Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Tuesday Poem: 'The Gap' by Peter Olds

Under the Dundas Street Bridge
by Peter Olds
As I go into the doctor's rooms
there's a man coming out holding
what appears to be a prescription
& looking worried, like a man does
when money slips through his hands
through no fault of his own other
than he owns the gap between his
fingers that medical science, with all
its wisdom & drugs, can't fix.
Peter Olds
'The Gap' appears in the new volume Under the Dundas Street Bridge (2012) published by Steele Roberts, Wellington, New Zealand. ISBN: ISBN: 9781877577833. Price: NZ$20.
Ask your favourite bookstore to stock this title (if it doesn't already) or obtain it direct from the publisher:

 Thanks to Peter Olds for kind permission to reproduce this poem.
For more Tuesday Poems, see the Tuesday Poem blog. 

Saturday, December 8, 2012

The Day of the Sheep

Tree dweller

 A cat a long way up a tree
 Close up
 Sniffing the breeze
Always wanting to go higher

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Friday, November 9, 2012

A question of balance

The Tabby is not afraid to go out on a limb.




I hadn't realised that I was addicted to Marmite until I lived in an Asian country where it was not available. I'd taken a jar with me, as comfort food I thought (I hadn't realised it was more of a medical necessity than a mere reminder of home). When my supply ran out, I suffered. After searching for it in local supermarkets fruitlessly (it wasn't even available on the underground "black market" that dealt with goods purloined from the American army bases).

Having to admit I was powerless to cope without my fix of salty tarry yest extract, I sent out a plea to a fellow expat to bring me back a BIG jar on her next visit home.

Meanwhile I consoled myself with regular recourse to the dark salty taste of miso soup.

When the news came out earlier this year that the NZ Marmite factory had been damaged by the Christchurch earthquake and that production of the great NZ breakfast spread had been interrupted, and that supplies had ceased, I rushed out and panic-bought some small expensive jars at local dairies.

I thought that I'd be OK with those few emergency stocks because the original prediction was that Marmite would be flowing again by about now. Not so.

Now my last jar is half-empty, or half-full, and there is no new Marmite on the horizon.

I have already bought a jar of the dreaded rival Vegemite, and given the dire circumstances (the prospect of Vegemite or nothing), I'm thinking that I might just have to change my allegiance.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Parihaka Day


Te Whiti Surrenders

Today I'm celebrating Parihaka Day, and there will be NO fireworks.

Cat backlog

A cat's eye moon
A spring in his step
A spring bloom in his face
Laid back
You have the blanket, I'll have the bag it came in

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Tuesday Poem: Initiation ~ Rainer Maria Rilke

Whoever you are, go out into the evening,
leaving your room, of which you know each bit;

your house is the last before the infinite,
whoever you are.
Then with your eyes that wearily
scarce lift themselves from the worn-out door-stone
slowly you raise a shadowy black tree
and fix it on the sky: slender, alone.
And you have made the world (and it shall grow
and ripen as a word, unspoken, still).
When you have grasped its meaning with your will,
then tenderly your eyes will let it go…

More Tuesday poems at the Tuesday Poem Blog.

S is for Spring - and September

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Experience necessary

No challenge left untested.
I still wonder sometimes, where did he come from?
What name did he go by before we gave him one?
What went wrong?
How did he come to be lost and far from home?
His penchant for risky behaviour no doubt got him into trouble.
Maybe he hopped into the back of a truck and was accidentally relocated?
According to a book that I was reading about Abyssinian cats, inviting one into your family is only recommended for "the experienced cat owner".
They're high maintenance. They bore easily, and love to get involved in whatever you're doing.
They will come out for a walk with you, and they'll fetch things you throw.
Dare I say it, they seem to be almost as much puppy as kitten.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Tuesday Poem: Janet Frame's birthday poem

How I Began Writing

Between myself and the pine trees on the hill
Thoughts passed, like presents. Unwrapping them, I found
words that I, not trees, knew and could afford:
lonely, sigh, night. The pines had given me
my seven-year self, but kept their own meaning in the sky.
Now, in exchange of dreams with this remote world
I still unwrap, identify the presents;
and always tired recognition gives way to hope
that soon I may find a new, a birthday shape,
a separate essence yielded without threat or deceit,
a truthful vocabulary of what is and is not.

Vowels turn like wheels: the chariot is empty.
Tall burning consonants light the deserted street.
Unwrapping the world,
unwrapping the world
where pine trees still say lonely, sigh, night, and refuse,
refuse, and their needles of deceit drop in my eyes,
I began to write.

~  Janet Frame
First published posthumously in The Goose Bath, Vintage (2006)

See a copy of Janet Frame's manuscript for this poem at An Angel @ My Blog

Visit the new Janet Frame Facebook page.

For other Tuesday Poems, visit the Tuesday Poem blog.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Storm warning

Nothing much you can do. Batten down the hatches, and brace yourself.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Night Life

Finding a possum up the walnut tree is about as exciting as the night life gets around here, usually anyway.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

"Some stories are true and some aren't..."

"That is how it is," said the lion. "Some stories are true and some aren't..."
from The Lion in the Meadow (first published 1969) by Margaret Mahy.
This book was one of my son's greatest favourites for bedtime reading.
R.I.P. the splendiferous and magical children's author Margaret Mahy who died this week age 76.

Thanks for everything Margaret. Your books will keep you alive in the hearts and imaginations of generations of kids (young and old).

Original Cover

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Get ready for the Olympics

Preparation for the Olympics (as a spectator sport) involves choosing a good vantage point.

And they're off!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

A gaze into the heart of darkness

Thanks to a recent autoimmune *flare* (pain and fatigue and what we in the business call "brain fog") I have not felt up to the likes of Proust, and I have done some escapist reading. For escapist reading substitute *genre fiction*, and in my case recently, I read several examples of the genre *homegrown NZ crime fiction*.

I do always feel a bit guilty when I stray away from literary fiction, which to my mind is the satisfying quality end of any continuum that starts at the other extreme with a derivative sausage machine piece of formulaic genre schlock intended only to amuse an airhead clutching a twenty dollar note.

I have heard one apologist for fantasy fiction (a genre I personally cannot stand) cry out repeatedly "Literary fiction is just a genre too!"

But I do not agree. Literary fiction (the best of it) stands above and apart and as a model and a standard to aspire to. It is an art form. But as I'm still not entirely well enough yet to find the words to tell you why I think this, and what especially sets it apart in my opinion, let's not argue the case right now.

However let me not disparage genre fiction - I'd be a hypocrite if I did. I have my favourite type of easy read. And anyway a fluently-written and relevant genre novel can compare well with a smug self-indulgent over-polished and drably derivative 'literary' attempt to be clever such as the writing schools tend to churn out - an exercise in having nothing much to say and saying it in a flip bored tone, no thanks!

As well as the question of quality there is of course the matter of personal taste. My tastes have changed a little over the years when I am looking for something relatively unchallenging to relax in the bath with or to keep the sun off my face when I'm lying on the beach, or to stick my nose into when I'm curled up on the sofa in front of the fire while it's snowing outside. When I was young it was either science fiction or high literature. I have never liked fantasy (not even the deified Lord of the Rings, I thought it was too badly written to enjoy reading) and I have never read a romance novel, because if I have ever attempted to I have ended up feeling slightly ill because of the fakeness of it all. And two or three examples of crossover literary historical fiction that I have read, have gotten perilously close to setting off my gag reflex on that score also.

To each their own. I went through a stage of reading a racy vampire hunter series; I must have fit the demographic. But that's over now. I now like Kiwi crime fiction, and there's nothing low rent about these books at all. The current crop I have just read were so dark, each in their own way, that I wonder if "escapist" really fits the bill. And again I am persuaded that a well-written book, especially one that catches a time and a place and that has coherence and authenticity, that's not a time waster, that's something you might learn from, that you might want to think about. As well as "enjoy" if that's really the word for being gripped by the cold fear of the dark side of human nature, and creeped out by unimaginable crimes. And challenged.

These are the three excellent books I can recommend heartily for a "good read" and for more than that too. These are not "just" genre novels. In each case I quote an excerpt from a review of the book that tends to back up this opinion.

The Faceless, Vanda Symon

"The Faceless takes readers to some pretty uncomfortable places, both in terms of story and character, and deals with some very interesting, even fairly confronting, issues: homelessness, domestic drudgery, shrivelled dreams, family violence, loyalty, grief and loss, and how we can move through life not really ‘seeing’ so many of the people that surround us." ~ Craig Sisterson

Traces of Red, Paddy Richardson

"This novel will have you questioning nice and normal; but the story’s veracity - and complexity – comes from forcing you to also reconsider “not-nice” and ”abnormal”." `~ Sue Wootton

Collecting Cooper, Paul Cleave

“A pulse-pounding serial killer thriller.... The city of Christchurch becomes a modern equivalent of James Ellroy's Los Angeles of the 1950s, a discordant symphony of violence and human weakness. Cleave tosses in a number of twists that few readers will anticipate, but the book's real power lies in the complexity of its characters, particularly the emotionally tortured Tate.” ~ Publishers Weekly