Valium, Van
Morrison, meat
pies for breakfast.

There were fireworks,
amphetamines, Pat Hanly posters.
There were barbecues on beaches,
parties in flats and taupata backyards,
humid nights in gardens with lions and hyenas.


Listen. I once pissed in a jukebox.

On and into a jukebox.
Fusing the machine but escaping
electrocution and death.

Listen. I swallowed LSD a time, or two.
Swallowed LSD and utterly hated
the whole fucked-up nowhere
mess of an experience.

My first job
was in a freight yard.
I stood in a railway wagon and wrangled
crates cartons new-minted tyres,
swishing off the backs of trucks they came,
it was like a sweaty shift
at some mechanical beach.
As I walked to the pub after work,
I’d feel a pleasant muscular fatigue,
the hairs on my forearms would seem more numerous.
And then there’d be the faces in the bar,
the denimed shoulders downy Tudor beards,
we were gardeners postmen dusties window cleaners,
we were urban hippies cool the best of us,
over-educated and sexually generous.
Not that I was all that keen on dope,
I never much cared for the weed,
it didn’t do for me what I wanted done.
My fondness was for alcohol, I went to alcohol
as to a bride, oh ours was a white a mystical
communion. If I relished the cordialities
of the watering-hole, the binding sacraments
of the communal well, it was ethanol itself
that infatuated me.

It completed and
perfected me yes sir.
It drugged me with
its druggiest of sweets.

Disassembling a Vacuum Cleaner

When he rings me up 
to rail against Them, 
he really means to rail against me. 
I marvel at his fragrance. 
I’m awed by his performance, 
so orotund and bogus. The huge shell 
he’s built for himself over so many years. 
The huge baroque carapace 
he totters about beneath. 
I found an attractive machine 
and bought it for its colours 
(a sooty sort of grey and an ice-creamy purple), 
but the thing has secret filters 
it’s impossible to find much less replace. 
This is the way to write but not really. 
I’ve a hand that’s been old for ages. 
Wasted, elongated, glossy, 
I got it in a fight with an Australian gunman. 
Soon, all the rest of me will be old too, 
and I’ll hate it as I hate my hand. 
Has it been my actual experience 
that bullies are cowards? No. 

Listen to Geoff Cochrane read ‘Disassembling a Vacuum Cleaner


Geoff Cochrane is a Wellingtonian. Victoria University Press will publish Pocket Edition, a new book of his verse, in 2009.