Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Tuesday poem: Missed

for colin

we are under the power lines    under the tui    admiring the self-importance in that white
bubble throat    you’re wearing the tapestry waistcoat and the flying jacket heavy as a
sheep        driftwood for a walking stick        sharks’ teeth on your hat      head cocked
to what I’m saying     it’s lucky in Greece to have a bird dropping land on you

it misses us      just

we howl at this       are helpless with it     our faces cracking      the laughter fat and free
spitting up at the bird the power lines the tree    we chortle it chortles we shriek it shrieks
we merry three       soaring and spilling down the empty street on shiny wings        see,
the boy in the garden     see, Ed and his dog on the beach    see, Evelyn’s lunatic cat    the
bench with David’s name on it     Margaret with lace gloves riding her bike    we suck
and swill and spit     all that’s bright     all that’s ordinary    all that’s upright    all   that
breathes in this sea-licked place    until we are the brightest   breathiest      thing     of    all

there is no sign of the tui now      no sign of its shit       no sign of you      nothing of you
no-one      the air thick with chimney smoke   the crescent moon dark in a navy sky    
the only sound a dog barking   a high cold insistent bark    as if the chain is pulled too tight
around its singing throat

                                                                             mary mccallum

 I hope to make the Tuesday Poem a regular thing. My poems and others.


maggie@at-the-bay.com said...

Ah, we have Colin's iguana on our sleeper fence, and Sienna always runs towards it, fascinated. He sure lives on, larger indeed than life.

Fiona Kidman said...

This is a most beautiful moving poem, full of the world's wonder. Thank you for writing it Mary

TK Roxborogh said...


please may I print it off and show it to my advance creative group?

love the sounds. the feel of the sounds of the words in my mouth when I read it.

meh, jealous much of your gift (in a hugely admiring way)

Mary McCallum said...

Oh Maggie, yes, Colin has left bits of himself all over Eastbourne - all that lovely stuff of his spread amongst his friends. The iguana is gorgeous.

And thank you, Fiona, for your comment - grabbing the 'world's wonder' in those moments is what poetry is to me above all else. You lovely book of poems 'where the left hand rests' has inspired me to keep on with my poems despite fiction being the stuff I 'do' - because, like you, poetry matters to me and does something fiction can't

Tania, I am thrilled that you want to print off the poem to show your advance creative writing group - by all means do. I'd love to know what they make of it. Thank you.

Rachel Fenton said...

Beautiful imagery. Like the breaks. Free and breezy. Wonderful.

Look forward to more.

Harvey Molloy said...

I just love it. More please!

Mary McCallum said...

Thank you Rachel - the form of the poem - with the breaks - was inspired by Michele Leggott's work - it makes it difficult to format for a blog page, but I like what happens with the gaps in terms of flow and space and room to think... and for the same reason I like the longer lines

Thank you, too, Harvey - that means a lot. I might even get along to one of the open mike poetry sessions one day ...

Tania Roxborogh said...

From a non-Wellingtonian, who is/was Collin? Am intrigued.

TK Roxborogh said...

Hi Mary
Feed back from the writing group. We spent about 15 mins discussing it. Lots of ooh and ahhh about certain phrases and words and images and the change in the tone. You would have enjoyed their enthusiastic response.

Their only complaint? They thought the word 'shit' unnecessary - they thought the association with the word and then the next phrase (no sign of you) 'dirtied' the 'you' ie Colin.

Would be interested in your response to their response.

Mary McCallum said...

Tania - I am blown away by the thought of this discussion - and am interested in the dislike of 'shit'. I guess I thought it gave a sudden insight into the true ugliness of losing a friend and the feeling that he and I missed the 'good luck' the bird dropping would have endowed and therefore the nice 'bird dropping' was something else... at the same time, I can see how it flows over into 'no sign of you' and will ponder on its excision. The poem would still work without it. Will you thank them all very much from me....

And Colin himself, well, where to start. A larger than life figure in his 80s, a sculptor, performer, poet, collector, artist ... who was generous and fun and full of energy and creative ideas and seemed much younger than his years. He also loved birds and animals, and laughed so hugely and so wonderfully, brightening an ordinary walk, an ordinary day. He filled Eastbourne in his short time here and is dearly missed by many. He died at home, just along the road from me, surrounded by family and friends.

TK Roxborogh said...

missing the main ingredient

that is my daughter's comment on her homemade pizza tonight and then she reminded us of Craig - a man who died suddenly a la Rob Macdonald (same complaint - same shock- same grief)

She (the eldest) said - Mum, isn't it time to showed the world the picture book you and Craig wrote?

I'm sorry that I'm posted it on your blog cos it doesn't seem right for mine.

BTW Fire on tonight BRRR

Mary McCallum said...

i love that - missing the main ingredient - cheese? tomato? and the segue into Craig - you must bring out the picture book - and thank you for posting it here -