Title: Sport 12

Publication details: Fergus Barrowman, March 1994, Wellington

Part of: Sport

Conditions of use



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Sport 12: Autumn 1994

Kendrick Smithyman

page 149

Kendrick Smithyman

Private Eyes

The black bug shines. We hear this
on good authority: ‘A shiny black bug
with a pink head’ is crawling slowly
on a desk top. The desk is old,
also scarred. Soon the bug will walk
off the top of the desk falling
to the linoleum which is old,
also scarred, something we have to guess.
It lies on its back and waves frail legs,
for a minute or two it then plays dead,
but heave-ho! it’s over and makes for
what will be a far corner of the room.
John Dalmas watches the bug having
at present nothing much else to do.

‘A shiny black bug with a pink head
and pink spots on it’ crawls slowly across
the top of a desk. This desk is polished.
The bug wobbles like ‘an old woman
carrying too many parcels’. The first bug
was like ‘an old lady with too many’.
Legs of both are few, thin, and worn.
The legs are for waving feebly. Wave,
and play dead. Then wave again, heave
over, now make for some far corner.
Nobody cares. The bug moves
towards nothing, goes nowhere, observed
by Philip Marlowe, a good observer.
page 150 The bug’s got it wrong, sore feet perhaps?
Or, a fall, tries two corners and a third.
It looks ‘disconsolate’. Marlowe picks him—
him?—up. Farewell, my lovely old
woman or old lady-like, this is man
to man stuff. Marlowe takes the bug
in his hanky, he rides the elevator down
eighteen floors, out of City Rall,
some steps, some flower beds, puts the bug
‘carefully behind a bush’. Marlowe,
a white knight, so much more going for him
solves problems which bug other people.

Forgive me, having my own problems.
A tea tree jack, that’s my present case.
He (if a him) is set to fall again
off few, thin, likely worn out legs.
He has been set up right. Been taken
outside. Returns. Falls, is good at
playing dead. Not much else to do.

page 151

If I Stepped Outside, in May ‘93

If I stepped outside there would be no light to surprise my
body making demands.
Without given notice rain surprises, rain tilts headlong
into fall, past rata, past silvery gum, oleander, Norfolk pine,
a few minutes filling spaces which may wait on apology;
they want light at the moment.

I crouch in my cave
under the house, basement solitary, anachronist
on the look out. It cannot be like this downtown in the city:
mirrorglass towers squinting all ways into themselves
discover they are heartless, at best coldhearted
never forthright, only arrogant. Darkness at noon.

Who will expect a veil of a temple to be rent
and the money makers driven out? Showers lacking any winds
to play at motives

give up and go away. We simply guess at what happens
between one investment opportunity and its others
as their murk, pulsing, stands brightened.
Market reports are broadcast, stocks look good
for those with a knowledgeable eye. Nothing goes
visibly traded between pine, lemon, and silver dollar.
When I go outside light flows, pure enterprise.