Poem – Gregory O’Brien



From the morning’s politicians
as they are delivered unto us

shrink-wrapped and bouncing
across the lawns of Hataitai

deliver us, o lord—from the brash
and unhumble who fall

face-first, and whom daily we extract
from mulch and puddle, the unsung and

the unsound of body and
mind, the left-leaning

and forlorn, the man with the mountain perched
upon his brow, the skilful clod

of Waitangi soil. Would you vote
for a man you could not imagine

on a bicycle, squeak the crayons and marker pens
of Masterton. Unlikely as it seems,

mumble the crustaceans of Kaipara Flats.
And what is a man

in a grey suit but a coffin
on legs, snore the non-voters of Hamilton,

and the moon an old boot
thrown over a fence.

I have ticked the box, sings
the lucky clod, I have been cast

and this is how I vote. And what exactly
is that squelching sound, rumble

the empty stomachs of Wainuiomata.
What the people have decided,

snore the non-voters of Khandallah. And what
might we name the mountain

perched upon his brow? inquire the fundraisers
and fumblers of Foxton.

‘Love Rat!’ chime the anything voters
of anywhere’s ville.

Who would object to that? agree the sleepers
of Kilbirnie Heights. Is this what

we have come to, blaze the fiery furnaces
of anywhere

for the asking, caught between seabed and foreshore,
between C-minor and Four Square.

Is this a Dead C song or government policy on cabbage trees, sing
the herders and the unheard

of Te Kuiti. And on into the morning
cringe the ballot boxes

of Balclutha, glower the televisions
of Te Anau, mumble the matrons and

chumps of Takapuna, lost in a treasury
of children’s verse.

So the leaders and the misled daily
renew themselves

on this, the unremembering lawn.
Deliver us.


Gregory O’Brien

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