Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Vol. 37, No 21. August 28, 1974
"Slept in your arms on Pohutakawa tree. Heme Bay, lushed on wine — cock out — dreaming for a fuck up — Woke in the boot of my v-8, that trusty graveyard friend on credit to demons — is this really the 20th century?"
Yes it is; Ponsonby, Grafton, Parnell, Grey Lynn, Boyle Crescent — the dirty side of Auckland, but also of every city; the life that begins at 3am and ends only when the vein gives out. Or in a black-and-red wreck, as in 'A v-8 Poem for Chris Howard'.
In 'Freeway' and other poems. Olds doesn't so much give us the poet's vision as the eye's sight, whether frenzied or simple, the lines are vividly descriptive. Language in 'Freeway' is fresh and often strikingly new. The uncompromising use of 'cock', 'prick' and 'cunt' make the landscape more familiar, while the drug spiel and jargon gives access to a world that is for most of us both repelling and enchanting. 'Freeway' itself:
3am the dead hour begins,
the bells banged by the black angel
of Nembutal. Murder Mile! Murder Mile!
"In Kingseat Villa 4,
I withdraw for the 10th time
The alcoholics wear the wooden floors down till their knees bleed."
"Alone at last with my friendly friend Paranoia we dance
before the wandering wind finally dies."
"15 & ugly
cars, drug-fumes are out,
a place in the city?
no, she's too ugly."
Finally for Olds, 'Freeway' is 'a technological mistake': society's ("the 99 point 9 who don't understand") final solution to the few — Midnight Queen, Lady Moss, Eagle Angel, Nutmeg and Marie — who pop phensedyl, coedine and mandrake without prescription or care. The underworld-of-the-few that is described for us as vital and true in this mostly-excellent collection of poems. For Olds there is a sense of loss:
......I cried 'where have
all the mothers gone
who swept blood, piss, laughter, gin,
vomit, tears, broken noses, joy
from gutter to new freeway & clay?'
"we crawled under a Freeman's Bay house & loved —
one eye on the howling road —
the other on the shoulder of Freeway.