Poems by John Adams
Fishing, off Kawau
turns and spits: which part of no don’t you understand?
N O is two islands, lumps of difference in a flat film
like skin near some place I’m taken to
fish, one of them, I’m not sure which, a sanctuary,
landing not permitted. Someone must have landed
once, there was a jetty. Whenever low tide curls
back, jagged rotting piles raise a silent jeer
as you float by. One snot-green molar sports
a gulping shag; wet globlets flick; its neck
snakes. There must be fish
The nearer part of N O is poorly charted,
presence of rocks noted but locations
uncertain. Not to mention
The middle of a poem is as likely a place to find fish as anywhere else in my experience. Down here they dream past in schooling streams, eager for any morsel I care to place before them. Yes, these are my fish; they will know me well; dappled silver to scale; mouthing uncanny words ending shortly in O as I jerk awake.
Now my slender thread
through the disappearance,
with little hope
Did you hear the snicker/ of that piwakawaka?/
In which fold/ is the artist squeezed?
This is a lonely realm, a scary place for non-Maori
poets who’ve not wed with the land or made cousins
of forests or fucked up a kinship
with the rivers. We, too, fear there may be taniwha
at every bend of these shaky isles; it feels a long way from
safety — we so small; the landscapes so
expensive, big with uncanny sky and the squawk of some
terrified bastard out of sight, straining for a foothold.
At Adam’s anxious entree, same same: same stuttering litany
of names, the tic of homage to geology,
geography, flora and fantail, faint trace of our thin poetic
pencil running ahead of the eraser, touching the ground for
autistic affirmation, shitting adjectives like sheep
backing from a noun’s bark: on any approach, bound to be uphill.
Out the window there
Please hug Nadia in
in lieu of flowers please
after a short period of
surrounded by his family
Dearly loved wife for
followed by interment at
You are a precious
A warm and caring Man
The world lost one special
Viewing from 1pm
Bill requested no funeral.
Until we meet again you
awesome uncle to his
Gone too soon
after a brief illness
always in my heart
Gone too soon
in his 74th year
Very dearly loved mother
A bead of moisture swells
Aged 63 years.
after a brave battle
a private cremation
Rest with the angels,
“The snicker of the piwakawaka” was first published in Brief #42 (2011).