Title: Sport 43: 2015

Editor: Fergus Barrowman

Publication details: Fergus Barrowman, 2015, Wellington

Part of: Sport

Conditions of use



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Sport 43: 2015

James Brown

page 35

James Brown


He was not much on the beat.
She did not know what to do with her
hands. His arms had two left feet.
Her body made a kind of sporadic motion
as if connected to something going on
elsewhere—maybe someone learning to
t y p e?
His face was a confusion of anxiety
—where are you supposed to look when you dance?
For a gap, a silence, in which your movements
can be unnoticeably your own
and you can sit down
you’ve got the chance.

page 36

Our Life Story

It was like we were starting over,
which we always were.
Smiles can be so misleading,
I realised in the Hall of Mirrors.
And luck. I threw a wet sponge

into the open mouth
of a mechanical clown.
Then we had to lug the soft toy,
which was no animal I recognised,
onto the Ferris wheel.

That’s where we named it.
The city lights looked so cool
and the fairground noise swivelled
up to us with such a marvellous sadness.
Everything was up for grabs.

Somehow, when we were trying to kiss,
Ferris went over the side.
He bounced once or twice
into the darkness and disappeared.
And that’s our life story.

page 37


It is so quiet in the room,
which is why you are talking.
If writing is talking.
Are words still sounds
when you read them in your head?
‘Feather’ brushes with its
soft consonants, but
not everyone’s ticklish.
Maybe you can move a feather
up her calf muscle
until she gives a little moo.
Happiness is not a thing
in itself, it’s a by-product.
The world is so fragmented.
Even your emotions lead
their own lives. These days
you rarely manage dinner together.
When you do, your emotions
grin madly while masking
well, you should know,
they’re your emotions.
Neither of you is in control.
They want you to
lean in and
kiss her
edible mouth.
It would be so
easy. Impossible.
Oh, the power of circumstance.
Oh, its mercy.

page 38

The Hibiscus Route

The natterjacks creaked
all the livelong night. Dawn
—black to purple to yellow—
was the compressed lifespan

of a bruise. We picked our way along
the sand, took the river route
inland. You slipped on your bum.
The flecks of gold in your eyes

glowed slightly mad, were
maddening, drove me crazy.
You returned from ‘the bathroom’
swinging the folding shovel,

pointed me away so you could
bathe beneath the waterfall.
Over 50 species of hibiscus blared
their colouring competition.

You preferred felt tips; I,
the softness of coloured pencils.
The awkward crayoned entries faded,
like our home lives, into the background.

We identified three new species:
lividus, purpureus, fulvous.
Back home, our partners tossed
and turned, lay fallow.

page 39

Your bruise was somewhere
between purple and yellow. Then
the funding dried up and that
was the end of the project.


for Andrew Johnston

The bike says ‘hyacinth’
and the chain comes off.

Then it clicks
through the gears

—hibiscus, hibiscus, hibiscus—
and you fly

across the cattlestop

and you’re home.
Your home. Home.