new zealand electronic poetry centre


Kendrick Smithyman

online works


Open, without shade or inference,
cove succeeds cove along that shore,
their ledges scalloped like their oyster shells.
Midsummer sweltered, blazed each basalt plane,
cracked mudstone pavings, powdered crisp
any sand spill. True to a type,
man on the brink wanting policy,
I scuffed grit into another bay
making my mark.
                         When you are broken-
hearted, you have only reminiscences.
What else? Here I remember:
I had an illusion, of freedom.

I was in the world and the world was
wholly fact. Without implying. Without
reserve, unshadowed. Remember that.

On such a day you might wish for
an illustrious providence, to be
convinced; then see
the Australian windhover,
a Nankeen kestrel hanging brilliantly,
bronze of a salty airflow
at the Herekino south head,
creature of its own music, part fable.
An improbable fact, showing forth.

Epiphany – you may well wish that it were so.
Fact in itself complete is more
to ponder. At hand, harbour bars’ loud surf
volleying ecstatic mullet which leaped
for the pleasure of leaping
while they worked the channel.

As though it were all designed.
Which, I suppose, is what Hardy meant
when he wrote about a Chance
that cannot seem wholly random.
Unconscious mindless nature
culminates in design.

Breeze, sea head, windflow, kestrel
together as though or as if
Like that morning at Worcester,
we stopped on impulse to go up
into the cathedral where the organist
practised, one of the Enigma variations.

What else, but right as of design?

Selected Poems. AUP 1989, p. 93.



Last updated 11 May 2001