width=61 height=87> Voracious Verses
Summer / Fall 2008


Nicholas Messenger


At the Helm

Cats all man their bridges while the town
coasts calm into the foot-clouds of the mountains
basking their port windows. Days in their manoeuvres
separated from each other by the widths of lawn
and garden bed, look over with professional disapproval
at dogs porpoising, or up when seagulls scamper
over spider webs of air. No more to do than yawn
and turn binoculars around their gradual horizons,
 and from time to time, not really to relieve the cramp
but show just what it costs to keep your eyes
on everything, they stretch one paw, and then in that
each claw, and then the other, in extremities of cat.

© 2008 Nicholas Messenger

Rumours of Extinction

It was too easy to believe
if only for a short while, that the sparrows
were about to disappear. The little cause of grief
flew swiftly round the world, and started pecking
titbits of invisibility off the pavement; tiny sorrows
nobody was noticing. We can all do without
the behemoths that infest our imaginations, and end up wrecking
them. We dismiss their extinction with the glance we fling
to heaven. But for things we never cared about,
we have our eulogies prepared, for when they vanish and we begin to.

© 2008 Nicholas Messenger

Stoat Traps

Whatever you do donít look in the traps.
Their wisdom it is, brings them to this,
but their wisdom hurts, my child.
Their wisdom is extremely difficult to descry.
Their wisdom seems to be a kind of fury.
Evidently someone has to pay.
The little victims they collect along the path,
with teeth like hypodermics, pupils
like the barrels of two tiny guns,
and pulses driving wicked instincts and disease, 
can take responsibility for all the silence
of these hills devoid of bird-life;
be the sacrifices to their desperation to repair
the damage they have done
and for the countless innocent kin of these 
who creep about the hinterland.
If you look in the traps you might discover one,
and so the weight of guilt, theirs, those and ours, 
be loaded on your shoulders.
Then whose side will you be on?

© 2008 Nicholas Messenger

The Seal She Saw

Seiko met a seal, just here on Hokitika beach.
She didnít think to mention it until much later.
It was left to me to be excited. As she said, before that
there were just the seal and her beside the water.
Well, I was. Imagine she had said sheíd seen a - what?
A mermaid. Everything quotidian would have been suspended
for reactions to be given free rein. Free rain?
Bonus cloudbursts of a attention would have been demanded
by the news. But then she hardly would have matter-of-factly
by-the-wayed that sort of bombshell. Alright then, if you prefer
imagine she had found a sleek log, shaped exactly,
save for the enormous mournful eyes Ė I cannot think of her
not being ecstatic about the great reproachful gaze Ė
precisely like a seal. I might have taken in that information
with no more amazement than she showed as she presented it.
From that example though, you donít get any notion
of the tickle of the sorrow of seeing something wonderful 
through someone elseís eyes who didnít share your wonderment. 
As if, and this is nicer Ė they had said that morning how they met
a stranger in their sleep, and you could help them understand
it was a brother that they never knew they had.
He will come closer than your closest other friend; 
the one who will know how to keep your secrets, you would say, 
and thatís when you would see the marvel come to them.

© 2008 Nicholas Messenger

About the Poet:

Nicholas Messenger had his first poems published in New Zealand as a schoolboy. He won the Glover Poetry award in the 1970ís. In recent years he has had work published in a good number of online magazines. He was born in 1945, completed a degree at Auckland University, travelled extensively, and lived at various times in France, England and Japan. He has worked at many jobs, including seaman, security guard and demolition worker, and for a long time made his living as a teacher, of science, art, and languages, in High Schools in New Zealand, and of English in Japan. Now he is running a home-stay business in Hokitika. He has been married twice and has two grown-up children.






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