Saturday, 21 January 2012

Old Comrade

"I hope when I die the sky is grey" one of New Zealand's best poets once wrote,  and he did die a few years back when the sky was grey. My favourite poet, together with Denis Glover.

I REMEMBER IN 1979 CUTTING ONE OF HIS GREAT POEMS OUT OF THE NZ LISTENER, DATED OCTOBER 27 TO BE PRECISE. Hone Tuwhare was one of New Zealand's most popular, most read and oozing with a sense of who we are as a people.

Old Comrade

Like frightened girls, the years

ran in thickening to panic-stations

and the days ran out for Jim

as he walked past them. and beyond

Why, only a few days ago, hatless

immaculately tied and overcoated,

tied on , Jim shouldered his way out

of the Crown into the wind

at the corner of Rattray Street: he

didn't hear me call out. Jim was


Shoulders bunched, tartan scarf whipping

Jim leaned into the wind. The wind leaned

right back and then pulled away. Jim fell.

He didn't feel the hardness or coldness

of the pavement, for, like an old friend

come back, the wind held him as he fell.

Well, there was no magic tolling of the

bell, and the skies never opened up, But

the ground did...

At the graveside, no one wanted to add

or subtract. No one - except the capitalist

who never even looked up from the counting

his worthless paper money. But, you know

I reckon old Marx would make room for him

Lenin, throw another log on the fire,

and, Mao, like a full moon rising poor a bowl

of tea, offer Jim a cigarette. Bet on it


Marja said...

The title "old comrade' fits exactly. An intriguing poem. NZ has many great writers

Bob McKerrow - Wayfarer said...

Thanks Marja. yes an intriqing poem and fits so many of the older generation I knew.

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