H  O  M  E    &    A   W   A   Y      2  0  1  0
   n z e p c
Chris Price  

All Together Now: A Digital Bridge for Auckland and Sydney             


Black sun


For a long time I was busy
with my eyes.
                   And then over-
night, my assailants, throwing
acid, turned them into dead
flowers, two plump peonies
browning in the sockets of
my head. Staring at nothing
but the mirror of myself,
they could not help.
                           I was a
package of darkness at large
in the world — an inkblot waiting
for fireworks to fill the
receding universe with
sight. But the eye-bank could do
nothing for me.
                    Whereas be-
fore I’d always helped myself
rapaciously, I was now
forced to take the proffered arms
of strangers.  I learned to en-
ter the day on thin and ten-
tative soles, to lean against
the horns and brakes of passing
traffic just to walk straight down
the street.
             I found I couldn’t bear
to be seen not seeing, so
had Hephaestos forge me a
shield — silver spectacles, to
shut my blindness in. The cold
metal lid slid across the
face of the sun. One man and
his black dog
                       stumbled on. Each
night I came back home with
my black accordion, my
blue guitar, the bruised tissue      
of myself, until the gruff
Hephaestos, impatient with
my plight, dripped oil upon
the stirrup and anvil of
my ears. Slowly
                     the open
and shutness of doors and win-
dows revealed itself.  Water
crept into its low place, then
street corners, trees, their surrep-
titious roots, showed up. Even-
tually I could detect             
even the movement of my
inscrutable hearth-god, Cat,
locate his disembodied
      I had my rough compass.
Melody emerged from back-
ground mode, colour memories
no longer cut me and the
unhuman world began to
focus between the twin poles
of my ears. But I had joined
a different tribe, and in the
human sphere, still had to pay.
I tell you,
            people are so
relieved to be unseen. I
became their rubbish tin, their
holy excremental vessel.
Sure, we’d start with my story,
but what always mattered in
the end was the burden of
their tale, and getting me to
carry it a while, before
I became, for them, the in-
visible man again.
there was a woman.  I could
see every centimetre
of her skin, her cloud of hair, 
I could see inside the lamp
of her.  She loved me — then she
loved me not. This happens to
everyone, I told myself,
you’re not a special case,  
it till it was true. Take your
useless globes, I told myself,
go out and learn by hand and
foot the disillusioned world.
Let it run through the cup of
your fingers until every-
body wants some. Let wild i-
rises flag your uncertain
perimeter — one day, the
moon may come to discover
her shy outline in the blurred
and permeable pond of
     And so it proved. My kind
friends the beggars brought me to
some understanding of my
acid-wielding attackers,     
for as they said, in a rich
man’s house there is nowhere to
spit but his face — by which wise
remark, the extent of my
former heedless wealth was made
clear to me.  The poor are the
only true cosmopolites;
for the most part, we humans
have complicated every
simple gift of the gods on
this earth.
            Before I went blind
I could not see an honest
man in broad daylight. Today
my ears will pick out his un-
common tune in seconds of
him opening his mouth.  What
I loved, I have learned time and
again, to lose:
                   my words, com-
posed on tileboard to hold them
straight, ran out of ink.  I kept
on for pages, unaware. 
Once something is written, you
can’t write it again: it’s gone.
Now when Hegesias asks
me to lend him a book I
say, ‘You are some kind of fool,
Hegesias, for you will
not take painted figs, but real
ones; and yet you overlook
the genuine practice of
virtue, and seek for what is
merely written.’  From me he
will learn nothing. 
                         Loss of sight
is not a state of grace nor
an event fraught with spirit-
ual consequence, but mere
mechanical accident. 
I shake my stick at him to
drive him off.  ‘Each dog must scratch
his own fleas,’ I snap at his
retreating back, then settle
in the dust with roadside mutts
to lick myself at leisure
and bark at what passes.


First published in The Blind Singer (Auckland UP, 2009)


Wrecker’s song


All of my best lines are accidents.

You cannot generate an accident.
You can only put yourself

in harm’s way.
But harm has a way

of finding you when
all you want is predictable

not accidental.
Your bodywork,

yesterday so stylishly
smashed up, today

just random sobbing constellations
strewn across the blacktop

of State Highway 1.
The hawk hunts in the afternoon.

The car dislodges him
from connoisseurship of

an earlier collision —
a moment’s inattention rewarded
with unsought metaphor, a broken wing.

First published in Heat 21


Hasta la vista

Things were fatal but not urgent.
We used more make-up and less speed.
We saw the hectic colour on one side
and the blank space on the other.
What went up came down then drilled its way
metres deep into the earth. Under
the turned table we learned to live
on our own chewing gum
while unfamiliar implements played
dinner music above our heads.
We adapted — it was what we knew
how to do — but the sugar cubes kept
getting smaller. Whereas before
we had been known by name,
now we only crept to the watering holes
under cover of darkness, then sat
with chins on our knees and waited while
the new customers declined our terms
in favour of their own impenetrable 
argot. Sign met size and came off
second best, bedding down with lice
and livestock in the basement of
the air we used to own.  While
they were busy ransacking
the drawers there was still time to rue
our civilised discontents, but now
the sudden silence impends overthrow.
We stare at one another, suspended
in the pause before the shouting
and splintering Hollywood has, as it
turns out, so well prepared us for,
the breathless interval before our new
lives, hat and coatless in the snow.


First published in Sport 38



You are my pillow of strength,
who need not read me
to know me, who need not
know me to love me, bird
without end: ah, men
have come and gone but none
that was one good man and
you, at the end of the play,
you are my certain call
my hound of applause
sweet word of youth
you mend me, hours
and days of our knives
whetted and whistled, pot
calling kettle, slack
happy here at the bend
of the day, icicles spilt
for two in the bush
just, oui, two.


First published in The Blind Singer (Auckland UP, 2009)



©Chris Price