To Miss the Point Entirely
It isn’t good for a writer to live in a country
where a cut-price banker with his next-door smile
is all we have to throw stones at. How one
envies a Chilean say who could dream of knifing
a home-grown monster, the English even
who might smash a TV any day of the year
when a government of schoolboys quiver as if Matron
threatened to punish arse.
‘A country without snakes!’
as tourists at times are amazed to hear. ‘Then what
do people here die of?’, another traveller once
asked me. ‘Of being ourselves,’ I told him,
‘the big tourist pictures falling off the wall with mould.’
Note from Steve: This is such a fun poem, a genuine LOL. There are some great examples of comic verse – CK Stead’s collection “Dog” is full of them, and I’ve always loved one by Kevin Ireland about a friend who made a bust of his head; it ends with the jokeshop word, quite properly in capital letters, “BOING”. Vince’s poem also works as political verse. I don’t think there are that many good examples of that. They’re often too emphatic, too one-dimensional, just a rant. Vince applies a nice, gentle touch on the poem from beginning to end. I really love the space on line 9, when he introduces a new slant on the poem. It’s like a paragraph break and it allows the poem to take a kind of breath. I love everything about the poem, really, right down to the final line, which is a deeply mordant, black-comedy punchline. This poem can do no wrong.
SB works as a staff writer at the New Zealand Herald, and as the books editor at the Spinoff, where he chooses a new poem every week as the Friday Poem. Publishing verse each week was something he introduced right from the very start of creating a books section at the Spinoff.
Vincent O’Sullivan, poet, novelist, playwright and short story writer, was the New Zealand Poet Laureate from 2013 – 2015. His latest collection of poems, And so it is was published by Victoria University Press in March.