new zealand electronic poetry centre

Bob Orr

3rd Birthday



Hart Crane


With your marvellous muse
both a curse and a godsend
you watched your white city
sail slowly away from you.
In its wake green Cubas ascend.
Posted missing . . . lost at sea
overboard . . . presumed drowned
no masthead lookout
caught sight of your arm
a crooked tower
in a turbulent garden.
The bottom of the sea
of course it is cruel –
you knew that already
on the pavement beneath a towering city.
On the Gulf Stream’s
great glittering hearse
wreathed with gulls
you were borne toward silences
muted below.
Grape dark dolphins
proud as poems
vaulting each wave
created like you a blueprint of bridges
that we in other cities
must learn how to build.
Where might we start
if not as you did
by permitting strangers
set sail
to our hearts.

All the President’s Dogs


The President
likes nothing more
than with two dogs
to walk the White House lawn.

How they sport and caper
grovel when he gives the order.

Of these two pets
there is one old brute
to whom the President is most affectionate.

Rumsfeld likes nothing so much
as to bark at the press.

Rumsfeld may be old
but he still has some bark left
oh yes
and he still has some bite.

His favourite activity
is lifting a leg
and pissing up against the tree of life.


Rimbaud in Mt Wellington
for mark young


In that suburb
whose streets are named
after a theatre of war in North Africa
shell-shocked fathers
still linger.
Beneath grapefruit trees
they used to tinker with cars
whose bonnets and boots
were sprung open
as if by explosion.
But you dreamt of jazz . . . drugs . . . negroes
a fatal overdose of diamonds.
You followed the curve of Tripoli Rd
and all you saw in the sky were black lines.
And later you fled
on a donkey
                      to Australia.

From Valparaiso ( Auckland UP, 2002)



© Bob Orr 2004


Last updated 18 October, 2018