Poem – Brian Turner

Illuminaries, Otago

I am watching the northeast Wind
like a rash on the harbour,
the peninsula hills a perky green
and hawthorn and broom
and the first of the lupin in flower
so obviously its spring.

Dunedin, Otago where city councillors bicker,
the chief executive detests the mayor
and its mutual so it seems,
where cronies and the monied
and what pass locally for the august
express regional concern and aspire
to fenilise ambition; where New Right ideologues
are bemused and hurt by policies
driven by similar ideologues elsewhere
and the bulk of the people
cop the fall-out.

So whats new? Where are the old heroes,
living or dead, except in the hallways
of memory? Cricketers Alex Moir, Bert Sutcliffe,
Jack Alabaster, Frank Cameron,
golfer Ron Timms, rugby luminaries
Charlie Saxton, Peter Johnstone,
Vic Cavanagh heroes of days when
the worst you could be was a big skate
and the phrase role model
haunt been coined and coin
was what you didnt play for.
But alls changed: for Kronfeld and Wilson
and Randall and their ilk
one neednt begrudge them
their cash, the sprigs Of time
Will rake them soon enough.
Strange how, when seeking to define us
its soon that looms largest still.
The rucks, the mauls, the up-and-udders
metaphors for the maelstroms
of life: the artistry behind a cover drive
as pervasive as a Sydney oil
Where agile light Contracts
on the yearning spaces of Central Otago
as the sun slides West and a bloated moon
prepares to plunder a starlit sky.

We are not what we were:
others made us and we make others
who make out. It sounds simple
but you can’t subdue bygones
or replicate the past, only the present
ever fits its preternatural bill.
Ashes to ashes, then, dust to dust,
for heroes too, and all of those
you never knew for sure, or for real.


Brian Turner

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