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Writing Wellington: Twenty Years of Victoria University Writing Fellows

The Relocation of Railway Hut 49

The Relocation of Railway Hut 49

Yet why shouldn't I aim with 'tender'
the best stories begin
'you're not going to believe this but'
I'm still just a taut sailor
on shore leave in life
(time to get back in the tender)
like my tempest tossed great-grandfather before me
'Tend to th' master's whistle'
two white doves flirt by the water
Heinrich Augustus and Maria Van Reepen
Barnacle Bill and the Scandinavian Princess
I couldn't either live away from
how light stirs in the surface
(time to attend to the water)
sounds bound once in the braids and weeds of seas
or how the waves wash my spring head in sun
fishscales glittering on my dead father's arms
through how may lives' gentle propulsion
his sea man ship escorted me here
(pit ease sake against sea men)
and you can see
how the pitted concrete face of the city
begins to show the short history
of an early disenchantment
(certain material securities have not stood up)
drown the books
let purpose buckle against something of no substance
the rainbows that fall into our open mouths
our legal tender of breath
(here's just a pet food kingdom)
and the kids in Fun City
aren't going to walk in one day and say
'Enough Space Invaders, it's the revolution'
(it's just a dog food factory)
page 34 it's the first few ships
Cooked Breakfast, Bad Karma and Gaga in Toto
stirring light into the water
whatever acids history serves us to fling
that I can't live away from
(imaginary mountains won't budge either)
just heave to live ear
listen see man pen meander
the moon drips light through my roof
wind croons in my ear
wherever I am there's no where to go
(chance is just another iron butterfly)

And you easy mark for the sick
vertigo of underemployed responsibility
better look out!
Know where to go!
Is the light fading
will the Cruise Ship ram the atoll
how do you read your musical watch in the dark
and what happens next?
Way out west among the black iron dunes
contenders are shooting up katipo venom—
now there's nationalism for you!
Heinrich Augustus sailed through
the Dangerous Archipelago
beneath unfamiliar stars—
hanged if he was born to drown
on an acre of barren ground.
No vertigo.
Mid ocean reek of reef
mermaid's braids uncharted smell of weed
stellar sound of grief's wreck
passion's gentle helm
'Must our mouths be cold?'

page 35

Nose to tail in the pool
the swimmers turning and turning
I enter the tainted bowl of my affections
my chemical chalice
eyes grape pulped by chlorine
Through how many lives' genital propulsion
his sea man's tender helm engendered
to end here to prosper
This line I heave to Heinrich Augustus
This mouth I warm for him

As ship-rig pilot to this harbour
that the craft not founder
as reef and bar tender I sköl him
founder of my line
disenchantment and an end of meandering
here he found her
by sea man's nurture to tend her
his delicate dove by the wind's waves
shoving moonlight up the bay
outside the door of 49
the fast clouds roar
their shadow steers the sea
I tendered for the relocation of hut 49
single men's quarters
Thorndon Quay Railway Yards
you're not going to believe this but
$50 and got it.

Outside the door of 49
will be a slender almond tree
pohutukawas will scratch the panes
Past all realism the pet food kingdoms
green ache of barren drowned
page 36 broken knowledge of disenchanter's art
grave few whirled
The nearby smokehouse leaking mists:
eels, trout, chicken
49 dim in smoke and autumn dusk
the delicate almond whirling its leaves
Ships tended for weather tides turn
keeping tides to leeward of their pick
and 49's the bower I line on
while everything under the moon swings
Heart's vanity to prosper
brave new pastoral acre
in tended 49 my praise
pilots the smoky light through pain.

6 der Fischer
Hanging today the glass door in 49
Heinrich Augustus born in 1840
balance and an easy swing out
spliced his own tackle with a sewing needle
light casting its lures in
fouled the line and plunged in after it
sound of rain squall on the pane
double pneumonia in Blenheim in 1916
jammed any door I ever tried to hang
appropriate death for an old sea man
balance and illumination I can't do it
only thing missing was salt in the water
tomorrow, windows

Disenchanted city of few lights and less music
stand by pilot for ship rig
these clear stars of an Indian summer
one border your breath won't passport
harbour night watch man later
here in the dark no man's land
you draw breath like credit
how long can that last?
page 37 Steered clear of the army
ran to sea at fourteen and never been home
tending the tension right on pension night
schnapps intoning enlightenment
how much equity left in your barren domes
or hope in your heart pumping its orders?
My glittering dead father now
watch man pilot on his own death ship
remembered Heinrich's lone order and schnapps
'above all I respect his memory'
and all unnoticed by those armies
camped among their dazzling constellations.
Unnoticed Heinrich intoning Goethe
light entertainment
between their watch towers
the wasteful panting of your lover's breath
Hello goodbye I'm here I'm gone hello.

By the brave sail to prosper
on the strange sixth hour down under
drinking the new autumn air before me
amazing kitchenettes all sun set kissed
discover the world lovers at play
past all real ache men trod.
Spitting seeds from hut 49
orange's sweet cold cramps
sun kissed and tempest tossed
my little residence my making sense
the only conclusions ever reached
just heave to live there.