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Writing Wellington: Twenty Years of Victoria University Writing Fellows

No Nostalgia on This Site

page 17

No Nostalgia on This Site

The professor in retirement constructed an aviary
which he filled with birds of diverse
plumage, cordant and discordant com-
municative systems, with habits, one or two,

of droll sibilant mimicry, all eager
for the palm dispensing top-quality seed
as classes once had been, their essays
fanned in his hand; each bird nomenclatured

from the classics of his hey-day, Desdemona
a canary of particular plangency, Burns
a Scots cock after more than his share,
Ezra, rifling at other avine nests.

Yet the teacher famous for capacious wells
of ready quotation declined, alas,
swiftly forgetting their names, then the birds
themselves. Within weeks the fluent

rainbows, ethereal shimmers,
mulched sloppy brilliance in random
corners—does one need to describe it?
Nurse said how he perked some days,

grinned at a quick blur high up,
was inclined to talk peculiar. To which
his wife said, 'Yes, poetry. He always has.'
Quaintly his mind closed down, like a parrot

under its hood. Well, there's nothing
nice about this story, the widow's house
razed for quick investment, the bull-
dozer grossly demolishing the lot,

so that weeks before term a disco
rises, The Shagged Phoenix, students asking
'Who? Old what's it?', even the young
S/M professor they fall for, cool as,

not a discourse he couldn't plait through
discursive octaves, semantic conundra
descanted on at the drop of whatever. Yet lo!
how a hyped dude carries in from a scrap

page 18

of surviving garden a feather the size
of a thumb so it's like his thumb's on fire.
On the beak of a stuffed toucan someone
smartly graffiting, Entropy, Right On!