Wednesday, May 26, 2010


Owen Marshall, arguably NZ's leading exponent of the short fiction form, is also a dab hand with poetry. He has two volumes published, the first, OCCASIONAL 50 POEMS, was published by Hazard Press in 2004 and the second, SLEEPWALKING IN ANTARCTICA, was published by Canterbury University Press a couple of weeks back.

My favourite poem in the earlier anthology is entitled South Island Prayer and is dedicated to BT, a reference one can assume to his friend and fellow South Island advocate/ poet/fisherman/cyclist/former publisher Brian Turner.

Don't let me die in Auckland
Rotting in the heat before your
eyes are closed:a greasy take
away after the soul is gone.

Let me go with the old southerly
buster:river stones in the grey
flecked sky and that white wind to keeo your chin up.
Christ, yes.


And from the recent collection:

Old Age

Old age is a Venetian mask.
A subterfuge, a Halloween
pumpkin with candles out
a tactical withdrawal that
disguises rout.

Old age is
the precipice of regret,
the fulcrum of dissolution.

Old age is the admitted
failure of undisclosed ambitions
the grizzled muzzle of your
favourite dog, the acceptance
of isolation.

Old age hears
the morepork calling and the
great, padding polar bear
that cleans up behind the tribe.

Yes, and old age is the time
to congratulate yourself that
you’ve come far and survived.

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