new zealand electronic poetry centre


Alan Brunton



December 6, 2002 

Fish & chips for tea, cricket on the radio.
A new moon with the old one sitting in its lap.
Thatís what my father used to say 
when he saw it like this; & even as a bare crescent
he would turn whatever silver coins he had
over in his pocket & bow 
seven times in its direction to ensure 
fortune favoured us in the coming month.

Across the Tasman, in another time zone, 
the Memorial Concert for Alan will 
just be finishing. Iíve seen the program. Eight minutes
for this performer, five for another. All
spelled out, such temporal precision. 
Hope it went off okay, 
wish I could have been there to be part of it. 

Though in a way I was. My poem for Alan
went up on the website last night. First time
Iíve looked at it for five months. Still like what
it says although a small part of its construction
irritates. I want to change a couple of words, feel 
a bit guilty that I do, engage myself in 
some sort of internal debate over whether you should
leave what was written as a reaction to something
as it was first written or revise it later
when the critic kicks in & kicks out 
some of the emotion. Decide to change my
paper copy & leave the electronic version as it is.

Lauren should be home soon so I 
turn on the carport light, find five minutes afterwards 
that an armada of Christmas beetles has invaded
the illuminated space, arriving out of nowhere
to throw themselves in a kamikaze frenzy
against the walls, the concrete, the catís
water bowl. A prototype clone army ó 
such fanaticism, such uniformity, all 
the same size, the same bronze colour. 

Confronted with this display of karmic inevitability
I wonder about the power of my fatherís
eccentricities. Would Alan have been safe
if heíd carried silver guilders & 
turned them over in his pocket as he bowed 
to the moon? From what I know about him
nobody would have thought 
the actions strange. Donít know if he
would have shared the superstition.

So cold when I was told the news of his
death. So hot now. Bush fires ring the city,
fanned by the same winds that brought
that big chill earlier. Two hours ago,
as the concert was beginning, a procession
of helicopters were doing the round trip 
to the latest fire, off to catch their
15 seconds of flame for the evening 
news bulletins. An hour later, at intermission,
with twilight making it too dangerous 
to fly at the low height necessary in its 
current role as a dive bombing super watertanker, 
the giant skycrane nicknamed Elvis
after its home port of Memphis, Tennessee 
rumbled overhead returning to its temporary base
& six hours of overnight maintenance. Now

the concert is over & I am alone with the beetles. 
I put one of the Modern Jazz Quartetís recordings
of the Concierto de Aranjuez on the CD
player, am reminded that Iíd always wondered
why Chris Bourke used their Django in the
Big Smoke broadcasts. Itís fifties music after all.

Tomorrow is the anniversary of Pearl Harbour. 
Think Iíll celebrate it by putting together
a ragtag armada & launching a pre-emptive strike 
against the Americans & their weapons 
of mass destruction. Take Elvis along, liberate
the Spirit of St Louis & the Wright brothersí Flyer 
from the Smithsonian ó a delightful irony, &
I have the floor plans on a T-shirt. Then thereís 
the Gossamer Albatross that crossed the Atlantic
under pedal power, the hotair balloon
in which Steve Fossey circumnavigated
the globe, da Vinciís flying machines. An airshow
for Alan. Unprogrammed. Unrehearsed.

Then again, tomorrow in the USA will be today.
Or maybe itís today that is tomorrow. I can handle
the time zone differences in hours ahead or behind 
but the days confuse me. Itís why Iíve 
always thought JFK was assassinated on November 23. 
I decide to wait one more day. Then I will act.


Mark Young


Last updated 19 November, 2003