I married so long back it seems now
like a not too bad novel I read at that stage
rather than a life I couldn’t put down
too quickly. A niece came by yesterday
bearing flowers I happily tossed out.
She leaned across me with her hot perfume
like a cat waiting to pounce.
I’m clearly one of her good turns.
There’s a Home chaplain who talks chess
at me, seeing God’s a touch heavy
at tea-time on a morning when summer
smacks off the harbour. ‘The pornography
of light,’ I tell him, out of the blue.
He smiles like I’m a smartarse quoting Aquinas.
I want to say but don’t, ‘Has anyone
bothered to ask whether resurrection’s all
it’s cracked up for?’ You make your own fun
in a place like this. I’m popular here.
The night staff slip me an extra biscuit.
The old ducks quack when I pull their legs.
The carpenter who sports a tattoo no more
interesting than the name of a soccer team
on his forearm, who’s putting locks on the windows
of those who’d prefer to scarper, says
to me-nudge a cobber sort of thing-
‘You’re a wily old bugger.’ ‘Language,’
I say later to Matron, ‘I didn’t come here for that.’
This copyright of this poem is owned by Vincent O’Sullivan. It is here by his kind permission. He had just stepped off the plane home from Europe when he gave it, so thank you Vincent. ‘Sedition in the ranks’ is from his most recent collection-The movie may be slightly different -Victoria University Press 2011. I really enjoy the gently obstreporous humour of the main character in this poem. He’s a survivor!
Vincent is one of New Zealand’s best known writers. His writing includes numerous volumes of poetry, two novels, collections of short stories and the biography of Alan Mulgan and he has also edited and /or co-edited various anthologies and collections including The Collected Letters of Katherine Mansfield. He has been widely published, nationally and internationally and his awards, residencies and fellowships, are many.
For more wonderful poetry go to Tuesday Poem . Check out The Hub, edited this week by Mary McCallum.