new zealand electronic poetry centre


A.R.D. Fairburn

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To stave off disaster, or bring the devil to heel,
     or to fight against fear, some carry a ring or a locket,
but I, who have nothing to lose by the turn of the wheel,
     and nothing to gain, I carry the world in my pocket.

For all I have gained, and have lost, is locked up in this thing,
     this cup of cracked bone from the skull of a fellow long dead,
with a hank of thin yellowish hair fastened in with a ring.
     For a symbol of death and desire these tokens are wed.

The one I picked out of a cave in a windy cliff-face
     where the old Maoris slept, with a curse on the stranger who moved,
in despite of tapu, but a splinter of bone from that place.
     The other I cut from the head of the woman I loved.

A.R.D. Fairburn

Last updated 26 June, 2002