Title: Sport 12

Publication details: Fergus Barrowman, March 1994, Wellington

Part of: Sport

Conditions of use



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Sport 12: Autumn 1994

Sudesh Mishra

page 54

Sudesh Mishra

Under Neruda

The poet cannot be afraid of the people. —Memoirs

And today my mind’s full of you, Kavi,
Not for any reason in
Particular but because … because all
Night I have lived in sin,
A wild genital fire charring a forest of lovers,
A dream that old divers
Insist augurs death:
The pricked bubble, the bruising ocean,
The cessation of breath.

And have changed nothing in the world but a few verses
That the poor, quite rightly,
Ignore: for these are not in their language
Nor about them: you see
I cannot boil my shlokas to your lava-pitch,
Raise beggars from the ditch,
Arm them with a pride
That’ll pause for neither man nor treaty
Till they measure our stride,

Or we measure theirs in seraphic supermarkets
Where each trolley chooses
Its own millenium as we trundle
Down an aisle banked with roses,
Crooning shanties from one or another reef,
Yet never profaning the brief
Of a species that can make
A difference to this injured earth,
If only for its own sake.

page 55

All night they broke containers on our wharves,
The muscular stevedores;
At daybreak the spidery cranes folded
Their proboscis, and the laws
Of trade saw the Tasman Asia drifting out to sea,
Taking the ten and three
Containers of whatever
It is we export, leaving behind
A city the size of Java

Constructed from metal dominoes, populated
By crates of caviar, claret,
Fleets of Reebok, celestial Toyotas,
Dyes the colour of carrot
And a thousand Bibles, Billy Graham’s Version,
To supplement their vision
Of the peasant’s official diet
Of bele and dalo and third-grade tea.
O to keep out the light!

Shyar, I must shed this bourgeois vestment
If the slums are to shrink,
If we’re to walk with the shoeless
Shoe-maker to the brink
Of a valley that is the underside of capital,
Where a petal’s a petal
And not commodity,
And the earth praises us, its creatures,
And life’s sweet as lychee.

page 56

no one

rode someone’s pet jaguar
through a jungle of glass
startling searchlights
roving across commodities
set adrift like driftwood
in blue orbits of light

this happened in someone’s
street in someone’s suburb

brought before a tribunal
showed no will to remorse
your golf-course, no one thought
but this thought was never
aired for lack of airspace
and the risk to lunchbreak

this happened in someone’s
street in someone’s suburb

taken away in a van looking
much like a milkvan, by men
looking much like breadmen,
to a citadel of ethics where
forever he plays saviour
to the lepers in his brain

this happened in no one’s
street in no one’s suburb