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Live Encounters Aotearoa New Zealand Poets & Writers April 2023
Uncanny Weather, poems by David Eggleton
Heaven’s heights resound to chatter,
all white-blossomed morning long.
A cicada chorus lassoes the sun.
Many choruses combine to one waiata;
a wake of foam covers the plain.
A carnival of clouds mirrors ocean’s calm.
Harken, the tūī trills like a manic doorbell,
as the kraken opens a bead-bright eye.
Towns are put on maps by murders and mayors.
The carpetbagger who parachuted in
is got at with slingshot and pitchfork.
From the rest home room, the coffin comes.
Social exquisites debunk fake Gothic.
The city of car sales closes the deal.
Swimming pools fill with watercolour blue.
Marketing warhorses whinny and neigh.
Fiordland freedom-walkers get guided by voices.
Unseen existence goes on in tight-knit places.
Some take to kayaking on a mountain tarn.
Some run for redemption towards the mountain.
Some lunge for oxygen on the icy peaks.
A mud-pool wrestler stretches a costume’s elastic.
A whistleblower walks it off with her marching team.
Rugby’s won on the wobbly fields of Chur.
He get banishment from the Shaky Isles.
Enter the same old losers and winners,
to explain it all with a chart of the weather.
He’s biggy; he’s bowsered; he’s baggy-trousered.
He’s standing on his head.
He’s poncing through Ponsonby.
He’s half-way down Dominion Road, looking for the exit.
He’s under the table; he’s gone up Coromandel.
He’s easy, he’s oozy, he’s Bell Block woozy.
He’s half-and-half; he’s crossing Cook Strait.
He’s on Barbadoes Street with a bottle.
He’s been bungy-jumping; he’s half-seas over to Wanaka.
He’s not making a sound and is looking for the ground.
He’s halfway to Halfway Bush.
He’s halfway out of his kecks; he’s shouting the bartender.
He’s halfway off his gourd; he’s on a bender.
He’s been halfway round Flagstaff
and spoken with his friend; he’s heaved.
He’s thrown another technicolour yawn on the lawn.
He’s tip-toed through the tulips in the early morn.
He’s stewed; he’s juggling apples and pears.
He’s ropeable; he’s spare; he’s well-preserved.
He’s steady in a stiff breeze.
He’s wise; he’s wet; he’s weary.
He’s out of the way.
A blue remoteness
soaking in sunshine;
smooth as a clay bowl
shaped on a potter’s wheel;
everything still and slow,
apart from a bumble bee
busy working, flower to flower.
Hills ripple buff torsos,
worn down, but posed by time,
waiting for their Jane Campion moment,
for the power of the sheep dog,
the whole magnificent imbroglio;
but we have somewhere to get to,
and drive calmly on,
window wound to the sill,
to let breezes swirl.
A hawk squizzes entrails
of road kill,
as if to read its own future,
as a sheep truck approaches,
past snakes of plastic-wrapped hay
and ragged macrocarpa windbreaks.
Across the tarseal,
lope of a ferret,
a long streak of piss.
Roads where rock fragments
come at you out of nowhere,
uncertainty in the air.
Then, paused by a road sign,
to hug the verge in surprise,
at the wide load of a house slowly passing
across the centre-line.
© David Eggleton
David Eggleton lives in Ōtepoti Dunedin and was the Aotearoa New Zealand Poet Laureate between August 2019 and August 2022. He is a former Editor of Landfall and Landfall Review Online as well as the Phantom Billstickers Cafe Reader. His book The Conch Trumpet won the 2016 Ockham New Zealand Book Award for Poetry. Also in 2016, he received the Prime Minister’s Award for Literary Achievement in Poetry. His The Wilder Years: Selected Poems, was published by Otago University Press in 2021 and his new collection Respirator: A Laureate Collection 2019 -2022 was published by Otago University Press in March 2023.