The Tyre Shop

It begins every morning —
I’m sitting at my desk trying to tap into inspiration
but really I’m just waiting for the tyre shop man to show up —
when he rolls a cigarette I might just roll one too
I notice like me that before anything else he drinks coffee
we’re neighbours I guess you could say
when he winds up the roller doors it’s like the first act of a play.
On the pavement on each side of him
the tyres are stacked up like black donuts
but when they spin in the wheel-alignment machine
they become the dark rings of invisible planets.
Does he know how intrigued I’ve become with these mysteries?
The tyre shop man bear-like in blue overalls
lumbers about in front of the tyre shop’s cavernous dark.
One day I’ll tell him that I too have struggled
to get words to align. To work out their balance
their weight. The true measure of their rhyme.
But later I watch as the sun subsides
through the gum trees in the park at the back of my flat —
all of a sudden so big that not even they can keep it held up.
A wild orb of redness tearing itself apart
ripped from its axle breaking open the branches.
A little while later like a wheel cut from crystal
the moon will lift out over the great emptiness and silence
of Eden Park’s huge stadiums. The other poem may or may not ever
be written but this is one for the tyre shop man — oh
stranger and neighbour. My accomplice
my mentor
                    and my muse!

Bob Orr was born in Hamilton in 1949 and now lives in Auckland. For many years he worked for the Auckland Harbour Board. His collections include Blue Footpaths (1971), Poems for Moira (1979), Cargo (1983), Red Trees (1985), Breeze (1991). He has never shown much inclination to involve himself in literary journalism — or to write anything other than poems.

Iain Sharp comments: “Bob doesn’t like to use words foolishly. Apart from the famously silent New Zealand painter Ralph Hotere, I don’t know of anyone less interested in small talk. Yet many people regard Bob with great affection, even though he doesn’t say that much and years might go by without their seeing him. I think this sparkling poem — full of warm fellow-feeling for a man he has never met and possibly won’t ever get round to greeting — explains why.”

Poem source details >



New Zealand Book Council writer file
Auckland University Press
nzepc—New Zealand Electronic Text Centre: online work