new zealand electronic poetry centre

Fiona Farrell


online works
 

Ballad
   

There is the song that is sung
at the leaving. The farewell
from the quay. For the pride,
the rose, the bright star,
who are all sailing away.

Hero with his cardboard
suitcase. Bard with his
guitar. And Beauty in her
new shoes . . . 

Waving from the rail as
they set sail on the third,
led by a leaping salmon
and a cunning little bird.
But before their ship has
sailed far, the tune begins
to fade, to sentimental
humming and la la la . . .

And before the ship has sailed far,
the Hero’s turned to sin and the
Bard’s a drunken scoundrel
and Beauty’s shed her skin.

Hero with his cardboard
suitcase. Bard with his guitar.
And Beauty in her new shoes . . .

And when the ship comes close to
land, they smash upon the reef:
not Hero, Bard and Beauty,
but Oppressor, Judge and Thief.
And the suitcase cracks wide open
to release its glittering swarm
of beads and seeds and cloth
too thin to keep a body warm.

And the Bard slumps in a doorway
singing something vague
while Beauty’s shoes leave
gaping holes where e’er she walks,
and their soles unleash a plague.

And the land that they have come to
to escape the coming flood is stripped
to rock and tarmac and sour red mud.
And its cost is arms and legs and minds
and sour red blood.

And the land that they were promised
when they fled from hollow hunger
was the milky land, the honeyed land
that they dreamed when they were
green and younger.

When Hero, Bard and Beauty
set sail on the third
led by the leaping salmon
and the cunning little bird.

And their bold ship sailed

across

and across

and across

the lines between
what everybody knows.

To where the salmon
drifts in a murky sea
and the bird sings alone
in her silent tree:

‘So it goes.

(La la.)

So it goes.’

Hero with his cardboard suitcase.
Bard with his guitar.
And Beauty in her new shoes . . .

 

 

In Cork ‘quay’ rhymes with ‘away’. The central city occupies an island in the river and is ringed with former quays: the Coal Quay, the Potato Quay . . .

From The Pop-Up Book of Invasions (AUP, 2007)


Fiona Farrell
 



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Last updated 26 July, 2007