Against the Kingdom (c. 1995)

At the wind drop,

tidal mangrove by the motorway,

the masts and pylons,

these are the spires of the West in a smoke-blue sky

and I was going to speak again

against the kingdom, a stifling obloquy

and commiserate the status quo,

Henderson in the valley, the road ghost and abattoir

in the mind,

but I’m not interested in its preservation, after my friends,

people whose faces are swollen beyond recognition,

with the speed of trauma, make a living

off the film industry,

after their denunciation.

In the glass apparent cars

end to end like shopping-trolleys, silhouettes

that last forever, sunsets,

the moon transparent as a lens dropped on a blue pall,

cracks white and sharp the cloud’s edge, a spot-knife

where the light sits blunt and bright,

row upon row of screens in traffic, fluorescent tubes

joined end to end down an endless immigration corridor,

highway, runway,

and the shadows of drivers and passengers shall not

deepen, nor lighten; formerly

I gave my thought fractured and poignant

to the concrete apparition of the outer world,

I experienced something like a loss,

somehow a shellfish, an oyster, hulled and discarded,

the repression of a detail, of every fingernail,

and its formation,

after the denunciation, the repression,

after the repression of names

that are inserted to lay bare not themselves

but their disguises,

the formed pink grey meat, the pearl frame

and then pull out: things that need to be said

in an open letter

as if enjoying relationship with friends and lovers

without consent, their calm distrust

of everything I sent against the kingdom or said

to them, old friends, ex-lovers, and made denials,

because they wouldn’t say what needed to be said

and conferred distant reassuring gazes

that were blank stares

on subtle messages of dissent

beyond the range of human voices, I don’t believe

I am making this up, the birds

left the trees in their eyes,

their shadows by the bedside, at the end

of the motorway, the red beacon; and in addressing

the legitimacy of a desire for prosperity and

happiness I have again betrayed myself

to their fingers digging in the bush

for real-estate. On the shoot, the magic hour,

mist round the stalks of lamps,

the hill strides, bows under a standing wave

and loose cloud that is let down

at the wind drop, in strands;

a frame perfect woman, blond hair with

dark streaks in a dry-as-a-bone on a rowan mare

led into the ford to let a car pass

on the bridge before Bethells.

And I, he said, I,

but I don’t want to talk in the I anymore,

I’m left here caught

in the world of interesting ironies,

the paucity of images

sufficient to overturning the verdict

of anonymity, a boy

in a man’s body, nervous as a blowfly,

small subversive practices won’t work

anymore and looking out is fraught

with ambiguity, to make a fuss

about the facade’s not only dangerous now

but pointless to me, I, I, still stuck.

Before the difference, the repetition before the end,

before the end of a singular solution

to the problems in the inner life of any person,

when I’m not hulled at Te Henga, instinct

with the pathos of an oyster, before

the denunciation of my friends, the sweet

repression, a return to understanding

every hollow instance of the real, then

I would’ve wanted to reserve my rights

on this movie, soundtrack, I would then

have wanted my rights to hacking the land

in its comic whale-like proportion,

to attacking the commonplace absurdity

of this country

were preferred to the kingdom.

O What’s happening now?

Can’t you hear its bones?

The girder, the steel and concrete,

these are the deep blues and purples

in the building’s skeleton

of spaces

before the political skin is put on;

open markets, they promise, unstoppable,

will soon lead to open pockets,

a red-tipped cigarette, they promise,

in the bleak religious architecture,

will soon lead to open politics;

he has to wriggle a little to stay on top

on top of his concessions,

the coloured lights, the music and the energy

in the marketplaces, he has to dance

to the tinny latin section playing on a tranny

attached to the popcorn stand,

a samba or sing a tango

and I was going to speak out again

against the kingdom but I’m going to speak

about myself in the black religious architecture,

for that

I am denounced.