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

Vincent O’Sullivan

page 40

Vincent O’Sullivan

Cigars, pinpricks, beasts of all description

What a very beautiful suit Wallace Stevens is wearing
in the photograph on the cover of Collected
Poetry and Prose. His fingers lace like a preacher’s,
a picture behind him is too blurry to examine,
he’s the dead spit of a man who sells insurance,
writes poetry quietly upstairs, his wife snips
threads in a private room a long way off.
‘We believe in miracles’ could be the title were
the photograph a painting, were it in colour instead
of 1950s black and white, and so you open
the book and there indeed it is, every skein you
imagine, the tapestry’s razzle of gold, the man
and woman chanting green worlds into being.

page 41

One version of the telling is all we’re allowed

a biography of Marianne Moore

Not easy, always,
            sharing a bed
with Mother, condescended to by
            the boys, Ezra’s
‘angel’ tossing her grain, honey-
oozing chaff:
time not the problem
exactly nor even inexactly
but space, my word!
            Under my big bad
hat my mind presumably flickers
clever birds of chat,
            doormen mouth
‘Miz’ Marianne’ at me, smiley as
‘Lordy!’ way down South.
            Do I mind?
Indeed, mind. My chapeaux
distinctive as slip-through-the-jungle
   biographers so trail, wow!
between the branches, chances,
at times as distant as a frog in France is.
            So it has to be
Mind, as mentioned, that beloved terrain.
         Where else dear reader for flourish
is that high crimson wind where feathers reign?

page 42

Seminar, late harvest

A pessimist does not tend gardens. He sits inside
and reads. Or the rare narcissistic brooder
hoes books to behave as parks, quite as
much as he can.

He had planted one book as an adolescent, another
in his twenties, by the time he was turfing at sixty
he paused to ramble, ‘It’s distressing yacker at my age.
Can we leave it there?’

But you’ve no idea the miracle even bad seed
achieves. A jungle wrangles entire sections.
By freak, multi-coloured nasturtiums
burgeon fetid dumps.

And the honest despicable frequently-affianced muddler
asks, ‘What though could I expect? The sickles
of thorn, leaves broad as dishes, who designed
this shambles? Rousseau?’

The Master of Secateurs has no time for excuses.
‘Had you asked me,’ he snips, ‘about which to attend,
what implements to assist you. But no, your sort
seldom does.’

The workmen in Victoria novels sometimes dreamed
of allotments, the duke with his Pleasure Gardens less
explicitly garnered pox. Fate, as the Master informs,
seldom sprouts in rows.