new zealand electronic poetry centre


 Capital of  the minimal
P e t e r   O l d s

The Broken Houses

         (for Heather)

You guard one end of the street
& I the other.
No one or thing escapes our notice –
cats, trespassing children
unidentified lights
unclaimed mail.

The elderly neighbours
locked in their flats
with leg-sores & blinking television
need our watching,
the noisy people in the two storied houses
at the end of the cul-de-sac
forever partying
driving their rowdy cars fast up & down
the street like they own it
need our watching,
the marijuana dealer (we won’t mention
his name) & the policecar that screams up
the street on Thursday nights
need our watching,
the church people over the hedge in the big house
where they run the food bank
always busy doing something
never stopping to say hello
need our watching,
the broken houses of the abandoned farm
behind the golf-course
overlooking Blackhead & wild southern ocean
(where you were once frightened by bluegums)
need our watching…

I come to your flat at night
when the street is quiet
to watch TV, to share a biscuit & thought –
‘What did you have for tea tonight?’
‘Did you go for a walk this afternoon?’
‘How was therapy?’

I don’t stay long
I never do –
I’m like a child
running across your lawn
chasing unidentified lights.

[MT, EOSAW,2001]


© Peter Olds 2004


Last updated 11 July, 2004