Title: Sport 16

Publication details: Fergus Barrowman, March 1996, Wellington

Part of: Sport

Conditions of use



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Sport 16: Autumn 1996

Geoff Cochrane

page 15

Geoff Cochrane


I hunger like an invalid and grasp
and name the things I grasp.

This is a soap
and this a bar of hair.

I shave my half a face.

The wind has gifts in it,
coarse stars like sand.

In a Library

A kind of temperance
attends inaction.

In fragrant air expelled
from hidden vents,
I might be a man new to amnesia,
a tidy man bemused
by the neatness of his things,
their meanings now remote.

page 16

An Afternoon in March

A woman I like
is dying of jaundice.
There is no preparing oneself
for her actual colour.
Her room is filled
with a sugary scent,
that of a flower
nature has yet to invent.
Being someone at the centre
of a great deal of stillness,
she says nothing.
She moves her jaw like a mongol
as if she knows me slightly.

When I am dying
I don’t want a circus,
perhaps just some calm
and good-looking stranger.

page 17

An Introduction to Silence

My wakefulness should not
be taken for comprehension.

Sounds fail to carry
which do not love themselves.

It is left to the purely inhuman
to thus gulp and tinkle,

but who can doubt that the rain
knows what its murmur means?

Cities have become
the scrupulous meters of night,

but morning, morning is here
like something fallen or spilt.

page 18

Black Holes

Whenever I feel a cold rain on my cheeks
And look from a place of shelter at the harbour,
Its surface poisoned by a winter twilight,
I think of a man who died.

I recall his life and what he was studying
When he turned a rifle around to face himself,
Put the small black hole of its muzzle in his mouth
And contrived a way to fire.

I remember a book he owned and a room he had
And sleet in spates against the grey window
On a Sunday when the gloom between us darkened
Till I could not see his face.

page 19


My doctor has explained
that for years Churchill couldn’t
or wouldn’t sleep at all
except in startling bursts
of a few seconds duration.

In order to take them
just as directed,
I must first physically count
all hundred and ninety-six pills.

Then the fridge packs up
with a shuddery anal wheeze,

Once I was stung on the lip
by a radioactive bee,
once when shifting a wardrobe
I swallowed a wasp,
and once a strange girl
tried to bite my tongue off
when I kissed her.

I think of Tycho de Brahe,
fastidious Danish atronomer,
who wore a golden mask
and fumed through it.