellington businesses and institutions. Quietly hilarious, the verse captures the essence of Toyota, Tony’s Tyre Service, Metalworx Engineering, Wellington Scrap Metal, the KFC on the corner of Pirie Street, and the Society for Prevention of


From jaunty and self-deprecating to serious and nostalgic, the poems in this collection paint a vivid portrait of Wellington businesses and institutions. Quietly hilarious, the verse captures the essence of Toyota, Tony’s Tyre Service, Metalworx Engineering, Wellington Scrap Metal, the KFC on the corner of Pirie Street, and the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. At the heart of this collection are three stunning sequences: an ode to walking the streets of Wellington, a gathering of surreal and quirky moments, and a lyrical approach to the author’s travels from Bangladesh to the south of France. Playing with the contrasts of light and dark and dawn to dusk, this compendium also explores the balance between departures and arrivals as well as the seen and unseen.

Product Details

Auckland University Press
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
6.10(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.40(d)

Read an Excerpt

Good Business

New Poems 2005â"2008

By Ian Wedde

Auckland University Press

Copyright © 2009 Ian Wedde
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-86940-718-6



    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
    looking cows

    Crows last rites cawed over
    roadkill roo

    Twangy language, few words,
    shrill flies

    Dead straight red
    dirt road

    Honey moon
    glazing Carpentaria



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.

    Metalworx Engineering

    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.

    Mighty Mats

    '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.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Ian Wedde has been featured in Freed and Landfall. He is a recipient of the Book Award for Fiction and the NZ Book Award for Poetry. He is the author of The Commonplace Odes, Dick Seddon's Great Dive, Spells for Coming Out, and Three Regrets and a Hymn to Beauty.

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