Inside out

Some poems and reflections on life

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The gate

The silent sentinel
Entrance abandoned to
a forgotten destination

Rust binds metal to post
barricaded against the onset
of rampant growth

Who was it that once lived here?
running excitedly to check the mail
collecting fresh morning milk
cream clotting on the top
trudging home weary from the day
glad to see the sight of home

Now coprosma and hebe crowd the path
Burying it under a litter of leaves
Fantails swoop in the cooling evening
People drive by unseeing

No one will come this way again
But still you stand
the silent sentinel


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To escape your love

Sand shifts under my toes
Waves crash over each other
Racing to knock me down
Tide sucks me under

I race for the mountain top
to escape the wrath of your love
climbing higher than ever
to find myself
at the bottom of the abyss

Fog swirls envelop me
in quicksand sinking down
in my own shit up to my navel
where I gaze wondering
if I am to be eaten alive

Sinking down in ooze
I fall freely through time and space
landing in soft cushions of dust
scattering into clouds
shooting up my nose …

I sneeze … Tihei

I live … Mauri ora.



Hitching up to the train again

It has been over a year since I last contributed to the Monday Poetry Train. I have written this piece on the theme of rejoining the train. It includes some memories of India Rail journies that came as I wrote it. Please do add on your own “thought carriages” in the comments.

Hitching up to the train again;
a gypsy carriage, bright flowers adorn the sides
a dog sits on the back porch, watching the world fly by
inside, a quiet old man contemplates the word.

Hitching up to the train again;
putting time aside each day
to write, to rite, to right the wrong,
no wrong time to write.

Hitching up to the train again;
to see where it will go
into what new lands of imagination
will this journey take us?

Hitching up to the train again;
2nd class sleeper, crammed to overflowing
a man sells massages for 10 rupees
skinny white guy gets pummelled to everyones’ amusement.

Hitching up to the train again;
heat penetrates the carriage from every side
stiffling all conversation and activity
the oven is on the outside.

Hitching up to the train again;
1st class sleeper
family ignores the foreign presence
girl begs for money at the window, left over meal highlights her day.

Come on and hitch up to the train again!
Lets go along for the ride
Leave the comfort of this go-nowhere-fast life
And see what is around the corner.


getting home

Jesus Joseph John finished work for the day
and wandered back home in his usual way;
He searched for some answer,
trying to understand,
why his life was flowing
through his fingers like sand.

Jesus Joseph John sat in the bar
drinking his beer and hadn’t got far;
Watching  the news
on the big screen TV,
sitting in his corner,
huddled reclusively.

Jesus Joseph John rose with a heave,
no-one there noticed him leave;
He staggered down the road
all on his own,
A fist hit his gut
and he fell with a moan.

Jesus Joseph John got up in a daze
and sung to himself, his mind in a haze;
The kids hanging out
followed him right down the street,
dancing and chanting
and tripping his feet.

Jesus Joseph John fell in the drain
threw up his lunch, his head full of pain;
A woman stopped by,
and came to his aid:
wiping his brow and
to home he was bade.

Jesus Joseph John staggered on up the road
and gradually in his tiredness slowed;
He collapsed in a doorway
and fell there asleep,
in his dreams he was shaken
which troubled him deep.

In the growing dawn light
He awoke to the day;
A new chance to see
If he could find his own way.

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The track came to an end by the beach and turned into a sandy path through the dune grasses. I carried on across the dunes. The bay, not so far from the city, felt lonely and isolated. The sea crashed in on the rocks. No sign of human habitation was present.

The track dipped down to the rocky shore and crossed a small sandy stream. The waves washed gently into the mouth of the stream, pushing against the current.  I started to cross the stream. My feet stuck in the soft bottom. I couldn’t move. The waves came further up the stream, the tide gradually rising. I was stuck fast as the water grew higher and higher.

Photo by Jamie Lawrie

Photo by Jamie Lawrie

The waves were getting higher and I was sinking deeper. The water was soon up to my neck, with waves about to crash over my head. A wave caught me on the face, warm and wet, licking me from mouth to nose, smelling on stale breath.

Jessie stood, paws on the side of the bed, trying to wake me. I rolled over to try to sleep again, but she pushed at my back, whimpering. Reluctantly, I got up and pulled on my sweats and trainers and took her out for her morning walk.

The dim dawn light hardly penetrated the autumn fog, shrouding the hills. We wanted down the path through the trees, not seeing more than three or four feet in front of us. The branches hung ghost-like in the misty air. Damp drops clung to the ends and dripped on our heads. The birds were slowly waking up, their songs muffled in the misty morning.

Suddenly, it ran across the track. Furry, white, brilliant and shining with iridescence. Jessie took chase, pulling the lead from my hand. I called, “Stop, Jessie! Come back!” But it was no use, she was off, disappearing through the undergrowth. A flash of light, an electric crackling in the air and Jessie yelped in pain. Moments later she limped back, a dark ring singed around her neck.

I sit now at my desk. The vet found nothing wrong with Jessie, other than singed fur. I am trying to work out where to find the money for the bill. The throbbing in the back of my head is getting worse. Strange lights play around the edge of my vision. The world has suddenly gone quiet.


The river writes her name

The river writes her name in the land
Claiming her course across the plains;
Uncooperative and temperamental
Opposing all efforts to conform.

“We tried shoring up the banks with
some old cars a few
years ago — didn’t work too well,

We’ve had two 50-year floods this
year alone, you know … “

The river tears the rotting metal from her banks
Resisting constraint and throwing jagged
waste to sandy shore where feet bleed out;
She spills where she meets resistance
Recreating her name from mountain to sea.

© 2009, David Earle.


The Beach Is A Road

Peace, harmony, seaside
village shelters behind
wild dunes while
rugged, wild surf
pounds the beach sand
road to flatness.

Drive forever down the sand
to a destination never
reached through
hazy mist and rolling
cloud stirred by
a troubled sea

Next town shelters behind
the dunes
in careful order arranged
with store, garage and camping

The sign at Himitangi Beach (north of Wellington) states “The Beach Is A Road”. The beach road goes south to Foxton and north to Tangimoana. As in the previous poem, I am trying to capture the difference between the wild of the ocean and the constructed tidiness of the beach towns.

© David Earle, 2009.

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Crossing over

Swimming through cold ocean
muscles cramping painful tired
Crawling over rough rocks and
tide pools to find the
Path into a suburban

Next bus leaves at 3.30pm.

If you stand on the south coast of Wellington, you can look one way out into the southern ocean and then turn around to see the suburban edge of the city. I have never swum Cook Strait, but a number of people have. This poem attempts to capture the disjunction between open ocean and city life and the feeling of moving from the dangerous and unfamiliar to the safe and familiar.

© David Earle, 2009.