new zealand electronic poetry centre


Simon Taylor

Fugacity 05
Online Poetry Anthology



I don't understand why the fantail's back
Here at my kitchen window 

I watch the neighbour's mate
Take pretty little steps behind her man,
Chewing the muscle of his heart
And hoicking it 

Unless to importune me with advice
On how to poison
My brother in the revolution
Pauses, he thinks a peasant thought
His forearms like hammers cross his chest
Grey hair will grow, no matter
How much more dead he is,
Straight as the beard of his balls
Tucked inside his plaid,
My boy 

My son is a good boy
And we are alive to tell him
A fantail sang every day for weeks
Perched sideways on the hanging sconce, 

Your mother is the centre of the world
Don't forget how she suffered to protect you
For fear of men like me
And, like a nobody, when some other
Makes their suit and sets their course
By her star, perhaps 

You'll remember me
To the foolish senator of this island republic
And guard my household
Who was never nice to look on
But was funny to behold; 

I dine tonight with the goddess
Circe, who is German,
Because I listen to the message
Without knowing who is entering the world.

I love something. 

She is the daughter of the sun;
Did you see the fantail? 

I sang that they'd be no tears
The sea is our lachrymatory, it rises
The mountain an ossuary, subsides 

I sang, Tuppence, plug the bottle
Tomorrow is come 

The old maids your mother prefers drink
And sing with urinous voices,
They won't tell what it means 

I was never curious
I stood outside the prisons
Of Troy and of Ithaca -
How a man's redundant to his dream 

I saw combat only once
It had the virtue of not being real 

I saw her brother fight, Tuppence
Fight his father and I walked
Away, feeling more like a nobody
Than ever before or ever after
(Until I was told as if I didn't know
How I was bound to a masthead and by proxy
Asked to justify this journey) 

Her brother, Tuppence
With his dialectical bride,
How could he fail to outmatch his dad -
Who was a carpet-seller on the Gold Coast
Who could lift the bulldozer in the soft peat
He blamed his son for sticking it -
If it were not real? 

The A Fifty-five, Auden
I've told you about the blackbirds
On the brick church
Where we made love
And the swallows
And I've embarrassed you by being drunk
Enough to understand the kereru
For couples who don't know
How to fall off a trunk together 

But I've packed the boot
And I'm ready to drive
Away from the fantail's song, Hermes
Thrice-blessed, ask your old maids
What this means, Telemachus: 

He spread out a fan,
His eye asked nothing into it, black -
But it was like a proof, like a map,
Tea-stain mottled and parti-coloured, dun -
His cocked bird eye,
A counterfeit and his feathers
Demonstrating the persistence of passion,
The vanity of hope, and its pursuit;
That was its message, 

I'm sorry, my Penny, my olive,
I am its messenger, its eye. 

Back here again.
Everybody blamed that bitch
Goddess in her New York cat suit
But I can't imagine the attraction in it,
Of the involvement, producing the passion 

Boiling his blood to such a pitch
He could cool it only
By swinging side to side - hers to his -
Above the dishevelled bed
In the empty motel room
Smoke on his breath
Pointing at the art gallery: 

I've observed how the human mind
Can take only so much
Then wants to turn itself off 

But the instruction I've provided
For you to receive should help
You to discern between
The human and the not
And your education, I hope
Will lead you to avoid my course,
To choose to love a mind that's not

So, don't listen to me,
There, I listen to birds!
And I get drunk with her limbs
Around me every night,
That I know her dreams will kill me. 

This is what I think of the barbarians
Who don't shave and whose women
Encourage them not to learn Greek, I think
Having seen the tall thin ones
Direct in their alien experiments
The short squat ones, only a god
Could've made them
Who wanted to parody our worst impulses,
Our popular excesses and our basest
Aesthetic accomplishments,
Otherwise they can't be for real 


Cartoons of our inevitable apocalypse 

I know how it ends
And I weep for better fictions
Into the eyes of my enemy, 

How the blind touch will find us out
Behind the veil of weddings and births
Like a fish-seller in a barrel of salt,
Les fruits de mer, the fillet of my loins, 

The island girls sang me
Athene is wrong
To send you into the pub after me
Or to Pylos or the nearest party - 

Nobody looks for Odysseus -
Without their feathers on
They're not quite so appealing
And don't let the suitors fumble you
On their way to my once pacific bride,
You're not theirs
And the dawn is not your mistress 

With her fingers on the fontanelle,
Mid-wife red,
And pulling in your sea-blond hairs
As if she were the daughter of the sun - 

A bad hangover, they said
Fixing you with morphine
Like an ascetic
Before you lay on the breast 

We were all blind moles once,
Now she has mine and I have your vision,
Looking for a softening,
The sign of an opening
At the knee of solicitude
And feeling kindness 

And no journey can satisfy
The ambition of my muse,
Nor justify me in her sight: 

I'm a closed book,
A cultural survivalist
Among many others
On my island. 

My father, Laertes
Drives his sheep with better counsel
Than I can keep; 

It's a stone knows its own song: 

We won't fight
Except enough to sabotage
Our beginnings.

And if you ever tell her
What I tell you now, nobody
Nobody can 

Nobody can have predicted
I'd be given a hero's story 

Cry for me
Sing for me, Telemachus 

Read this poem at the funeral
Of the Antiochus I knew
Or at least prime your zither,
You should be there 

Even when the brother you didn't know about
Comes to kill your reputation at. 

What is it you do, Telemachus?
Is it incest?
Are you the blind singer
Who's been haranguing
My personal guard? 

Is it animals? Is it women?
Do you like to see their breasts bounce
As they run to be martyrs? 

I don't know your preference
Because I - and it doesn't matter -
I conceived you in a love-triangle
With the sun, like the olive, 

Penny, am I dreaming?
I dreamt I'd two beautiful boys
I'd do anything for. 

Have I sung the last hours of my life
To be told I wasn't there?
My son didn't fight beside me -
And that I proved nothing! 

Untie me at last, at least. 

There's the amphitheatre
And the scent of the girl
Whose best years I used up - 

Her father had a name for her
I want to forget - 

And Telemachus,
Who filled his father's boots, his sabots
And wore them down to the knees - 

What a genealogy,
What a revolution it was! 

Help me string this bow
To send an arrow
With the message home
That it should stick
In the heart
Of the husband
Your mother takes
To father you.

July 20 - August 10

Last updated 22 April, 2005