Lone Kauri (reprise)
the waves which register the lunatic sense
it is all well beyond us. Our flooded nature
its measures down some lone goat-track,
works up some incorrigible reprise
striking itself out of true on the table
of the elements. But blow, burn, break
look like this, the flailing, the flensing of waves
and the breath knocked into you, the haul
the morning. Forgive my making light of
the glass half-empty and you weighing up the dregs;
awakening to children’s voices, the night-
time true underfoot, who hears their laughter
fennel is legion, rank beside the lines,
which shimmer, robing the air in a ferrous stink.
Flowchart rampant! The stalk, and then the branchings,
mnemonic of throughput and outcome, of progress
and its needling filiform leaf, the scent so hard
to shake. Do not consider the flowers, the seed
falling across the sleepers. There, sudden
between the tracks, a penetrative, metro-
nomic knocking from a torso-like box,
locked and knocking in the valley of your childhood.
O dark kernel, o burr of ambition,
remember the boy in his switch-flicking trance
in love not with the light, but with the switching.
There’s one straight out of the box
we are monads, haunted by communion—George Steiner
Stalled. I have been here before—the door
jars, jacks brittle against the frame,
the latch tacky with shed life; and then, before
was indistinct, of no moment, the same
squared-off address of flashings and vitreous bowl,
an unfocussed grey of tiles and melamine
strict about the flush, cyclopic control
and confessional; so much slips my mind.
I dangle myself absently over the flow,
hear the shuffle and held breath behind
the partition, and try to feel elsewhere.
There, cramped in the grouting, the small hand
of diminished hope: I was here.
Up above my head there’s music in the air,
emoting and riffs ecstatic, a levity
of unsensing. You may not inquire
of this; flush-mounted in the cavity,
it gasses sweetly as a smoked hive,
while the pressure drops and all amity
is let go for the stacked groove,
glottal coagulate, a geist-heist
tendering: desire becomes us. Wave
at the sensor. So much passes for protest,
begs the question: wherefore fullness, and thanks—
where is the love? We long to rest,
loosely shackled in our downed pants.
It’s reassuring to suppose that beyond
this is another much the same,
that what we have and give in common
is a faced and floating panelling—axiom
of our lately closed circuit, it will trump
neighbourliness, the open, cupped palm,
dam us in a right to do: we jump
at the latch fumble, I’m in here!
i.e. piss off! Ach, we do not make up
the world, truly—your suspended enclosure
is not the henceforth longed for!
Sit still: feet at the door, the knock, and you’re
caught in the one-two altogether!
Once open, the door is beside the point, the point
yes, now there’s one straight out of the box,
a notion worth a line or two on
grouting, say, or the Kelburn church wall—
God does not live in boxes—amen
to that brother, and as for us, all
our constructs might flat-pack it off, we lose
our thrones as the sky grows tall, forsake the cubicle
for an opened upper room. And there’s grace:
not to be going out or coming in
but set in the threshold, your solar plexus rise
and fall in step with all who are undone.
Listen to John Dennison read ‘There’s one straight out of the box‘
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
John Dennison was born in Sydney in 1978, and grew up in Tawa, New Zealand. He has lived and studied in Dunedin and St Andrews, Scotland, and now lives with his family in Wellington, where he is a university chaplain. His poems have appeared in magazines both in the UK and in New Zealand and Australia, and were anthologised in Carcanet’s New Poetries V (2011). His first collection, Otherwise, will be published by Carcanet and Auckland University Press in 2015.