L o v e ,  W a r   a n d   L a s t   T h i n g s
   n z e p c



Murray Edmond    (b.1949)



Murray Edmond
credit: Tim Page



Hypochondria 1.ii and 2.ii

1    ii

From the green tin trunk with its stencilled white letters and
numbers, standing on a chair, knees creaking as your foot came
floating down towards the floor, you carried to us artefacts,
the loot of war, the cowrie shells with spots like melanoma or
storms upon the sun, and the skindry, skinwarm, abstract pattern
stuff of tapa, and mats of woven grass, one with a fringe of
coloured wool, unrolled to lay these spoils on, a polished half
a coconut shell for drinking kava from, a woven fan, other things
I have forgotten – they were like fragments of a language, a
book brought down and recited from, evidence, exotica, excitement,
matrix of everything preserved which is unused, unusable; and in
your photo album a building lay in ruins, four walls sprawled
beneath a hurricane and you under them. The hut had fallen on
your head. We knew that much. We had a window on your mind –
you opened and we looked in and begged you pull your trouser leg
up and show the round white scars on your calves where the nails
went in, spots of war bleached on your skin.


2    ii  

Monte Cassino forty years on.
In the sideboard cupboard
an eggcup rescued unbroken
from a cellar. The Conray
heater is alive and well.
Your old fictitious suitcase
slyly apes a relic but has no
sense of history. “Just passing
through” its motto scored in white
stencil on the green leather.
Piles of washing wait to be
filled with body, jigsaw puzzle
shattered facedown on the floor
wants back together again, face
floats up through the carpet weave,
grinning, “I’m back, I’m back!”
Ancestors at midnight sharing
hot chocolate, curling into warm
baths, while below Parnell interrogation
lights juggle grids of shadow on
the water. You were born here,
here you touched that verb with a
small electric impulse. If only
the silly bugger would take off his hat
and coat and stop hogging the suitcase
like it contained ducats of uranium ore
and just relax. “I always expected
a war, it’s a funny thing, I always
expected a war . . .”

Letters and Paragraphs (Caxton Press, 1987). Recorded 2008 by Murray Edmond at the University of Auckland.


Everyday life on Mount Forehead
extract from 26/12 & 27/12, 2007

Xmas morning sound of Pablo complaining
through the wall about being shut out
hum of computer Jesus story on the radio

crunching muesli as one writes

in 1944 in Rome my father heard Irving
Berlin in an opera house sing his own
composition ‘White Christmas’
and he was flat

                                                in the cemetery near my
mother’s grave a big family gathering
on Christmas afternoon in Hamilton singing
‘Doe a deer a female deer, ray a drop of golden sun’

man at lunch to Dad: ’What’s the secret of your
longevity?”  Dad: ‘Nimble feet.’

MacCahon evening in the ranges that long
light lying on the black hills


            ‘as though the self linking
heart and mind had become a gap’

Australian poetry is the true inheritor of
            starting with Bruce Beaver and those
lines about the heart and mind

                                                            busy jingle
of bottles plunging into re-cycling bins
Boxing Day morning

                                                 entertaining the troops
the Yanks only let Dad in because one of them
at the door had been to NZ

                                                        of course there
isn’t in a sense a ‘gap’ at all – without the
body no ‘Mu’ without the in-breath no out-breath
so inseparable, one, wrapped up in the need for
each other

                                               even Frank wrote ‘Whose
heart is beating in this shell?’
                                                         in his poem to
John Wieners (Hotel Wentley Poems) which begins

You walk into a theatre in the semidark
a tiny stage holding up a candle

but here in NZ O’Hara didn’t count for much
beyond a sneer

                                           ashamed perhaps to embrace
the pleasure of writing, the

amorous nightmares of delay
rainbow in the valley
sou’ westerly hammering in so hard
the rainbow’s flattened in the air


Recorded 2009 by Murray Edmond at the University of Auckland.



Last updated 23 June, 2008