Happy New Year


Have a good New Year? asks Charlie in the butchery 
whistling, slices strokes with his knife 
clean as water, stripping fat from muscle 
cutting away from his chain-mail glove. 

I like to see real work, the carcase hooked 
and hanging open mouthed 
the moulded sides cased in fat: a rack of statues, 
smell hardening hour by hour. 

I played pool and smoked and drank, I said. 
He flick-flacked his knife in two quick moves. 
Good on you, you gotta have some fun. Look at me. 
If smoking’s the worst thing I do, I’m not too bad. 

Know some people, lost several of my friends. 
They ran, ate healthy, vegetables, the lot, 
did lots of exercise, nah. 
The heart’s only got so many beats to use up. 

Nice photo of you in the paper. I cut it out 
and put it under my pillow. 
I laughed. Charlie’s had three wives: one for smoking 
one for drinking and one for telling lies. 



Marty’s debut collection Horse with hat was published by VUP in February 2014 and won the Jessie Mackay Award for Best First Book of Poetry at the 2014 New Zealand Book Awards. It was also a finalist in the Poetry category in the same awards.

Of the poem here, Marty says, “A bit of butcher bullshit. (Sorry Charlie, to call you out on bullshitting, but the sound echo is so excellent. Just like your smile makes your patter so nice.)”.