I am re posting this poem today (with updates) in memory of Gordon Challis who died on 2nd March this year
You have to do this where I live —
the caravan park does not allow real ones.
I slip out before too many people are around
dragging the dog at first
finding any spare power points
available to charge him up;
those with caravans already there
he pisses on
discharging an electrolytic urine
which strips the paint.
Then we try
outside the park: the sandflats of the creek,
the oyster-bladed rocks, the mangroves’
many attempts to start out again for heaven.
He sniffs heaven
in onion smells before the steak goes on
and makes no judgement whether breakfast
is the right time.
I go behind him holding the leash
gently though not letting him
surge too far foraging ahead
not too far down my road.
To passers-by I would appear
a blind man trusting my hand
to scan for obstacles or
reaching out to touch the small face of a child.
(c) Gordon Challis
Gordon lived in Golden Bay with his wife Penny. I am lucky enough to have been lunching with them both, when Gordon’s second collection of poems arrived, fresh from the publisher. Although Penny and I badgered him to open it at once, Gordon remained quiet and focused and refused to touch it until lunch was completed. I think his poetry has the same approach…carefully crafted and considered.
When I asked for some background to the above poem, Gordon said…’We were living in a caravan park in Northern NSW. Animals, especially dogs, were not allowed. In the end Annie Laurie our cat, caused trouble and we moved into a flat.’ From simple beginnings….
Photo by Neil Wilson, Golden Bay Weekly.
This poem was published in Gordon’s second collection, ‘Other Side of the Brain’, (Steele Roberts 2003). It was selected as one of the ‘Best NZ Poems 2003’ and later published in ‘The Best of the Best,’ (Manhire,Bill (ed) Wilkins, Damien (ed) Published 2011.
To listen to Gordon reading the poem, click this link and scroll down to Gordon Challis.
March 2018 – Gordon died in Golden Bay earlier this month. When I think of him now it will be in pictures of him running on the beach with his beloved wife Penny …not too many years ago…sitting on his chair with a pen and paper quietly jotting down a line or two and quite recently striding along to the shops looking like an English country gent with his flat cap on his head.
For the latest Wikipedia update on Gordon go here
To read Steve Braunias’ memorial review of Gordon Challis go here
To honour Golden Bay’s hidden treasure of a poet, Gordon Challis, who passed away this year on March 2nd, GB Live Poets is holding a tribute evening on 26 April at 7:30pm. Join them to launch Gordon’s last collection of poetry and set of Spanish translations.
To read more poetry for Tuesday you can visit the Tuesday Poem archive where Tuesday Poets are still to be found posting poetry and literary news.