Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Notes in the Kaipara

This is by way of a reply to Richard Taylor's recent explorations of the religious side of Panmure. I drove through the lower Kaipara region with Skyler and Muzzlehatch last week.

I want to study the ecology of barbed wire
I want to plot the flight of the fertiliser plane
I want to write a PhD on ditchwater
to follow one ditch after another,
find a tributary for each tributary,
to go from dairy farm
to deer farm, to sheep station
to DOC campsite,
until I find the source of this scummed green water
in the clear bleb of an icicle
dripping in a mountain cave

Kaipara Tavern

'Most people, listen, they make a mistake, they make a mistake and think that all the animals actually went onto the Ark, walked on in pairs, strolled on, easy as you like, up a nice big gangplank, just before there was a giant fart of thunder in the clouds and it started to piss down for forty days and nights. Imagine it: two elephants, with massive blisters on their feet, because they've walked all the way from fucking Africa, then two bull ants, in the shadow of the elephants' arses, then two waddling ducks, then two whateverthe fuck else...an orderly procession, that's what the Sunday school teachers told you, I bet, an orderly procession, walking into the smell of wet pine and straw, walking with the quiet grace of the silversmiths of Vienna, boarding a train to Auschwitz, except this Ark is taking you to a new life...put another coin in the jukebox, man. Buy another round, put another dollar in the slot. Literalism, that's what it is. Literalism. Just take a look at your figures. Four hundred and fifty feet long, seventy-five feet wide. That's about the size of one of your sea lorries, of the big one that goes down to Taharoa to get the Japs a meal of ironsand. So what did God put in this Ark, in this lorry, man? God filled his Ark with mud - clay, you can call it if you like, the stuff the colour of dogshit, the stuff the kids bring up in bottles from the bottom of the Kaipara. Mud, the stuff you can mould a little, until it sits on your windowsill in the shape of a cup or a withered tree. God can breathe life into the mud, into clay, into dogshit. God doesn't needn't flesh. God filled the lorry with enough clay, then let it float for forty days and nights, while the things of flesh went under the waves. Then God got his hands dirty again, moulding the clay, breathing life into the dogshit. He didn't need elephants or ants or that old pisshead Noah. He should do it all again -'

He carried the cross now
the cross carries Him

'Michael told me that he dreamt of sneaking back, after the service, after the last confession, and kneeling before Him, kneeling beside the little icon and putting his mouth to the wounds, to the terrible wounds, and sucking the nails out of the feet, out of the palms, the way he had sucked blackberry thorns out of his thumb and forefinger. He confessed the dream to Mr O'Shanessy, who lowered his voice, who told Michael that his thoughts were sinful, who whispered that Christ had to suffer, that His power and glory were His suffering, that all men had to suffer, that all men had wounds, that Michael could see his, Mr O'Shanessy's wounds, could sucks the thorns from his flesh, beside the icons, in the dark, after the service -'

Kau ka pa kau pa ka pa kau kapa kap a

your tongue trembles the prayer

a kau u au u a

you take off your socks
and jump
into the creek,
let your toes wriggle
like huhu grubs,
til the mud turns smooth
and cool,
and your feet can read
the bottle's braille:


You're a drinker, not a collector.

A couple more of these will buy a dozen VBs.

No decorations on the side windows
except for frost,
fingers of ice as warped
and spindly
as the prayer candles inside.

the faithful kiss the cross
the cross is the broken bones of a thief
the faithful sip wine
the communion cup brims with scummed ditchwater
the carved rafters speak to the glory of God
the rafters lie under rubble
the House of the Lord is a ruin
a slaughter shed with a caved-in roof
a scrubcutters' hut with a blown-out wall
a dunny house whose door blew off

tweed jackets, floral dresses:
the faithful dress well
the ruin lies inside them

I stand where the back door
used to blow,
on the hill
where barbed wire grows as thick
as blackberries.

The air breathes me
the air drains through me
slowly, heavily
the way an undercurrent
goes through an eel trap
in the Kaipara River.


Blogger Richard Taylor said...

This is good Maps. My first reason for showing images of graves etc or churches is that they are there - here where I live or where I walk to.

One Church - the old Catholic one has the names of many "Brothers" and Sisters - but whenever I go to a graveyards etc I think the thoughts we all think but they are not depressed or particularly religious... (except in a wider sense) I wonder about who all these people were - what they did - the shapes of things fascinate me also - of course Gray's great poem "Elegy on a Country Churchyard" is one I find myself quoting to myself.

As I walk on Mt Wellington (or GI or the Panmure Basin) I wonder how the Maori lived there (and in fact I think of how everyone has ever lived -of the people who are living now in the world and of course where my own locale is), and the many people who all lived there, and so on - but of course I have times of the living and everything around me fascinates - trees, children, old and young people, boats, power pylons, signs, birds, flowers and so on...

As Joyce's Dedalus says in the school room to Mr Dalkey (Chapter 2 of Ulysses):

S.D.: "That's God"
Dalkey: "What?
S.D.: "A shout in the street."

1:49 am  
Blogger Richard Taylor said...

This in fact is quite a brilliant post The images and text become one here as I see in my work and that of Joanna Paul.

You are doing some intense writing and now images/textualisation etc

1:55 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I find some of this disturbing. What is the purpose, MAPS?

9:37 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

PS I am a Catholic, unlike you I guess!

Trudy Shaw

9:39 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My grandfather rowed in that dinghy all the way from Bohemia.

Thank's for posting thed marveles picture.

Gus Franicjh

12:13 pm  

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