Sport 32: Summer 2004
New Zealand is the Saudi Arabia of milk
said the taxi driver.
When I came back I just about kissed
the green grass.
He had driven trucks in America
the whole place has got wheels
it takes twelve hours to drive across Texas.
In the back seat I was experiencing a top ten hangover,
had stumbled in the air bridge when boarding.
Oh, America I said.
The Waikato was going past
its roadside grass
its bridges and signs and fences.
The thing is, he confided, experience.
Experience will always beat the young fullas.
In America New Zealand is like Fiji is to us.
The little house grew near. We passed the massive tree
with its dappled bark, we passed the KFC.
At the end of my street you could almost cry to see the trees
that reached across and touched in the middle
and the tiny lawn the size of a pair of sheets.
Here you go he said, we happen to be a nation
that has carried out a lot of its history in sheds.
I thought I saw a bride
it was the hotel waitress
a white tablecloth.
The hotel in Bahrain has a twelve-storey atrium.
The Ambassador Suite is quite unique
and there is gold thread
woven in the carpets.
Remember when we stayed in luxury?
There was no cutlery
so we ate our curry with teaspoons
from a saucer.
We stripped the bed of its many cushions
and closed the three curtains,
the soundproof, the net
and the heavy velvet.
What could be more luxurious
than to lie in the dark
in the daylight
watched only by the red numbers of the clock.
You switched the music on
in the bathroom
where there was also a phone
by the toilet
à la Elvis
I was singing Careless Whisper
by George Michael
The best thing about the luxury hotel
the most unique
was how we came down in the lift from our bed
to the bar
as the doors opened the crowd buzzed
like an audience
and we stepped out
as if into a gameshow
the tall chairs and tables
the people spinning in the bowls of their glasses
the mirrors and mirrors inside mirrors
and above them all the golden lightbulbs
like so many heatlamps
keeping our faces warm.
In the bin of the wheelchair toilet
a pair of striped underpants soaked through
with blood and when I touch the white square
of the flush button it bears a bloody fingerprint
as a stamp bears the face of the Queen
right at the centre.
Last night I dreamed of war and libraries.
From where the books waited in their plastic
I escaped and found soldiers, dressed in white sheets.
Only the eyes of one moved
the others were saturated in the blood of their entry
and exit wounds. The bullet passes through the body
as a building.
When I woke I found myself one of two
rushing quietly with veins
and by the bed that manilla folder that says
BACKROADS which I never open.
The Baku is the animal that eats nightmares
but ours are travelling like lonely salesmen
looking for a bar to take them in.