Last Stand


As the composer
of a slim volume
of obscure verse,

I have been asked
by my sponsor,
who has seen a gap
in the market
for the straightforward
expression of torment
and other tragic
manifestations of the heart,

to write a story
with blockbuster potential
about battles, wounds,
wolves trying to raise
viable cubs…

and received a bouquet
of roses and daffodils
as an inducement.

I fill a receptacle,
stir in a packet
of preserving agent,

shorten the stems
and consider

the significance
of hot house summer
and spring yellow
with evergreen foliage

in the same
persuasive arrangement.




for Bill Hastings

Would Picasso
have drawn them

thrown voice waves
and quavers
like wooden pegs
into the air,

related the central eye
and cupid mouth,

the cool green lips
of the blue face

the cheeky circle
sucking a lollipop
or smoking a pipe
with the symbol
approaching shorthand
for ‘oration’
or ‘patient’ as hair,

to such a nonchalant sash,
such an equanimous
seagull sky?



Stephanie de Montalk will be the Victoria University Writer in Residence in 2005. Her third collection of poetry, Cover Stories, will be published by VUP early next year.