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Jeffrey Paparoa Holman   

All Together Now: A Digital Bridge for Auckland and Sydney             


Flight Path 1-3

1. godwits

and the flight through the night above the Pacific
where my old friends the godwits go
yearly    yearly    burning fat fresh from the Estuary
down to the bone    go    the seas below waiting
to welcome the fallen traveller    all those things
we know and dread    surging and spreading like
all of eternity    turquoise as turquoise    so vast
below    we jolly sailor boys sailor boys sailor boys
we jolly sailor boys sitting up aloft and the landlubbers
lying down below below below the landlubbers
lying down below    and in my haze ten hours
out of Brisbane    Juno the movie plays away
on a private screen and I confess the cough
of Lover Boy and his Bride in the seats beside me
feels like a sign of the coming plague    signs
of swine flu    media mutants    a paranoid culture
built on sand snorts in a handkerchief hawks
in his hand    turns the lame and the halt and the blind
into a kind of grim statistic    trivial fear in the heights
dictates us     trivial movies    useless headphones    Nordic
Aussie hostess glamour smoothes the terrors into
context    was it something somebody said?    lipgloss friendly
Wendy Petrie?    the tail of Air France 447    floating out
there in the South Atlantic    stays out there where
the news belongs    in yesterday    anywhere but here
high high high flight    where the godwits were
Per Ardua Ad Astra    mā runga raruraru
ki ngā whetu mārama    all the way to the stars
through troubles    John John Gillespie Magee
sleeps in Scopwick Lincolnshire    under a cross
where the Harriers thunder    shaking the skies
with the hammers of Tū    Tū Tū    Matauenga
John who hammered the perfect sonnet    never-ending
lines that make me    look    look    look and listen
not for wisdom    to anybody

2. hummingbirds

Dalrymple’s on an iTunes podcast downloaded
from the New York Times Review of Books    he’s
talking in earnest about all those Predator drones
killing innocent Pakistanis    Americans just don’t
understand    and here in San Ramon we weed
the garden    raided now by the hummingbirds    now
you see them    now you don’t    but don’t mis-
understand me    this backyard today is nothing
at all like Peshawar    nor all those rubbled
villages we see back in the hills    the tiny bird
that thrilled me is quite metallic in its blur    these
are still the early days of the Obama administration
where I’m reporting to you from outside my own
demarcation zone    we are told now much of what
we know today will soon appear as a page on
Facebook    struck by death and struck by beauty
I have to tell you they are not the same    and there
was so much of everything tonight at the local
Safeways    I did not know which way to look
reading the label on a can of Dole Pineapples
from the Philippines    and then    I understood

3. native tongues

in a world of obvious contradictions
where the weaker tribe is routinely
conquered    at best enslaved    with
inevitable loss of sweet mother tongue    at
worst    well who would say wiped out is
worse    that all we have just witnessed in
the ad break is not worse    a typical lack of understatement
one life alone after all quite beyond description
but we must try    she was a checkout worker at
the local Target    he mowed lawns    both illegals
who crossed the border from Spanish to English
somewhere    way back there    was what the experts
call a heritage language   and Dios to José and Maria
gave in the ghettos of California sometime in the late
twentieth century a son born mute    a pure autistic
who would go by the lovely name of Jesus    yes you’re
right   this is very obvious    you are so sadly smart
and cynical    you don’t get to hear the rest    you’ll have
to guess    but let’s say in passing for those still listening
the coffee I bought last night in Safeways    San Ramon
declared how NEW the package was    in English first
and then in Spanish    perhaps when I fly home
to the Aotearoa we call New Zealand    tēnei motu tērā
motu    in a massive 777 made just north of here in Seattle
where several languages long ago died    a huge shiny
sky father of a plane the slaves of Boeing have patiently
put together over time    high class yes but slaves nevertheless
perhaps we can take a cue down there from you Anglos here
where on this jar of Nescafe it says    Nuevo Envase   Brand New
Package    He Kete Hou    ?Pregunto?   Patai?    questions? questions?
yes yes   there will always be questions

William Dalrymple, a writer and broadcaster, who specialises in reports on the Indian subcontinent and the Islamic world.


©Jeffrey Paparoa Holman