Monday Poem: Ian Wedde’s ‘McCahon’s Defile’

 

 

McCahon’s Defile

For John Reynolds

 

And so Colin I cast off in my frail craft of words

my craft of frail words of crafty words

into the defile of Three Lamps where

struck by sunshine on the florist’s striped awning

and the autumn leaves outside All Saints

as you did before fully waking in Waitakere

to look at the elegant pole kauri in dewy light

I defile my sight with closed eyes

and so see better when I open them the Sky Tower

pricking a pale blue heaven like Raphael’s

in Madonna of the Meadows or the scumbled sky of

Buttercup fields forever where there is a constant flow of light

and we are born into a pure land through Ahipara’s blunt gate

a swift swipe of pale blue paint

on Shadbolt’s battered booze bar where bards

bullshitted among the kauri.

 

Gaunt cranes along the city skyline

avert their gazes towards the Gulf

away from babblers at Bam Bina

breakfast baskers outside Dizengoff

some pretty shaky dudes outside White Cross

beautiful blooms in buckets at Bhana Brothers

(open for eighty years) Karen Walker’s window

looking fresh and skitey across Ponsonby Road

my charming deft dentist at Luminos

most of South Asia jammed into one floor at the Foodcourt

Western Park where wee Bella bashed her head

on some half-buried neoclassical nonsense

the great viewshaft to not-faux Maungawhau

and then turn left into the dandy defile of K Road

where you make your presence felt yet again

Colin through the window of Starkwhite

in building 19-G_W-13 where dear John Reynolds

has mapped your sad Sydney derives and defiles

across the road from Herabridal’s windows all dressed up

in white broderie Anglaise like lovely frothy brushstrokes

or the curdled clouds and words you dragged into the light

fantastic along beaches and the blackness that was all

you saw when you opened your eyes sometimes

like the bleary early morning Thirsty Dogs

and weary hookers a bit further along my walk.

 

I love the pink pathway below the K Road overbridge

a liquid dawn rivulet running down towards Waitemata’s riprap

but also the looking a bit smashed washing hung out

on the balcony above Carmen Jones

and over the road from Artspace and Michael Lett etc

there’s El Sizzling Lomito, Moustache, Popped, and Love Bucket

the Little Turkish Café has $5 beers

it’s like a multiverse botanical garden round here

you could lose yourself in the mad babble of it

like the Botanical Gardens at Woolloomooloo

with the clusterfucking rut-season fruit-bats

screaming blue murder.

 

But it’s peaceful again down Myers Park

the mind empties and fills like a lung breathing

the happy chatter of kids swinging

and my memory of you Colin

sitting alone and forlorn on a bench

must have been about 1966

contemplating the twitchy cigarette between your fingers

as if it divined the buried waters of Waihorotiu

or the thoughts that flow beneath thought

in the mind’s defile at dawn when you open your eyes

and see that constant flow of light among the trees.

 

©Ian Wedde

 

 

 

 

Ian Wedde is an Auckland writer and curator with sixteen poetry collections, seven novels, two essay collections, a book of short stories, a memoir, a monograph on Bill Culbert and several art catalogues. His multiple honours include The Prime Minister’s Literary Award for Poetry, admission to The Order of NZ Merit and an Arts Foundation Laureate Award. His most recent poetry book, Selected Poems, appeared in 2017.

Auckland University Press page

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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