(after ‘Black Jack Davey’ – trad. song) 
He rides up, whistling, charms her heart, 
she goes off with him – just like that. 
Her shoes get left behind, the expensive ones 
with heels, her baby and husband also. 
She was bored in the feather bed 
and he had a horse – let’s say 
it had chocolate hide 
and impatient eyes, enough 
to make her forget how itchy 
her skin gets sleeping on straw. 


When you leave, the land goes on 
without you. She used to walk 
down a dusty road and listen to wind 
in the poplars. The leaves were yellow 
when she left. Her husband rode after her, 
wanting her back. Her friends worried 
he was so angry he’d chop her head off, 
but she wouldn’t return. 
Now the road is crowded with carts 
and the poplars reach into the sky. 
The listening she did, her light footsteps, 
never existed. 


Then she reached the place 
where the next fifty years passed. 
Her life is a song with many endings – 
did she become a tavern owner, 
a clever operator with a head for business, 
or die quickly from a fever 
caught from sleeping on mouldy straw? 
Did her dreams cross at night, 
blurring the husbands, mixing up 
which man she left with? 
O he rode up, charmed her heart, 
and she was gone – just like that. 

New Zealand interview

At the end of the day 
it doesn’t matter about the rest 
of the world or whether the earth 
goes round the sun. You see, 
Julie, at the end of the day 
people don’t want to be out-of-date 
constantly looking over their shoulders 
standing on their heads to see television 
rolling down the street like orange jaffas – 
no, they don’t want that. 
At the end of the day you wouldn’t 
tackle a giant with a shoelace 
give up your car to get about 
in a rainbow-coloured balloon 
hop down the street on your left foot 
to save shoe leather 
rip up your lawn to plant ferns – 
I mean how would you barbecue 
and where would your trampoline go? 
Can you see that happening, Julie, 
can you? And it’s absurd to think 
people would trust a person 
who slips through walls 
love someone who wins all the prizes 
admire a celeb who’s always dropping the pill 
take shit from a piker (unless there’s really 
something in it for them). 
I’m sorry, Julie, I’m sorry 
but it just won’t happen. 
Much as I’d like it 
much as you’d like it 
at the end of the day 
we all live in one tent 
swim with the herd 
obey the law 
drive the car 
walk the dog to the corner 
and back 
wear shoes that go clipperty-clop 
while our mouths go yakerty-yak 
live in the community 
want a good price for our houses – 
so I’m sorry about that. 
You see, Julie, at the end of the day 
people don’t want airy crumbs 
they can’t live on poetry, pies in the sky, 
they don’t want fat blokes in transparent suits 
to feel guilty about things they can’t fix 
love without being loved in return. 
At the end of the day, they’ve got to vote 
and pay the pills (sorry I mean bills) 
know that the sun comes up, the moon 
goes down, the earth is round 
curtains get drawn, cars start, dogs yap 
cats purr, babies scream, and that we, 
we’re doing all we can. Yes, Julie 
it’s all very well to win ugly 
but at end of the day 
when it comes 
to the nitty gritty, when the sun 
goes down, Julie, I think you’ll see 
I’m right. 


Mary Macpherson is a Wellington poet and photographer. She completed the MA in Creative Writing at Victoria in 2006. Her last publication is Millionaire’s Shortbread (a joint poetry collection), published by Otago University Press in 2003.