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Hone’s Poems

A selec­tion


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?
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

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.

But, I protest
my love for you
isn't minimal : 

it is         animal
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.