Dickens Field, London
Carlington Black, 2017
to shaking young ear
Black hair, wrapped for Christmas
In Dickens Fields
Red nails, Black puffer, Dark brows.
Sobbing at digital fragments
Of spoken, news, transmitted.
Boyfriend gone, Mother found, Brother dead
We, We, undead
Impervious, Imperious, Lunching
In Lant Street
Where Dickens boarded
In shadow of the Shard
Daddy in Marshalsea
His mother cried
Up early for washing
Two centuries of shit
Circling, Coriolous, clockwise
A smartphone buzzes
In the middle of it all
She staggers to park bench
Fifty metre bitter halo
Solitude surrounded by
Revving courier van,
Wandering student, shiftworker, job hunter
No sobbing wanted heard
But really, our discomfort
Is cold comfort, can’t repress
the sobbing, a few words
Sobbing, Bare words, Sobbing,
What will she do when
she puts the phone down?
It’s raining in Jerusalem
The sibilant storm welcomed
to this waiting place
silent, without judgement.
Invited to nestle among
tree clotted sheets
knotted at Mataimoana
Soak shoes off path
haste to reach Saint Josephs.
Where the brass knob sticks
damp entry to
the storm’s clumsy pash.
A door finally gives in
to desiccated narthex,
Aubert’s consonant shrine.
East wall, the silent chancery
scowls away the ersatz
To wander the soaked lawn
where carved rills of khaki water
run toward a weed clumped paddock.
Where Mary stands in
blue linen gown
and thick leaved rhododendron
glade. No sky no horizon.
Toes like writing fingers.
Nails flat and half mooned.
They never wrote a day in their life.
Washed clean again anyway.
Bishop Cullinane planted
In honour she never wanted
Now stunted. Out of place in these shadows.
Aubergine lichen licks the branches.
her inside ankle.
The servant problem is the Archilles heel of the rich.It is just about impossible to hire a maid who is smart enough to make a bed but too dumb to wonder why it is full of naked people every morning.
Hunter S Thomspon, A dog took my place
Bronach mated with Pádraig quickly. The cold rough hurry of shame. Among the blocks at the back of the church. She astern the carved three faces of Lugus, urging him on. He leaning into the storm, desperately skinning his thin knees.
Later, Saint Bronach clutched at the grimy church bell rope. The flat clang echoed over Carlingford Lough. The fishermen, save one, Taranis, were already in port. Wives scolded them for ever going out. After the storm softened, Taranis and his coracle washed up, battered and broken.
When they visited the church for Mass, Bronach hung from the rope, cold as a sparse morning’s catch.
How’s Bronagh? Paul Henry asks John Key.
Did you know there was a Saint Bronagh? That’s my wife, a saint. Key beams, and swings his legs childlike on a Green Room chair that is comically too big.
John was chauffeured through the dark winter morning to the studio. A full moon shone cold on prickly flesh emerging from nightclubs. It shone cold on rag-stuffed downtown doorways. John asked his press secretary; Why does anyone need to be up at this hour?
Paul Henry asks, what about NZ troops in Syria? Are we fighting ISIS or not?
Key is warming up. His snorts at Henry. Your purple jacket – this ain’t the Barney show.
Housing shortage and high prices brought about by rapid immigration? How can young people afford the New Zealand dream? What has happened to our nation?
I can’t give you financial advice.
You’re estimated to be worth fifty million. Surely you’ve got some advice?
Watch where you spend it.
Back at his mansion Bronagh perches astern the stone kitchen island, arse up and pyjama pants down. A cup of whiskey tea steams in front of her. The TV is on. Her husband, bright television blues and reds, sniggers cheerily as the rump points toward the kitchen window.
A security detachment wanders outside the kitchen. Three of them on duty. Taking turns at the window to make sure Bronagh is okay. These guys are well paid for the trouble. $75,000 salary. Plus their three commanding officers, logistics and supply. A psychologist to process their angst and anger issues. This Saint costs a million dollars a year. The taxes of seventeen small businesses just to watch her arse and stop her topping herself.
Next door are the Jamiesons. Alan and Sophia. A Greco-roman tabernacle built on the cost of leaking middle class houses. Indirectly you understand. Nothing so dirty as handing over money. Derivatives and forward contracts on prime mortgages that John Key cannot allow to fail.
A threesome of gardeners wanders the lawn, preparing the greenery for the weekend party. They pick at weeds and flatten worm casts.
There’s parties most weekends. Clothing is optional. Cocaine isn’t. The hookers arrive at the front door in ubers. The rough trade parks down the road and enters via the garage.
The rich apply the droped sandwich rule at sex parties, rutting frequently, but quickly.
Alan’s eyes were bright blue, burning like an acetylene gas welder, when he met me at the garage door at one of the parties. He showed me the Masserati and the BMW. He showed me the kitchen, stuffed with chicken and frightened servants. He showed me the lounge with coke on the Mangiarotti occasional tables, and drunk TV stars spread over Massaud sofas. I pointed out the Angus and the Fomison on the walls. He looked at me askew and took me to a bedroom sliding with skinny naked hookers.
I asked for the bathroom. He showed me the guest toilets. There was white vomit in one corner. The other corner held up a naked young woman. She was shouting things incoherent. Shit trickled down the back of her thighs. She was dabbing at herself with uncreased pages of The Luminaries. She held out wet fingers for a hand-up. I lifted her by clammy armpits, helped her flop into the shower, and turned it on hard and hot.
The promising surfer Jordan Young had been at a Jamieson party. A three day search ended when he was found in a tidal pool, drowned, near Muriwai. The famous pathologist Lucan Parkay said his system was jacked with crack. His naked body had no detectable sexual fluids or signs of violence.
I found Lucan in the Jamieson’s den. His pants flapping, misbuttoned and unbuckled. A naked brown woman was passed out on the carpet. Her thin sinewy flanks breathed shallow.
Lucan is an ex-King’s College boy. I handed him a Laphroaig and we clinked glasses. I hate Laphroaig. I dropped out of Dinsdale High. No one came looking for where I washed up, in a puddly mall gutter. Lucan was loose. He confided that it was hard to be confident about Jordan’s condition. Salt cleanses, and rocks tear more terribly than fingernails.
He began a wet chuckle, whiskey spittle at the corner of his mouth, and tears in his eyes. You know, he said, Jordan’s mother came to the inquest. She kept sobbing about a mouse. I figured she was on citalopram or something. Pitied her husband. That stuff fucks your sex drive. I found out later ‘mouse’ was the nickname she’d given her youngest boy.
Parnell’s ambivalence is naked. Its people run and ruin the lives of others at a distance. If they come close, at weekends, they use protection: gloves and condoms. Parnell hates the people it fucks. Despoliation is quick and forgotten in the miasma of alcohol and cocaine.
Bronach. In Celtic, it means “sorrow”.
Alone for a moment with the horizontal harbour. A vertical train, small wheeling me up the hill. A visit. Sun high. A glancing blow. My eyes. Mesmerised.
The golden city that side. Mystical. Pours from the hills, spills down the valleys, fills across the fore. Shore soft routed roman ogee.
Keruru crash. Wing flacking hard, horizontal past me.
Pare back my eyes. This side, crackling dry bush frames the golden city. This side, the funicular rundles the rails, lifting me to the house where the bush closes in.
I’m not alone now. She lies with me, half across my trousered lap.
Her face bathed in sun and the golden city.
Her head side, nestled into the small of my elbow.
She’s warm. She’s heavy. She’s breathing deeply. I don’t know her.
An eighties cut, clipped hard on the up side. Clipped soft on the sleeping side. A vigorous fringe. It shines. Tussled but holding shape over her curling ears.
An upturned nose, worn high. Aloofness, an allure. The even-toned golden cheek I can see, short-nicked at the smile line, is not so sure.
Makeup applied only to her pouting lips, assertive, almost brown. They glisten.
She drools, wetting my shirt sleeve.
And the funicular lifts us higher.
Her right hand lies on my knee. Fingers thick and strong. Hangnail forefinger. Indian ink rings on the tips. A scar drying across the knuckles. Feeding from a singular long vein. A muscle pulses in the lee of her wrist; there is no refuge. She struggles and lifts it momentarily, drops and snuggles deeper.
And the funicular lifts us higher.
She’s dressed to travel. Coated in a scuffed black jacket. Wrapped in dark trousers. Tiny grey buttons march thin down outside the seam. Her ankle boots are purple. The leather is new but the toe tips are scuffed.
And the funicular lifts us higher.
That side, the golden city glowers. Nothing keeps to its place. Everything crosses over. Sun-heated neutrinos travel. Warm organic aerosol arrives. Transition to caress my eyelids. They are brushed shut.
The funicular jolts and stops.
The electric motor spins down. Friction-heated metal cools and creaks.
I stand, alone, shaky like a rustled sheep.
Fingers feel braille-like for the latch on the exit gate.
Robyn answers her door, opening it carefully before me. Crossing the first threshold, I wander in.
I stand, arrived, in the middle of the lounge.
Robyn says “Is it raining?”
and brushes at the damp patch on my shirt sleeve.