new zealand electronic poetry centre


Len Lye

online works


           Am Thing went gone of hive a story of village from thatch to ground over was a 
great shaggy thing to see walking a haystack at shedding time in a stage of its trim yet not 
hay nor shedding much shag over the place neither: as like hemp hangings don’t budge 
from a tug’s nose of matted bumpers of like buffalo’s shoulders as dags on wool at the 
rear end of unshorn sheep – this Thing was as busy and bushy as hedges when bird’s nests 
can’t be seen in. it moved (in a way) steadily evenly over equally or hummocky or flat 
going so soon gone in slow crinoline pace with always as busy in its own world of life thru 
the village or field a verily teeming centre in flutters or bird-eat-fruit-fly goings-on within 
it over the ground with snail and faster with a smooth fitting to contours and ledges en 
route but without leaving any trail of drag.
           The village had between cottages and with fields all a beautiful teem of light in the 
air yes. all the countryside was full of hum in animals crops and cottages with yeast and 
cheese and gardens and birds and bees and worms and mice and men the village was happy 
and so on. so far the village Thing will still take describing: its stance, this varies between 
an about of 10 to 5 feet depending on adjustment to bridges or barn doors or tree 
branches it is going to goes gone gone! (beneath). it has no feet than has a hedgehog if 
and when turned over. nor teeth. like a frog. NO ONE – not any one – would think of 
turning the Thing over (an idea followed by concentric circles……..) no crowbars, no 
jack, no dice.
           So it comes to say on looking back about it: the village had this beautiful teem of 
life in the air and around it at any time. the countryside was this and that and the other as 
we have. and the centre of the teem was the somehow of am Thing. always all birds from 
tits to rooks or crows to larks too no doubt if hungry felt at home in (the nodoubt is soto 
to that all the insects from caterpillars to ladybirds of crawl to alight seemed in the Thing 
for the pot-luck of it too) so the birds nested as handy to a rendition of beak snip snap. 
rodent society from rats to mice too could be seen now and then even little lizards peering 
out of its tangle of matting and twiggery as it passed when one cared to look for beady 
eyes in its dimmer reaches of lower down. one day ordinarily myself I noticed not so 
much then in the village square but how after a goose stepped out of its straddling off 
straight without looking back at am Thing moving the other way to my sideway glance nor 
me to be caught looking either an egg got left as it passed on. for farm sound it was a 
garnished walking potpourri of them in creaks of twigs and chitterings. had the goose laid 
another egg on its lower reaches? people thought if not mushroom and tree fungi it was 
full of ducks and hens eggs by the cackle and quack when the poultry left it and came. did 
insects and animals use it for breeding warmths. that’s what could be guessed by people 
in bakers dozens.
           So this am of a Thing moved and passed around the village all over the locality and 
people passed on one side and stood or opened gates as they always had for it without 
asking questions "whither?" or pausing. the crops always improved after am Thing had 
been in the fields anyhow and no bugs on the fruit after it had passed between rows in 
orchards. if anything this was enough for the villagers at anytime thereof (a plus of 
bountiful harvests and it taking the place of an idiot). life with a teem of mystic could be 
alright without noticing crisp frost beneath bare feet as good to go with a feast as 
thanksgiving. nor did birds nor rats make nor nests in thatched cottage roofs nor 
wainscoting with am Thing around to home them. the birds and bees and humming 
beetles made it known as am Thing passed where they were by the chitter nitter. two 
poplars or people heard birds singing in am Thing’s whiskers but it paid no attention to 
children and not cats so it was not a Pied piper’s guise. a took for granted with everyone 
(with a one of am Thing’s to children of the village were told, was) step aside and give 
elbow room and certainly never throw stones at it of course not likely, in the era before a 
tin can.
           So life went and came with seasons and am Thing coming and going and farm 
workings and people froing to pubs in the evening with children to school time and 
everyone going to church as usual for sun windows and sermons and such shine. at times 
am Thing would wander off and from here and there for around the countryside or a barge 
to find its own canals maybe ditches then everything in the village betwixt would be rather 
quiet with cottages and the green evergreen between with not so much of bees buzzing 
nor birds singing nor mice squeaking nor butterflies from caterpillars suddenly sunning out 
more that likely because they’d have been gone with am Thing.
           As it was that’s all right the Thing hasn’t been seen around lately that’s funny and 
here it was a new sunny day and Sunday. there’s the church belling on quiet sun and the 
people going to church in their amble family. until. when they got there there was the am 
Thing in all its victorian but with no glass dome to cover its dags nor chitters and it must 
have been there up in front since Thursday if last seen and by the damp beneath stain 
edging the floor. enough was a feast. there it was sitting in its fungoid and mossed 
adjustments to the front pews of squatters-rights an unheard of thing to happen against the 
etheral of An Church. the people went in and knelt down and sat up. yet to ignore am 
Thing was no easy stitch with the parson’s sermons to drone and his words not to be 
heard neither could the hymns with all the birds bees rodents songs buzzes squeaks and 
beetle and mice droppings to the floor or wood lice moving and the birds sallying out to 
peck at moth getaways or at beetles exposed and all got back fast when they no doubt 
self-consciously saw where they were but butterflies would flutter and stay out finding the 
fields thru the open church doors. at last service was no go. resigned in look parson 
closed it. congregation trooped out silently looking no one in face to do in groups until 
the sun moved and moved to talk about what happened in their church but in whispers. all 
(they could all tell) were against it. am Thing felt it by appearing at door and moved past. 
they stood all silent out of its way and am went down the road to the fields thru an open 
slung leaning gate pointing down.
           Now talk came fast and furious with a church meeting straight away called while 
Sunday. the decision: to build a high stockade pound to get am Thing into and used to for 
Sundays and out of the way. by afternoon they got busy with loads of lumber and sawing 
and hammering on the village green and after daily work too was the plan. and with the 
kids coming to watch after school and not telling them. in case am Thing got suspicious 
and did something a sign went up on the job OPEN AIR THEATRE no harm to fool the 
kids but am Thing. (yet) you can tell it (am Thing) was goodbye and never seen nor 
showed up again having it or must have guessed thru a pub window on an echo from a 
hollow mug’s beer rim or can birds tell Things all gossip of pretence projects? down came 
the sign in the end the project. am Thing went in the past. daily life came around the 
village to a routine. rodents took to roofs and cupboards with grubs to apples and 
cabbages to slugs. no Things and not certainly plays is why rural life is got like a volcanic 
extinct vacuum with machinery to repeat sermons for Sundays by car and no Thing around 
no walking on the road any more how real are the hedges with damp life. not a newt. an 
church only.

(1950; unpublished)


© Len Lye 

Last updated 23 August, 2001