new zealand electronic poetry centre

John Puhiatau Pule

online works


what does this air mean to you
surrender your life to its shapes
accept the memories in windows
or walk away from eleven years of perfumed countries.
I am still doubtful whether to stay or go,
a goodbye has as much longevity as a falling petal,
as rain when my body struggles to become foetus,
as a way to remove my mouth, my eyes, hair and hands
away from knowing so much anxiety.
What does this tongue mean to you,
tasted your tears at the most inappropriate moments
collected in magnolia cups since it was under
that tree I first fucked you under
I would like to leave this city and by
the sea construct a sea weedy dwelling.
One that has poetical materials binding
roots to the soil, roots whose parents
are clouds and family of storms.
I am not tired of you
or of the endless days of sorrow,
because sometime soon it will not matter
that day will arrive when you decide
that it’s better to harbour the remnants of sadness
than mine the dungeons of the future.
Like I said, my name was formed without order,
it is found in unusual places,
away from its natural habitat.
I have not seen you for months now,
I would like to know who you are again,
what your name is and where you were born.
I don’t know how I used to know all your names?
I am not sick, it’s just that I’m tired.
I live for you, that is enough.
Remember what you and I have been through.
Because, after I am gone I will leave all these names
for you to sing to, or discard.
Take that photo for example,
it had a past that should never have had a future
yet I am still here, sing about that.  
The house behind me where I first tasted
my own blood,
wounds I inherited from my father,
and those windows in my bedroom
has my face.
Even though I have contemplated melancholy
I know I live for you and that is all I need to know.
Even though you see me wrecked by alcohol
there is sanity that exists just to keep seeing you.

I keep telling you
I am here for you
now you are over questioning your mortality
you should live
be a festival
go on dreaming
I must leave now
I’m leaving these for you to
take when you leave
this wing I found in my hair
this hibiscus from your mother’s tree
this five dollar note that you wrote these lines:
your eyes are bells that summons gannets
this white dress that belonged to  
a gorgeous two year old girl
that you and I briefly met
was it not an honour to have known her?
this envelope that contains a love letter
this heart that needs to be returned to Pia
and remember to
take all these with you
when you finally leave


From Tagata Kapakiloi / Restless People
Pohutukawa Press, 2004

John Pule

Last updated 25 September, 2005