A marquee stocked with gleaming cheerios.
Children and a friendly, broad-backed dog
(table to the kids’ unmannerly elbows).

The tall man with the little paunch is ill,
but we’re here on this blustery coast
to celebrate his fifty-fifth birthday.

The wind-minced sea has darkened.
It’s time for the cake with the single candle,
but the northerly has strengthened
and the candle can’t be lit;
taking the cake from his daughter’s hands,
Nigel pretends to blow
the unlit candle out.

His wobbly gait is not yet a totter.

He’s touched and grateful, but also very tired.

The wind-minced sea has darkened to purple.

Geoff Cochrane is a Wellingtonian. 84-484 was the eighth of his books to be published by Victoria University Press.

Cochrane comments: ‘The “Nigel” of the poem is the novelist Nigel Cox, author of Tarzan Presley.

New Zealand is a place of beaches and bays; Nigel did his dying within a stone’s throw of the sea, and I thought that sane and smart. His remarks about writing (his writer’s takes on writing) are also sane and smart – some of the smartest ever made.’

Poem source details >



New Zealand Book Council writer file
Victoria University Press author page
New Zealand Electronic Text Centre: online work