new zealand electronic poetry centre


Bob Orr

online works

Sugar Cane Sax

My fiftieth summer
of body and soul still together
at this moment in a Jervois Rd villa Ė
the front room with high ceilings
of my typewriter meditations
two budgies in a white cage
keeping me company.
Dreaming of voyages
from this suburb of the inner harbour
I walk from room to room and open every window
and the day like a big ship at anchor
is spun around slowly at the top of the tide.
In my mind green islands like birds
enclosed in their white coral lagoons
fly low in search of reef passages to the ocean.
Old colonial weatherboards creak
with the tread of ghosts in the corridor
or maybe itís just a South Pacific breeze
that comes walking in through the door.
Ghosts of self and tides of strangers
from within that self of a gone half century
reappear and repair to hold court who once lived here.
From the street thereís Samoan laughter
heard like the colour of watermelon sugar.
On the porch dak curls away in a grey green highway
from Aotearoa to a nation on the spur of Africa.
Is that Jack Kerouac with South Pacific Mardou
sitting on the front steps drinking Henderson rough red
their dark and lonely heads together
in some private sunset of the soul
all their colours of the world
laced in clouds across the west?
Half a century ago but gone.

Itís midday
a nikau palm and the sun collaborate Ė
green and gold with crescent light
the core of the day in my heart explodes.
A sugar boat from Chelsea
slides impossibly but actually beneath the Harbour Bridge.
A green island floats past
my wide open window.
An island . . . a house . . . a half century
high noon but high ceilings too . . . high times and high tides.
And I lift to my lips a sugar cane sax
and blow . . . to the future breeze
sweeping wide and warm
like a hand across my heart
from a green islandís
broad sugar cane fields
of such

© Bob Orr

Last updated 11 May 2001