Title: Sport 28

Publication details: Fergus Barrowman, March 2002, Wellington

Part of: Sport

Conditions of use



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Sport 28: Autumn 2002

James Brown

James Brown

page 62

Family Management

Me shuckin' corn.
Mama in da kitchen.
Sister Bear out in da barn
with dat photo-grab-her.
Some things Mama 'low,
some things Mama don't 'low.
Pa long gone.
Big Joe sharpenin' dat ax.
Always a-sharpenin', never
a-choppin', says Mama.
Ain't for choppin', says Big Joe,
's for cleavyin'.
Dat's right, says I, Go Big Joe Go.
Big Joe, says Mama, you git
yoursel' to da field.
Big Joe look buggy-eyed,
but he go.
Mama she pick up dat ax hersel'
and she go out to da barn.
Den she come back to da kitchen
and she cookin' up a storm.
I's back to shuckin'
'fore she fetch me one.
Some things Mama 'low,
some things Mama don't 'low.
No sense splittin' hairs 'bout it,
like Pa.

page 63


Then you are running down the dark wet alleys
of your face, shedding difference,
something spilling or splitting
like an atom, like valencies latticing
into the altogether. Blue moon. Red shift.
Mea culpa! But does this have a name?
When it comes down to it—spelling, for example—
you've always had your own method.
He doesn't care, that's what you like about him.
It's like you know everything. Like, you know,
everything; like everything is like everything else.
On your behalf, I blame American television.
You come to: the dawn chorus is
a loop of bird calls—you think
you can make out the milky crackles.
Then it is brunchtime immediately,
because that sort of shit happens in contemporary poetry,
and you nibble what the tray provides:
The Trashmen ‘Surfin’ Bird’, measles
and buttered toast, gazing fruit.
Your back is different from your front
and you notice this fact in the looking glass.
Marked? Unfortunately you've been tarred over,
you mumble into the phone. It's beyond your control.
Mascara in all directions, mascara
down your leg. You shower.
You cry a little. You get down and beg.
Ah, but nothing is ever the same now, is it?
You swaddle yourself in red lattices
—tetrahedral, the strongest bond—skirt,
sweat top, school blazer, the old school tie.
His silk scarf. You are learning to fly.
How will you get where you are going?
How will you know till you get there?

page 64

Guilty Spaces

There are a lot of things going down
in the world right now—both good and bad—
but not a lot going down down here, Lord,
sure as I am sitting here writing this
and sure as you are sitting up there reading it
(as I know you to be doing).
But that is not to say
that a lot of things haven't happened, Lord,
that all the easy times have been nice quiet drunks,
or that a lot of things don't continue to happen,
sometimes at the stroke of a pen, oh God,
or that a lot of things won't go right on a-happening
out there beyond what it is our understanding to know.
What I am saying, Chief—with respect that you've maybe
had yourself cause to glance in my direction before—is that
this time I am truly fully sorry for all the trouble
that I know I have maybe caused.
I know it's no blame use trying to take things back,
but working hard like I done most all my life
never seems to have helped me any, and those times
sitting round idling with Old Hob ain't ended up
no Christmas neither. So what I am saying, Lord, is that
I now know I need your help to get the black Jack
out my hand for once and for all. I need you
to show me the way of accension into your house.
It ain't no use me gambling on myself.
This time I have taken the decision for real.
Lord, I just need your forgiveness and guidance
and the bounty of your ever-loving hand
to ensure safe passage. $5 oughta do it.

page 65

The Second Law (of Thermodynamics)

I plug into the Earth's resources,
bask in order spilling into chaos.

Sister Angelica says we all desire community,
a sense of connection with others.

She says the lines of communication are always open.
I try to apply myself to the problem.

But every Sunday the missionary position:
all that energy flying off into space.

Sister Angelica says we must never give in.
My struggle with entropy continues.

Conversations With Anna

He felt giddy with the ticket.
Giddy? Do you mean guilty?
No, gravity. The gravity because of the ticket.
What ticket? Did he have a bet on?
Yes, his wife was called Betty.

page 66


You are not like me. I dangle, I triple hit.
I wait on the open road until the lights go out.

I like it when my rods and cones drain colour
from the landscape. Invisibility shows how

you don't need to see everything. I don't need the light
to shine right through. Looks are overbidden

(in my humble opinion). Rain loosens the windscreen,
the tongue. I turn blind eyes. I want them

to know the world is not composed,
that its pretty face will not be recognised.