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Laurie Duggan  

All Together Now: A Digital Bridge for Auckland and Sydney             


Oňati Notebook


For one moment only, sunlight
across the Plaza Sta Marina,

intermittent heavy rain & thunder,
dim light from low windows.

Concrete circles around trees collect the downpour,
dead leaves stick to the pavement.

I read poems by Elsa Cross, Mexican,
in English by various hands;

the mountains, even the streets,
inaccessible for now


Coats dance on the coat rack;
noises off from a billiard room
a rip in the table’s baize,
a warp towards one pocket.

is all you need to do’
says Pam

and, I guess,
‘it’s my job’

Euskadian rhythms,

the mysteries
of 2009


Up there somewhere
are farmhouses, tiles held down by rocks,
stone paths across fields,

further, the peaks


A torrent erodes banks, the grassy edges
under the bridge.

Everything smells of cigarettes

Umbrellas unfurl
on the road to the monastery,
pedestrians hesitate, then run.

A ridge divides the ways to Zumarraga and Arantzazu.


Why is it that you only watch nature programs
if you’re bored? Small beasts eaten
by larger beasts (economics?).

A few tracks improve things:
Jackie Mittoo for instance
(Kingston’s Booker T),

(outside, the pavement
still shines, white arrows on a wet road,
too early for raciones),

the Atlantics (like the Shadows on speed),

the Throwing Muses, ‘I slip . . .’ – a descending scale
arrested midway (heartbreak).

My hands, the hands of a very old person,
rest on the arms of an ergonomic chair
(of Bauhaus design: Marcel Breuer?).

All this takes me away from what’s out there:
a black square (homage to Ad Reinhardt)
inflected by pointillisme


The weather lifts,
or not,

sheep up hillsides
possibly dry tomorrow

these are the Basque colours
(white, black, red, yellow, green, blue)

these, the numbers (1-5)

I have mailed my friends (a strange contraction)

and I have already forgotten who’s who
in Wilkie Collins, eighty pages in


Answer to Philip Whalen’s ‘Mysteries of 1961’:
‘Mr Knibx’ was Basque!


Outside the door, the sound
of a mop, inside
the click of a washing machine.

Am I light headed?
or washed-up?

‘nothing in that drawer’

I ran out of town, meaning
there was no town left


Autumn trees, burnt patches amid pine

up a few steps, a peak,
unseen elsewhere, suddenly there.

Trail signs peter out or don’t exist.

Back in the town hall square
observe pigeons, a barn
on the slope of that hill
(the mountains so close, so distant) 



The mind floats
beyond all this,

of a past

trapped in one language
reading becomes difficult

a drift of grammars
assonantal or consonantal shifts

the woods
above the town,

above the trees,
what fades

and what assumes a smoky light


Out from Oňati
on the slopes, frutas kiwi,
champinones y boletas

I’ve yet to name that sharp mountain,
its contours not visible on a map


San Sebastiān / Donastia: an Art Nouveau town mostly burnt out by fires, mid 19th century, rebuilt post-Haussmann, hence boulevards, mansard rooves, a river promenade; the old town walled in by Monte Urgull, the port, two beaches and a grand plaza. Across the bay a funiculare transports you to the kitsch paradise of Monte Igueldo, a 1960s hotel with amusement parks

in the distance Biarritz, the French coast.

Later, from Zumarraga
a crazed taxi driver takes 30K bends at twice that speed.

Later still: several glasses of wine


Arrows on a drying road
point to Arantzazu
a pocket in the mountains

Chillida’s doors
a crypt by Nestor Basterretxeak

a parking lot

and way down, a stream, caves,
autumn patches on the rock face

over these mountains
rivers flow to a different sea


The backblocks of Oňati,
evening light on the valley side,

a comfortable bar on a backstreet intersection
the floor, brick and tile, brown woodwork.

on the walls: Basque feminist graffiti.

a cigarette machine


The Palace at 12.30 pm
(homage to Giacometti)

maps are admonitions
(a clear sky, more or less

though Sol says change
comes rapidly in the mountains


An image of red tree roots, an installation in Trafalgar Square,
back page of the local.

Gasteiz 17°     Iruněa 18°

Bihar (tomorrow?) fine. These
the limits of understanding


dancing figures of
four red peppers, an exhibition.

On the main square it’s quiet
save ‘a groovy kind of love’ in Spanish


From a gap down to the river, across a tributary
then back again by footbridge

an ancient oven in the undergrowth

stone on the path marbled
like the tower of the parish church (S. Miguel)

songsters, possibly blackbirds
(too late for the rossignol)

The trail leads round the back of a hill (Sanbartolomegaňa)
along Arantzazu Erreka (Creek?), through Mutueta
over a rise back to Oňati

a redbreast
an orange-bellied slug

fog halfway up the valley

Each of these mountains
has a name,
perhaps a character


The four comparatives of Basque:
too big

a handy language in the border country through the war
(so too the now extinct language whistled in the Pyrenees,
capable of whole sentences, entire discourses)

‘our words are our world . . .
what they lead us to is all we have’ (Creeley)


At Mutueta the Arantzazu no longer drops to a pool
(as it did this morning), backing up instead
against the stone wall


On the square, two men drink wine and beer for breakfast,
a mirror pretends further information,
the space ‘behind’ different from this one.

A cigarette smoulders at an empty table
a smoking mesa.

The wall in here features an old black & white photograph
of THE MOUNTAIN, no credit, no information

I’ll head that way I think,
but, no, I won’t, I’m going south.

When I turn around
it’s there, like Fuji


Everyone heads here (the café
with no name), 10.00 am.
Am I going anywhere?
Others seem about to, but don’t

I always make the mistake
that other people have destinations
like that man in the T-shirt:
‘Fiesta, yes! And I’d like a beer too!’

A small grey bird (smaller than a sparrow)
black & white head and tail feathers
skims the river that flows under the church


Is it? could it be (the peak)?
Landurratzko Punta,
with Klabeliňaitz (or Marizelaieta)
a little to the left?

the contours are about right

it would have to be

right on the border of this province/region



©Laurie Duggan