For this issue of ENNZ, we are proud to showcase the work of Otago poet Richard Reeve, in response to the windfarm issue, attitudes to energy consumption and the landscape. Richard Reeve is a Dunedin-based poet, reviewer, editor and spokesperson for the Upland Landscape Protection Society. He is editor of New Zealand literary journals Landfall and Glottis, the author of two books of poetry, Dialectic of Mud (AUP 2001) and The Life and the Dark (AUP 2004), and the recipient of a number of literary awards, including the 2002 Todd Foundation Writer’s Bursary. His work has appeared in publications throughout the world.

ElDorado

for Marilynn and Annette

‘There must have been a time’, I tried to say to the crones upfront,
but the land had drawn in our attention, predictably as run-off.
The cold plains stretching towards Kyeburn (I camped there with a girl),
the Rock and
Pillar range, distant Dunedin: to imagine the consultant,
congratulated by her CEO, sniggering at these women,
arranging her motherhood with a bulldozer, even as the hills continue
their swell through eternity.
‘What is the point of art?’ But our car,
trembling, had stopped. One of them scarved, a hatter,
the roar penetrated her voice. And we were struck by that glare,
the view surveying itself. And then those two daughters,
tangoing the tussock, cheering up hebe, tickling pin-cushion bog.
The Planner calls it acupuncture,
though the endemic ‘rash’, well?
the pastoral gangrene, though the livestock won’t accept that?
makes this latest gouge pretty minor.
So many profess the issue,
huge at home, warmed by the strip-mines and hydroelectric schemes,
while wind blows gold from the wheels of the skidding trucks.

Call in

Conspicuous the thought, fat on the range,
that sees emptiness only as a resource.
This absence of towers, informed by grass,
This nowhere that ought to be called in.

Technology and Barbarism

To neglect the moral authority of the land, let seem the merit
of padlocked rivers, mountain gorges sewn up with powerlines,
accept the monologue of progress—
there are natives for whom
it is paramount to hide inside one’s core of domestic inertia,
be free of the transcendental guilts, while the hot world
wastes itself in its tumid fug of mites, sweat and dandelion.
A field steams. Stones shake without doubt or conscience
in a place that has small status in the vast anxiety of parliaments
(let Sudan heal itself with a machete, Iraq cook its dinner
on the embers of a car-bomb): they are not quite primitive here
in front of their TV,
whose sacred, dyslexic, infant, civilised
heart burbles forgotten like a pot left to boil on the stove,
a hand lounging on the remote, and on a distant mantelpiece
flowers, stripped from rain-dark mountains, frail as the thought
that life will endure, unchanged, in the eternity of passing
cartoons, docos, movies: pollinating the rust on the horizon.

Love among the Turbines

‘Loved by them all, by my wife Marg foremost,
ByWagner from the caff, and by that old cat
Whose kiss I prime with a bribe of roast’,
Said the corpse to itself, as though it could talk.
‘I have Fifties friends, and fair ones at that,

I managed my bank loan, I done my debt,
Made toasts to the boys, constructed my house
To escape the outfall of private regret’,
Said the corpse to itself, as though it could think.
‘There once was a woman, tough as a mouse,

Lived in the shack in the grass by the site,
Throwing her dishwater at the entrance shed?
This crazy young bitch, goodlooking not bright.’
Said the corpse to itself, as though it could talk,
‘At the pub we talked, and then was in bed,

I heard on a grape-vine she brought up a boy,
But the blades went up, and we shot through.
Them hands of the winds are lost to our joy’,
Said the corpse to itself, as though it could think,
‘But the hands of a man can rape on cue.’

‘Until a third lump came, it was a sick joke;
But the straight-faced surgeon suggested that day
Make peace with a stone, or take up a book’,
Said the corpse to itself, as though it could talk.
‘Jesus! what some big men like me will gay.’

Lyrics for Global Warming

*

It is fraught here alone,
one more among trapped
multitudes that moan
the cry to adapt.

Armageddon mapped out:
antediluvian drought
(not some outback fort
that prophets report)

sucking out the seas
before the ancient oceans rise.
And all that refuse,
and every man’s eyes

seeking subtle conquest
of country such as this,
the snows of your breast,
the plains of your kiss.

*

The wind in your hair
made a small boy stare.
Yet presuming it thus
that nothing shows

the loveliness implicit,
you mock-scowl, ignore
that small man’s ardour
(lunging to kiss it).

There will be times yet
to observe in beauty
straightforward duty.
Unsequestered the void

runs through your hair
smiles in your frown.
Yet this haze draws near,
a grey in your crown.

Was it always this grey?
Too hot overhead sun
makes meat of a fin’s fun.
And, one had to agree,

it was not much to be.
Sun through double-glazing
sent Goldfish crazing.
There was little to say,

it was hardly new to me.
A star through smog
or the girl out on her jog;
nothing is new to me.

And where Fishy landed
some mad old fucker
ran round with a pucker.
Answers, he demanded.

*

To begin, the coarseness:
venereal hoarseness
of the municipal gods,
seizing sand as goods,

hunting the whole half
with a Roman splutter.
‘The world’, we mutter,
autogeny of the self,

‘let this happen to us.’
(And factories putter;
the wastes are a clutter).
‘The planet’, we grizz,

‘made happen this pain’,
perpetual pinch of life.
‘Life lives to make strife’
our councillors explain.

*

Myself, they called me,
in the roar of the market
never gypped history.
We fizz then cark it

(those mystics suck shit)
but the bulge in my pocket
weighs down the sky
with the bling I buy.

I pulled hard for a heart
that wouldn’t be sold;
I bought out that tart
but her eyes were old.

I chopped her head off
to teach her her lesson.
In war, sales and love
gotta ‘keep em guessin.’

*

What she would call me
before I slipped through
the lock of her body
and came to be true,

was something like ‘you’
which implied then that I,
conceived with a sigh,
might know what to do

(whom to visit when older
to blame for my fate),
trapped in this cavity
force-fed depravity.

And if I could hold her
It might all come right.
But I am God’s soldier
And it is now too late.

*

‘Live life’, exult your time
in the sun’s solar rhyme.
What poetry we have left
must feed the bereft.

Not your miserly selves
scraping in the dark,
nor these opulent elves
asleep in the park.

All the rivers are dead
though we cast lines in,
and that rain on the shed
is a cloud of benzene.

My love, we are wasted
by the whims of others.
Let us claim we tasted
Springs of our mothers.

*

Because I will love you
from Autumn to Spring,
do not say what you do
I shall sing I shall sing

in each fresh false start
the cringing of my heart.
That is, I sing of you
without a thing of you,

being insecure, crowded
with a shoal of ought
that haunts the unclouded
and submarine thought.

Each of us alone as life
sucks at the one breath:
exoneration by a wife,
forgiveness before death.

*

They lied when they said
there is nothing dead.
There is something dead
in a hold of the head.

Not plant or animal,
fungus or heath or reef,
embalmed in enamel,
wave-wiped growth,

no, and yet specimen
of those long voyages
that brought this interim
of merchant languages.

Let into this life love,
draw outside the smell;
let what we retrieve
be a dried-out shell.