Seven Unposted Postcards to My Brother
Turn fifty, Steve,
and it all slides into view!
And why when one gets old
must one look so hideous?
While lingering of course
in some grotty council flat
with basketball at midnight in the halls?
Better by far
to live life backwards
from the grave to the cradle.
Tamar Street and Kneebone’s butchery,
saveloys and shillings for the gas.
I had the top bunk.
A cheapish crucifix
with a skinny, tinny Christ
had been fixed to the wall above my pillow;
up there with me too
were a Mitchell bomber, The Satan Bug
and a book on conjuring.
I’d never be so weIl equipped again.
Landing now and then a mucoid sprat,
we’d fish a brown lagoon
in which had somehow sunk
a girthsome boiler fouled by mustard rusts.
Or I’d take you to the pictures.
Sculpted curtains stained
by lights of lime or rose.
Ben-Hur and Billy Budd and Bullitt.
ART CHANGES NOTHING
Isn’t that what we were taught?
Isn’t that what we inferred
we should believe?
You sported as a kid
a woggy mop of hair.
ln time, you’d find a purchase on the world
in the teachings of Bahaullah.
Become a subtle painter,
a provident and gentle patriarch.
As altar boys, we had our separate gigs:
you did the church, and I did the convent.
Tight-lipped as spies,
we’d pass one another at the gate,
our missions shadily divergent.
LISTEN to ‘Seven Unposted Postcards…’ by Geoff Cochrane
Geoff Cochrane lives in Wellington and sleeps poorly. His most recent book of verse is Hypnic Jerks(Victoria University Press, 2005).
Cochrane comments: ‘My younger brother Stephen has for me much of the glamour of an older one. He remains lean and brown and good-looking, and still has a tendency to blush – when asking questions of bus-drivers or waitresses, for instance. Yes: Stephen remains lean and brown and good-looking, while I…’
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Best New Zealand Poems 2003 and 2004