Chances of Revelation

at Big Bay, August 2001



Surely it’s not a lie
to say you’d make do
with the blessed sound
of running water,

a breeze in the tall trees,
the last of the sunlight
bronze on the ruckled forest,
a patina on the slopes

of Red Mountain in the east
that’s worthy of notice
in the sense
it’s of no serious consequence.



It’s said a poet’s a poet
when scarcely himself,
though that’s beyond
the himself that’s the collection

of recollection that
trips him up, the things
(or thinks) he thinks
he thinks, the buzz

that stops him saying
what he was going to
because he’s not sure
what good it will do.



‘We are ourselves
pools in a long brook’,
says Ammons, who is, presumably,
more honest with us,
and himself, on paper
than in person.
He’s not alone there.
I fear I may be a bit the same,
and it makes me feel
part of a team
whose members are told about it
by self-appointed selectors.
Like rivers at noon in high summer
we glisten, we mumble, mutter.
And when we take
a shine to the world
it takes a shine to us.


Chicken or the Egg

It was his fault,
he changed.
It was her fault,
she changed.
Both have truth
on their side.
It’s a win-win
that no one wins.



One trudges on. Stops here
and there. Scratches
and scuffs, signs of wear
and tear. One unlatches
gates and crosses fields,
then pauses, till time yields.

Brian Turner’s most recent book, his ninth volume of poems, Footfall (Random/Godwit), was published in March 2005. He was the Te Mata Estate NZ Poet Laureate 2003-05. A southerner, born in Dunedin in 1944, Turner lives in the Ida Valley, Central Otago.

Turner comments: ‘The poem “Chances of Revelation”, from which these extracts are taken, was written in a Department of Conservation hut at remote Big Bay, South Westland during the time when I was trying to recover from the break-up of a long-standing relationship. At the time I was demoralised, angry, bewildered and profoundly saddened. The poem was my way of dealing with the mess of recollections and emotions that were refusing to back away.’

Poem source details >



New Zealand Book Council writer file
Te Mata Estate New Zealand Poet Laureate