Friday, March 10, 2006

1918

The other night I was lying on a sofa - it was not a particularly hospitable sofa - moaning and groaning and injesting copious amounts of painkillers. A 'friend' decided to divert me by reading long passages from a book - I think it's a new book - called 'Black November: the 1918 Influenza Epidemic in New Zealand' by Geoffrey W Rice. A nightmare and this prose poem were the inevitable results.

1918

At the edge of Temuka the road is blocked by three bales of hay, a black flag, and the last two O'Shanessy kids, who take turns holding the rifle their cousin brought back from the Somme. Outsiders get sent back to the city; Maoris are told to keep to Arowhenua pa, on the other side of the creek we dive in to wash the sickness away.

When Queenie got the cramps we took her to the small house at the back of the marae, and laid her out on clean sheets, and fetched a bucket of creekwater, and cooled her stomach and hips, and washed the mushrooms under her arms. The younger kids giggled beside the bed, expecting another baby cousin. First her fingernails then her hands turned black; her breasts swelled, popped their nipples, and dribbled blue-black milk. We couldn't straighten her arms in the coffin, so we folded them across her chest. She looked like she was diving into herself.

6 Comments:

Blogger your said...

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8:44 pm  
Blogger Richard Taylor said...

HI Scott

No good you are in pain. That book - I sold a copy to schoolboy studying the huge (world wide) influenza epidemic - actually NZ coped quite well (many died however) with it and it was not too good world wide - it originated from some soldiers in the US -it could have come from anywhere I suppose - I wished I could have read it -it looked intersting - I read parts - one aspect - it shows how these things are always -or can always be coped with - Rice and there is another writer on the subect (or he wrote abook oan a similar thene -I heard him on the radio) empahises that - people coped quite well -there was some alarm (I recall it now - he emphasised that also on a radio interview about a new book he has done) but in general people were supportive and the influenza reasonably conatained until enough people werre resistant to it. But it is one of those tragedies forgotten about somewhat.

But extrapolating - we would be much better nowadays to cope with any bird epidemic - especially if poeple know who to react - and one way would be to read Rice's books.

Your poem is good -

BTW (seeing the other "comment") if you were thinking of collecting or rewriting/writing "Spam poems" someone has been reviewed on Silliman's Blog who did just that already - lol - I might feed some into the Infinite Poem tho...

1:13 am  
Blogger Richard Taylor said...

PS Some of the 'Spam Poetics' looks a bit like some of the crazier language poetry....and has some intersting language use - some of it may be "computer generated"....others may be the work of Spam genii! A new kind of anarchic postmodern poetics...

1:17 am  
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2:38 am  
Blogger your said...

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12:29 am  

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