Monday, May 7, 2018

Senseless Night


Craig sat on a park bench at the top of Arch hill waiting for the library to open. A mass of black hair hiding a large Polynesian man made its way up the steps towards him.  It had been ten years. From this angle, he couldn’t tell if it was him or not. With each step that the man-made, Craig’s breaths deepened. A vein on his neck poked out and pulsed with his quickening heart. Nature screamed aromas. Manuka trees were bursting into blossom subtlety juniper. Wild onions had taken over the hillside, colonizers pushing the natives out. Beyond the trees, car exhausts wafted up from the valley where the motorway cut through like a river, sounding like a sea. None of those scents Craig received, all he could smell was fear.

Sione had grown up in Tonga where scents embraced. Seaweed baked in the tropical sun, its saltiness touching every surface. Whichever direction he walked, the sea was close, a saline refresher on his lips, dried in a sun that seemed to never set. In the centre of the island, great bunches of frangipani burst from trees. Every birthday, wedding and celebration he had ever been to, was wrapped in their aroma, their scent etched in his innocence. 30 years later, living in New Zealand, all of that had gone. Spells in jail corrupted that innocence. He often wondered why he had ever left.

Black mould crept up the walls to embrace Sione’s painted shut windows on that senseless night. The Kingsland house he rented was on the wrong side of the hill to catch the sun and he couldn’t afford to keep the heat on. His wife lay next to him. She had no other place to go. A pillow kept them apart. He fell asleep dreaming of how things could have been, sleeping lightly in this cold country, woken easily when Samson barked.

Samson was Alsatian, the king of the dogs, guarder of gates and scents were his world. He could smell the poodle that lived five houses away and knew when it was her time. He could smell the warming of meat juices and pastry when Sanjay the dairy owner on the hill turned on his pie warmers at seven in the morning. There were scents of foods from the cafĂ© back down the road, on the clothes of the Chef who walked past the gate every night. There was also the smell of beer on him, but that didn’t interest Samson, Samson couldn’t eat beer.
Craig, that chef, had just finished a double shift as he ambled his way home, a few too many drinks, just thinking of the warmth of his bed. Samson came out barking, breaking the tranquillity of the early hours of the morning. It wasn’t the first time the dog had come out barking. Previously Craig had run. Maybe it was the beer. Maybe it was the tension of his long hours. This time Craig changed tack. As the dog came out of the yard and rounded the fence out onto the footpath Craig reached out and grabbed the first thing he could find, a rotted board from the fence next to him. He ripped it off and in the same motion swung out at the dog clipping it across the nose. The dog yelped. It ran back into the yard. Sione woke up to the sound of barking just before part of that same piece of wood hit the house, breaking the window, to the room where his children slept.
‘Lock your fucken dog up.’ Craig yelled. 
The lights came on in the house on New North road. Sione shook his brother awake. The two, barely dressed, ran outside to see what was going on. Down the road Craig walked on oblivious to the men staring down at him. He threw the other half of the broken board onto a garden. Craig’s body buzzed with adrenaline, he kicked out at the air mimicking bad Kung Fu movies. He laughed at the night.
   ‘That all ya got’ he yelled into the dark, weaving a stumble home.
The night had not finished with Craig. A metallic blue Holden Statesman with plastic flowers on the dash screeched to a stop beside him. Sione moved his bulky form from out of the driver’s seat, his brother even larger came around from the other side. Craig noticing to late, took the only option available, and ran into a drive behind him. The carport where he ended up was a dead end. No words of explanation were offered, no stays of execution intervened, just violence unrestrained dished out.

Only snippets of memory remained for Craig from the moment the first punch hit. He remembers his face on concrete, the blood from his head pumping like a hose left running, a crimson lake flooding half the carport. He remembers trying to focus on plastic flowers while the man in the blue car said, ‘stay awake, stay awake’ as they rushed him to hospital.
He remembers a nurse looking at him in disgust, sniffing the beer on his breath, and saying to the doctor ‘boy’s will be boys’. He remembers the smell of disinfectant as he was being wheeled into the operating theatre, the last thing he ever smelt from that day on, when he lost his sense of smell, after the senseless night.


Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Letter to my lovers.

Its been a year since I lay beside you and pulled my fingers through your hair, that most primitive of gestures. It had the effect of turning your locks into the mane of a lion, the Leo Sayer look which alas, was no longer the fashion.

I question myself. What could I have done to stop you leaving? Could I have been kinder, more understanding, more giving? I know now, looking back I didn’t have any more to give, that these probably were the wrong questions to ask, at least they are questions in which I would never find answers.

For months I rejected what was happening was in fact happening. That was followed by attempts to replace and fill the hole that was left when you were gone. Half a year on, there were months of being so incredibly and absolutely alone. Empty beaches which in the past I had found so much joy and power I now found emptier than ever. The vast beauty of the world is only perceived as such when you are able to express it as being and without anyone to express it to, it becomes just vast.

I tried to jump ship, to move to the mountains, holed up like a hermit who could on a quest find himself. Probably lucky for me the mountains wouldn’t have me.
I literally tried to jump ship and was all set to arrive in Zanzibar knowing nothing more than that was where Freddie Mercury was born. But alas the boat broke in half and those islands probably were not where I was destined to be. I even applied for Antarctica, but my girth stopped that application before the snowshoes hit the tracks. It seems running away would not stop the cold when the cold I could feel was coming from the inside.

Words came and went as did my efforts to replace what was lost. In words I found myself not reborn but definitely able to start again, rebuilding after the storm, but with the shutters still up. 

One year on. Wiser, who knows? Sad still? Maybe at different times. 10 years is a life chunk not just a slice easily forgotten or discarded. With winter starting literally, it is strange that I feel I am at last able to throw off the blanket of sadness and face the cold breeze for what it is for I have found a new friend.

Confidence, the trickster, the coyote is at my heels, more often running in front of me and leading the way. She takes me to the precipice and leaves me there. Without her, my pen cannot ride with the paper, thoughts that spring from lonely beaches cannot find a home. Don’t leave now coyote, I have no wish for my words to be lost alone in the coldest of seas. I know you trickster for what you are. You will not always be there. You are a dog and have a will of your own.

I only wish my friend I could run my hands through your long locks of hair,
for alas I have none.  

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Wellington On A Plate / 30 upstairs Gallery Event

In 2016 I was invited down to cook for 'Wellington On A Plate.'
 Wellingtons yearly food festival. Short works
of my fiction added to the event. I created banquets for the
 second week of the festival in 30 Upstairs Art Gallery
 Courtney Place Wellington,
Lamb smoker hanging out the window,
hotplate on a shelf,
all without a kitchen. 

 A Cook A Gallery A Painting A Feast

The Event ran over a week with diners enjoying banquet meals
 each night presented as 'Art Cuisine' in their own right.
 I was asked to base it all on Abby Meakin's still life painting
 which hung in the Gallery behind the Diners.

The Middle Course was served on long banquet boards,
 each person received a scroll of my short fiction and poetry
 to indulge in and converse over.

This Dessert the finale of the night was Audible.
Wasabi and Coconut Panne Cotta 
Ginger Soil / Lemongrass Jelly
Yuzu flakes / Lychee popping Candy.

Hanna and Manu added another level of drama
 to the event with their sensuous demented
 and unexpected antics throughout the night. 

This was the first time I have presented my written works in public. 
20 pieces of poetry and short fiction were
scrolled up and served with the main course,
 enzymes for conversation starting, 
over the diner table. 

 Abby Meakin, The parade ( 1 panel)

A special thanks to , Jhana Millers and Lisa Martin for creating the event
 and bringing us all together , Hanna Tasker-Polland & Manu Reynaud ,
 for just being themselves.
Abby Meakin For Painting the parade.
Thanks Jeff McEwan from Capture photography for his awesome photos.
For Laura and Tina coming down to Wellington and supporting me .

We dined , We wined 
We celebrated existence.