Title: Sport 42: 2014

Editor: Fergus Barrowman

Publication details: Fergus Barrowman, 2014, Wellington

Part of: Sport

Conditions of use



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Sport 42: 2014

James Brown

page 134

James Brown

The Brown Wiggle

Actually, he was the founding member,
waking his flatmate Jeff to accompany him
at a Playcentre Christmas show.
They gigged a couple more times as a duo
before Jeff invited in some mates
from his old band The Cockroaches.

Artistic differences began immediately.
The Brown Wiggle’s schtick—the klutz,
always falling over and banging into stuff—
was thought discouraging for young children.
His colour was also deemed
insufficiently uplifting.

Still, he didn’t mind
being relegated to backing the band
off-stage in the wings. He played
everything everyone else didn’t.
In the studio, his guitar takes were
quietly preferred to Murray’s.

In videos, he was Captain Feathersword,
Dorothy the Dinosaur or Henry the Octopus
as required. His own creations—Irwin Stingray,
Chopper the Croc, and Extra Leg Rolf—
never left the white board. But perhaps
his greatest contribution was as lyricist,

page 135 for which he was never fairly credited.
Some CD booklets contain his original
‘Yummy Mummy’ chorus to the fruit salad
classic. He left the group in 2012, claiming
he’d fired the other four members,
and carried on as The Brown Wiggle.

The courts didn’t have a bar of it.
But you can still hear him busking in far-flung malls,
belting out his curve-ball compositions
to small, appreciative crowds who know
what it’s like to throw a few shapes
without shaking their sillies out.

page 136

My Body is a Snowdome

My body is shutting down.
When I open the fridge, I no longer feel
the cold air flowing
onto my feet.

I wear my hat and scarf to bed.
Somewhere, through the thick drifts,
my grandchildren lie cocooned
in their blankets.

I am pushing 70, and I may not
be quick enough
to reach them. By the time I get there,
they could be gone. I call

through the worsening weather
for them to hold on, hold on, I’ll soon be there,
but I’m not sure they can hear me, so
I plough on, toward the youngest’s room first,

which used to be around here somewhere,
under these piles of clothes she has dropped
for me to gather. She hasn’t taken
her hat and scarf—she’ll freeze.

It is so cold. You need a hat and scarf
to keep you warm when you are alone
and lost in the snow and deepening silence
and far-off a voice is calling to you

‘Grandad? Are you all right?’

page 137

Erotic Snowdome

The water’s glitter is awkwardly real.
We lie on the plastic island with single palm tree
ready to copulate heedlessly, except that
everything is swimming in golden dandruff.

It speckles nipples, napes and crevices, turning
kissing into a tongueful of tealeaves.
My penis glistens with veins of fool’s gold
and I worry about the glints under my foreskin,

which bring to mind, unhelpfully, some dickhead
saying, when we were lined up at a urinal,
‘You flashy Jewish buggers wouldn’t give up, eh?’
Your vagina has never looked so disco,

but you too worry about the inside flecks
and recount, unhelpfully, the story of a woman
who gave herself a quick flannel wipe
before going for a smear test.

She was puzzled when the doctor said
‘You needn’t have gone to so much trouble,’
before discovering, later, that her kids
had used the flannel to mop up glitter.

By this stage we’re sitting apart
blinking sparkles from our eyes
like an old Midas couple, our twinkling
assets brilliantly untouchable.

page 138

Beyond Red Rocks

Cook Strait swells and falls up the stones.
I lower my bike and sit down. I remove my helmet,
gloves, and watch (with today’s Tip Track time).
Then my shoes and socks. Then I strip down
to my bike shorts and wade in.
It is so cold I don’t really feel anything.
But I am sizzling from my ride, so wade to my
waist, at which point the shelf slips away.
I get my arms in and splash my front and face.
I’m not a plunger—I like to warn my body.
I hesitate, shudder, then dive and swim
a few strokes underwater horizontal
to the shore. I stand up and it is
definitely warmer out of the water.
On sunny days I breaststroke out a bit,
lie on my back. But I don’t go out of the cove.
There’s a seal colony and I worry
about sharks. I dive under four times.
Then I sit on the warm stones to dry for a bit.
I stare at the sea: fishing boats, the ubiquitous ferry.
I remember showing P--- this ride.
He said it was ‘very intense’ for him.
I hadn’t started swimming here then.
A few years later he came out to me
at the bottom of Possum Bait Line.
It was spring and the foxgloves were out.
It was very beautiful. I thought about his penis;
what it would be like to suck.
Cycling tends to shrivel your penis.
Swimming in Cook Strait also.
I wonder if I am gay. I pull my top over my
wet skin because everything will soon dry,
except my cycle shorts, which will stay wet
and salty until I get home in half an hour.

page 139

White Hart Lane

That Katherine Mansfield liked
‘the Tottenham-Hotspurs’ makes perfect sense.
She was, after all, a modern, progressive girl
much interested in tactical intricacies.
On the terraces, her small body pushes into mine.
We share a sharp intake of breath
as the ball skitters over the crossbar.
Spurs’ defenders, she tells me, are quick,
but not always able to foresee developing attacks,
making them vulnerable to salvos from the diagonal.
Her hair is damp with rain and she is shivering,
but at the next exquisite Spurs’ exchange
she turns and kisses my cheek, her lips
deadly beneath the fizzing floodlights.

page 140


A long day, a short week.
You consider a road map of track-changes
and comments. You love comments.
Louis comes by. ‘Are you
batting your eyelashes at me?’
he says. Nick comes by.
‘So this is where rumours start,’ he says.
You study your collection of pencils.
How do you say Staedtler? You use your
bicultural pencil sharpener from Paora.
You draw a line. Soon it is a coastline,
with waves against a rocky shore.
Jenny Bornholdt is probably there
somewhere. Trees appear
and a cosy hut, but no people
because you can’t figure people.
Rebecca comes by.
‘I thought that noise
was you sleeping,’ she says.
It’s Nina’s three-year-old, Ned, deep
in his pushchair. His sound-asleep
sounds sound like waves
summing up a headland.
You need the toilet, so you add
a water tank. What’s that about?
Someone has written something
in the sand. It was there before
the beach covered it up,
before the sketchy flax
engulfed the foreground.
Fall of Aztecs writer to L for Aus.
What means this infernal code?
A message from the gods?
A clue to a crime
page 141 not yet committed?
Your eyes search the screen’s oceans.
Your fingers fumble for the keys.
Something locks or unlocks.
Shades of brightness; hands
clapping in a gorge.
No, they are butterflies, butterflies
wagging like fingers, like
files queued for deletion.
Their wings murmur in tongues
—thrumming from a womb.
Oh, the beautiful pregnant globe,
its terrains glistening with gel.
You adjust the listening device
until the heartbeats come in unison.
Wow. The whole world is in time!
Its pulse is ready to be born!
Wait, it’s not a pulse, it’s the phone.
Kia ora. Louis! [Flutter] Of course
I can send you the file. Now?
You put down your pencil. Your hands
open their wings.