Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Dunedin poet David Howard mourns the loss of fellow poet

David Howard's elegy for Rhys Brookbanks, a poet who is still listed as missing after the collapse of the Canterbury Television Building.

David writes:
As I observed to Cilla McQueen, who has encouraged me to make the poem available publicly, 'At 25 he had hardly started to write and now words are beyond him, even if he is not beyond words.'


             in memory of Rhys Brookbanks

Things go on
leaving. They go on because

they leave. A leaf falls over
itself, the very.

Beyond what is
said to what is, the impossible.

And you curtsy,


The wind doubles
back. It carries the scent of sex
to the tree’s knot, where
you expected initials.


When the dead are, then
you become
wood the superstitious knock on, wanting
inside. Igneous self
nothing to the imagination stone doesn’t have.


The wind doubles up and
under: a noun with attitude,
sharp as a mother-in-law
studying the sheets.


Your picture is always in my head
which is in my hands.

This cathedral was completed
for your funeral.

At 12.51 the wild yonder
bruises. A lottery vendor, God

crosses the square, where you
wait. The ghost of Godley

watches from the fur of a cat,
the feather of a bird, hears the word

Extra! on the lips of a newsboy.


Anonymous said...

Thank you David. We are full of heart ache for Christchurch -- for all those who have not survived the earthquake. As a writer I find myself lost for words but keep the community of Christchurch writers that I love dearly close to mind. My thoughts are with you and I am grateful for all of those Cantabrians -- writers and otherwise -- who have found the words to share this terrible experience. Up north we are utterly moved by the spirit and courage that links you one to the other. Bless. Paula Green West Auckland

Mary McCallum said...

Thank you, David. I mourn the loss of a young poet.

Rachel Fenton said...

A very poignant tribute.
I've been moved to write several poems since the tragedy but don't feel it's my place to voice them. However, I have found a quiet place to reflect in the words of other poets.

melissashook said...

Thank you very much. This is quite beautiful and important.

Madeleine Marie Slavick said...

A moving poem, a moving act - David Howard for writing, Cilla McQueen for suggesting the public sharing, and Graham Beattie for blogging.
I am moved. And I thank you, as a person, as a poet, as a writer for an international development agency that responds to emergencies all over the world.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for writing this. I was saddened to hear of Rhys's death. It stays with me. It was a priviledge to meet Rhys, we kept in touch after the article he wrote. I didn't know him well but he left an impression on me. Manuia lou malaga, Rhys.

Kat Zolita Mason said...

A marvelous poem ( yes American spelling) David dear. Thank you so much for moving me to tears and leaving such a wonderful poem behind for a dear writer friend. Love always Kat Zolita Mason

Anonymous said...

A marvelous poignant soulful David! Thanks so much for posting this. It is so warm yet so "contained"; its important to bring to voice these fresh feelings...it leaves roads for others to follow and thus heal..."The cathedral was completed for your funeral" Thank you for this line! Kat Zolita Mason