No Ordinary Sun Tree let your arms fall: raise them not sharply in supplication to the bright enhaloed cloud. Let your arms lack toughness and resiliance for this is no mere axe to blunt nor fire to smother. Your sap shall not rise again to the moons pull. No more incline a deferential head to the wind's talk, or stir to the tickle of coursing rain. Your former shaginess shall not be wreathed with the delightful flight of birds nor shield nor cool the adour of unheeding lovers from the monstrous sun. Tree let your naked arms fall nor extend vain entreaties to the radiant ball. This is no gallant monsoon's flash, no dashing trade wind's blast. The fading green of your magic emanations shall not make pure again these polluted skies . . . for this is no ordinary sun. O tree in the shadowless mountains the white plains and the drab sea floor your end at last is written
Hotere When you offer only three vertical lines precisely drawn and set into a dark pool of lacquer it is a visual kind of starvation: and even though my eyeballs roll up and over to peer inside myself, when I reach the beginning of your eternity I say instead: hell let’s have another feed of mussels Like, I have to think about it, man When you stack horizontal lines into vertical columns which appear to advance, recede, shimmer and wave like exploding packs of cards I merely grunt and say: well, if it is not a famine, it’s a feast I have to roll another smoke, man But when you score a superb orange circle on a purple thought-base I shake my head and say: hell, what is this thing called aroha Like, I’m euchred, man. I’m eclipsed?
Haiku But, I protest my love for you isn't minimal : it is animal
Rain-maker’s Song for Whina I’ll not forget your joints creaking as you climbed into the bus at Victoria Park to bless the journey. When you broke down in the middle of the Lord’s Prayer, I thought that what you left unsaid hung more tangibly uncertain above us all that some intangible certainty that we would all get a comfortable berth in the hereafter. Saint Christopher in the rain at night, just before Mangamuka Gorge. People wearing Saint Christopher badges getting off the bus and helping to put an overturned vehicle right side up. No one hurt. I finger the cheap badge you gave me of the saint. Will it be all right? A couple of days later in bright sunshine, we hit the road Leaving Te Hapua behind. And all the way South – to the ‘head of the fish’, I picked up some hard truths embedded in Your hilarious speeches on the marae: No more lollies! We been sucking the Pakeha lolly for one hundred and fifty years. Look at what’s happened. Look at what we got left. Only two million acres. Yes, that’s right. Two million acres out of sixty-six million acres. Think of that. Good gracious, if we let them take what Is left we will all become taurekereka. Do we want that? So you listen, now. This is a sacred march. We are marching because we want to hold on to what is left. You must understand this. And you must think of your tupuna. They are marching beside you. Move over, and make room. We are not going to Wellington for nothing. And don’t be mistaken: Kare tenei hikoi oku, he hikoi Noa-aha ranei-ki te miri-miri i nga poara Te Roringi. E, Kui! What a way to bring the ‘House’ down. You could not have lobbed a sweeter grenade. I’m all eared into you, baby . . . Kia ora tonu koe.
Thoughts On A Sufi Proverb A long time ago I was an atom. A one-ness in two, superbly put together. Full of potential, I was close to my essence. I died as an atom and progressed to another form. I became a stone just off the melt. I was cooling off. I died as a stone and became a water-plant. As a plant, I learned to trap and eat meat. I died as a plant and became fish. As a fish I grew wings flying low over the heaving waters. Then I aspired to circle high above greening turret-lands. When I died as a plant, another branch of me I liked grew legs and crawled out of the sea – on all fives. Or was it sixes or sevenses? No matter, I had arms, legs, and two hands with which I learned to pick up stones, sharpen a stick. That other flying branch of me tried to pick out my eyes. They mocked me for not choosing a flying career. I ignored the jibes, ducking out of sight to avoid danger. I learned to throw stones. And soon, with a developed accuracy I could bring down my tormentors. I ate them feathers and all, only learning later to save the feathers to adorn myself. I progressed from a plant, and became animal. I died as an animal and became man. Now. . . never did I grow less by dying, you understand? I want to become stone again, but not the kind that is as cold as the forever night – the unlit side of the moon. For a stone is as good a shape or form as any other. Compact and smoothened to become a million whispering grains of sand just crumbling quietly away to whatever ancestral dust; and all in good time, too, precisely, and with a resigned elegance.
Hone Tuwhare’s poetry is used with the permission of the Estate of Hone Tuwhare.
Before displaying, reprinting or using Hone’s poetry in any public performance, contact the Estate of Hone Tuwhare for written permission.