• CAST:
    BA & OT

    OT: Were we here yesterday?
    BA: [Pressing finger to forehead.] It seems so.
    OT: Be is the beginning of seems.
    BA: So it seems. [Pause.] But how is that so?
    OT: In the beginning?
    BA: The heavens and the earth.
    OT: God is being; the other splits at the seams.
    BA: I remember.
    OT: [Excited] As if this is yesterday!
    BA: Have you said your yes today?
    OT: [Mournfully] Noterday.
    BA: You seem always negative.
    OT: Even when I am being positive?
    BA: What is being?
    OT: Here? Now?
    BA: Yes.
    OT: Being created the heavens and the earth.
    BA: None of this is real then.
    OT: Or now.
    BA: Not since yesterday.
    OT: So nothing exists?
    BA: Only in seeming so.
    OT: Created ex nihilo?
    BA: It is only you or I who say so.
    OT: What of the others?
    BA: Just ourselves.
    OT: And our non-self in common.
    BA: I wonder what tomorrow will bring.
    OT: More or less this I suppose.
    [They sit down and look up at the absence of day.]

    out of the
    indistinguishable
    our shadows

  • In a fit of Bashō, I am moved to wax lyrical and philosophical on our lives in which each day is a journey and the journey itself home. Being so moved, my heart lead me from cemetery to cemetery within sight of Mt Taranaki to find the final resting places of my many Polish ancestors and the the sound of my origins.

    journey's end
    epitaphs teem with my blood
    in fertile decay

    Back in my 24th year, I purchased a small rural holding on the southern slopes of Mt Taranaki near Fantham's Peak. A long abandoned cottage was sited on the land amid regenerating native rain forest. With my earth-mother partner and our wild-child autistic daughter, I found time to clear some areas of the land to grow vegetables and flowers, make the cottage habitable again, set up a water-driven ram pump to bring water up the gully from a cold mountain stream to the house, and supply the house with electric power.

    in the wild
    less pioneering
    day by day

    Forty-five years later I returned to the life-teeming hills formed by Taranaki's last eruptions to revisit the old homestead and find those of my ancestors further around the mountain. One family settled near Midhirst and the other near Inglewood.

    In a desire to practice their religion, maintain their cultural identity, and to escape the German juggernaut of the 1870s, the families became assisted immigrants from Poland to New Zealand. From New Plymouth port they were transported by ballast train to the areas in which they were to settle. The roads towards the mountain were little more than bush tracks and progress was made by climbing over old logs, supplejack vines and lawyer bushes on the way. The farms were in standing rain forest save for clearings where the homesteads were to be built. These first houses were originally built out of ponga trees.

    Great great grandfather Johann grew fruit trees and kept a few bees. He lived to see his children married and was known as Lul to his grandchildren who remembered him as a deeply religious man, reciting his rosary outside while attending to his trees. His wife lived for 96 years.

    tangata whenua . . .
    we recite the mysteries
    bead by bead

  • When Yosa Buson painted the "butterfly sleeping on the temple bell" haiku, he implicitly alludes to the Heike Monogatari tale of the demise of the Taira clan who, under Kiyomori's leadership, took a butterfly for their crest. In one visually appealing image the poet brings together a clear allusion to Chuang Tzu's dream that he was a butterfly and also to the Heike Monogatari's opening gong - "The sound of the bell of Gion Shōja echoes the impermanence of all things. The hue of the flowers of the teak tree declares that they who flourish must be brought low. Yea, the proud ones are but for a moment, like an evening dream in springtime. The mighty are destroyed at the last, they are but as the dust before the wind."

    Some eighteen centuries earlier a pregnant virgin, overshadowed by the Tao, retraced the way that had lead the Ark of the Covenant to a house in the hill country of Judea. In response to the enthusiastic joy of her pregnant cousin's greeting, the virgin humbly proclaimed her Magnificat declaring the greatness of and her delight in God while foreseeing the reversals in store for the proud, the powerful, and the rich. Already the most sublime of all human tragedies, that would culminate in her coming child's cry of absolute despair - "Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani!", was seeded within her womb.

    Of his 1926 sculpture, The Visitation, Jacob Epstein described the one single figure that he had completed as expressing "a humility so profound as to shame the beholder who comes to my sculpture expecting rhetoric or splendour of gesture".

    Twenty-one years later Simone Weil would write in Gravity and Grace, "Humility is the refusal to exist outside God".

    Reeling under the realisation that all creation "is an infinite sphere, the center of which is everywhere, but its circumference nowhere", Blaise Pascal focuses in on the imperceptibly small noting that "who will not be astounded at the fact that our body, which a little while ago was imperceptible in the universe, itself imperceptible in the bosom of the whole, is now a colossus, a world, or rather a whole, in respect of the nothingness which we cannot reach? He who regards himself in this light will be afraid of himself, and observing himself sustained in the body given him by nature between those two abysses of the Infinite and Nothing, will tremble at the sight of these marvels".

     

    with dewfall
    a mite swims
    the vault of heaven

  • Hemi sphere

    In 1882 Māori from the Whanganui River area on a trading trip asked Archbishop Redwood for a priest for their area. In 1883, Father Soulas and Suzanne Aubert left Hawke's Bay to go to Hiruharama, or Jerusalem, 60 kilometres up the Whanganui River.

    In 1883, Aubert assisted Father Soulas as an interpreter and Māori cultural adviser along with two young Australian Sisters of St Joseph: Sisters Aloysious and Teresa from Whanganui. The two sisters from Whanganui were to teach in the school; their superior Mother Hyacinth arrived in Hiruharama to revive the Catholic Mission.

    Aubert taught the Sisters the Māori language and customs; many children and adults came to the school.

    The Sisters at Hiruharama, in addition to the usual customs of religious life, taught and nursed, farmed newly cleared bush, tended an orchard, made and marketed medicines, sold fruit to tourists and raised homeless children, as a result the community grew and thrived. Much of their income came through the sales of Aubert's medicinal formulations, including many cannabis-based medicines - Aubert is the first person known to grow cannabis in New Zealand. She was named Meri by the Maori community.

    The Catholic Church has now declared her to be titled Venerable Suzanne Aubert on the path to her canonisation.

    In 1969 poet James K. Baxter adopted the Māori version of his name, Hemi, and moved to Jerusalem where he set up a community based on a mixture of Franciscan and Maori spirituality. In 1969 he adopted the Māori version of his name, Hemi, and moved to Jerusalem. The community was a sanctuary for nga pohara:the poor; for nga mokai:the fatherless; nga raukore: the trees who have had their leaves and branches stripped away and who had resorted to drugs in particular to numb the sense of alienation.

    I enjoyed Hemi's friendship from 1968 up until his death in October 1972, 10 months before my eldest daughter was born.

    In 1981 my family and I escorted his widow and her friend, who was also my daughter's great aunt Janet Frame, to Hemi's last resting place at Hiruhirama.

  • is it haiku?

    i continue to know nothing so i just writes what i writes. one word follows on from another sometimes echoing by sound or sense a word that precedes it. other times a word conjures up an image, a sound, a scent, a taste, or the feel of something once known. often words, or their relationships with each other, seem to make present something not sensed, such as absence 

    third eye closed
    a tuatara
    passes time

  • Still Extant

    On passing a mirror in the foyer of a hotel that I cannot afford to spend a night in, I recognise myself on some parallel path to that which I am presently on. I know, beyond any reasonable doubt, that the reflected image is not another person but a moment's apparition of myself and, most certainly, not a duplication of me in the flesh.

    As a member of the seven thousandth generation of the not-yet-extinct homo sapiens species, my use of language continues to open up an infinity of meanings from a finite range of words, just as if my words are being reflected back and forth endlessly between two mirrors. 

    My stringing together of words to penetrate the understanding of others empowers me with a capacity to represent things and happenings that are not occurring in present reality to take up residence in the shared imagination of our intercourse.

    I take and eat
    bread broken
    on the altar